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Faith and Politics

 

The ills of society.  One might argue that both Christianity and politics confront the ills of society head on.  Then why is there such a rift between them? 

It seems as if Christianity, for example, was doing its job, there would be little need for politics or at least everyone would be on the same page.  Well, at least Christians.  One can also argue that whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or another faith, all seem to have relatively the same moral code.

Love one another.  Care for those less fortunate.  Pray for the lost.  Seek God for guidance, healing and direction.  Eliminate greed, pride, self-righteousness, abusiveness, immoral behavior.

But somehow, something must have gotten lost in the translation, because while all these faiths infiltrate the ranks of politics, there seems to be a vast dichotomy of how we solve society’s ills.

Take Christianity.  As Christians, we learn to share the gospel and explain to the “unsaved”, why having Christ take possession of our heart and soul, leads to salvation.  No, it doesn’t mean that we won’t struggle and never have any problems.  It doesn’t mean that we will get all that we want.  It doesn’t mean that there will be no more pain and suffering.  But it does mean that we can cope because we can lay all that “stuff” on someone else’s shoulders and have the faith that He will hold us up.  No matter what.

Sharing the gospel recently, however, has become incredibly difficult. 

I have a handful of younger colleagues with whom I openly discuss politics.  They are not of the faith and really have no desire to be.  They are surprised to hear that my politics are driven by my faith since they believe all Christians to be hypocrites who don’t support much of the teachings in the scriptures with their political stance.

I tell them that I don’t understand much of that positioning either.

“Look, I consider myself religious,” said one.  “I’ve read the Bible.  I see the ills in society.  But the teachings of Jesus just aren’t being followed by those supporting Trump.”

We talk about unequal treatment of the races and inequality in education, income, healthcare.  We talk about caring for the poor, the sick, the marginalized.  We talk about greed and riches and how the Bible declares “to whom much is given, much is expected”, yet so many put building their portfolios, buying expensive clothes and cars and houses over and above everything else – especially helping those who need help.

I tell them they are right.  And that was one reason I could not support a certain candidate.  His agenda seemed more about taking care of the corporate elite and less about those Jesus hung out with in the scriptures.  

“It seems all they want to talk about is abortion,” said another.

“Ok,” I said.  “Let’s define ‘they’. I don’t think it’s fair to cast a stone at all Christians, particularly since those in the Black church agree with much of what you are saying.”

“That’s fair,” came the response.  “I guess I’m talking about the white evangelicals.  I read the other day that 86 percent of them voted for Trump.  How can that happen?  If they’re reading the same scriptures I have read, how can that happen!?

“Look,” I said.  “I hear you.  I agree with you.  But understand that Trump played this card very well. While his words and actions are anything but Christ-like, he knew early that the White Evangelical voting block was a powerful one and one that could likely carry him to the White House.  So, he learned how to push their buttons.  He learned to tell them what they wanted to hear.  And abortion was the hot button.”

All that seemed rather ironic to me, knowing of the president’s many dalliances and his greedy way of fixing every situation to his liking so he could come out smelling like a rose.  But he was good at selling.  So much so that I had fellow Christians tell me that I was filled with evil and sin not to understand that President Trump was a “prophet”, the “anointed” sent to us, the American people, to “save us”.

I suggested those people read up on false prophets. 

Suffice it to say that I am not a fan of abortion.  It’s a lousy means of birth control.  But I think the subject is complicated.  To many Christians (and non-Christians as well), it’s cut and dry.  But if you’ve ever had the seed of Satan violently planted in your daughter or sister or wife, you might look at it differently.  And if you’re a mother of four including one special needs child and your husband is killed in combat while pregnant with yet a fifth child (also diagnosed as special needs), you might think differently.  Giving a child up for adoption is certainly an option, but special needs children are always last on the list.  And if you’re a woman with a history of miscarriages, and after your fifth consecutive one, the government accuses you of orchestrating these and arrests you, then you might think differently.

And while your response might be that those are all covered under “exceptions”, you need to know that there are now 14 states that have passed legislation that doesn’t allow for exceptions.  So, it becomes complicated.

I wish those anti-abortionists who bang the drum so loudly and fund anti-abortion legislation and candidates, would create funding to counsel women on the many other options available to them, and create new programs that deal with the mental, psychological, emotional and financial duress women in difficult situations have to go through.  Instead of pointing the finger, help these women. 

And all the while that 86 percent is railing against abortion, they fail to see all the death and destruction caused by inadequate healthcare, inadequate education, hunger, environmental deficiencies and guns just to mention a few.

Research shows that annually worldwide:

  • 5 million people die because of inadequate healthcare
  • 9 million people die each year of hunger
  • 5 million die due to environmental circumstances
  • 250,000 die by guns
    • The U.S. ranks 7th in the world behind 6 Latin American countries
    • The U.S. has 5X as many guns as the next most civilized country in the world
    • U.S. guns deaths in 2017 (39,773) was highest since 1968
  • Rate of death is 5X for those with HS education or lower vs. college educated

Yet there is more outcry among that 86% against abortion than there is for any of the above, which are considered key planks of the “opposite party”.  It sometimes seems as if the anti-abortion Christian is deeming one wrong greater than another.  And the scriptures are very clear.  There is no such thing as big sins and little sins or greater sins over others.  

Perhaps we should just allocate them all to various sides of the scale (political spectrum) and see which weighs more.  No, certainly that wouldn’t work either.

Another major talking point among political groups and Christians is racial and social unrest. One party (a.k.a. those supported by the 86%) debunked Black Lives Matter as a socialist or Zionist movement, refusing to see the result and ills of 400 years of racial oppression.  Law and Order became their mantra and Black lives continued to be snuffed out.  All Lives Matter became their cry.  Far easier to include themselves rather than to recognize the marginalized hit group.  It was more comfortable that way and, they rationalized, far more  “Christian”. 

And as the 86% supported states’ rights, they were oblivious to its origins – the Jim Crow era where states realized the only way they could keep segregation was to create state laws that usurped federal legislation.  And when the corona virus hit, the President simply told the states to figure it out and go find their own PPE and solutions.  So much for being the “united” states of America.

And then there was the cry of socialism to scare people into thinking that communism and fascism was right around the corner, when it was their very own president who doggedly attacked the freedom of the press and coddled up to suppressive regimes.  Without an understanding of the two key planks of socialism being state ownership of resources and collective control over the means of production, they could not recognize the difference between socialism and social programs designed to help all Americans.

Which gets us back to where we started.  As I attempted to share my faith this past year in the light of a pandemic, economic challenges, racial unrest, environment catastrophes and a divisive election, I found myself more and more trusting a plan greater than mine and relying on a God who ultimately controls all of it even though I don’t understand sometimes.   

As we move forward with a different president, I continue to trust.  I trust that my faith, my beliefs are not wrong but directed toward helping to heal the ills of society … and the sins of us all.

 

Bob Dickinson is a veteran media and business development executive who has written corporately for various sports and entertainment companies, including those involving college, professional, and Olympic sports, motorsports and sports television. Since 2015, he has operated his own business development firm with a penchant for advocacy as well as a non-profit foundation that focuses on the science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) behind sports and entertainment. His faith walk has led him along the way to involvements with the One Race Movement Ministries, Bridging the Gap Men’s Fellowship, Partners in Change and various faith outreach programs. He periodically writes for Like the Dew – A Progressive Journal of Southern Culture and Politics. His latest book is Me, Jesus, a Beer, and a Cigar. Dickinson and his wife live in the greater Atlanta area. He is currently working on a book of political allegory short stories and a play.

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