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Religion and Politics

Recently, we received this question from a reader:

“When I joined Progressive Christianity several years ago, it was my understanding that “progressive” referred only to theology, and that the organization was not aligned with any particular political party and does not endorse political candidates or support overtly political causes. Those lines seem to have been blurred somewhat leading up to and following the election. Can you please clarify what exactly is meant by “progressive” and how it fits into the current political climate? Thank you.”

Here is my answer:

We have tried to remain within the theological-only realm as we co-create what being a progressive Christian means in today’s world. However, as you can see from even our older versions of The 8 Points, three of the main points of progressive Christianity have been about the importance of social justice, inclusion and environmental stewardship. Clearly those values are broad umbrellas and with our recent political arena being what it is we are finding that the issues at hand are directly affecting the rights of human beings everywhere and threatening both social justice/equality and inclusion as well as the protection and restoration of our Earth.

When looking at Rabbi Jesus’, or “Yeshua’s” teachings, we find that he believed that all people should be treated equal. Though we consider his social agenda frankly nothing more than any good Rabbi would have taught in those days, by his example, he modeled radical equality- he healed the sick, whether they could afford it or not, he spoke out about the rights of the poor, he demonstrated how to deal with Roman soldiers with dignity, he fought for the rights of people who were losing their land to the Jewish elite, he taught compassion, forgiveness, inclusion and more. Though he would not have seen himself as a radical social activist, he was first and foremost a humanist who cared deeply for ALL people. This was a theologically based viewpoint that came from his understanding of God and God’s relationship to all people. He believed that the one who would be first, should be last (“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.” Matthew 20:16 and “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave– “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:27-28) We understand that it wasn’t about politics per se but we also see that if we apply that to today’s world, politics are intrinsically connected to the well being of humanity and our planet as money drives politics and politics drive our world order.

If we are to follow Jesus’ example, we walk in Spirit, we will not think highly of ourselves and are willing to serve others who may be in need, no matter who they are.

So, while we are not taking any particular stance or supporting any particular individual, we find it necessary to allow the discussion of those topics that overflow into the political arena when they are directly related to the rights of human beings and the values we hold as progressive Christians.

We are ultimately, a global portal for progressive Christian authors everywhere and we believe that allowing different perspectives to be shared and discussed on our website is valuable and important. We do not all agree with everything every author writes on our site, indeed we support a wide range of even theological stances, but as another one of our main tenets states, we feel that questioning is more important than answers, so we continue to support our authors in bringing these issues to the table. We can not be true Christians without caring about the well being of all people and currently what is happening in politics is directly affecting the well being of our brothers and sisters everywhere.

Bishop Spong, whom we often look to for a framework of what we should be discussing and how theology relates to current affairs, also occasionally deals with political topics in his writing. Unfortunately, politics and theology can not be distinct while politics threaten equality and human rights.

Deshna Ubeda, Director

Review & Commentary