Archives for October 2015

Politics and Religion

Politics and ReligionIt has often been said that when people engage in polite conversation, two topics they are to avoid are politics and religion. Why would these topics be off limits? I can personally attest to the fact that in the past, if I held a minority opinion that went against the majority’s views, I avoided saying anything for fear of getting into an argument. But this shouldn’t be the case. In a civilized society in which our First Amendment rights of religious freedom are guaranteed by the Constitution, we should be able to freely discuss such matters. (See “Liberty Notes on the Bill of Rights” by Jim Jess). In addition to religious liberty, the First Amendment also protects our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Unlike other countries where opposing views may lead to imprisonment, or worse beheading, the United States still stands as a beacon of light to people seeking political, social, and religious freedom to pursue and achieve their dreams.

What is Permissible?

In an article entitled “Pastors, Churches and Politics What May Pastors and Churches Do?” (Click here to view article.) Mathew D. Staver, Esq. states that when our country was founded until 1954, churches and nonprofit organizations could endorse or oppose candidates for political office. However, when Lyndon Baines Johnson ran for United States Senate and was opposed by a nonprofit organization, he proposed legislation to change the Internal Revenue Code to prevent nonprofit organizations, including churches, from endorsing or opposing political candidates.

The Founding of a Nation

There is a direct relationship between the founding of our nation and the moral and religious views that our Founding Fathers held. George Washington, our first President, said “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” Our second President, John Adams believed that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” He further stated, “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”

“Where there is no vision, the people perish” Proverbs 29:18 states. What is the vision of our country? As a Judeo-Christian nation, the concluding statement in the Pledge of Allegiance says it eloquently: “One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” As a young nation, a little over two hundred years old, have we achieved this ideal? No, not at the present time.  And yet, there is no other country in the world today that attributes God as the sovereign authority over a nation that seeks liberty and justice for all of its people. The decisions we make today will either further the achievement of that ideal or forces within and without will seek to divide and destroy the biblical principles that our republic was founded on.

Civil Discourse

So how do we engage in a civil discussion involving politics and religion? In addition to the do’s and don’ts that Staver lists in his article mentioned earlier, what can the individual do to engage in a civil discussion about these two topics?

Be Informed

Second Timothy 3:13 states that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Deception occurs when individuals are unaware of what their rights are as citizens of our country. Studying the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are fundamental to understanding the biblical principles that our country was founded on.

Because we are a nation comprised of diverse cultures from all over the world, it is important that we understand the religious backgrounds that individuals come from. The five major world religions are Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Learning about other religions provides a window to compare and contrast how the major religions differ from each other. It also provides us with an opportunity to compare these perspectives and see how they line up with (or not) the principles of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. In the words of John Adams, “liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

For example, in Christianity we are saved by grace and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). When we believe Romans 10:9-10, and accept Jesus Christ as Lord in our lives and believe that God raised him from the dead, we are born again and receive the gift of holy spirit. As sons of God, we have sonship rights such as redemption, justification, righteousness, sanctification, and the ministry of reconciliation (see chapter 23, “Knowing One’s Sonship Rights” in Victor Paul Wierwille, Power for Abundant Living). Our liberty and ultimate freedom comes from Christ Jesus and his accomplished works when he died for us on the cross and was raised from the dead (Galatians 2:4).

Second Timothy 2:15 exhorts us to “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Studying the Bible and learning how to apply biblical principles in my life continues to be the central core of my being.

Get Involved

Getting involved in the political process at the local, county, state, and national level is important if we are to guard the freedoms that we have. We are at a critical time in our nation’s history that requires vigilance and active participation by every citizen in the political process. Whether it involves working for a local, congressional or presidential candidate, registering people to vote, or volunteering to serve on a campaign, we have an obligation and a responsibility to exercise our rights as citizens.

Speak the Truth in Love

As citizens from diverse backgrounds, we may not always agree with each other, but at least we can learn to disagree agreeably. In a country such as the United States, rational people (and I emphasize rational) are not about to murder someone if their religious beliefs differ from our own. Through verbal discourse and debate, we can avoid name calling, vicious attacks, and ridicule. As Christians, our ultimate standard is God’s Word, the Bible. The following passage describes six things that God hates, and seven are an abomination to Him: “A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief [evil], A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

In Romans 16:17-18, the Apostle Paul warned the believers in Rome of individuals who were causing division in the church: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” As Christians, we speak the truth in love because it is the light of God’s Word that dispels darkness (Ephesians4:15).

One Nation Under God

By “good words and fair speeches” there are forces within and without that seek to divide and destroy our country. Our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles where God is the giver of rights and not man. We are, and will remain, “One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” The national motto of the United States of America is still “In God We Trust.”

 All scriptures are quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Explanatory insertions within a scripture are enclosed in brackets.

 Copyright © 2015 Aleta You. All Rights Reserved.

 

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