Faith and Politics
In watching politicians over the years, one thing I’ve noticed is how almost all of them wear their religion on their sleeves. Mind you, this is more blatant in my region (the South), and with presidential candidates. This year’s Presidential contest between John Kerry and George Bush is proving most interesting where religion is concerned.
John Kerry has openly proclaimed his Catholicism (even though he holds a number of views that run counter to the Catholic Church). What’s interesting here is that while declaring himself a “good, devoted Catholic,” he’s also declared that he won’t let his faith influence his actions in office. I can’t understand this. It can’t be much of a faith if you can easily set it aside when making decisions. Kerry says “faith,” but what he means is “religion.” There is a difference.
“Religion,” as I see it, implies the trappings of a liturgy, and how one externally expresses or practices their faith. “Faith,” is the actual beliefs, commitment to those beliefs, and internalization of those beliefs one has. In claiming to be a Catholic, by extension, one would assume Kerry is claiming to be a Christian. A Christian is someone who is a follower of Jesus, the Christ, the Savior. Being a Christian is to declare you believe Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, you are accepting the gift of Grace (Christ dying on the cross for your sins), and you have a personal relationship with the Son of God. Forget “religion,” as that’s just an outward expression, and the “material” aspects of worship. I’m talking about a real faith, digging into scripture, praying devotedly, and choosing God’s Holy Word to be your guidebook for living, allowing Christ to live through you via the Holy Spirit.
If John Kerry really had “faith,” than he could not set it aside when acting in his capacity as an elected public official. If he truly has “faith” in Christ, then it would influence his every decision, and his desire to live a Christ-like life wouldn’t allow him to support many of the things he does, such as abortion. At the heart of it, John Kerry is like most politicians that tout their religion. Kerry gives a token nod to religion, and has no real faith in the centerpiece (Christ) of that religion. Not unlike Clinton touting his Southern Baptist background and toting his Bible to church on Sundays, all the while anticipating when he could get back to the oval office and break out a new box of cigars to play with.
Mind you, it isn’t Kerry alone. It appears as if the vast majority of politicians today are equally guilty of this hypocrisy. Even George Bush is not exempt. Back in July of this year Meryl Streep made a pathetic attempt to use scripture to attack Bush, trying to show he wasn’t following the teachings of Christ. This mostly only showed her gross ignorance of the Bible. The “turning the other cheek” bit Streep tried to use against Bush was weak simply because that directive is about someone coming at you personally. Bush is fully justified in using force to defend those he has been put in authority over as president (the problem lies in the fact that Iraq isn’t a country that has attacked us, and a preemptive strike is hardly something I’d call a Christian act, as it doesn’t coincide with the Just War Theory or Biblical doctrine, much less being a constitutionally legal act).
No, Bush is not guilty of failing to follow Christ’s directive on turning the other cheek. Bush is guilty of convincing himself (or allowing his handlers to convince him) that he is some kind of “righteous hand of God” carrying out God’s will in destroying other countries while assaulting our liberties (our God-given rights as declared in the Declaration of Independence) at home and advancing the nanny state. True faith in Christ might lead Bush to implore his fellow Americans to act in true charity towards one another, but it wouldn’t manifest itself in the form of new government agencies to monitor us, or more of our money forced from us (via taxes) and handed over to “faith-based charities.” I’ve never read in the Bible where it says for followers of Christ to trust government to care for our needs. We should turn to one another, and give willingly as we are each able to and as we feel called to do. God loves a cheerful giver and it’s hard to be cheerful when the state coerces you to “give” money they claim will be used to help your fellow man. And we all know how inefficient the feds are at handling money.
I find Bush and Kerry, as well as most of the political establishment, to be merely talking religion, not true faith. Their fruits largely come in the form of enlargement of the state and repression of our God-given rights. Somehow I cannot see this being an act of faith on their part. Not if they are followers of Christ. In the Bible, Matthew 7:15-23 sums up how Christians should look at those standing for election to public office (even though this part of scripture is not specifically directed at politicians). The key phrase in that piece of scripture is “by their fruit you will know them.”
Based on this section of scripture, I “know” George Bush and John Kerry. Their declarations of their faith ring hollow to anyone with ears that listen, and eyes that see. Unfortunately, most Christians today have allowed themselves to be duped by the elitist ignoramuses that dominate elected office, and will vote for one of these two “pretenders.”
October 8, 2004
Mr. Jeff Adams is the State Director of Education for the Texas chapter of the League of the South. He currently works as an industrial engineer in Houston, Texas. He may be reached for comment here.