Faith, Politics, Hope, and Civil Discourse

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Hello everybody,


I am a firm believer in Church leadership trying to the best of their ability to keep from broadcasting their political views. Sure, faith has a place in politics as does politics in faith, but as someone who is being paid to teach, lead, and ultimately influence a congregation (or in my case a subset of that congregation) it just feels wrong to try to sway people's vote. Understand, that's not what I intend to do here.


I have been keeping a silent watch on my Facebook timeline, as people I know and love dearly have posted photoshopped images, which I suppose are this year's equivalent of bumper stickers. I have wanted to comment on several people's glaring inaccuracies on both sides of the isle. I have wanted to ask what the purpose of posting such snarky images was doing to add to the political discourse. I have wanted to ask where those facts came from, and if in fact they could handle the label "facts." But I do not. 


For one thing, we as a nation have completely lost sight of what it looks like to disagree civilly. If you support a woman's right to choose, I get to label you a baby killer and not listen to what you have to say. If you want to increase taxes on the wealthy to support programs like public education, I get to label you a socialist and not listen to what you have to say. If you are appearing on the other news channel than the one that I frequently tune to, I get to not listen to what you have to say. Come to think of it, it would appear that our nations political strategy (hear me on this, both sides of the isle) is to not listen while screaming our views even louder. 


Perhaps most frustrating is when both sides invoke God in their policies. You could make a pretty strong argument that the Republicans are trying to please God in their policies. You could make a pretty strong argument that the Democrats are trying to please God in their policies. I don't know anybody who could make a strong argument that God is being glorified in the way we treat those who disagree with us. Let's look at the best example we have. Jesus had disagreements with the Pharisees on a daily basis. He had some harsh words for them, and for the way they practiced their beliefs. But is there a scriptural example of Jesus not listening to their questions. There is not a scriptural example of Jesus reducing their argument to a cartoonish over-simplification. And while this is easy to forget, in the end when Jesus laid down his life for sinful humanity, he laid down his life for those Pharisees with whom he aggressively disagreed with.  


Let's get real. No one in the current climate would lay down their life for the other party, would they? Not when it's so much easier to shout our opinion louder and ignore those we disagree with. These are important issues we're discussing and debating. They deserve more than the easy route. They deserve more than a post on our Facebook. They deserve more than the ratings lifting snarky comment. 


So I'm not here to influence your political views. Like I said, if you stop and think about it for more than 30 seconds you can see that both sides have at their core a desire to glorify God, and I respect that. What I am hoping to influence (and this is a big dream on my part) is the conversation. What would it look like if you stopped posting or re-posting snarky images to your Facebook page? What would it look like if you questioned the validity of your facts before you used them in an argument? What would it look like to watch the other news channel for a while, if for no other reason than to get a feel for what the other side believes? What would it look like to take the attacks out of our politics, and replace them with a vigorous debate about ideas? 


At the risk of sounding overly patriotic, this political climate is not America. It's not worthy of the great nation that has lit the world with freedom for over 200 years. It makes a laughing stock of the gift of democracy to the rest of the world. It is an abuse of freedom in such a way that suggests we don't know what freedom really is. And it certainly makes a mockery of the God who makes us free through his Son to drag his name through all of it. It's time to stop. 


Will you join me? Will you stand up and speak out against this combative political discourse prevailing in this nation? Will you show love to the other side, whoever they may happen to be? Would you pray for your enemies, even in the political arena? Or better yet, will you come to the realization that the other party isn't the enemy, just people seeking to serve the nation in a different way than you see fit?