Politics and Religion: Hand in Hand for the Faithful
There are two things I am deeply passionate about in life. The first is my religious faith. And the second is politics.
Obviously I don’t make for polite dinner conversations.
For many Christian faithful politics and religion, and religion and politics go hand in hand. They’re like peas and carrots; you just can’t split them up.
Earlier today a dear lady from my church congregation shared this status on Facebook, and I instantly reached for the “Like” button to show my support.
I wrote a few months ago about how I personally supported Jon Hunstman in the primaries. Those days are long gone though, and instead my morally conservative leading front man is Mitt “The Wild Mittens” Romney.
Last week I had a conversation with Rachel Zoll, national religion writer for the Associated Press. She had discovered me through my blog, and we discussed my blog, life as a Mormon in the South, and other things. She asked me about how I’ve seen Mitt Romney’s effect on how Mormons are now viewed. We discussed the mainstream notoriety the Church has recently received and the “Mormon Moment” that the media has created. At the end of our conversation I was asked who I would be voting for. I enthusiastically said, “Mitt Romney,” but then followed up with an even stronger, “but not because he’s a Mormon!”
Mormons are just as prone to mistakes as any other people. We’re imperfect. We mess up. We hurt others. We lie. We cheat. And if we’re lucky, we recognize what a terrible sinner we are and we mend our ways.
My support for Mitt Romney can best be summed up by something I read recently by Cary Schmidt on Twitter. Cary, Pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Newington, Connecticut, said this,
“If you can’t vote FOR someone, at least vote AGAINST someone.”
Next Tuesday I am voting as a Christian, as a Latter-day Saint, and as someone who supports traditional social values. I am voting not so much for Mitt Romney, but for the values I know he embraces. And I am voting against the values I see being embraced by our current President, and sadly, many of my fellow Americans.
In the Good Book it says,
“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
– Psalm 33:12
My political ideology as an Independent voter is largely shaped by deep religious convictions.
Years ago when Facebook first provided me that empty box on my profile in which to summarize my political beliefs I came up with this concise statement:
I’m a financially and socially conservative American who believes in small federal government, a strong military, and a balanced budget. However, I also understand the need for government programs and assistance and feel that we need more that are properly ran, but not at the risk of embracing socialistic ideals and creating bureaucracy. – I vote for the person and their platform, not for their party or that party’s national agendas. – I honor the offices of my elected officials even if I do not agree with those elected because I feel our democracy was Divinely Inspired. – I feel a broad & open political knowledge is among the greatest attributes a person can attain to, but fear that too few bother to educate themselves before casting a ballot. – I honor our Constitution and believe it is a living document. However, I disagree with those in our judicial branch who bend it to say what it never was intended to say. – Most would call me an Independent. I prefer the term Die Hard American.
My two passions in life have never came as close to one another as they have this election season, and it has been my daily prayer that I could keep them separate despite the fact that Mitt and I have many things in common. – Our families are both from Michigan; we both have awesome hair, we’re both uptight sticks in the mud; we’re both Mormon. – But perhaps my passions have also dualistically never been farther apart. Although we share religious faith, I am not voting for Mitt because of his faith. I am voting for him because of his values.
Any good man or woman who defends principles of righteousness as dictated scripture could be someone I would vote for. I could readily vote for a Bible thumping Baptist who thought all Mormons were going to Hell just as long as they shared my moral and political ideology. Doctrinal differences don’t matter in the big picture politically speaking. That’s why I love so very much this Article of Faith in the Church:
“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”
I wrote that because of my two life passions I don’t make for polite dinner conversation. However, I said it in jest. Because in reality, the 11th Article of Faith is my motto in all things political and religious. In essence my mantra is this:
I can respect you and honor you despite our differences, no matter what they might be. I value you as a person, and realize that our different beliefs and convictions does not make either of us more or less than the other person.
I respect you and honor your right to confess whatever you want, politically or spiritually.
I’m a “let’s shake hands” at the end of the conversation kind of guy rather than a “punch you in the face” after our debate kind of guy. – I wish more people shared this philosophy with me in deed rather than just word.
Yes, I’m a “Diehard American”. Yes I believe in my right to own a gun, my right to confess my love for Christ, my right to promote traditional marriage, and my right to worship as I please. But as a disciple of Jesus Christ I also honor anyone who believes differently. Do I honor opposing beliefs? No. But I can honor another’s rights to their own ideas. As a Christian it is my duty to walk the hard-to-navigate-line of loving a sinner but hating a sin while at the same time not judging someone as a sinner. (Say that sentence five times fast!)
For me politics and religion go hand in hand. But honor and respect for others also goes hand in hand with religion and politics.
In the last few days before the election we’ll all see opposing views paraded in front of us. Many Facebook statuses will be shared promoting this candidate or another. Many Tweets will be Tweeted calling the opposing side evil and wicked and terrible. And the political ads may seem never ending. But as for me and my house, I know where I stand politically, and I sincerely hope and pray that everyone, whether Christian, Atheist, Muslim, or Jew, will remember to show civility and respect to others.
My vote will reflect my personal beliefs, and I hope that you know yourself well enough to vote so that your ballot reflects your’s.
And if someone irks you with some off the wall comment, just smile and remember that in the end we’re all still neighbors.
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