In my previous post (Why Is Everyone Celebrating?), which I wrote shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage, I presented my case for why I believed it to be a bad ruling. While I admitted to my religious oppositions to same sex marriage, I took great care to keep my arguments strictly legal in nature, based on a reasonable interpretation of the Constitution (Specifically the 14thAmendment).
But to some, my arguments didn’t matter. To them it was clear that I opposed same sex marriage because of my religious beliefs, and therefore anything I had to say on the law or the Constitution didn’t matter. I was simply another religious nut-job trying to push my religion in to politics, where it clearly doesn’t belong. Several people commented on my piece that in essence told me to “… shut up, and keep my religion out of politics.” “Religion has no place in politics,” they say, “Separation of church and state,” and all the normal things that liberals scream to get Christians to go sit in the corner and be quiet.
But they are wrong. Religion does belong in politics.
Religion belongs in politics, because we live in a democracy (or at least we used to, now I’m not so sure). A democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Every person has a vote, and the majority wins. While technically we live in a Republic, where we the people elect representatives to run the government and make the laws, it is still a form of democracy and the intent is the same: the power is to reside with the people.
In a free democracy, each person has the right to cast their vote however they see fit. They have every right to let their religious beliefs instruct them on how to vote; if they don’t then they are not in fact free. In truth, it is impossible for someone’s religious beliefs to not instruct them on how to vote.
I believe in God. I believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. I believe the words in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, and I try my best to live my life by its instruction. However, I am also a citizen of these United States. I am therefore expected to participate in the politics and the functioning of Government. I pay my taxes, I go to the ballot box on Election Day, and I voice my opinions in public forum to engage in the political discourse of our times.
I am a child of God, and a citizen of our democracy, at the same time. Am I supposed to divorce these two parts of my identity? When I walk into church, am I supposed to forget that I am an American? When I go to the ballot box am I supposed to forget my faith in Christ?
I believe with every fiber of my being that there is an Almighty God, Creator of the universe, and that I will one day stand before Him in judgment and give an account of myself that will decide the fate of my eternal soul. If I believe that, how foolish would I have to be to forget about Him in any aspect of my life, whether at home, at work, or even the world of politics? You may think that my belief in such a God is foolish in and of itself, but if you can respect the fact that I genuinely believe it, how could you possibly expect me to set that belief aside when I enter the realm of politics? That is essentially saying, “You may believe that voting this way will incur the anger and wrath of the most supremely powerful being in all existence, but you need to forget that because this is politics!” It doesn’t work that way. It cannot work that way. Whenever I approach any political issue, whether it is the economy, abortion, immigration, and even gay marriage, I have to approach it with the knowledge and understanding that God has given me in His word. If I didn’t, I would be ignoring the most fundamental aspects of who I am and what I believe in.
To all this you may say, “Well if you can’t divorce your religious beliefs from your political beliefs then you should just stay out of politics all together.”
That is the most outlandishly un-democratic and intolerant attitude imaginable.
To tell someone to keep their religion out of politics is to say that religious people should stay out of politics. To argue that religious people should stay out of politics is to argue that certain people ought to be barred from politics based on what they believe. And to argue that certain people, based on their beliefs, should stay out of politics is to destroy the very fabric of democracy. To say that someone’s ideas in politics are only acceptable so long as they agree with your own is the very definition of intolerance. It is to establish a tyranny, where the rule of the people is only acceptable so long as they believe in a certain value system. That is not democracy. That is not America, at least not what America is supposed to be. If you want to maintain democracy and freedom, you must accept that religion will hold a certain amount of sway in the government.
However, Not only is accepting religion in politics necessary to preserve democracy, but it was also the religious convictions of the founding fathers that formed the foundation for American Democracy in the first place.
Last week we celebrated Independence Day. I’m sure your newsfeed was abuzz with people quoting the famous words from the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
While the Declaration of Independence technically does not have any legal bearing on how our country operates (that is what the Constitution is for), it is a philosophical document which explains why our country exists. The Declaration says quite plainly that our country was created for the very purpose of protecting the rights of the people. It is also very clear that a belief in God was central to the authors of the Declaration, with 5 references to God appearing in the document. On top of that these men put everything on the line to protect the people’s rights, believing those rights to be “endowed by their creator.”
The existence of a creator, God, was foundational to their understanding of human rights. It was founded in the Judeo-Christian belief that human beings are created in the image of God, which sets us apart from all other animals and creatures on the earth. Furthermore it is based in the Judeo-Christian belief that all mankind descends from the first two created humans, Adam and Eve, meaning that all men (and women) are equal, with no one being created with more or less value than anyone else. These two fundamental beliefs were central to the founding father’s understanding of what constituted a person’s rights.
In fact, the very concept of human rights requires God to have any real meaning.
If there is no God (or divine being or beings, or higher power which is essential in most world religions), then the only creative force in the universe is the random chance of evolution. If we are but the result of billions of years of evolution, then there is nothing particularly special about us. We are, at most, a highly evolved creature in a long succession of evolving creatures. We would be nothing more than animals a little bit farther along in the evolutionary process. There would be nothing fundamental to our nature that makes us different from any other animal or creature on the planet. We would possess nothing over the dog, or cat, or iguana, except for a more fortunate evolutionary history. The very concept of “human” rights would be meaningless. We would possess no more right to anything than the beaver, or the deer, or the elephant. So if there is no God, either you must accept that we as human beings have no more rights than animals, or animals ought to have every same right as us (I guess you better become vegan).
But if there is a God that created the universe, then the story is different. If there is a God that created mankind with something intrinsically more valuable that the rest of the creatures, then our humanity actually means something. By creating us in His image He bestowed upon us a certain divine worth. And with that divine worth comes a dignity that demands respect, which forms our understanding of what constitutes human rights. This is what the founding fathers were referring to when they said that all men are “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”.
If religion has no place in politics, then the very foundation of our country, our government, and our freedom is groundless. Were it not for the religious convictions of the founding fathers there would be no United States of America. Were it not for the religious convictions of the founding fathers there would be no Constitution, no Bill of Rights. Were it not for the religious convictions of the abolitionists, there would have been no end to slavery, and there would be no 14th Amendment for you to stomp on and twist out a “right” to same sex marriage. Were it not for the religious convictions of countless men and women throughout America’s History you would not have the freedom to scream at me to keep my religion out of politics. So don’t be so quick to denounce anyone who tries to bring their religion into politics. You owe more to them than you realize.
Religious convictions formed the basis for our American democracy, and democracy demands the participation of the people, both religious and non-religious. Religion and democracy cannot be divorced, they have always been, and must always be united. To rip them apart will be the destruction of America, and I can hear the seams starting to rip.
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