This month’s synchroblog theme is “Faith and Politics” One of the things that bothers me a lot when it comes to faith and politics is when I hear someone say that one cannot be a Christian and a Democrat … so I thought I would write about being a Christian and a Democrat. I will add the links to the other synchroblog contributions to the bottom of this post as they become available.
Contrary to what some people think these days it is possible to be a faithful follower of Jesus and a Democrat at the same time.
Take me for instance. I am a Christian and I am a Democrat.
I wasn’t always a Democrat. I grew up in a conservative Christian community and was a Republican for most of my life. However, several years ago the Republican party went so far right that I had to seriously consider what I believed and why. It was a process but after a lot of thought, discussion, prayer and study of scripture I left the Republican party.
Some people would argue that the bible doesn’t have a lot to say about government but I disagree. I believe that scripture instructs that government should exist to protect it’s citizens and promote a common good for the society it serves. As I studied scripture I came to believe that the Democratic party did that better than the Republican party at this point in time.
Whether we are talking about the sanctity of life, healthcare, education, animal rights, environment, civil rights, immigration, caring for the poor, war, taxes or economy the Democratic platform represents the tenets of my faith “better” than the Republican party. It doesn’t represent it perfectly and never will. I don’t even believe that it should.
Personally, I don’t really like political parties to say too much about religion or God. Of course my beliefs are going to inform how I vote and what party I affiliate with, but I think that government should strive to serve a larger base than one particular religion, even if it is my own. My observation in recent years is that the injection of the Christian religion into American politics has caused more division than unity and done more harm than good. Therefore, recently when the Democratic party didn’t include the mention of God in their platform I wasn’t upset as a person of faith. To be honest it doesn’t really matter to me how many times God is mentioned and actually I think it would be better to leave his name out of political platforms altogether. As a person of faith I am more concerned with the principles and policies that a party is supporting and promoting and how they line up with my beliefs – not whether or not the name of God was mentioned. In fact, I even think that using the name of God in a political platform can come across as emotionally manipulative and before I left the Republican party I had begun to feel like the party had become insincere and manipulative when it came to certain issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.
At first I was timid about speaking out about leaving the Republican party behind. After all I had been part of the conservative Christian community and heard the declarations about how evil Democrats and liberals were. And when I did share my thoughts and doubts and questions about the Republican party with my conservative Christian friends and acquaintances I often got the idea that my faith was being questioned more than my politics.
But as the years have gone by I have met a lot of people who are serious about following in the way of Jesus who are Democrats and they are some of the most loving and kind people I have ever met. And I believe that they have helped to change me for the better.
I have been moved by the way they are willing to give up some of their rights, conveniences and possessions in order to promote the common good. I have been inspired by the way they are careful not to push their beliefs onto others or denigrate people who believe differently than they do. I have been encouraged by the way they are willing to take the extra effort and time it takes to care for our environment and protect animals. I have been emboldened by the way they are so dedicated to the idea that everyone is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated equally with dignity and respect.
Today I am no longer timid about my affiliation with the Democratic party. Today I am even proud to say, “I am a Christian and I am a Democrat”
and sometimes I even add:
“In fact, I am NOT a Democrat in spite of my faith … I am a Democrat BECAUSE of my faith.”
Here are the links to other posts for this month’s synchroblog: