Tag Archives: Politics

I am a Christian and I am a Democrat

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. 

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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.”

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Here are the links to other posts for this month’s synchroblog:

We The People by Wendy McCaig

Pulpit Freedom, Public Faith by Carol Kuniholm

Plumbers and Politicians by Glenn Hager

Conflating Faith and Politics by Maurice Broaddus

You Cannot Serve Two Masters by Sonja Andrews

Would Jesus Vote by Jeremy Myers

A Kingdom Not Of This World by Jareth Caelum

I am a Christian and I am a Democrat by Liz Dyer

5 ways to make it through the election and still keep your friends by Kathy Escobar

Why There’s No Such Thing As The Christian Vote by Marta Layton

God’s Politics? by Andrew Carmichael

Take A Flying Leap

leap

Sometimes I wonder how people take some of the leaps that I witness. 

For instance, a friend on facebook was talking about someone who said “God wants to strike her dead because she castrated him by supporting gender inclusive bibles.”  And recently someone said they didn’t understand how I could call myself a Christian if I thought feeding the homeless was as important as sharing the gospel (I didn’t even get into the discussion with her about how I probably didn’t share her definition of “the gospel”).  But the most unbelievable leap I have witnessed lately is this one:

Many conservatives are complaining that President Obama’s upcoming September 8 speech (which will be televised and presented during school to all elementary students) about “persisting and succeeding in school,” along with classroom activities about the “importance of education,” will “indoctrinate” and “brainwash” their children. Conservatives have compared Obama’s address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to “keep your kids home” from the “fascist in chief.”

It makes you want to say “go take a flying leap” – but it looks like they already have!

Stuff That Caught My Eye…

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Something to think about: 

Your stuff matters but maybe not in the way you think!

In case you haven’t seen it yet – The Story Of Stuff  

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Politics:  Who can get to the issues when there are so many juicy rumors?

The Obama camp confronts rumors at Fight The Smears

Charles Martin has a full list  of Palin rumors, along with facts & rebuttals.                 

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I should have posted this at the end of August but it is still very useful as premiere week has turned into premiere “months”!

  Printable 2008 Fall TV Premiere Calendar at TVAddict  

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Current Emergent/-ing Conversation Topic:  Emerging and Emergent Church Distinction

Doug Pagitt’s Video Post

What’s In A Name? from the Central Ohio Emergent Cohort Blog 

Open Letter To Dan Kimball from Raffi at Parables Of a Prodigal World

The EMC As An NSM from Tony Jones

Claiming Emergent from Julie Clawson at One Hand Clapping

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Posts I wish I had written:  You know how you read something and you think “that is exactly what I wanted to say”….

Ugly Politics from Minnowspeaks

5 Things We Got Right In The Emerging Missional Church by Jonathan Brink posted at Emergent Village

I Won’t Sin another great post by Jonathan Brink at his blog Missio Dei

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Ever wonder what that song you heard on Grey’s Anatomy is called?  

Grey’s Anatomy Insider has a list from every episode.

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Looking For a Good Movie Blog:  For lots of movie reviews and some news.

The Movie Blog

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Cute Animal Pictures  Check them out – they are adorable.

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I’m Disappointed!

Brian McLaren announces his endorsement of Barack Obama in a new Matthew25Network political ad.
 
 
 
 

 

I’m disappointed!

My disappointment does not come from McLaren’s support of Obama. I didn’t need to see this ad to know he supported Obama. My disappointment comes from me being sick of Christian leaders backing specific candidates and/or parties. My disappointment comes from me being tired of Christian leaders using their influence and position to coerce their “followers” into electing a particular individual. My disappointment comes from me believing that Brian and his circle of friends wouldn’t do this because they didn’t like it when the religious right did it — I assumed that meant that they wouldn’t do it. Apparently, even his friend, Tony Jones, didn’t think Brian would endorse a particular candidate.

I may be wrong but it feels like Brian has abandoned a principle that he believed in so that the person he is going to vote for will win. Even his letter of explanation sounded like he was trying to excuse something he didn’t feel completely comfortable about. And he says he isn’t speaking as a pastor (he is not presently a pastor) but he refers to himself as a pastor in the ad. 

Do I think he has done something “wrong”, “immoral”, “illegal”? No, I don’t. But I believe that his public endorsement in a political ad that takes a shot at the fact that McCain is divorced will do more harm than good and will be more divisive than unifying.

I believe McLaren would have better served his faith and beliefs by talking about the issues that are dear to his heart and encouraging others to have conversations and to think about the issues that are dear to their hearts.

Whether it is Dobson or McLaren, the Christian Coalition or the Matthew25Network, the right or the left, the conservatives or the liberals I don’t like it.

I like what Shane Claiborne said about endorsements:

In post-Religious Right America, we want to learn from the mistakes of the generation before us (so we don’t repeat them) – one of which was telling Christians who to vote for. Rather than spoon-feeding people answers, we hope to stir up the right questions – and trust that the Spirit will lead us as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” One of the places the religious right went wrong was telling people what to do rather than inviting them to think for themselves, with the help of the Spirit of God (in fact, it even seems a real lack of faith to to coerce or convince people to do exactly what we want them to… as if the Spirit is not at work in them). That’s where Jesus shines – he stirs up questions and tells stories that unveil truth, rather than drafting a careful declaration or endorsement that’s going to solve everything wrong in the world.

Claiborne’s view is reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s perspective. King’s idea was, don’t endorse anyone. He believed that endorsing a candidate just makes it easy for them to count you as a part of their base and then move on and ignore you. Instead, King believed it was better to invite politicians on both sides to endorse your movement and your platform and that they should do that throughout their campaign and their time in office.

I am not angry at Brian McLaren and I am not here to bash him.

I just wanted to say that I am disappointed.

Obama/Dobson Debate

The Dobson/Obama debate spurred a lot of “discussion” last week.  (Scot McKnight had a hearty discussion going on over at Jesus Creed.)  I was personally disappointed in Dobson’s remarks.  Not that I thought Obama’s speech was above reproach.  I thought some of the language he chose to use was inciting, even though I thought he made a good point about the way Christians should consider engaging a pluralistic society.  But, Dobson disappointed me greatly.  I thought he went out of his way to misrepresent what Obama said (obviously Obama was not “equating” Dobson with Sharpton – he was contrasting the two) and I can only think of two reasons Dobson might do this:  1) He is just playing politics and/or 2) He is so wrapped up in his opposition of Obama that he cannot hear what Obama is saying. Neither one of those reasons are attractive.  I think Dobson would have done better not to comment on the speech at all.  However, if he must, then he would do better to present his point of view in a way that allowed him to state what the obvious intent of Obama’s speech was and to talk about his own perspective on the issue.  I don’t say any of this in defense of Obama.  I probably will not vote for him.  I bring this up because I am grieved over the way someone who has built their public identity around the fact that they are a Christian speaks about others, the way he twists what others say to promote his own agenda, the way he trys to influence others by misrepresenting his opposition.  I expect this kind of thing from a person who builds their public identity around being a politician, but I don’t want someone like Dobson “playing politics” with me.  I want Dobson to demonstrate more respect for others even if he disagrees with them.  I want him to give others the benefit of the doubt rather than thinking the worse about them.  I want him to engage not attack, connect not polarize, incite discussion not hate.  I don’t mean to indicate that Dobson is the only public Christian personality who does this, but he is the one who did it last week. 

 

Live simply.  Love generously.  Care deeply.  SPEAK KINDLY.