Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mixing religion and politics

Originally posted to Xanga on August 30, 2008

There are two things that can start a ruckus in any room, even one filled with the most docile people: Religion and politics. Put the two together and you've got an all out war on your hands, and nothing makes me more angry.

Well, actually, people not picking up after themselves makes me kind of angry, and while I doubt I'm a minority on this one, I also doubt you'll be as agreeable with the rest of what I am going to say.

There is a Christian publication where I live, a newspaper of sorts called The Good News Today. Their mission, according to their website is, "to provide a forum of communication services for local churches, ministries and the Body of Christ. We publish a monthly newspaper which offers news and information from an Evangelical perspective, currently unavailable through secular media. Our vision is to unite the body of Christ in order to spread the gospel, minister to the sick, poor and homeless in a statewide, organized and cooperative effort." I, for one, think their vision is admirable. However, I have some contention with some of the content of this publication. My dad picked up the September copy today to see the bold headline, "Vote Only for the Righteous." In fact, I am holding this paper in my hands right now, and I'm starting to get that tight feeling of aggravation in my chest.

This article annoys me for two reasons. 1) The author (and I'm a bit abashed to say this, because I do know the author personally) endorses his own campaign in the article, thus abusing and compromising his platform in the paper. Ethics 101 - in what world is it appropriate to use a non-partisan publication to promote your campaign? Whatever happened to objective journalism? Apparently it is not a concern of The Good News Today. I, however, have a serious problem with it. 2) He starts the article with the sentence, "Tis is a small history lesson for those of you who think 'Republican=Good, Democrat=Bad.'" And I'm tracking with him . . . until I read the rest of the article. Personally, I think parties are stupid, and a lame way to do politics. But at least I realize that just because you belong to Party X, it does not mean you are a Party X clone. Duh. The author, in attempt to prove this very point, argued against himself. He set out to argue against party stereotypes, but instead only made a case for redefining stereotypes. Such presumption is highly irritating.

But really, this article makes me angry for one big reason. If this publication's goal is "to unite the body of Christian in order to spread the gospel, minister to the sick, poor, and homeless" then why is your front page article one about politics? Not only does it have little to do directly with the goals of The Good News Today, but also the case could be made that such an article works against these goals, causing division between readers. Nothing divides a room full of people quicker than a discussion on politics. Mix religion and politics at your own risk. You have been warned.

This issue, actually, has been something I've struggled with since my very first day at TeenPact, maybe even before then, since I was the kid raised on local talk radio by the politically "interested" father. How can I, as a Christian, also be involved in politics. I love politics. But I hate politics. I hate it when people blindly tout their candidate without really knowing what that person stands for. I hate that people don't see the beauty of the free market. I hate that so often Christians are stupid when it comes to politics, and often hypocritical. So it makes it hard for me to reconcile the two things I love the most - my spiritual family and my political country.

So right now I prefer that the two don't mix.

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