God and Politics

God PoliticsHere I was thinking that only uber-right-wing Protestant Fundamentalists of the Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand-you persuasion went around saying you can’t be a Christian and a Democrat.

It’s some uber-right-wing Catholics, too. I read on Huffington Post that a Wisconsin bishop implied that voting Democratic put one’s “soul in jeopardy.”

If that’s so, then my soul has been in peril since 1968 when I cast my first vote — for Hubert Humphrey for president. I’ve been voting Democratic since.

I’ll be tempting fate again Tuesday when I vote for President Obama – again – and our local Democrats, to boot.

I vote across town from the old red brick Presbyterian Church in which I was reared. There, I wasn’t taught that Jesus was a Republican — or a Democrat. I learned in Sunday school and “big church” – what we kids called Sunday morning worship — that we are all God’s children and that the Almighty loves us all the same.

Yet for some time now, a lot of Republicans have acted like “G.O.P” stands for “God’s Own Party.”

In Kentucky , where I was born, reared and still live, Republicans routinely demonize us Democrats as godless. But I’ve never heard one of my fellow “heathens” say you can’t be a Christian and a Republican. Heck, I’ve even seen “Obama-Biden” bumper stickers on some cars next to those shiny Jesus fish stick-ons.

Well, out of the mouths of babes — okay, of college kids: beware of “Red, white and blue Christianity,” warned Joshua Hoke, a junior political science major at the University of Kentucky .

Writing in the Kentucky Kernel, the campus newspaper (I found his musings posted online.), Hoke declared that “Red, white and blue Christianity is a farce and a divisive technique drummed up to garner votes for a politician or a party.

“As a Christian it is your responsibility to maintain right standing with God. Not vote for any particular individual. This does of course mean you can vote with your conscience and what you think is the most moral (and in that way, most Godly) choice.”

Before you go and accuse Hoke of being one of the “devil’s disciples” – a Democrat like me — the lad said he tends “to be a true independent” of Republican antecedents. He said his daddy is a Republican and his daddy’s parents were Republicans.

Hoke concluded, “God is not a Republican, nor is he a Democrat. We created these parties for useful voting blocks.

“I sincerely doubt God is worried about the future of either. I don’t think that God wants to raise or lower taxes. Pretending that somehow one party is morally superior and thus more Godly is an affront to me and should be an affront to any person in either party.”

We of Presbyterian antecedents generally don’t do “amens.” After all, we’re the “frozen chosen.” But permit me to “amen” Hoke, whose major was my minor at Murray State University , also in the Bluegrass State .

My major was history. Studying history and politics, I learned that one of the greatest of all human tragedies is the shedding of oceans of blood in the name of religion. I often read Mark Twain’s famous “War Prayer” to my history students.

Our country’s founders studied history and politics, too. They mainly looked to Europe , from whence they or their forebears came.

For centuries, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant European Christians persecuted, tortured and killed each other. Christians also persecuted, tortured and killed Jews, Muslims and other of God’s children in their midst whom they considered hell-bound.

Thankfully, our country has been spared religious warfare, thanks to our founders who had the wisdom to erect a stout wall between church and state in the First Amendment to our constitution.

Long before that, Roger Williams, a devout Christian and the founder of Rhode Island, powerfully argued for separation of church and state. “God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.”

In any event, the Good Book warns against mortals claiming things like “you can’t be a Christian and a Democrat” or hinting that voting for Democrats can send you to hell.

I’m no Bible scholar. But Proverbs 16:18 warns us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” There’s Luke 6:37, too: “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”

Berry Craig

Declaring, or intimating, that voting Democratic puts anybody on the road to perdition, or risks damnation, is high arrogance, if not downright blasphemy, because it presumes knowledge of God that no mortal can apprehend.

Humility, not hubris, is the Presbyterian way.

“For heaven’s sake, don’t let a politician use God to get your vote,” Joshua Hoke pleaded. He’s making me sound like a Baptist, because here comes another “amen!”

Berry Craig

Posted: Sunday, 4 November 2012

Published by the LA Progressive on November 4, 2012
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Berry Craig

Berry Craig is an emeritus professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and Technical College in Paducah and a freelance writer. He is a member of American Federation of Teachers Local 1360, the recording secretary for the Western Kentucky Area Council, AFL-CIO, and the author of True Tales of Old-Time Kentucky Politics: Bombast, Bourbon and Burgoo, Hidden History of Kentucky in the Civil War, Hidden History of Kentucky Soldiers and Hidden History of Western Kentucky. He is a native of Mayfield, Ky., where he lives with his wife of 33 years and their 20-year-old son.