Liquid Footprints

Political Religion

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School Prayer meetingReligion has no place in politics…although they have always been bed mates. All the “God Talk” in politics today troubles me for several reasons. First, it alienates people who don’t believe in the Christian God.It creates an “us versus them” slant as we see in America lately.

It also usurps religion in the name of politics. It is naive to think politics is the tool of religion. History shows politics uses religion as a tool for its own ends.

Next, it is not Christian to wear religion in public, according to Jesus:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6: 1-5, 16

Jesus is telling us that religious practice is a private matter. We are to help people, pray, fast, and practice in secret. He says prayer must be done in solitude.  Praying in public isn’t good practice; like the Pharisees, people who publicly pray do so for the attention of other people.

Politics is all about attention. When Christians pray in public, as politicians and various televangelists tend to do, they are violating Jesus’ directions about religious practice. Public religion just seeks the praise and attention of other people, making it the ideal tool for politics.

I remain uncomfortable with modern worship practices and public talk of God. Jesus says religion must be private to be proper in God’s eyes (6:1). Religion cannot be political and follow His directions:

“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Matthew 22: 21

Not only did Jesus divide religion from public life, He also suggested the separation of Church and State. Government and God each have their own assets separate from the other. Jesus wasn’t a secularist, but He seemed to think religion and politics need to be separate for both to be proper in God’s eyes.

Religion isn’t a public or political matter; religion is individual and private. It should not be discussed unless in private and asked. It isn’t a matter of shame. It is simply the Lord’s command.

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Author: Chris

Wanders the world of Japanese culture and library nerdiness.

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