“Never discuss religion or politics in polite company.”
Ah, the joys of an election year! The time to show our countrymen of the error of their ways and–through repetition of overpowering facts–convince them that our candidate is the last chance for ‘Murica. It’s the American way: as time-honored as blue jeans and as necessary as pumpkin pie.
Over the past 250 years, American access to news has expanded from shared month-old newspapers to innumerable sources of dubious credibility literally at our fingertips. Our gossip, once word-of-mouth about waste of money or affairs, now includes videos of exhausted seven-year-olds pushing away their father’s goodbye kiss. And our setting for political discussions has evolved from face-to-face over a mug of beer at the local tavern to Facebook posts from a table near an outlet with a quad-venti-non-fat-with-extra-whip-but-no-foam-and-five-extra-pumps-white-mocha. We excessively post unyielding opinions and disregard or verbally crush responses from others.
In true American fashion, we cannot separate religion from politics. Religion–or lack thereof–shapes our individual values: politics apply the values of us as a nation to our lifestyle. Political conversations reveal that our neighbors, coworkers, even our friends have different values from our own. Our backlash to that discovery is fascinating, enlightening, even frightening. Allow me to paraphrase some reactions of my Christian Facebook friends:
- Rubio and his supporters are morons. Oh, and he’s Catholic, so…
- Obviously, true Christians would never consider Bernie or Hillary because of abortion and homosexuality.
- How could Christians vote for Trump? Because they are “Christians.”
- Cruz is the only Biblical option for Christians. If you disagree, you are either uninformed or need to get right with God.
- Carson doesn’t believe in hell. [Somehow this disqualifies him from the presidency.]
- If a professor is a pacifist and share that belief with his/her students, he/she should not be teaching at a Christian institution.
Election years bring so many issues to the forefront: immigration, healthcare, civil rights, taxes, environment, education, foreign affairs, military, etc. None of us will agree 100% with any candidate’s plan to fix or adjust our system [if you do, you probably don’t know enough about your candidate]. Also, there are many strategies for voting: based on principle, despite your candidate’s chances; based on who could best unite the party, though your principles may be compromised; based on the lesser of two evils; even voting in the other party against the one you REALLY don’t want to win. With so many factors in the political game, we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).
We are one nation. We have vastly different experiences and beliefs. We are proud, passionate, and opinionated. Ironically, we are both united and divided by our love for our country. In trying to secure her future, we often lose site of each other. We will argue and disagree–it’s as American as Coca-Cola…or Pepsi, if you prefer–but we can do so without name calling, without verbally biting and tearing at each other, without separating from one another. Especially as Christians, we are united through Someone greater than our country. What does He say about our principles and political opinions? He says, if I may quote one of Hillary Clinton’s favorite passages, “…if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” -I Corinthians 13:2