In 2005, Reverend Jim Wallis published a book, “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get it.” In an attempt to give you a bare bones summary, Wallace writes about how the political Right has co-opted the Christian faith; they tout it as their own and promote candidates in such a way that one might get confused and think God Herself (or Himself, if you want to support the status quo. Spoiler: Jesus didn’t!) picked George Bush to be the President. They make it seem like voting Republican is the only option. They’re getting it wrong.
The political Left, on the other hand, barely gets it at all! There are powerful messages throughout the Old and New Testaments that reflect many values Democrats hold in esteem. For instance, the gospel tells us repeatedly to minister and care for the poor, so it would likely follow that tax cuts for the rich don’t align with Christian values, right? Unfortunately, most Left wing politicians fail miserably at reaching out to Christian values voters and explaining these things.
Let’s try another one. Hebrews 12:14 urges us to make every effort to live in peace with others and to be holy. And yet, if you even so much as think about cutting the defense budget Republicans accuse you of being “weak on defense,” which is tantamount to political suicide in this post 9-11 age.
With a degree of level-headedness that I can always trust Jim Wallis to embody, he acknowledges that good people of faith can vote both Republican and Democrat. What isn’t fair is when Republican candidates are labeled as the only Christian option, primarily because of the two hottest button issues: abortion and gay marriage. My Christian faith tells me that poverty, peace, environmental issues, social justice, and above all love for thy neighbor are reasons I should vote Democrat.
Ultimately, Reverend Wallace phrases it better than I. He writes, “In particular, an enormous public misrepresentation of Christianity has taken place.” What we need, then, is for Faithful Democrats to stand up to the Religious Right. Where is our courage? Where is our gumption?
Some of this hesitancy might stem, in part, from Democrats’ wonderful gift of religious tolerance. We don’t want to offend or push away non-Christian voters. There are Muslims, Jews, Atheists and a whole slew of people from other faiths who support the same policies we do. But there has got to be a middle ground. Can we as Democrats find a way to voice our Christian faith and support our Christian values without co-opting them in the name of politics?
I think we can. I think we must.
In a stroke of spiritual genius, Rev. Wallace writes, “Neither religious nor secular fundamentalism can save us, but a new spiritual revival that ignites deep social conscience could transform our society. Movements do change history, and the strongest ones are those with a spiritual foundation.”
So unfortunately, seven years later, the book “God’s Politics” more or less still stands. But it is my hope that in the coming decade we will figure out a way to implement the Politics of God in a system where the poor are uplifted not demonized, where peace is the goal of leaders worldwide, and where we act as stewards of the Earth we’ve been given.
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