Political Tribalism in America Is Unbearably Toxic.
Christians in America are oblivious to the way their political entanglement and tribalism have led them away from Jesus and into the heart of darkness.
It started a long time ago. As Princeton historian Kevin Kruse details in his book, “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America,” our country’s religious prostitution began in the 1950’s. That was when, as Kruse explains, business leaders plotted to link Christianity, Republican politics, and libertarian economics tightly together.
Why? Simply to create a feeling of solidarity between Christians and Corporations who might both see “Big Government” as a common enemy.
This is where our national motto, “In God We Trust” (1956), and a new line in the Pledge of Allegiance was added: “One nation under God” (1954) came from.
Their goal was simple: To entangle Christianity with Republican politics in order to benefit big business.
Simply put: It worked.
On a national level, it’s even worse. We no longer have a Government by the people, for the people, and of the people. Instead, corporations have been legally redefined as people and laws are passed that benefit those corporations, regardless of whether or not the American people want those laws or benefit from them. And most often they do not benefit at all but pay a hefty price.
This entanglement of our faith with politics is pervasive. It has saturated our identity.
Many Christian leaders and pastors vocally support candidates that a few years ago would have been shunned for their shameful behaviors. But today those politicians are embraced so that the Republican party can gain power and maintain dominance in the House or the Senate.
Now, Republicans seek to dissolve the Johnson Amendment which was put in place over 60 years ago to ensure that charitable organizations – including Christian churches – remain non-partisan. Over 4,000 faith leaders recently voiced their support for keeping the Johnson Amendment in place. So, why are politicians interested in having it repealed?
So that Christian Churches can more openly endorse political candidates and the entanglement of faith and politics in America can continue.
Who does this benefit? It benefits political parties, not the Church.
As three different Christian pastors in Houston recently said:
“In our more than 50 years of pastoring churches, we have never shied away from preaching about controversial issues. Nor has the inability of our churches to endorse a candidate prevented any of us in any way from testifying before the city council, writing op-eds or raising our voices in other ways on social issues. Giving our congregations a theological lens through which to view the issues of the day does not require coming anywhere close to the church endorsing a candidate for political office.”
In their summary, these same Christian pastors noted:
“Churches, however, are not partisan institutions. Mixing churches and partisanship is a bit like mixing ice cream and manure: No one ever thinks less of the manure.“Thankfully, many Christians are waking up to the dangers of entanglement, including conservative political columnist Dana Hall McCain who said:
“Here’s where we are: the GOP has come to understand that Evangelicals are trained seals. We show up and clap for any clown you can slap a Republican jersey on. It doesn’t even have to be a godly or wise person. Our votes are a sure thing, and we’ll turn out and vote for problematic or corrupt GOP candidates far more consistently than non-religious conservatives. So come to terms with the fact that the church isn’t influencing diddly squat, not even in our favorite party. To the contrary, the church is the one being influenced — and our credibility before a lost and dying world destroyed — because we have believed the great lie about political engagement.
We have all the power in the world, but we lack the faith to exercise it. They own us, because we don’t trust God enough to call the bluff.”
She’s right: Christians already have “all the power in the world” and it’s called “The Gospel.” We have simply abandoned that power to transform hearts and minds from the inside-out and traded it for legislative power to govern from the top-down.
The entanglement of Christianity and Conservative Politics is now fully realized. Many Christians in America cannot separate their faith from their politics. They are more American than Christian. They cannot imagine following Jesus apart from political action or influence via their political party.
Those on the outside of our faith cannot see the difference between our faith and our politics either. This is probably one of the more damaging aspects of our entanglement. Christianity, to a non-Christian, looks more like a political party, not a way of loving our neighbors or following the teachings of Jesus.
Because American Christianity has become so completely entangled with Conservative Republican politics, we have become impotent and irrelevant. Thousands of people are leaving the faith because they are sick of this political entanglement. They want Jesus and we give them politics. They want to follow Christ and we want to follow a political ideology. Until we abandon one, we cannot fully embrace the other. Or, as one wise man once put it: “You cannot serve two masters. You will hate one or love the other.”
The simple truth is this: You can’t convert a system if that system has already converted you.
Today’s Christians are hopelessly entangled in partisan politics. Since we are more American and Republican than Christ-like, we cannot convert anyone to Christianity until we repent of our tribalism.
Tribalism is what leads us to hate someone for their political affiliation. It’s what empowers us to divide the Body of Christ over which candidates we like, even though Paul the Apostle wouldn’t allow Christians in Corinth to divide over which Apostle was their favorite.
Until Christians in America can untangle themselves from politics and honestly say that they have no King but Jesus, the Gospel will remain un-preached and worse, un-lived.
There is a way to save this nation, but it’s not a political solution. Until we wake up and realize that, we will continue to be manipulated by tribalism and traitors to our one true Nation, which is the Kingdom of God.
Crucify your politics and pledge allegiance to the Lamb while you can.
The time is short.
Keith Giles is the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb.”