I was born in 1980. In the world I was born into, there was never a time when Evangelical Christianity was not symbiotically linked to the Republican Party. This marriage has puzzled me for a long as I could remember. At a very personal and emotional level, I have always known that there was a glaring disconnect between the political, economic, and social agenda of the Republican Party and the Christian faith I had grown into. Thirty-five years later, I have come to understand that the political religion that Republicans espouse is antithetical to Christianity. And yet, Christianity has become vital to the success of the Republican Party.
It is likely that the Republican Party would not exist today if not for the Christian Evangelical vote. Hundreds of thousands of Christian voters wrestle within themselves because of their deep spiritual conviction, their political beliefs, and the notion that in order to be a serious Christian you must vote Republican. For this marriage of faith and politics to endure, it was entirely necessary for modern Christianity to stray from its true meaning: followers of Christ. Christianity, by most beliefs, is the internal work of becoming more like Jesus. Emphasis may vary be denomination, but one thing remains the same: being like Christ requires us to examine ourselves and to change those things about us that are not like Him. Being Christian is about seeking forgiveness and forgiving. It is, indeed, a personal, internal affair.
Unfortunately, many of us have transformed the faith into a bludgeoning tool that self-righteously allows us to believe that others need to change into being more like us. Although very few Christians will ever put it so bluntly, the reality is that our faith has become less about changing our personal behavior and character and more about telling others what they need to change. Modern Christianity–more precisely, the conservatively political Christianity–is about forcing Americans through legislation to live according to Biblical principles. Yet Christ never forced himself on anyone. He never condemned those who were not like Him. Indeed, he did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world, through him, might be saved.
Christ presented to all of us a choice that, through our free will, we could accept or reject. This freedom of choice is at the core of Christianity. God does not want us to follow him out of compulsion. Yet, people of faith often look to politicians to enact legislation that, ostensibly, would make America “more Christian.” Sadly, all that was ever needed for America to become more Christian was for Christians in America to act more like Christ by demonstrating his love to world. However, instead of the world knowing us by the love that as Christians we should be demonstrating, too often they have known us by our zealotry and bigotry. We have become preoccupied with forcing prayer back into schools, stopping all abortions in all cases, and opposing gay rights because that is what has been lifted up to us by political strategists as the chief concern of modern Christians. Yet none of these issues would make America any more Christian than if we focused on loving our neighbor, forgiving our enemies, aiding the poor, sheltering the homeless and being more like the Biblical Jesus.
And to add insult to injury, not only is America no closer to being a Christian nation socially, Republican policies have exasperated poverty, income inequality, and set back matters of social and economic justice. It is because of this deceit that I find it necessary to speak the obvious truth: God is Not a Republican.
This post was adapted from the Introduction of the book, God is Not a Republican.