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Before God and Emperor (27)
Christopher B. Harbin
Politics and faith do not make good bedfellows. All throughout history, we have seen evidence that when politics interferes with faith, faith becomes distorted and used as a weapon for control. On the other hand, all too often when people of faith attempt to use politics to promote their faith we end up in the very same place. It would seem that the use of power comes much more naturally to a politician than to a faith leader. When it enters the church, it distracts us from God and especially from the gospel Jesus presented.
At the same time, faith in God as Jesus taught it must by definition infiltrate every aspect of our lives, including the political aspects of our relationships. No church, after all is without its own political structures. There is no family without some rules and forms of using and managing power and the conflicts it both generates and attempts to resolve. We are political beings because we live in structures, organizations, and societies. Whatever the social group, we need some kind of direction for how to manage our living and interactions. As one friends commented, ''you can mix ice cream and manure without harming the manure.''
While the founders of the USA wrote of a wall of separation between church and state, there must at some point be some kind of appropriate relationship between faith and politics, simply because we are not able to fully divorce the two aspects of our beings. The issues the Constitution sought to delimit was where one religious structure was given prominence over another, began to dictate matters of faith for the government to enforce, and where the government began to interfere with the practice of faith in its varied forms throughout the land.
It is a hard balancing act for the government to remain outside the bounds of the discourse of faith while persons of faith have a voice and vote in the decisions and policies ...
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