The stupidest assertion that Christians make is that politics don’t belong in the pulpit. In other words, preachers should not apply ancient sacred teachings to how our lives are actually publicly lived. Rather, spirituality is private and personal and disconnected from public life. The pulpit should contain itself to personal morality and doing good deeds. And so preachers appeal to ancient words that basically trot out tired everyday admonitions to love one another alongside empty moralisms that don’t go much beyond being a good citizen and a nice neighbor. Although that’s better than nothing, it is quite a comedown from a religion whose founder was arrested, tortured and murdered as a political terrorist and a threat to society.
Meanwhile, right under our noses, the partisan politics of the Republican Party have merged with a form of Christianity that across the board voted for Trump and his brand of elitist dominance. It doesn’t matter that Trump himself is the antithesis to what Christians think of as human decency. Nor, evidently, does it matter to Christians that the Republican Party itself articulates policies of cruelty, and a turn toward authoritarian governance.
These things don’t matter to Christians because so many have succumbed to the lie that politics isn’t a form of spirituality. For example, Christians try to do good things: They run soup kitchens, open up their buildings for shelters, take in refugees, build houses for low-income folks and advocate for the poor. But what they don’t do is actually act like Jesus and confront those powers that are causing hunger, homelessness, displacement and poverty.
We are living in a permanent war economy, and yet Christians still proudly send their sons and daughters off to be cannon-fodder for the pharaoh-type wealthy.
What Christians don’t do is to acknowledge the obvious: We are living in a permanent war economy, and yet Christians still proudly send their sons and daughters off to be cannon-fodder for the pharaoh-type wealthy. Christians don’t really engage the power dynamics behind the sexual scandals and the #MeToo movement. Despite preaching the good news that all are welcome, the church is still far too unwelcoming for women, same-sex folks, transgender folks and any others who refuse to serve the interests of a male hierarchy. The church is deafeningly silent about the continual dismantling and hollowing out of the infrastructure of democracy, about the assault on the media, the obsession to destroy public education, health care and Social Security. The church seemingly is unconcerned about the increasingly pro-corporation, anti-environmental, pro-authoritarian appointments to the federal judiciary. And there is not a word about the rising Christian Zionism and Christian theocracy movements that are welcomed in the Republican Party and supported by far too many Christians.
None of this is being talked about in congregations because politics somehow are not a spiritual concern. Jesus only talked about love and never justice. And churches ought not do anything other than salve the conscience of the complicit.
Rev. Rich Lang is the district superintendent of the United Methodist Church in King County. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more Faith, Culture & Politics by Lang.
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