The religion of politics

Republican politics, since the rise of the “Moral Majority” about three decades ago, has become increasingly religion-aware. I can’t use the word religious and certainly can’t say spiritual, but religion-aware seems to sum it up nicely. I was just reading a bit on MSNBC by Howard Fineman (The Preacher Primary) talking about the political interest in the National Religious Broadcasters convention – it seems that four of the announced candidates are attending, including Mitt Romney. It is certainly an interesting phenomenon, and it seems that the religious broadcasters – at least the power brokers, Falwell, Robertson and Dobson – have just as much interest in getting control of the candidates. Giuliani, by the way, will not be there – it seems he doesn’t need them as much as the others do. (That may be reason enough to vote for him…)

This coming election brings a new twist to the tangled web that is politics: Newly announced candidate Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, ex-social liberal and recently converted pro-lifer, is a “devout” Mormon, and former bishop of the Mormon Church. Even more interesting is that it appears that this may be good enough for Pat Robertson, who has apparently already slated Romney to speak at Robertson’s Regent College commencement.

Romney is working hard to build an acceptance, or at least a comfort level, with conservative Christians. He knows that he has little chance without them. In another MSNBC article, Romney is quoted as saying,

I believe in God. I believe that all the men and women in this country are children of God — the men and women of the entire world, our brothers and sisters,” he added. “The kind of values which I have in my heart are the kinds of values which America needs.

This is a different issue than when John Kennedy had to overcome his Catholic allegiance, and I think even different than someone who may be Jewish. Make no mistake, when a Mormon says that he believes in “God” he is not meaning the God of the Jews, Christians, and even Muslims, and to say that “all … are children of God” is to say something else entirely.

For some, the issues may be more important than faith. From a political, earthly point of view, this indeed makes sense. However, from a “spiritual” point of view, I don’t think it does. In fact, looking only at moral issues is really not that different than Pharisee-ism or (gasp) humanism; it is looking at “flesh and blood” (to quote Paul in Ephesians) rather than the spiritual realities.

I’ve thought for a long time that many of the “Christian” conservative political evangelists have been trying to build the Kingdom of God by fighting wars against flesh and blood – again, one of the errors of the Pharisees (and other 1st Century Jewish sects). Manipulating earthly powers and principalities only goes so far. This is not to say that God can’t use anybody – God has used many pagan rulers for His purposes. However, given the option (which, unlike many countries, we do) I’d rather that when my president prays, I’d like him to pray to someone who can answer back.

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