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Deseret.com just ran an article called: The danger of trading religion for politics in which they showcased the following 3 quotes:
Utah Governor Spencer Cox, a Latter-day Saint, decried this pandemic-era mentality and the shift from pews to PACs: “We may not have any real friends, and we may not know our neighbors, but at least we can hate the same people together on Facebook. And that’s bringing people together in this new type of religion.”
Matt Lewis, a Daily Beast commentator said that: “We used to be a religious people that engaged in politics,” he lamented. “Now, politics has become a religion for many people.”
And finally, Shadi Hamid wrote in an essay for The Atlantic, “American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief.”
Why is this happening and what can be done? In the book Christ Vs. Caesar, Connor Boyack, a political figure, leader, and commentator, states that it is because we have forgotten the Savior's most basic teaching of the Golden Rule. He says:
Many Christians appear to believe that the “Golden Rule,” as it is commonly called, is only a mandate on individuals and not institutions—as if a loophole exists, providing cover from the commandment for organizations of people. But a group is composed of individuals to whom the law applies, so it therefore follows that it applies to groups of people as well. Forming a government, composed of individuals, does not magically make an asterisk appear after the scripture saying that God’s counsel—upon which all of His law depends—is suddenly revoked.
“Wherever it is found and however it is expressed,” one of Christ’s apostles taught, “the Golden Rule encompasses the moral code of the kingdom of God. It forbids interference by one with the rights of another. It is equally binding upon nations, associations, and individuals.” Christians must reject Caesar because they are commanded to love others; Caesar’s very existence and power is predicated on hatred and control of others. Even well-intentioned policies of and people serving in the state are part of a system that relies upon coercion of others; the system’s existence, and its “Iron Rule” of the proverbial sword to enforce its edicts, cannot be reconciled with God’s law of love.
Caesar violates this law in many ways, chief among them through war. Satan’s minions “maketh war with the saints of God” while also fighting amongst themselves. Since the world began, he has had “great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death."
Just a few weeks after the attacks, the United States military began its fight in Afghanistan. Ninety percent of Americans approved of these attacks “in retaliation” for 9/11.20 The belligerent attitude was exemplified by President Bush, who told others, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Those who objected to this hate-filled response were branded as terrorist sympathizers.
Jesus did not back down when challenged, even when confronted with a hostile majority— should we? “If ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me,” Jesus tells his modern-day disciples. Immediately after, he adds that we must, presumably as part of this covenant, “renounce war and proclaim peace.” We must do so because those affected by war are our neighbors, and we are called to love them. Caesar desires war—with its hoarding of resources, centralization of power, and destruction of God’s children—and cultivates conditions whereby one group seeks to dominate or retaliate against another. Christians are commanded to break this cycle of violence and obey the law of love.
Mitt Romney said during his presidential run: “These people declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are, and we kill them.” To consistent applause, the barbaric call to invade, bomb, sanction, and occupy foreign lands was welcomed by this predominantly Christian crowd with open, eager arms.
Dr. Paul invited the audience to consider a different approach to foreign policy, imagining what the policies they were cheering for might feel like if they were on the other end:
If another country does to us what we do to others, we’re not going to like it very much. So I would say that maybe we ought to consider a Golden Rule in foreign policy: Don’t do to other nations what we don’t want them to do to us.
The audience erupted with boos at the mere mention of this most fundamental Christian concept and the suggestion that it be applied to the government’s policies. Having Christians on stage and in the audience outright reject this foundational law, upon which all of God’s law is predicated, is another example of how many supposed disciples “draw near [to God] with their mouth, and with their lips do honor [Him], but have removed their heart far from [Him].” Caesar’s methods are culturally preferred; the "natural man” prefers to rely upon the “arm of flesh” and its promise of security and retribution.
As a result, “we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people,” one prophet noted, saying he was “appalled and frightened” at how poorly God’s people were following His expectations.
For too long, Christians have aligned themselves with Caesar to justify a systemic deviation from God’s commandments, seemingly believing that loving one’s neighbor applies only to non-governmental actions of an interpersonal nature. If God’s people have utterly failed to apply His law of love to the most serious of Caesar’s actions, can we be expected to consistently apply it to more mundane and less visible violations?
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments!