In the span of less than a year, a significant portion of Christians in the United States have left their political party and have found themselves lost, confused, and disturbed by the political arena today. The liberal portion of the church that has remained relatively untouched are, I suspect, primarily people who believe in a strong division between church and state and who do not look to our president (or any other government officers) to be a religious leader. Indeed, we have even questioned the relevance of their moral authority over us at least as far back as President Nixon. I think it is wrong however to claim that this disappointment is purely a Republican or conservative Christian problem in light of the many supporters of Bernie Sanders who were disappointed by his loss to Hilary Clinton in the primaries.
It is certainly a problem for conservative Christians though. The Republican Party has enjoyed a history of appealing to the Conservative Christian’s on issues, one of the most significant being their Pro-life/anti-abortion stance. I won’t pretend they have ever been perfect. While I have been impressed by some of their members, I’ve not been a supporter of either party. I’ve seen enough non-Christian and anti-Christian values mixed into the politics of both major parties throughout my lifetime, and I’ve never been one to put my faith in human institutions in general.
The way party politics has not changed. Money still leads the way to the seats of authority in our country, the same way it has for generations. Compromise is still the key to get ahead in politics – a tactic that probably predates the United States and that we all probably learned from the many nations from which our ancestors originated. In many ways the issues that we face today are the same issues we faced last year, fifty years ago, and a hundred years ago.
What has changed is the rhetoric. Today, it is more socially acceptable to be impolitely honest. We have social media that allows us to hide behind invented handles and user names which gives us the illusion of anonymity. That has invited us to say what we think without considering the ramifications of our “free speech”. We are calling out the ‘Good Ole Boy’ networks that have maintained our national status quo for years – and not just in the political realm. This has begun to dominate the business realm as well. Cable TV companies have been given a run for their money by the upstart Netflix who has effectively changed the game on them. The publishing companies and bookstores all across our country are going out of business and in disarray with the advent of digital books, and Amazon’s Kindle in particular. More and more people are becoming self-published authors today, bypassing the publishing companies altogether as they find new innovative ways to market their products. Kickstarter, Ebay, Craigslist, YouTube… the list goes on . The secrets of the game of succeeding in American Capitalism are out, the cheat codes have been published, and now we are rewriting the rules of the game.
The world is changing, the wheel is turning, and many of us have more power at our fingertips than we realize. Having power, is not the same as having the wisdom and morals to know when and how to use it… which brings us back to our current situation. Power can be attained, but when it is easily obtained for one, it is easily obtained for all, and the repercussions of that mean that those who command the hearts of people are also at the mercy of their jealousy. Anyone going into leadership should first learn the lesson that humans often crucify their saviors. My suspicion is that our current political disarray as well as some of the cultural violence that is plaguing our nation is due to the consequences that we have tried to sweep under the rug for far too long. Now we have people with power, both publicly and behind the scenes, who have been freed from the accountability of moral teaching and who got where they are today by stepping on all those behind them. In short, our own desire for personal freedom from obligations and responsibility has set the stage for these political actors we have before us today.
What can we do now? Stay tuned for more.