Opinion: The immorality of politicians politicizing religion

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Last week, President Donald Trump came through on one of his campaign promises, to end the great, great “War on Christmas,” which is the latest example of fusing Church and State, which I believe is morally unacceptable.

Since my first name is Christian, MSU’s School of Journalism gave me the forum to speak on the intersection of Christianity and politics.

Not really, but I wanted to point that out.

Christian Barrington in Michigan State’s Spartan Newsroom on September 17. Photo taken by Patti Davis.

To be serious, a person’s religious and political identities, does not change the way I perceive them.

You could hail Satan while marrying Hillary Clinton’s photo — but as long as you are a good and accepting person who does not hurt anyone and has an expansive, open mind — I could care less about your beliefs. Why? Because we are given that right, as Americans, to have our own beliefs.

What does change the way I see someone is the way they treat others, especially those who are different from them.

In primary school, history classes taught Puritans settled in the United States of America, sailing the ocean blue in the name of religious freedom. Fast forward 387 years later, the great country of Red, White and blue has hundreds of religions.

Since then, Americans have debated when and how religion should be used in governmental affairs, from Thomas Jefferson’s call for a wall to the Supreme Court cases that separates church and state.

Politicians politicizing their religious views – An overview

“This sort of thing has ebbed and flowed throughout U.S. history,” said Frank Ravitch, an MSU law professor and Walter H. Stowers chair in law and religion. “In modern times, many people think that Ronald Reagan’s bringing of religious conservatives into political power may have had some impact on this.”

The close-knit relationship between religion and politics is evident in Thomas Jefferson’s political career, according to Jonathan Hartog’s “Patriotism and Piety.” Federalists would attack Jefferson and other Republican candidates for infidelity in any form.

In more recent years, Reagan used the conservative Christian right to help him get elected. Some of them were even invited into government positions, such as Everett Koop, who vehemently opposed abortion on religious grounds, and Charles Heatherly who joined the U.S. Department of Education. According to Ravitch, the legality behind these actions are a little unclear.

The issue

President Ronald Reagan | Credit: Pexels

The issue with Reagan, Trump and many other politicians actions is that not everyone in America celebrates the same religion or a religion at all. Beginning with Koop, who opposed abortion on religious grounds, why should any man or woman, without a medical degree dictate what a woman does with her body because of their own religious beliefs?

As Arthur Caplan, professor and founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center said: “Many scientists would say they don’t know when life begins. There are a series of landmark moments. The first is conception, the second is the development of the spine, the third the development of the brain, consciousness, and so on.”

So, why are politicians, who have no medical degree, no priesthood and for the most part, no education besides what most Americans know from high school biology, have a right to say when life begins, and what the woman hosting that life is to do with it?

If politicians are so concerned with protecting life in the name of their God, what about protecting the health of those already here, who use services like Planned Parenthood for medical screenings? For, if we are supposed to, “Love thy neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these,” why would we deny medical care to those who cannot afford it?

While the organization does provide abortions to women, (who have a legal right to participate in the service), it also provides medical checkups, cancer screenings, STD/HIV testing, LGBT, men and women health services as well as a multitude of other medical services.

So, if politicians like President Trump, want to de-fund Planned Parenthood, they will be taking away medical services from the roughly 4.5 million Americans who visit the clinics each year.

In addition to abortion, politicians use religion to oppose same-sex marriage; it’s a crazy concept, to allow two people who love each other to enjoy the tax, health insurance and securities that marriage gives.

First, most scientists know it is something a gay person cannot control, as the National Post points out, “researchers who looked at the complete genome – a person’s entire DNA code – for more than 1,000 gay men and compared it to genetic data from a similar number of heterosexuals, found the DNA was different for gay and straight men in at least two genes.”

Third, many religious leaders are moving toward acceptance of gay culture, as is the case with University Lutheran Church in East Lansing, Mich. Pastor Haley Vae of University Lutheran said, “we are reconciling in Christ which means we are accepting of all people, no matter who they are.”

Also, 71 percent of Catholics believe gay people should be accepted, and 62 percent of Americans believe gay marriage should be legal, according to a PEW Research report.

Conclusion

The point of this article is to address why politicians should leave their personal beliefs at home when trying to make a better country for the rest of us. Not everyone practices the same religion or even at all. We all lead different lives and some of us will have to go through things like abortion, Planned Parenthood or same-sex marriage, and when those select people do, they should have their government’s full support. While the United States of America is incredibly religious, it is not a theocracy, and it should not be governed as such.

2 thoughts on “Opinion: The immorality of politicians politicizing religion

  1. So the culture war continues. And the one side using gov’t to coerce everybody to practice its post-modern feminist faith is muzzling individual free expression. Notice the silence of the ACLU on this issue. No two Christians identically practice the Christian religion as it perpetually evolves and creates new denominations and ways of examining itself. However, Christians of all denominations generally fall into two categories with infinite shades: church attending and private. As long as we are a free country, our presidents will be unique. As long as we are a democracy, our presidents will most likely be Christians.

    On religion in gov’t we must not confuse an office holder with the office held. The Clinton-Lewinsky drama made the differences between the president and the presidency crystal clear. President Clinton invited Billy Graham to speak at his 1993 inauguration, -no protests. George W. Bush made multiple references to being guided by the Holy Spirit. President Obama set a 21st century precedent on the president publicly being engaged in cultural activities; among them he volunteered at Martha’s Kitchen, -without objection anywhere online. These examples are not restricted to the post-Reagan years.

    George Washington made a Thanksgiving Proclamation every year of his presidency, the first one opened: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” John Adams continued the tradition. Thomas Jefferson only publicly celebrated New Years Day and Independence day as president, while he privately put together his “Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.” In ending the tradition of Thanksgiving Proclamations Jefferson established a new tradition of letting the President celebrate the holidays as he chooses, as long as no explicitly religious symbols are used: no nativity scenes, no crosses.

    Experiences shape individuals. Christian organizations likely made a good impression on Washington and Adams. We know they made a bad impression on Jefferson. In England, the ruling monarch was the governor of the Church of England while having the ability to influence parliament to wage war against the colonies.. While Jefferson was Governor of Virginia, a representative for the Crown Lt. Col. Tarleton went to Monticello intending to take the life of the drafter of the Declaration of Independence. As Jefferson escaped, Tarleton took the able horses, poultry, pigs etc., sliced the throats of all the animals he did not take, destroyed the crops he did not take and destroyed or damaged all standing structures. Jefferson tore down the unfinished first Monticello mansion after the revolution.

    We know that Donald Trump’s brother Fred Trump Jr. committed suicide, although it is said he died of “alcoholism,”; whatever the cause of death, it is a tough cross to bear. As it is a family matter, we can only presume that Chistianity was a comfort during that period.

    As long as Post-Modern Feminists (socialist feminists) lack democratic support to put one of their own in the office of the presidency, they will continually clamor that all the actions of a president not consistent with its ideology are “unconstitutional.”

  2. “Judge not that ye be not judged, for you only reveal your own familiarity with the vices you know well.” And of course an article on the “immorality” of politicians politicizing religion would argue as stated hereinabove:

    “For, if we are supposed to, “Love thy neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these,” why would we deny medical care to those who cannot afford it?”

    Insult to injury, Barrington uses the royal “we” as if 1776 never happened.

    Obviously Barrington does not know, let alone understand Christian love and Christian approaches to love. A loved person must be a part of one’s associations, personal and professional: “for god so loved the world [which he created] he gave his only begotten son [to die].” The world is gods creation; like a child is the creation of a man and woman. Every person associated with the child is to be loved by the parents, in appropriate ways. Husbands are instructed to “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (EPH 5:25). Communist flags are “red” to symbolize the peoples sacrifices for the state, which parades as a god.

    Socialists intentionally misunderstand the meaning of “neighbor,” and somehow construct it to be total strangers that one has never met. On the eve of the Soviet revolution, the “love thy neighbor” precept of the Bible was exploited to justify the communist takeover of the government. In the passage from the Sermon on the Mount on love concerning enemies, a potential enemy is a person that can hit one, sue one in a court of law or personally ask one to do something.” In essence, it guides Christians to not make enemies, be careful in ones associations and demonstrates the cost of making friends with bad people. When a Xian makes an enemy, they are categorized as follows: 1) the malicious gossipers are blessed, 2) hateful associations receive pity; 3) despiteful users are ignored and prayed for. No reasonable construction of the Bible implies love your neighbors wife as you love your own; in fact it consistently demonstrates the different forms of love culturally celebrated in the ancient world: agape, eros, philia, etc.

    The socialist interpretation of the Bible denies Christians opportunities to give; gov’t redistribution of wealth is by no means giving. Love is a voluntary choice. As David Hume said, “the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous.”