What Is The Church’s Current Influence On The American Political Scene?
In my blogs I never have addressed the topic of Church and politics until today, for I see a trend occurring that is setting the ground work for revival. Church + politics = religion. It has played out in Jewish history, and it is being played out today in Christian congregations through out America in local, regional, and denominational church politics, and it is now being playing out on the national political stage during this Presidential Election year. Even the secular world is trying to divide and separate the two, for they question their impact when together!
“Hi, I am Jimmy Carter, and I am running for President,” boasted an unknown governor from Georgia in the 1970’s that caught the eye of America. He came under fire but to the forefront of the American political scene when he admitted he was “born again”, and all of a sudden being “Born Again” became cool. Billy Graham’s career was established on the phrase, “You must be born again,” and his political influence reached several White Houses and Presidents. Politics and religion have always been debatable topics, and the two only intersect when they can win votes. “Who will run America if John F. Kennedy becomes President, the Pope?” was a political question of his Roman Catholic heritage in the ‘70’s. “Should a divorcee be allowed to run for the Presidency” was an issue Reagan faced in the ‘80’s. “Should American overlook immorality in the White House?” fueled the debate during the Clinton Presidency.
Being raised in an evangelical Christian environment all my life, I heard pastor after pastor, decade after decade, give sermons debating if Christians should be involved in politics and the power of prayer for our political leaders. I remember the rise of Jerry Farewell and the Moral Majority in an effort to get Evangelical Christians to run for office and the attempt by Pat Robertson to run for the Presidency. By the time we entered the twenty-first century, I thought God was a registered Republican.
Presidential elections usually expose changing trends in American Society, and after this summer’s political conventions I have noticed one alarming trend: Religious Preferences Are No Longer Politically “Cool” in the current political arena. I was taught that Christians should run for political offices to change the culture in Washington. Although I cannot tell what churches they attended, if they did at all, I assumed Reagan and the Bushes were Christian Church attenders, and looked with distain at Clinton for his immoral sexual conduct that caused him to fall one vote short of being impeached! Only the greed of the average American during the time of a rising economy saved his neck as he convinced America that they needed him to maintain prosperity. Even he knew it was politically correct to go to a well-known ordained Christian minister for marriage counseling.
This summer we have two “good”, “moral”, “family-centered” men who come across as “really nice guys” running for President: the current President who is not looked upon as a church attender and disdained by much of the evangelical community as being too liberal with a Muslim background and his opponent, a Mormon. At the Republican Convention a well known radio spokesman, ex-governor, and previous Presidential Candidate who was supposedly speaking the for Evangelical Branch of the Republican Party said, “I don’t care what church a candidate goes to; I care about what candidate goes to the White House.” Evangelical Christians teach that Mormonism, the Church of Latter Day Saints, is a Christian Cult and oppose their teachings as heretical, yet in the world of American politics, those influential Evangelical Christian voices are being silenced, tamed, or compromise in order to win a general election. The Democrats jumped at their Convention after removing any reference of “God” or that “Jerusalem is the recognize Capital of Israel” from their party’s platform, only to reinstate it to be politically correct and not offend potential voters.
I know one name that you are not hearing from either Presidential candidate nor his party during this election: the name of JESUS! You will hear the cry for social justice, women’s right, civil rights, and taking care of the poor from the Democrats, which are all good humanitarian causes, but you will not hear the name of JESUS associated with them. The Republicans do not want a religious theological debate of “Is the Mormon Jesus the same as the Evangelical Jesus” dividing their party. They have already experienced the dividing power of the Religious Right in their party. They at least acknowledge the fact that religion divides, not unites, something the Christian Church is still in denial about.
How did the American Church get from trying to be political influential in the White House to change America to now having a muffled if not mute voice in the upcoming Presidential Election? Evangelicals have been groomed to believe, just as the Republicans do, the top-down theory. If you influence the top, it will trickle down to the masses, so if the President gets “saved” those under him will follow his lead and we will have a righteous country. Revival does not operate that way but just the opposite. Revival always begins at the grass roots level, with the masses, and eventually influences social change and political institutions above them.
This current political climate is cleansing America of the false teaching the American Church has propagated these past several decades during my life that we need to save American by getting the President “saved”! That revival will begin if we clean up Washington. As the Church withdraws or is being flushed out in the current political arena, the citizens of America will again discover that they will need a “savior” who will not be “political”. That political myth was alive and well in Jesus’ time as the Jews looked for a political savior and missed their true Messiah or Savior, JESUS, when he did come in their midst, and they are still looking for him today. Will we, the Church, continue to be like our Jewish forefathers in looking for a political Messiah and continuing to do so, or will we recognize JESUS as the Messiah, our Savior? When we do, revival will come!
The institutional church is losing its political influence in America, but the Church of Jesus Christ, (not of Ladder Day Saints), will arise in a spirit of revival to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ above all names until “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Revival is spiritual reality, never political imagery! There is a true spirit of revival, and it can be found in none other than Jesus Christ, our Savior, and Messiah.