Reflections on Religion and Politics In American Life
Writing about religion and politics and how they interact in our world today is not an easy thing. We are currently in a war, and some would say that what is taking place in our world today could be described at least in part as “culture wars.”
The emotional intensity, which accompanies both of these topics, alone, is often huge. Each one of us, who define ourselves as, “Christian,” “Jewish,” “Muslim,” “Buddhist,” “Hindu,” “agnostic,” or even “atheistic” has a lot of ourselves invested in these descriptions about what we believe. When we address these areas, we aren’t speaking in only an intellectual manner. Our religious beliefs are bedrock beliefs, which go down to the core of our souls.
The same can be said for political viewpoints. Most of us who hold political viewpoints hold them because they, too, define who we are on a deep level.
As we consider the recent elections, which turned out record numbers of voters, it’s obvious that in both areas, religious and political, deep chords were struck.
What a wonderful thing we live in the United States of America! There are lands where it is dangerous to hold religious viewpoints, which do not represent those of the state. And, any person who reads the news, or watches it on television or the internet, knows that in some parts of the world, it is fatal to hold political viewpoints, which are out of step with whatever government might be in power at the time.
The Constitution of the United States gives us freedoms in the area of religion. The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
Because our founders were people of conscience, and who believed in the rights of the individual in a free society we were given the opportunity to exercise our religious and political beliefs openly, even if our political beliefs might not currently be in harmony with the current administration.
Though we are not the only democracy in existence in the western world, our style of republican representative democracy gives all of us the right to express ourselves in public forums (such as The Waynedale News), to one another in private, and, if we believe that changes need to occur in the way our government is handling certain issues, we can vote to elect political representatives who will help put into motion our beliefs.
Again, we live in a marvelous land!
As a Christian, I believe, in the words of Jesus, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32 RSV). Truth comes from the opportunity to learn and grow, and from the opportunity to study religion, history, great literature, and other disciplines. (Knowledge is power). From my own viewpoint, which is not unique, knowing Jesus Christ makes us free.
As we ponder where we are in history, now, and what we are doing as citizens of the United States following presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional elections, I thank God that we live in this land where the truth shall make us truly free and where we, as informed and free citizens, can act on our beliefs.
My prayer is that we shall never forget the amazing freedoms granted to us in this land, which is so diverse religiously, philosophically, and politically, yet one in our quest for freedom.
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