I’ve received three separate notes of communication, one from a mayoral candidate, another form from pastors, and yet another from the ‘Concerned Christians of Canada’. All three were telling me who to vote for. Since when does the church tell you who to vote for. Actually, come to think of it, the church has played a public role in elections. Well, not THE church, but certainly the most public involvement comes from conservative Christians, especially in the States.
In Canada we’ve generally enjoyed a separate of church and state stemming from the quiet revolution in the 60’s. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t come as as a surprise that pockets of Christians try to swing the vote by telling their networks who to vote for. The question is: should church or parachurch organizations meddle in politics?
First, what does the Bible say? We don’t have explicit mention of the ‘separation of the church and state’ so that’s not exactly a tried and tested ideal of Christianity. Prophets were always trying to prevent kings from doing stupid things throughout the old testament. But since we neither have prophets as advisers, or the ‘I had a dream/vision’ committee we can safely say this relationship is moot.
In the New Testament we have Jesus and the early church, both of which operate in unique circumstances, both never in any form of authoritative political position. Christ seemed to always attack/address the religious political regime (who ironically are leading the charge today in the various political lobbies), and the vast majority of people were part of an oppressed people group who had no political voice.
However, Jesus also says, “give to Caesar what is Caesars,” (Mark 12:17). The notion is pay your taxes but in reality what matters is what God has in store. Don’t ignore your participation in civic duties, however, there’s something bigger you’re supposed to be paying attention.
It shocks me how many Christians consume their lives trying to influence the electorate, policy, committee, even the unelected judiciary…. Is there not a better way to spend our time–maybe in our communities? I’m not advocating to never be involve in politics, but just like religion, there are spectrums. What one Christian supports may not be the same as another yet each position may have a ‘leg’ to stand on.
Furthermore, no politician embodies the Christian spirit. For that reason alone supporting one candidate over another is senseless. Why should I vote for Ric McIver because he showed up to a rally or is the most ‘conservative’ of the lot? Why shouldn’t I vote for Nenshi because he’s Muslim? Neither embody any form of Christian Spirit thus nobody should receive any form of church endorsement whatsoever.
To support one candidate over another, in the case of our mayoral race, is not only senseless, but it’s careless too. You lose credibility as an organization or person by alienating those who don’t share your political agenda, and by those who treat the mission of God as the driving force to social change over political ambition.
To focus on politics as your primary agent of change is to ignore the foundational elements of what it means to be Christian and the church.
Frankly, it’s lazy.
Do you want to change your city? Then get involved in your community and start redeeming what you don’t like. Christians are supposed to be intimately connected into needs and injustices–politics isn’t supposed to enable Christians, we’re already at work.
Of course, the right leaders, the right decisions, will help this cause, and we should be participants in that process, but on election day your decision isn’t one purely motivated for religious reasons, or what your pastor said behind a pulpit.
So GET OUT & VOTE. It’s crucial, but also vote with your feet by joining a church community that’s intimately connected into your networks/communities.