Does Religion Belong In Politics?
MANY people are saying that religion should enter politics and “clean it up.” Have you heard such talk?
Religion does seem to be getting more active in politics all over the world. Here are some examples:
In GERMANY, a reporter going to confession in 12 different German cities during a recent election was given political advice 11 times out of 12.
In ITALY, the efforts of the pope to repeal Italy’s abortion law have created a furor. One member of the Italian Parliament called the pope’s activities “a challenge to the sovereignty of our nation.”
In JAPAN, religious organizations such as the Soka-Gakkai and Rissho Koseikai have been sponsoring candidates to national office and holding political rallies.
In the UNITED STATES, well-organized fundamentalists helped to engineer defeats for numerous liberal politicians last November.
All this activity has caused many people to ask—
CAN RELIGION REALLY CHANGE POLITICS?
History shows that religion and politics do not always mix well. Consider the mixture of religion and politics in the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Thirty Years’ War, and the ongoing war in Ireland, not to mention the recent fighting in the Middle East, which has been called a ‘holy war’ by both sides.
But surely God is concerned about the problems that threaten to engulf the earth. Does not God want them solved? Of course he does. But—
IS GOD GOING TO SOLVE EARTH’S PROBLEMS THROUGH POLITICS?
If political power could be used to solve earth’s problems, why did not Jesus Christ accept such power when on earth? Jesus was the Son of God. The record indicates that he would have made a far better world ruler than any of the Roman emperors of his day. Yet when Jesus was offered world rulership, he refused it. Why? Here is what the record says:
“The Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him: ‘All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.’ Then Jesus said to him: ‘Go away, Satan! For it is written, “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.”’”—Matt. 4:8-10.
Jesus rejected Satan’s offer, but he did not say that political power was not Satan’s to offer. In fact, on several occasions Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) So, political power in this world does not depend on God; it depends on the Devil! Did you realize that?
Jesus Christ was not interested in mixing religion and politics. He wanted no part of Satan’s political system, no matter how lofty and apparently noble the ends for which it might be used. Servants of God today should feel the same way about political matters, realizing that the ‘ends do not justify the means.’ As the Bible puts it: “What fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?”—2 Cor. 6:14.
‘But the world is in terrible shape!’ say some sincere people. ‘If God is against politics,’ they ask,
HOW WILL GOD STRAIGHTEN OUT THE WORLD?
A very important question. Ironically, most professed Christians speak the answer to this vital question in prayer but do not realize that they are saying it! The answer is found in the well-known prayer that Jesus taught his followers:
“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6: 10, Authorized Version.
In other words, God is not using any earthly kingdom to do his will because God prefers to use his own kingdom.
Do you really believe that politicians, however sincere, can solve this world’s problems? Most realistic people do not. That is why the news that God’s kingdom will soon do so should be good news for you, just as it was good news for people in Jesus’ day.—Matt. 9:35.
‘But who knows when God’s kingdom is coming?’ people ask. ‘Is it realistic to look to it for a solution to the problems of our generation?’
Yes. God’s kingdom is the only realistic answer to the problems of our generation. Jesus made it clear that our generation would see the arrival of God’s kingdom. If you carefully read Jesus’ words at Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, you will see for yourself that Jesus had our generation in mind.
By refusing to mix politics and religion you can follow the example of Jesus and can demonstrate your faith in God’s kingdom, the only solution to all the problems the politicians cannot solve.