It Is All Around Us!
“The words ‘religion’ and ‘politics’ were yoked in news stories throughout 1984 in all parts of the world. . . . Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu [was] a symbol of the clash between church and state over apartheid . . . In a benediction at [a political] convention, Jerry Falwell, fundamentalist leader of Moral Majority, referred to Reagan and Vice-Pres. George Bush as ‘God’s instruments in rebuilding America.’”—1985 Britannica Book of the Year.
“From Poland to the Philippines . . . there are bishops and priests speaking out against the State in which they live. The Church is not just the place where God is worshipped, but where dissent is fomented.”—Glasgow Herald, January 3, 1985.
HAVE you read such news reports? Likely so, for most of us have noted that religion and politics are often linked in the news. Do you feel that it is right for religion and politics to mix?
Some may say, ‘Religion and politics are subjects that I don’t talk about.’ Even if you feel that way, it is in your best interest that you be informed about what is happening regarding religion and politics and how this may come to affect your own life. Further, by referring to the Bible on this matter, you will find that God has things to say about religion’s mixing in politics and about where it is leading.
A Worldwide Mix
First it will be helpful to see just how widespread this mixing is. Note some recent reports.
▪ April 21, 1986: “In the Philippines the Catholic Church enjoys high prestige for helping topple ex-President Ferdinand Marcos. Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches in South Africa have railed for years against the government’s apartheid policies. Catholic clergy in Latin America, under the banner of ‘liberation theology,’ are deeply involved in trying to oust regimes deemed oppressive to the poor.”
▪ Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 9, 1986: “The Roman Catholic primate of South Korea, Stephen Cardinal Kim Sou Hwan, gave his support today to opposition party demands for swift constitutional changes.”
▪ August 18, 1986: ‘The candidate is an ordained and militant Protestant minister, crusading to wrench his party from the clutches of the moderates he scorns. Who is this galvanizing and polarizing force in U.S. presidential politics? Ironically, the description applies equally well to two clergymen: Pat Robertson on the Republican right and Jesse Jackson on the Democratic left.’ ‘A fund-raising letter referring to the success [Robertson’s] delegate candidates were having began “The Christians have won! . . . What a breakthrough for the Kingdom!”’
▪ Brasília, Brazil, July 3, 1986: “The church has already emerged as the strongest critic of the new civilian Government . . . As a result, church-state relations are again in turmoil, with officials charging priests with radicalizing the situation in the countryside and some bishops accusing the Government of resorting to tactics of ‘persecution and defamation.’”
▪ September 25, 1984: “Iran’s Khomeini represents the forces of Shia Muslim fundamentalism and teaches that Islam should dictate politics, economics and military strategy.”
▪ April 7, 1985: “A majority of Anglicans think that the Church of England should keep out of politics, according to a Gallup Poll conducted exclusively for The Sunday Telegraph.”
▪ October 4, 1986: “Mexico’s Roman Catholic church is lining up behind the growing opposition to the country’s ruling [party]. The church made its boldest venture into politics in July . . . The bishops proposed to cancel Sunday masses in protest at the vote-rigging; but the Pope intervened.”
▪ Washington, D.C., U.S.A., July 6, 1986: “Christian evangelical leaders are using their money, spiritual convictions and millions of members to do battle in the secular arena—and are playing an increasingly influential role in American politics.”
Why Is It Thus?
Yes, there is no denying that religion is very involved in politics. But what moves religious leaders to mix in political matters? Has God offered any judgment on this intermingling? Where is all of this heading, and how will you be affected?
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“Political involvement is implicit in the Christian Gospel, says [Peter-Hans Kolvenbach,] leader of the Society of Jesus, . . . which has in the past come under fire from the Vatican for mixing too much in political affairs.”—The Toronto Star, May 31, 1986.