If the ultra conservative right wing evangelical Christians in the Republican Party have their way, one of their own will win the nomination for president, and Barack Obama will be reelected in 2012. That’s because most mainstream Americans want a believer in the White House but are afraid of too much religion in politics.
Every year in recent times the fundamentalist Christian religion thing looms larger and larger as a critical factor in the Republican Party political vetting process.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry sponsored his huge evangelical prayer rally last month and read Christian scripture from the Bible. It was a one faith spectacle; no Jews; no Catholics; no moderates; just born again evangelicals, and was financed by the American Family Association, a group which believes that freedom of religion applies only to Christians.
I think that is a mistake which will come back to haunt Perry should he ultimately win the Republican nomination.
Several of the candidates vying for the prize are falling all over each other in a frenzy to prove that their faith is better and stronger than the others. No longer can a Republican candidate feel safe in showing his religious credentials by just going to church on Sunday. Now they all must run the evangelical gauntlet from Iowa to South Carolina and beyond. Now they have to answer for what their minister says from the pulpit. It’s a pity.
The biggest problem candidate Mitt Romney faces has nothing whatsoever to do with his politics; it’s the fact that he’s a Mormon. Evangelicals don’t trust and don’t like Mormons. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a former Mormon, who claims to be spiritual but not religious, can forget about it; he doesn’t even stand an Atheists chance.
Way back in 1960, Democrat John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, simply promised not to let the Pope influence his politics and that was enough to get him elected. That wouldn’t work very well today in the Republican Party. A candidate had better be right on all the faith and social issues or he/she is toast.
The obvious irony in all of this religious puffery is that the message of Jesus Christ as revealed in the gospel of the New Testament was entirely apolitical. The Jesus of the Christian Bible was not concerned with politics. His was an intensely individual and personal message.
“The time is fulfilled; the
is at hand: repent, and believe the gospel,” preached Jesus. (Mark: 4) This was a call to individual sinners to get their souls right with God – not a demand for large scale group political reform. After all, the world was coming to an end and the last thing anyone should be concerned with was politics. kingdom of God
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” (Mark: 12) “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God,” said Jesus. (Luke: 16) This is just about all that the Jesus of the Bible said about politics and the seeking of political gain. He didn’t like politicians and he absolutely hated lawyers.
But 300 years later, during the early 4th century, Roman emperor, Constantine made Christianity the official religion of
, and it was then that the political power of the Pope and the Church began to grow and take over the lives of the people. By the time of the middle ages, Christianity was the dominant political force in Rome Europe. One was a true believer or one was dead.
Then along came the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment, and the birth of the United States of America in the late 18th century. In America then, the founding fathers ignored religion as having any important influence in politics, and took pains to admonish that no laws respecting an establishment of religion would be permitted in this new nation.
Article 6 of the United States Constitution specifically provides: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Sadly, it seems, the Republican Party has forgotten the message, and for that they risk losing the White House again in 2012.