Church and State

lunamoth

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Let's talk about separation of church and state. I agree that we should not have a state/nation-sanctioned religion. Bad for both religion and government. But, that is different from saying there should be no mixing of faith and politics. For many, our religious beliefs form the basis of how we relate to other people, how we are obligated (or not) to others, and how much we share a common wellfare. Politics, when it's not being used as a euphemism for "lying, cheating, greed, and ruthlessness," is about our responsibilities and relationships with each other.

I'm not thrilled with our leaders wearing religion like its a badge, or waving it like a flag, but I think it's a reasonable thing to expect they will be informed by their religions when it comes to making policy. And I wouldn't want to attend a church where I heard mostly campaign speeches, but I expect to be moved by my faith when it comes to who I will vote for, who shares the same values and goals for this country as I do and I would not expect a priest or pastor to remain silent about those same things (although they risk alienating some of their congregation!).

What do you think? Is religious faith by a candidate a bad thing? Is political opinion by a church leader wrong? Should everyone just be quiet and keep it private, or is there a place in public discourse for God?
 
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"Churches" which cross over into advocating for political candidates forfeit their tax exemptions, and rightly so. Why should I subsidize my enemies?
 
First as we all know there is no separation of church and state. The oft quoted line comes from a private letter of Jefferson's, not something he felt required to right into our declaration.

Jefferson himself was a Christian that would be chastised on this site as being heretical and not a Christian at all. If you read the Jeffersonian Gospels he took out the virgin birth, the resurrection, the miracles and more...

Our political leaders of the past have all used and exposed their religious beliefs to the extent that they felt comfortable. Many used it to calm the people during war and crisis, and many used it for votes or sympathy.

If you can separate one's religion from an individual in cases of decision making, it wouldn't seem to me that individual has much in the way of religion.
 
Let's talk about separation of church and state. I agree that we should not have a state/nation-sanctioned religion. Bad for both religion and government. But, that is different from saying there should be no mixing of faith and politics. For many, our religious beliefs form the basis of how we relate to other people, how we are obligated (or not) to others, and how much we share a common wellfare. Politics, when it's not being used as a euphemism for "lying, cheating, greed, and ruthlessness," is about our responsibilities and relationships with each other.
If politicians loved God more than political power, then perhaps there would be less lying, cheating, greed, and ruthlessness is politics. (Just a thought.)

I'm not thrilled with our leaders wearing religion like its a badge, or waving it like a flag, but I think it's a reasonable thing to expect they will be informed by their religious when it comes to making policy. And I wouldn't want to attend a church where I heard mostly campaign speeches, but I expect to be moved by my faith when it comes to who I will vote for, who shares the same values and goals for this country as I do and I would not expect a priest or pastor to remain silent about those same things (although they risk alienating some of their congregation!).
I would be out of a political church so fast that 'no dust would have a chance to stick to my sandals,' so to speak.

What do you think? Is religious faith by a candidate a bad thing?
Not at all. I see it as a positive thing--acknowledgment of a power greater than The State.
Is political opinion by a church leader wrong?
No, but if they start preaching their political opinion as gospel, that is wrong, imo. The State is not God.
Should everyone just be quiet and keep it private,
Heck, no!
or is there a place in public discourse for God?
Of course there is. The problem is when the State becomes a god, especially a jealous one that will not tolerate the mentioning of any other God on 'his turf.' 'Tis the stuff idolatry is made of.
 
"Churches" which cross over into advocating for political candidates forfeit their tax exemptions, and rightly so. Why should I subsidize my enemies?

Churches are run on donations and are non-profit. People have already paid taxes on the money they tithe. As non-profit organizations they qualify for tax exempt status.

What about churches that advocate politicians who favor things like social justice, including homosexual marriage?
 
How would you (anyone here) react if you had been attending a church that you like for over a year and then as the election drew close the priest or pastor started for the first time to preach in church in favor of the candidate you also supported? You agree with everything he says, but you also know there are likely many in the congregation who disagree.

Would this bother you? Would you be glad about it?
 
Let's talk about separation of church and state. I agree that we should not have a state/nation-sanctioned religion. Bad for both religion and government. But, that is different from saying there should be no mixing of faith and politics. For many, our religious beliefs form the basis of how we relate to other people, how we are obligated (or not) to others, and how much we share a common wellfare. Politics, when it's not being used as a euphemism for "lying, cheating, greed, and ruthlessness," is about our responsibilities and relationships with each other.

I'm not thrilled with our leaders wearing religion like its a badge, or waving it like a flad, but I think it's a reasonable thing to expect they will be informed by their religious when it comes to making policy. And I wouldn't want to attend a church where I heard mostly campaign speeches, but I expect to be moved by my faith when it comes to who I will vote for, who shares the same values and goals for this country as I do and I would not expect a priest or pastor to remain silent about those same things (although they risk alienating some of their congregation!).

What do you think? Is religious faith by a candidate a bad thing? Is political opinion by a church leader wrong? Should everyone just be quiet and keep it private, or is there a place in public discourse for God?

Mathew 22

15Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

18But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, 20and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
21"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." 22When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

A person with understanding in the true meaning of the word would understand what this means and how it reflects the beneficial relationship between church and state. They are few and far between.

However becoming more and more card carrying members of the "Great Beast," even if a person of politics actually understood this proper division the beast would growl against it so the politician to retain power must cater to it so either way I've become more convinced that this beneficial relationship betrween church and state is no longer possible. Simone Weil expresses the obvious:

[SIZE=-1]"The Great Beast is introduced in Book VI of The Republic. It represents the prejudices and passions of the masses. To please the Great Beast you call what it delights in Good, and what it dislikes Evil. In America this is called politics." [/SIZE]

Politics must appeal to the Beast. It is no longer possible to atain the perspective that could allow for a beneficial relationship between church and state. The attitude of the Beast prevents it so better not to worry about it and just be content with platitudes.
 
Insanity. There is no hope for any of us if we allow the self-appointed sanction of religious ideology to inform us. Religion as a self-serving tool is the only religion I have ever seen in politics.

Nick A, the problem with enemy fixations is often you become like them through the absorption. Woe to you oh Earth and Sea for the Devil sends the Beast of the redneck agenda.

Tao
 
How would you (anyone here) react if you had been attending a church that you like for over a year and then as the election drew close the priest or pastor started for the first time to preach in church in favor of the candidate you also supported? You agree with everything he says, but you also know there are likely many in the congregation who disagree.

Would this bother you? Would you be glad about it?
Personally, I would be very much bothered by it. Such things could easily lead to things like negative intercessory prayers (curses) against the candidates' opponent, or 'calling down fire' upon those who do not agree with them, as in Luke 9. There is enough political hate in the country as it is. I don't want to see it spread any further into the churches.
Luke 9:51-56
51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”
55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.
 
Religion has a special relationship with the state in civilized societies. A benchmark, perhaps, of first world caliber civility is the extent to which the institutions of religion and monarchy are relegated to an entirely ceremonial role. I'm not convinced that a religion fueled, class based cultural revolution is beyond the realm of possibility- even at this late date. We don't seem to be ready to dispense with our ceremonial fetishes just yet. And as for the "developing" world...well, they're still willing to outright murder people in the name of religion.

Chris
 
Religion has a special relationship with the state in civilized societies. A benchmark, perhaps, of first world caliber civility is the extent to which the institutions of religion and monarchy are relegated to an entirely ceremonial role. I'm not convinced that a religion fueled, class based cultural revolution is beyond the realm of possibility- even at this late date. We don't seem to be ready to dispense with our ceremonial fetishes just yet. And as for the "developing" world...well, they're still willing to outright murder people in the name of religion.

Chris
So all those redneck Christian Americans I see here on documentaries that are willing to bear arms with God on their lips are just sensationalist tv? There are not 10s of 1000s of them?


tao
 
So all those redneck Christian Americans I see here on documentaries that are willing to bear arms with God on their lips are just sensationalist tv?

Yes, actually they are. I happen to have grown up surrounded by big-talking rednecks. Nearly all of them are equivalent to Internet Tough Guys. They're all mouth and no trousers. There are a few of them who have enough spine to be dangerous, but the vast majority of them are just tough talk.

Contrary to the idiotic claims of sensationalist journalists and their extremely gullible audience, the USA is not a nation on the verge of a theocratic government. The theocracy-espousing politicians are just talking big to get a sound bite. When they get into power, it's amazing how quickly every one of them compromises his "moral" position. The only one who didn't sell out once he got office at the national level was Newt Gingrich, and he found himself run out of office on a rail--by his own Republican party.
 
Churches are run on donations and are non-profit. People have already paid taxes on the money they tithe. As non-profit organizations they qualify for tax exempt status.
They are buildings, sitting on real estate which is taken off the tax rolls, and they require services, which everybody else pays for. I am not in general in favor of "non-profits" having special tax status, but when they move into political advocacy, I am certainly opposed.
What about churches that advocate politicians who favor things like social justice, including homosexual marriage?
There are hardly any of those, anyway; but: why should the enemies of such politicians have to subsidize them?
 
They are buildings, sitting on real estate which is taken off the tax rolls, and they require services, which everybody else pays for. I am not in general in favor of "non-profits" having special tax status, but when they move into political advocacy, I am certainly opposed.

Good points Bob, but the 'line' where political advocacy becomes unacceptable is really more of a large grey area. Advocating for the poor and the oppressed, advocating for gender and racial equality, and other issues of social justice are political even if no party or candidate is named. Yet, my faith would be dead without works, and works IMO include working for the above and participating as a citizen such as voting and supporting candidates who share my hopes and visions.

Having said that, I would not be happy in a political church because I think an important aspect of a church home is that it is a safe place where anyone can come and feel welcome and included. If the the minister is vocal about tinder box issues, especially during a political season, then some people are not going to feel welcome or safe and that defeats the purpose of a church community IMO. We all go to the altar rail as equals before God.

To his credit, the priest at the church I now attend is very careful not to inject his specific political views into either his sermons or his conversations with congregation members individually. I greatly appreciate this, but I'm sure that there are some who think that this approach is just ducking the issues and would like to see a firm stance taken one way or the other. It would tear us apart.


There are hardly any of those, anyway; but: why should the enemies of such politicians have to subsidize them?

Well, our tax dollars support all kinds of things we might indvidually be opposed to. Pacifists pay taxes that support the war. Creationists pay taxes that pay for public education that includes evolution. Anarchists end up in jail if they don't pay taxes to support a government they are ideologically opposed to completely. :shrug:

It seems that tax exemptions are given to institutions that are deemed to promote the general welfare in one way or another. Perhaps an interesting question would be why wouldn't that apply to churches and mosques and other religious organizations.
 
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No, there is no place in politics for faith... what you believe should be a private thing, something between yourself and your god...

To my way of looking at it, I cannot see how, for instance, an Evangelical Xtian who goes to a church which teaches creationism and anti-homosexuality can then "look after" the interests of scientists and homosexuals without compromising himself or others in some way... he either supports the ppl, or the church... he cannot do both without revealing himself to be a hypocrite...

Ruth Kelly, once the education minister, is also a supernumary member of Opus Dei... did her beliefs influence her political descision making? yes, they did...

Ruth allowed schools "of the faith" to opt out of teaching youths about sex education...

is this okay?

It reminds me of Russia, when they "gulag-ed" intellectuals who spoke out about the party...

if you love your religion so much you want to use politics as a vehicle to promote your faith you should leave politics and become a priest, or a nun...

you cannot serve both the church and the ppl...
 
I think that it comes down to a question of free speech. Whether we, the people, decide that organized religion, as a socio-cultural institution, is worth subsidizing, is a separate issue. Imagining that religion is ever penned off completely from politics is an absurd charade. I'd rather everyone have the freedom to speak his or her mind in every situation, that way we'll know what's actually going on.

Chris
 
As a Baha'i let me indicate that we observe nonpartisanship..so we register independent or non-partisan to vote in elections..

No Baha'is run for partisan offices and Baha'is are not supposed to be involved in partisan movements say protests or such.

Baha'is can serve though on advisory panels that are clearly non-partisan and some Baha'is have served in judgeships, also non-partisan.

It would be considered very inappropriate for a Baha'i to say stand up and advocate say voting for a particular candidate at a Baha'i event.

- Art
 
A benchmark, perhaps, of first world caliber civility is the extent to which the institutions of religion and monarchy are relegated to an entirely ceremonial role. <snip for focus> We don't seem to be ready to dispense with our ceremonial fetishes just yet. Chris

When religions became soley ceremonial within the dynasties of ancient China, the Tao Te Ching and Confucianism were born.

Perhaps there will always be a pendulum effect where religion swings from the empty ceremonial (robes and hats) to the Way or Path of enlightenment based in day-to-day life choices.
 
So all those redneck Christian Americans I see here on documentaries that are willing to bear arms with God on their lips are just sensationalist tv? There are not 10s of 1000s of them?


tao

Yeah, we all look like the Joad's in Grapes of Wrath! :p

Chris
 
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