09 June 2009

Religion and Politics (Alternate Title: The Devil is in the Details)

The thrice-married, at least once affaired, Newt Gingrich announced last Friday, "I am not a citizen of the world. I am a citizen of the United States, because only in the United States does citizeship start with our creator." He also told the group at the "Rediscovering God in America" conference, "The first job we have as Americans is to reach out to everybody in the country who is not yet saved, and to help them understand the spiritual basis of a creator-endowed society."

The general consensus is that Newt is positioning himself to win the vote of the religious right to ready himself for the Republican nomination in 2012. Personally, I think that the press takes the wrong approach in reporting on and questioning this approach.

One can point out that we either allow people to choose a "godless" existence or enforce religious laws, as we did in the early colonies or even more effectively in Medieval Europe or as some Muslim countries do today. We might even have the temerity to point out that as civilizations become more "godless" (as rates of church attendance drop, etc.) rates of teen pregnancy drop, affluence increases, and tolerance means more civil harmony and less violence. But that might just be the wrong approach.

Maybe it's better to heartily agree with Newt and then ask him, So what do we do? Whose God do we align with? Newt has recently converted to Catholicism. Is he wanting us to align with the God who speaks through the pope? How about the Old Testament God who suggests capital punishment for homosexuality and eating shell fish but allows slavery? Or does he suggest that we disband our military, taking seriously John the Baptist's admonition to soldiers to "do harm to no man?" Does he suggest that we not make it as hard to enter heaven as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle by not allowing anyone the spiritual burden of becoming wealthy? Which God and which verses does he recommend we turn into law or, at the least, use as a guide for our laws?

I suspect that once we put the religious right up before a national audience and pinned them down on details of what they mean by bringing the nation closer to God, it would be less appealing to anyone - even those on the religious right. We live in an age when thousands (yes, thousands) of new religious denominations spring up each year because we cannot agree on details, on issues, on what is important and what is trivial.

At this point, I'm genuinely curious about what it looks like to bring this nation back to God. If we were still 90% Catholic or Anglican or Muslim or Jewish, such a statement might almost make sense. But in today's world, it is not the least clear what this means.

I don't know what it would mean to get God back into car design or astronomy or medicine or education or politics. Such a claim makes no sense to me. Perhaps the best way to get beyond this odd desire for divinely-inspired policy is to appoint a panel with a variety of religious leaders and thinkers and have them get back to us with a comprehensive and detailed policy platform. Maybe Newt could be president of that.

5 comments:

ThomasLB said...

Well, Newt's right.

Jesus said very clearly in the book of- well, I forget which one, but it's in there- "I do not come for the whole world; I come exclusively for a country that hasn't been invented yet on a continent that hasn't been discovered yet, and everybody else can go to hell. Yea, verily."

Life Hiker said...

I, for one, applaud Newt for his unswerving dedication to using God as a tool to achieve his own political aspirations.

He understands that the God constituency allows God-claimers not to be bothered by facts, honesty, or logic. This makes the political races between them so very interesting and often humorous.

Newt follows in the illustrious footsteps of David and Solomon, fellow beneficiaries of multiple intimate female relationships.

I don't know how it's possible to give Newt any points for jumping aboard the "Religious Right Train to Nowhere". Quotes like the ones that opened this post are enough, on their own, to ensure he's a non-starter in any general election.

Go get 'em, Newtie! You can depend on the last rites to save your sorry ass!

Big Al said...

"Only in the United States does citizenship start with our Creator". If what Newt says is correct, then none of us in the United States are citizens because none of us have any signed documents from God making us citizens. About the only two that might be citizens are Adam & Eve, though we really don't have any official records of their conversations & dealings with God . . .

God: "my children, please know you are now citizens of the United States."
Adam: "we're what of what?"
God: "you're citizens of the United States of America, a country that will someday be my greatest creation and my only beloved country."
Adam: "what's a country? what's a citizen?"
God: "my children, trust in your Father. this is a good thing. i will teach you more of this"
Adam: "I don't understand . . . this is all so confusing . . . this is making me hungry."
Eve: "here, Adam. eat this delicious apple."

Little Al said...

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus], that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

"Salvation is found in no one else [only Jesus], for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12 NIV)

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 NIV)

"He who has the Son [Jesus] has [eternal] life; he who does not have the Son of God [Jesus] does not have [eternal] life." (1 John 5:12 NIV)

"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV).

Jesus answered, " I am the way and the truth and the life. NO one comes to the [Heavenly] Father except through me. (John 14:6 NIV)

"... but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely (or forever) those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25 NIV)

Jesus loves us all. However, as he repeated TWICE in Luke 13:3 & 5 (NIV), "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

So, please choose your eternal destiny wisely, and live your choice daily. May the Lord bless us all.

Anonymous said...

that's it!
I can't be _____!