Is God a Politician?

Poor God—He isn’t faring very well in American politics these days. The President recently mandated contraceptive insurance coverage, and the Roman Catholic Church rose up in arms, vociferously complaining that such an insurance policy would infringe on Catholic belief that contraception is contrary to divine will (never mind that a majority of American Catholics practice birth control). President Obama then offered a compromise for contraceptive coverage, but (as with most compromises) few are happy. So did God win or lose this skirmish? Last weekend Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, decried the President’s “phony theology” of environmental policy as being contrary to Holy Scripture. This after Santorum (himself a Roman Catholic) had inveighed against the administration’s earlier contraceptive insurance proposal. So whose side is God’s theology on? Then this week Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, was pointedly asked whether he considered Obama a Christian or not. Graham skirted the question—“I have no idea what he really believes.” And what about Mormon presidential contender Mitt Romney? Graham was less equivocal in stating, “Most Christians would not recognize Mormons as part of the Christian faith,” though Graham assured his interviewers that he believed Romney would be a “good president.” So in God’s estimation what is a “good president?” Who knows for sure? But then, who’s surprised at the level of “God injection” into politics and the presidential campaign this year? Roman Catholics (68 million) and evangelical Christians (90-100 million) are a major voting block that politicians must court. This last week’s news cycle simply reveals candidates doing what they do best, openly playing to the constituencies they are wooing. But if the heart of God is courting all His earth children—evangelicals, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists (you know the menagerie that the world has become these days)—then how important is it that the press and the government (at least in this nation) not be swayed by the most religiously well-heeled or the most spiritually out-spoken? After all, history reveals that in a national crisis how quickly the lines between a free press and a dominant religion can be blurred—how quickly government can be harnessed by majoritarian faith to order its citizens to accept their decretals. And who wants to relive that history! So let us watch with deepening interest the unfolding presidential campaign. Keep a score card of how often God is invoked for political or party purposes. Avoid a cart blanche acceptance of any leader’s pronouncement (religious or political). And exercise the carefully reasoned thinking that God has given you. In the end Jesus’ counsel is unassailable, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). That way you’ll never mistake the voice of Caesar for God.

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