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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bringing Religion to the Polls: How High Is Your Wall?

As I enjoy the tense hush surrounding a free people somberly performing their sacred democratic duty, I muse over seemingly conflicting views of politics and religion from theologically inclined corners of the South Dakota blogosphere.

First, check out the Gordon Howie/Pastor Scott Craig show at The Right Side Blog. Their mission statement calls for stimulating something called "Christian Conservative thought." In the last week and a half, their posts have portrayed this election as a "wake-up call for Christians." They have portrayed voting as a moral imperative to address the "dive" of the "moral fabric of our country" that is "apparent to every Christian." Under patriotic images of the American flag and Founding Fathers, they have exhorted readers to "take a stand for God and Jesus" (the ending D and S should be pronounced as separate syllables) the way the Founding Fathers did by doing "something." They urge voters to subject candidates to religious litmus tests. They even feature Rep. Mike Verchio (R-30/Hill City) managing to conflate Christian principles with tax and spend policies and his right to defend himself.

Meanwhile, another Christian, Pastor Shel Boese, offers this thought on Election Day:

As we approach another election in the USA I am so thankful our founding fathers understood that the church is best protected by not being co-opted by the state. (Something many Evangelicals who are almost back into the Egypt of Fundamentalism forget) AND the State is healthier when the church can be a prophetic voice and alternative power source in the world/nation – instead of a co-opted branch of the statist machinery [Pastor Shel Boese, "Election Thoughts...1," News, Thoughts, Theology, Teaching..., 2010.11.01].

Tell me if I'm wrong (I know you will!), but I think Pastor Shel is saying something different about church and state than are Pastor Scott and his friends.

Be a prophetic voice... remember that, pastors, next time you benedict the mayor's prayer breakfast. Regardless of who sits in the governor's chair or our seats in Congress, perhaps Christianity calls believers to always be the loyal opposition.


  1. Wow, this is an incredibly persuasive argument. It even has obvious historical precedent to back it up!

    I'm going to have to store this on in the memory banks.

  2. In the new anabaptism movement, many Christians are calling for the proper separation of church and state, as well as the understanding that from a Christian perspective the only kingdom that we should really be thinking and living in is the Kingdom Of Jesus Christ. No where does my Bible tell me that my founding fathers were some Europeans on our Eastern shores. Instead, it tells me of a king...the king of kings, lord of lords, who didn't come with power and might, but in wisdom, peace and who died for us. That said, as a moral person in a democracy, I vote. But I vote for who will do the best job in my mind...a choice I make alongside every other citizen. I don't need to try to co-opt God into any of it. Indeed, no matter who gets in, my prayer remains, "My Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN..." :)


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