After writing this article, I ran across an article on the subject written by an author that I highly admire, Star Parker, the founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal & Education. The article called Why Christians must be Politically Active was written about 18 months ago, but remains just as relevant today, if not even more so.
Christians face an ongoing paradox regarding engagement in political life in our country. Christian Man, so to speak, sees the world through different eyes than Political Man. Christian Man sees the world through a lens of responsibility. Political Man, or if you will, Secular Man, sees the world through a lens of “rights.”
Because of these very different attitudes about how to approach life, Christians have a natural inclination to not see politics of central importance to their lives and, as result, to not be engaged. Christians see the quality of their lives as a natural outcome of their relationship with God and how they assume the responsibilities that He asks of them. This then reflects on how they manage their relationships with their families, business colleagues and customers, neighbors, and communities. Political, or Secular, Man sees the quality of life as a political outcome. They see their life and property as secure not because of admonitions to not kill and not steal, but because they believe these are rights and that government will protect them.
Over the years, political/secular consciousness has, sadly, advanced in our country and increasing numbers of Americans believe that our prosperity and our success reflect political decisions rather than religious/moral decisions.
We can see the results of this tangibly just by taking a look at the growth of government. The more materialistic Americans have become in their attitudes, the more they believe that what is most important is their rights rather than their responsibilities, the more we have turned our lives over to government control and solutions. A hundred years ago, government - federal and local - took less than ten percent of our income. Today, it is more than one third. If things continue on their current path, by mid-century it will be one half.
Why should Christians care? We need to care because the pretense that life is a political rather than a religious/moral challenge and problem amounts to a departure from the Truth. And a departure from Truth must inevitably lead to failure.
We’re already seeing it. The government programs, all designed in the last century to “solve” our problems for health care and retirement, are failing. I’m talking about Social Security and Medicare.
Our public schools that are educating the majority of America’s children have been increasingly secularized and politicized and the quality of education that these children are getting is dropping. Public education in our urban areas is in severe crisis. Children, largely black and Latino, coming from communities and families that have been broken by the welfare state, another major symptom of the secularization of the country, get little education in these schools, and at least half never graduate. The result is a growing American underclass that is becoming locked in a cycle of poverty and crime from which there is less and less hope of exit.
The paradox facing Christians that I mentioned in my opening is that, because Christians naturally relate to life through personal responsibility rather than politics, they are more inclined to not be politically active and engaged. On the other hand, secular Americans, for whom life is all politics, are more likely to be active and engaged.
The result is that secular Americans have had a disproportionate impact on our country over recent years. It is imperative that Christians look outward into our public spaces and get involved in the political process.
By this I mean more than just registering and voting. Christians must actively scrutinize public policy in the country and inject our values into what America is doing. Christians must take back America. The political greatness of our country is that it is free. But it is up to citizens to decide what to do with that freedom.
We are in a crisis because the wrong people have been making the wrong decisions for too many years. As result, the very freedom that permitted all this is being eroded, and erosion of our prosperity will soon follow. Christians need to step up and get our values for the preservation of life, for the protection of family, and for personal responsibility rather than political materialism, to define again the fabric of America.
This will restore American greatness and get us back on the path for which we are destined.