In-Sight: Politics and Religion

The quadrennial presidential campaign inevitably raises questions and concerns around the relationship between politics and religion.  Several of the candidates have already given public witness to their faith commitments, and depending on what they are, the “right” or the “left” has responded with critique and criticism.

This post is fueled by an editorial I read a few days ago about one of these politicians.  The predictable gist of the editorial was, “Here we go again—another thing we don’t need—politicians using religion to curry favor with hoped-for voters.”  You can fill in  most of the details of this kind of editorializing; we’ve read op-ed pieces like it many times before.

A couple of days later, pictures came along showing the same person praying and even laying hands on a sick person.  Again, the responses were predictably mixed.

I do not want to be naive about the many ways religion can be misused, but I have to say that my first response when I see a political figure praying and/or laying hands on sick people is not to think ill of them.

I wish St. Paul could write an editorial about this.  It might read: “It’s true that some preach Christ because…they think they’ll step right into the spotlight.  But others do it with the best heart in the world.  So how am I going to respond?  I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent.  Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!”  (Philippians 1: 15, 18  The Message)

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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