Illustration Credit: Timothy R. Butler/DALL-E/Stable Diffusion

How About Separation of Politicians and Religion?

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 9:21 PM
The news cycle of Holy Week has convinced me: I don’t think we need further separation of church and state, but we need separation of our politicians from church. As a friend likes to quip, “You can help me more by helping me less.”

The lead-up to Easter was not exactly a high watermark for Christianity’s presence in American politics. Politicians wave the Cross for their political purposes regularly, it was Holy Week for crying out loud.

The week opened with President Donald Trump (R) selling Bibles. Not just any Bibles mind you, but Lee Greenwood’s official “God Bless America” Bible. Instead of the normal Biblical reference tools included in many study Bibles — say maps or a concordance of where to find words in the Scriptures — Greenwood’s Bible goes full bore “Religion of the Republic” with copies of America’s founding documents.

These documents do not belong with the Bible. I love the Constitution. And the Declaration of Independence. And the Bill of Rights. But, those things are not the Bible and shouldn’t be bound to the Bible as if they were.

Nor should selling Bibles serve as a political fundraiser. While Greenwood’s site claims this isn’t the case, it does admit it hired the former president as a spokesman, which means — in fact — that the sale of these Bibles does fund a politician.

These things are not of the Lord.

Nor were the efforts of President Joe Biden (D), who took Holy Week to issue a Presidential declaration that Easter Sunday was “Transgender Visibility Day.”. Given that Scripture explicitly prohibits pursuing anything akin to transgenderism and the vast majority of the Church agrees it is a sin (even the Catholic Church despite its recent muddying of waters), having a president, who publicly promotes his Catholic faith, provide such a spotlight on the central holiday of the Christian faith is troubling.

Yes, that day has been established for some time. But, the president is not obliged to issue edicts about every “day” that people declare. As many as exist, he couldn’t, so choosing to recognize this one was a statement.

This is not of the Lord, either.

Switch the context a little and the issue becomes clear: if national “Bacon Eaters Day” fell during Ramadan, would President Biden eagerly issue a decree? Unlikely. For that matter, would those who don’t mind a president hawking Bibles, how would Trump-supporting voters feel if President Biden was promoting a Bible that included a copy of the Green New Deal or Roe v. Wade attached?

We don’t see it as clearly when the politician who intermingles his or her alleged faith with clearly sinful acts happens to be our preferred candidate. But, put the shoe on the other foot and the offense isn’t hard to spot.

Both Trump and Biden portray their faith as a key component of their political pitches even as they regularly wade into their preferred forms of immorality. They profer a pious veneer of language — of contrasting good and evil, of the national soul, of keeping the faith — implying a pursuit of faithfulness, while faithful only to their political ambitions.

This is hardly limited to presidential-level politics. We can see it on the Resurrection-minimizing “Easter is more transcendent than the resurrection of Jesus Christ” tweet from Sen. (and Pastor) Raphael Warnock (D) or the immorality flaunting (at a prayer breakfast) Rep. Nancy Mace (R). Politicians love to wrap Cross and flag around themselves while doing whatever they well please.

These examples too are not of the Lord.

I would love to see more politicians become genuinely faithful. More politicians who honestly let Scripture correct their political inclinations rather than appropriating Christian jargon to justify their political platforms, no matter how discordant those are from God’s Word. More politicians who serve humbly, showing Jesus’s love in their work. More politicians who are, sure, unafraid to confess being believers, but not in a merely Christianity as a photo op way.

That seems like a distant hope just now. Right now, we instead get example after example of “This is not of the Lord.”

Far be it from me to ever suggest the Establishment Clause prohibits religious people from taking their moral compass with them to Washington. That would be (and is) tragic. But, so long as political platforms are more the Bible to politicos than the Bible is… we need separation of politician and Church.

The Church, I love. Not so much the politicians.

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. He also serves as a pastor at Little Hills Church and FaithTree Christian Fellowship.

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