The Theology of Politics

Religion seems to be a major player in the politics of the United States. The right and left agendas leave many citizens in the middle scratching their head about where they fit into the current political climate.

Between the demonization of left-minded politicians and the insidious snipes at those on the right who endorse a conservative life style based on their understanding of their religious tenets, this becomes a puzzle, an enigma, to those moderates who find themselves in the middle of a debate which is based on rhetoric and, to a degree, hysteria.

In Article VI of the United States Constitution it states unequivocally

no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Yet a candidate’s religion or lack of it seems to be a criterion for being electable in many minds. Party platforms have come under a great deal of scrutiny over their religious language.

The political circus at the Democratic Convention when they wanted to add “God” to the platform was one of the most underhanded maneuvers that I have witnessed.  Why did they not toss “god” in here and there like the Republican Platform? Having one “god” in a vast amount of verbiage does not seem to serve any purpose except to appease those who are religiously sensitive within the party and to raise the ire of the atheists and agnostics.

With the current presidential religious syncretic stew, you have two Catholic men—one the current Vice President and the other a young contender.  The two are on the opposite ends of their religious faith spectrum.

The current president claims to be a Christian, but many on the right believe he is a closet Muslim because of his background.  Why can’t people take at face value that the President is what he claims to be, even though his positions differ vastly from the conservative spectrum of the Christian faith?

The presidential contender is a Mormon born and reared in a faith which began in America in the early 1800s.  No one questions his faith, yet many Christians on the right don’t accept his faith tradition as Christian or not Christian enough to be fully accepted by the holders of orthodoxy.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has waded into the murky political waters.  Bishop Thomas John Paprock of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois in a video statement discussed the current election in regards to one’s eternal salvation.  The video can be found on Vimeo:

Another video—The Test of Fire: Election 2012 leaves no doubt about their opinion about your voting on earth and your eternal destiny.  It is a well-done and powerful presentation by Catholics Called to Witness:

The above two are targeted at Catholics or those closely affiliated.  Another dramatic video targets the Jewish vote with Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu of Israel uttering solemn words about Iran:

There are many others out there running ads which tie in with one religious persuasion or another.  Of course you have many run-of-the-mill ads which seem to target whomever will listen and buy into the rhetoric of the candidate.

This theology of politics which plays during each election cycle in the United States is serious business.  There are those who fear a religious agenda from a religious candidate and, on the other hand, a candidate is rarely elected who does not endorse some notion of “god”.

When the founding fathers endorsed Article VI of the Constitution they were thinking of their English heritage where the monarch had to be a Protestant. Anti-Catholic feelings were very strong in the newly formed republic, and even today those feelings are still on a rapid boil in many parts of this country.

There are people I know who distrust Catholics.  They believe the Pope and the Jesuits are preparing for world dominion.  Of course I know people who distrust almost everyone no matter where they are on the religious spectrum.

Within social media I am amazed at the comments and beliefs of people when it comes to choosing the next President.  Both sides of the aisle toss all sort of gibberish onto their pages without regard to what their friends may think of their state of mind.

Some of it is amusing.  Some of it is very disturbing.

Belief is like skin.  It clings to you no matter what, even in the face of rationality and undistorted truth.

Theology means the study of God. A theology of politics has little room for pure theology.

United States politics is theatre in the grandest sense of the word.  There is no show like it on this planet traversing the cosmos.  It’s a marvel to behold and the results are spectacular.

The orderly transition of power in villages, towns, cities, states and the Capitol is a trademark of a great society.  Soon the debates and rhetoric will end.

Perhaps, theology or religion is part of the ongoing saga of a nationconceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”  President Abraham Lincoln, The Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.

Barack Obama takes the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts on Jan. 20, 2009, as his wife Michelle holds the Lincoln Bible. – Architect of the Capitol

Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian…” President Barack Obama, Speech to the United Nations Assembly, September 25, 2012

G. D. Williams       © 2012

POST 405

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