It has long been axiomatic that we should not discuss Religion and Politics. It is also widely believed that in America Politics and Religion should always remain separate. In fact many have gone so far as to say that religion should not influence the way one governs. I don’t happen to believe any of those things and apparently the President does not believe them either. However the way the Presidents mixes Religion and Politics is the reason we should be cautious.

This past spring the President made some interesting comments at a Prayer breakfast including quoting scripture to bolster his position that the government should raise taxes. Here are some of his comments, with my observations interspersed.

“I’d be remiss if I stopped there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try — imperfectly, but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this great nation.”

Interestingly, the personal religious beliefs of many politicians (primarily those with a ‘D’ after their name) have never induced them to try to make sure those values motivated them to protect unborn children!

“And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs — from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato.”

When he says that he is applying the scripture that implores us to “love our neighbor as ourselves”, does it really require him to force people or corporations to do things that are not in their best interests? Is this how he would like to be treated? That thinking actually seems like a violation of the command to love our neighbor as ourself. When he talks about insurance companies discriminating against those who are already sick does he really have a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of insurance and discrimination? Would he really want to be forced to pay for someone else’s surgery? It would be a benevolence to pay for that surgery, but is he really treating the insurance company in the same way that he would like to be treated?

“And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. …But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”

So, is the President here saying that it is ok for him to use his strongly held religious belief to raise our taxes, but not to ban abortion? That is really weird since it seems to me the scripture is much clearer about killing innocent’s than it is about the issue of taxes.

In addition, forgetting that this scripture is totally out of context, is he really saying that since Jesus is going to require much of those who have much, we must be taxed to pay for a student loan or someone else’s retirement? Is that what Jesus really meant by this scripture?

I suggest that President Obama familiarize himself with the scripture Luke 10:25 where Jesus says “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” and then to remember that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” James 1:17. Does any of this really belong to Caesar? Doesn’t it all really belong to God?

There are some nice sentiments in the above passage from the Presidents speech, but what I think he is missing is that these passages are directed to individuals. He wants to use them to give authority to the government to enforce them. That is warped and twisted, not to mention very bad theology.

Beside this, we see the government inserting itself in religion in other ways as well, most egregiously in the recent rulings by Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, at President Obama’s bidding where it is now a requirement that health insurance providers include birth control and abortifacient services in the health care plans regardless of the religious doctrine of the organization.

The Health law is being used to put the people of this country in a vice grip and particularly people of faith into a vice grip. The government is mandating that everyone have health care coverage on the one hand and on the other hand is then demanding what that coverage will be and what coverage will be included. This is not so much a problem for those who look to the government as their provider, but for people of faith who understand that God is their provider, it puts them specifically at odds with the government. This is a violation of religious and personal freedom.

We need to be very wary of this president’s use of religion to govern on one hand, but on the other hand trampling on religious freedom that is specifically guaranteed in our constitution. The primary reason that settlers came to these shores 500 years ago was for religious freedom and it was to protect religious freedom that our founding documents were written over 200 years ago. If we do not recognize that religion is being used to stifle our freedom on the one hand and on the other the power of the state is being used to force religious institutions to bow to the whims of the state, we will soon find ourselves in the grip of real tyranny.

The above examples give us the reason that many say that Religion and Politics should not mix, but as I said above, I do not agree with that sentiment. There is a way that they can and must be mixed.

A constitutional republic can only survive if we are a moral people as our faith in God brings out the better angels of our nature. Our faith (even if it is a faith in a false God) causes us to live moral lives and restrains us from doing harm to our neighbors and motivates us to love our families and care for them. All of these behaviors help to build a peaceable society (that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:2), but we must not allow any one faith to become institutionalized at the expense of all others because those ascendant believers trample on everyone else’s religious beliefs.

The trampling of religious freedom is seen throughout history and is specifically why our founders brilliantly made provision for a government that did not favor or institutionalize any particular religion, but encouraged it’s citizens to be faithful and religious. The Obama administration has it exactly backwards, trampling the rights of religion and using religion as a weapon to advance the cause of the government. We must be very wary.

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