Do religion and politics mix?
Not really, but then neither does olive oil and vinegar … you give ‘em a good shake, and they intermingle for awhile, but ultimately, oil and vinegar go their separate ways. But what’s a salad with one of them missing? A good salad needs both!
Religion and politics are like neighbors with a a Tim Allen (“Home Improvement”) kind of fence between the two; yet Tim and Wilson talk most every day over the fence.
When Sarah Palin says our war in Iraq is a righteous cause given by God, I take a deep breath and pause.
I suppose it’s possible to say that … yet, it’s just as likely that one could say, “It’s not a righteous cause; it’s expansionist and driven by hubris.”
Religion says a lot of things about a lot of things, and it’s terribly important to know when to say what in any given moment. It’s a delicate conversation requiring wisdom and discretion.
Like good neighbors, neither tries to tear down the fence and move in. Rather, we speak to one another, maybe even shout and argue now and then, but the fence remains, and we stay in our own backyard.
Whenever religion and politics get too close, history reveals lots of problems.
When the crown and the crosier become indistinguishable, when the crown uses the crosier to further it’s pet projects by dressing them up in religious garb, and when the crosier enjoys the status and influence of state power, coercing folks into belief and parading around in the pomp of huge buildings and glorious processionals, it’s a formula from hell.
For centuries, the fence was torn down in the Western world, and it was virtually impossible to say who lived where. From time to time, a religious war would erupt; the pope would excommunicate the king, and the king would invade and send the pope packing, but most of the time, pope and king, crosier and crown, were hand-in-glove in controlling the empire and dominating the thoughts and values of its citizenry.
The Western world has paid an enormous price for this marriage – the crosier has lost its ability to challenge the crown, other than in irrelevant bedroom issues, and the crown has cravenly used the faith to cover its own immoral tracks. We see these issues anywhere in the world where the fence has been torn down. Whether it be some of the Islamic nations, the State of Israel as it is dominated by the Conservative wing of Judaism (they decide who’s a Jew and who isn’t when it comes to citizenship), or efforts by far right Christians to impose a theocratic model upon America through courts and congress.
Maybe another image will help.
Think of Dancing with the Stars – it takes two to tango, and when it’s done right, it’s powerful. Neither partner surrendering to the other; each engaged in a playful, if not serious, effort to prevail; yet if one prevails, the dance fails … the dance goes on as long as neither partner wins!
Religion and politics?
Good neighbors … great dance partners!