Feedback: Religion, politics don't mix well
July 3, 2008 · Updated 10:10 PM
James Coats initially hits the nail squarely on the head (July 3) in trying to refute Ruth Pyren's position on separation of church and state. He says that "the founding fathers intended that there should be no state church." Indeed, the Constitution tells Congress to stay out of religion but fails to tell churches to stay out of politics.
However, he then bangs his thumb with the examples he cites: (1) how religious individuals performed courageously in war or creatively in government and (2) how the church served as a communications hub in time of war. I doubt that Ms. Pyren or anybody else is concerned about such activities.
The real issue is, should churches try to influence our choice when it comes to politics? According to all the Gospels, the Christians' greatest teacher, Jesus, made it plain that one should "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." As far as I know, He never made a political recommendation, but concentrated on personal salvation and ethics, which are still a sufficient challenge to keep today's churches busy without straying into politics.
The history of heavy religious influence in politics is rife with ghastly examples such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, New England's witchcraft trials, the Ku Klux Klan, and on and on.
A "personal relationship with Jesus" may result in great courage and good intentions, but a mixture of courage and good intentions without a dash of good sense is a recipe for bad leaders. We run a risk of creating bad government if we rely on theologically based political recommendations, which all too often produce theologically based political power. How many times do we have to endure the consequences before we learn this?.