Photo: Houston Chronicle (Yellow Rose of Texas Republican Women)
A government ruled by religion is deadly. We need to look no further than the Taliban. Forced to live by religious rules and religious traditions. It is sad to say but we are seeing glimpses of this today in American politics.
The religious right if they were to have their way would have us all living not under Sharia Law, which they decry, but the "Christian" version of the same.
This school year, many public school teachers, administrators, and parents were caught off guard by a law that slipped into law last year under the radar (Senate Bill 797) which requires public schools to display in a "conspicuous place in each building," a framed or poster copy of the national motto, "In God We Trust" if donated.
It didn't take long for those donations to roll into targeted school districts in Texas. It also did not take long for groups to push back.
It appears that at least one school district (Carroll ISD) neither appreciated nor wanted the same posters offered by a parent at a public school board meeting that had the motto printed as prescribed by law -- but one sign was written in Arabic and a second in rainbow colors.
The posters were rejected by the school board president on the basis that they already had accepted posters and the law limits the number a school district could accept. Except, it doesn't.
As a Christ follower, all of this - the postering, the deception, the misuse of religion to make political points is nauseating. Jesus never did anything close to this which further proves to me that it's not about Jesus or discipleship or the Great Commission. Not evangelism in love, but control by force of law.
It is spiking the ball in the name of Christianity and it is cringe-worthy.
Southlake parent Sravan Krishna attempted to donate "In God We Trust" posters during an Aug. 29, 2022, school board meeting. Carroll Independent School District via TNS
No human religion is infallible and every religion is fallible, subjective, and overbearing. Jesus eschewed religion and the religious leaders of his day. He said new wine can't be poured into old wineskins as the skins will break and the wine will spill.
The rigidity of legalistic religion was onerous then. Twenty centuries later it is no less the same. A new commandment he brought to old rigid religious practices wherein some were of the elect and others not. Love one another, Jesus said, as I have loved you.
I would venture to say that many religious people and leaders, even among the most prominent, don't know the meaning of love. They love their rules, regulations, and legalism and love enforcing them on others.
This is what we're seeing with dominionists, the alt-religious right, and those seeking to impose their rigid and selective religiosity on Americans.
The founders well understood the danger of the imposition of religion in and on government.
When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence the overriding concept was that government would derive its powers from the consent of the governed. Not through the imposition of the church, religion, or by some divine right to rule.
A major part of the chaos in American government today is that the religious right is, on one hand touting the Constitution and freedom, while on the other trying to heavy-handily browbeat the country into submission to their warped version of Christianity.
Sadly, many Christian leaders have jumped on this bandwagon, if not leading the parade.
The separation of church and state means what it means yet at the same time public servants can't leave their beliefs at the door before entering the halls of government. Our beliefs and ideologies are part and parcel of who we all are.
Even atheists and agnostics govern out of their ideology. But government ruled by religion is dangerous. Government influenced by biblical principles is what we, as followers of Christ should be angling for.
Principles, not power. The power is in the principles! But instead, we have an emerging and have emerged, religion. Religion forces power on people. Principles empower people.
Jesus told us to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves; to be like yeast that when added to dough quietly, but effectively changes the DNA of the whole loaf. He never taught to use the sledgehammer of dominionism to subdue and dominate culture. I'm sorry, he just didn't. It's not me saying it, but Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
The religious right will never prevail. It can't if America is to hold to what it was founded to be.
No man's religion is infallible and every man's religion is fallible, subjective, and overbearing.
People will and with even more hostility, refuse to be ruled by religion. And well they and we all should. Religion is subjective and selective. And depending upon whose doing the selecting if one is counted to be "worthy."
We're seeing that with the rise of Christian nationalism and evangelicalism that is more about winning the next election than winning souls for the Kingdom.
Jesus counted us all worthy for which to die. Worthy to reconcile us to the Father -- and it had nothing to do with politics but everything to do with the Kingdom, life eternal, and pure love.
Many of us are not confused nor will we compromise truth for the sake of political expediency or acceptance. We're not that organization.
Christian in our name means Christlike in how we think, function, and operate, with loving our neighbor as ourselves top of mind. Not the next election, voting guides, or "taking back America." I always wondered what or where the right and the religious want to take America back to.
Back to colonialism? The good ol' head 'em up, move 'em out days of cattle drives and shoot-outs at the Ok Corral? Back to slavery? Take America back to where? To what? And excuse some of us if we don't share that sentiment. Doesn't make us any less American, just wiser, more alert, or as the mockers love to mock, "woke."
If we want to take back anything, it would be what has been stolen by the religious --- the true meaning, mission, and understanding of our faith that leads to the only thing that saves us --- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as we seek to impact our communities and cities in the most positive and winsome of ways.
The Psalmist tells us very clearly in Psalm 127:1, "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." Same for a nation and school systems.
Religion won't change a thing. It only leads to more angst, deeper divisions, and taller silos. Browbeating people over the head with religion only builds resentment. There is a better way. A truer way. God's way.
Only His way, not the religious way, can truly "save America."