Updated: Nov 1, 2020
James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
Many organizations across the globe claim to be the one true religion of God. We all get caught up arguing about who is right. One's religion deeply affects the way we approach politics. It seems that the separation of church and state, has broken down. When conversing about politics, it's impossible to overlook our personal beliefs, to find common ground. Politics have become the new global religion.
I'm not advocating for the merging of church and state. That just contributes to the centralization of power. But it is impossible to keep our political and religious philosophies separated. This is because both religion and politics, as they are traditionally understood, have to do with what James 1:27 talks about. The entire section of verses, 19-27, can be applied to the subject.
Matters of faith, should be left to the church. However, government policies touch everyone's lives, no matter their faith. Most of these political ideologies have to deal with how the marginalized groups in our country are treated (or even who the marginalized groups are), and how to protect our home country from "the corruption of the world".
I would submit that this is because religion is the secular reaction to God, and church is the spiritual. Does faith influence our secular reaction? Absolutely, but the focus of religion is not on faith. The focus of religion is how we treat each other and how we set up the framework of defense against the ways of the world. As Christians we should approach this subject with mercy, compassion, and zeal for truth because of our faith in Christ.
The passage in James 1 is initiated with verse 19. "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,". In verse 26, this notion is repeated. "Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." And so, pure religion is always accompanied by an open ear, and an open heart. Worthless religions are led by people who can't stop running their mouth.
In America, we see this playing out in the Democrat and Republican arena. The two political religions are engrossed in bringing the other down, by reason of what they put their faith in. They have created a cult following, where the "unbelievers" are ostracized and ridiculed. It's time to restore the separation of church and state. Faith should influence religion on a personal level, but religion should never influence faith on a corporate level.
If our political identities became our religious identities, how much easier would it be to meet and live alongside people of different faiths? How much more diverse would our churches be, if everyone was allowed a different religion/ideas on how to run things? When religion and faith are monopolized by the same ideology, we lose freedom of thought. When will we realize that we need to work alongside people of different faiths and religions? "The majority" is made up of people who don't see eye to eye. We need to learn how to make peace with that.