Church/State relationships–for good or ill? Having lived through the turmoil of the mid to late 1950s and the decade of the 1960s in America, I saw the powerful positive influence of the Church in moving our society toward a more just and equitable one. Out of the Church came key leadership and support for the Civil Rights movement, the Brown versus Board of Education desegregation decision, and the eventual passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the last 10-15 years, however, it seems that the Church has become more political in allowing and even supporting the erosion of the progress made in making our society more just and equitable. The Citizens United decision of 2010 in particular, and other decisions in more recent years, have significantly eroded the voting rights of millions of our citizens. And today, many of our political leaders who claim to be Christians and even key leaders and members of our churches are supporting efforts to make it harder for people to vote.

The Church must do some soul-searching about allowing and supporting things which are an affront to God and harmful to our neighbors. What is going on when one’s political views are a negative witness to one’s faith?

Why, for example, are so many who profess to be Christians, against wearing masks and being vaccinated during the pandemic when it is one important way we can demonstrate our love for God and neighbor? I hear cries of “freedom.” Yes, America is known as a land of freedom, but are we free to make others sick?

With that freedom we espouse as Christians and citizens also comes responsibility. It is a responsibility to give glory to God by caring for ourselves and for others to the best of our abilities.

The best that the Church has to offer, which is to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, must always wield its influence in the political arena for good. When individual believers and churches allow themselves to become pawns for evil in the hands of political powers they have committed idolatry and abdicated their witness.

Herbert Hash, Jr.

Boone

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(4) comments

Donald

These two comments are so off base its hard to believe they still breath and think! It was the Democrats that fought to keep segregation up until LBJ as VP then POTUS who saw an opportunity to group the Black American voting block to Dem's by finally supporting the civil rights legislation. Up until JFK won the 1960 general election, LBJ and Dem's in congress fought for segregation. The GOP always supported civil rights for all Americans. Are you two trying to rewrite US History? The KKK professed to be Christians but never tried to be like Jesus as true Christians have been commissioned to do since the Apostles took the Gospel to all peoples. HR-1 only promotes voter fraud and if you think that these liberal voting rules suppresses voting rights, you have to be racists who think that minorities are too stupid to get photo ID's, register and vote! You two are obviously racists or just biased and really off base!

Branch

"Donny, you're out of your element."

I'm not ignorant of the differences between Horace Greeley's radical Republicanism and the contemporary GOP. Or the Democratic segregationists versus Lyndon B Johnson. But perhaps you need a refresher on Kevin Phillips, Barry Goldwater, Nixon, and the Southern Strategy. Rewatching Reagan announce his candidacy at the Neshoba County Fair waxing poetic in codified racial language about "state's rights" before a backdrop of waving Confederate battle flags may be instructive as well.

guest83

Cherry picking history won't help your case Donald. No, the GOP has not "always supported civil rights for all Americans" and continues Nixon's Southern Strategy to this day. As for voter ID, stupidity has nothing to do with getting an ID or the intent of the proposed law. Tell me why you think an ID makes voting any safer and then show me where using ID prevented any fraud. Until then, try reading some actual history.

Branch

While it's true that many Civil Rights leaders were also deeply involved in their (often marginalized Black) churches, it's important to note that more Americans went to church in the 1950's than any other era. 75% of our population attended church in 1952. Given the odds, it would be highly unlikely for any movement to not include church-goers. Black churches gave members hope, literacy, and taught the value of emancipation. Interestingly, religiosity actually plummeted during the turbulent change and political gains of the 1960's.

It's also important to note that Evangelical Christians--as a voting bloc--first coalesced around Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. These Christians, who now make up around 30 percent of the US population, originally came to politics as pro-segregationists. They have always been on the wrong side of history.

This is like looking at Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis in a vacuum and asking "what happened to the Republican party?" In reality, it's been rotten for a very long time.

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