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.