Can politics and religion mix?

The Finnish Lutheran Church tends to adopt a low profile on political topics, but there are exceptions. The Church openly supported Pride Week this summer. I have seen photos of church workers at political rallies, taking part in the Climate change march and attempting to prevent forced deportations of migrants. The Church of England has promised to try to bring together Leavers and Remainers to talk to each other. And of course there are individual politicians who willingly comment on religious topics – from relatively few in Finland to just about all and every politican in America.

     Some believe that religion should be kept out of politics. The problem with this attitude is that politics encompasses a great many walks of life. Governments make decisions about the marriage laws, national defence, education, health care, immigration, the economy, the environment and numerous other matters. Should the Church be silent on them all? And what about individual Christians?

     Politics pervades most walks of life, directly or indirectly. The quality of local health care, the reliability of public transport, levels of crime, the price of petrol – political decisions play a big part in all of these matters. Religion, too pervades most walks of life. Religion is not some bizarre ritual for Sunday mornings or for Christmas Eve; it is a system of beliefs which directly affects how we behave, how we decide what is right or wrong, daily.

     Some political decisions are simply unchristian – or unchristian in the opinion of at least some of us. I think we have a right, or even a duty to speak out when we feel that our political leaders have done something we consider to be morally wrong or against such basic precepts of the Bible as ”Do not kill” or ”Love your neighbour”.

     Party politics is, on the whole, another matter. Just about any party can claim to represent Christian values and just about any party can be accused of being unchristian, depending on what one chooses to emphasise. It makes more sense to criticise one particular policy, for example, the government’s enrivonmental policy, than to take sides in party politics.  

     I hope individual Christians will be active in political matters. Politics is a way of bringing about change for the better. I also hope the Church will use its moral authority to speak out boldly on any matter in which there are clear questions of right and wrong at stake.    

Chris Montgomery      

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