Thursday, October 18, 2012

Politics, Religion, and the Danger of Compromise

Religious convictions should never be muted or compromised for the sake of political correctness (whether liberal or conservative). Even though I am not a Catholic or a Mormon, for instance, I really appreciate the fact that
the Catholic Church and the LDS Church have maintained their opposition to practices that I also believe are immoral, even though it is politically incorrect to be pro-life or pro-traditional marriage in many circles in our society. As an illustration, just take a look at Chris Matthew’s hystericalcomparison of pro-lifers to proponents of shariah law. So I say again, religious convictions should never be muted or compromised for the sake of political correctness.

Which is why I am so irritated that after Billy Graham met with Mitt Romney and virtually endorsed him in the presidential race, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) scrubbed a page on its website that included the Latter Day Saints in a list of cults. Just so no one misunderstands, my irritation is not directed against the LDS Church (I am blessed by my many friendships with adherents of that faith). Nor am I upset because I think Mormons should be labeled as cultists (I don’t think throwing pejorative terms like that around serves any good purpose in the search for truth). Nor do I believe Mormons are unfit to be President (I would gladly vote for a member of the LDS church if I believed they would do a good job in the White House).

The reason this bothers me is because the BGEA changed itsown stated position (or at least temporarily expunged it) for purely political considerations. In other words, the BGEA has muted its own convictions for the sake of (conservative) political correctness. And the BGEA’s reasoning (“We removed the information from the website because we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign”) is as insulting as it is disingenuous. Making this move three weeks before an election in which the candidate that the organization’s founder supports just happens to be a Mormon only increases the politicization of Mitt Romney’s faith. This was a transparently political decision.

And an unnecessary one. I am a preacher, so I am around church-going people all the time. I have never heard any of my evangelical friends say that could not vote for Gov. Romney because he is a Mormon. Never. Whatever angst evangelicals have felt toward Romney has been due to his own vacillation regarding issues really important to them, such as abortion. And on the other hand, a lot of my friends were very supportive of Rick Santorum because of his ardent belief in the sanctity of life, even though they disagreed with his religious preferences as a Catholic. For the vast majority of Americans, what matters is not the particular theological beliefs a person has, but what kind of job we think that person would do in office as they deal with the issues common to us all in our civil society.

Whatever your particular religious beliefs are, I implore you – hold to those beliefs because you believe they are true, and do not allow the world to mold those convictions into its own shape. And certainly, don’t compromise your convictions because of the cheap and tawdry world of politics. Otherwise, Caesar is Lord rather than Christ. 

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