Faith and Politics... I'm frustrated... - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-06-2010, 05:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't want to make this into a debate thread or one that promotes propaganda, but I do want to discuss the place of politics within ones faith. It seems at varying stages throughout history, politics of one sort or another have been wrapped in religious undertones or backing. Pitching one faith against another, or blaming one faith for this or that... blanket terms. In my lifetime this seems to have come to a head with the election of Obama and all the propaganda from both sides assuming things about him and his personal life here and there. It seems to have gotten into so many faiths and become a big part of either what they are teaching to promote or against.
I don't think faith can be absent of politics completely as morality plays a part and what one believes to be essentially right or wrong, but why is it that it seems to be done through this propaganda that is just shocking and really can't be proven factual in many cases... or at least hasn't. How do you feel when people of your faith promote this kind of political propaganda? Where does it place your spirituality inside your chosen religious community? How do you express agreement or disagreement in a way that is uplifting to others?
This has weighed on my mind a lot lately, and I'd love to hear others thoughts.

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Old 09-06-2010, 08:34 PM
 
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I'm going to try to keep this as bland as possible...

I grew up Catholic in an area of the country that due to Catholicism and one industry, usually voted for one party.

I've now been an Orthodox Christian for almost seven years (plus one year of attending before I converted). For five years, I was in a parish that had a lot of converts from Evangelical Protestantism, so you can guess their political leanings. I tried, but I did not fit with their thinking. The priest even had that leaning - which you knew from personal conversations, plus if you read between the lines when he preached, although he specifically kept politics by name out of the pulpit, but stances on certain social issues were repeatedly brought up.

I've now been in another Orthodox parish for more than two years. Much more mixed group. Our priest will bring up certain social issues we are against, but he doesn't hit us over the head with them like my previous priest did. I only know my current priest's political stance from personal conversation and some things he's written on an email list for our faith tradition. Current parish is much more mixed in makeup of members (who votes for what party). My priest did recently insert some petitions for the end to the Middle East wars in a litany that allows for such insertions, but since we already pray for peace anyway, this wasn't a big deal. Since our priest has set a good example, we have no fear/hate mongering discussion at coffee hour. Political discussions are kept pretty quiet. If people are of the fear mongering mentality, I don't know about it. My priest knows I have the same stance as he does, and we'll occasionally have related discussions but they are on email or in a group of similarly-minded parishioners.

I am very much bothered when people of my faith go overboard with the fear mongering you see among some Christians nowadays. My FB feed is filled with all sorts of extremely negative articles. These are well-educated, sensible people, but some of them seem to have just gotten rather, well, extreme.

I absolutely refuse to talk politics at all with friends from my old parish. We have lots of other stuff to talk about though. One or two suspect I have a different thinking from them now, but they don't pursue it. I also refuse to put anything political on my FB page. The closest I might come is something about the environment, but my friends are at least polite on my page and don't make snarky comments. I will also post interesting articles that show faiths cooperating and not arguing, such as a recent article from the NY Times about traditional people of different faiths living together in NYC. My favorite part of that was the two Muslim women and the one Catholic woman, all very observant, who were roommates. They got along great and were all bridesmaids when one of the Muslim women got married. I thought that was very cool!

My way of speaking out is to NOT say anything on my friends' extreme articles posted on FB. Since I comment on everything else, but not those, I think they've gotten the message. I'm continually astonished at the articles they dig up. I'm also disappointed that they continually drag our faith into this ugly stuff. I pray for them a lot. I'm much more into actions than words, so this is a way that works for me.

I'm a member of a peace-related organization for my faith tradition, so I have opportunities for positive discussions on our email list and among several other members locally. We do what we can to promote peace. I'm a "fan" of this group's page on FB and so people might see that, but no one has made any comments about it.

Personally, if I'm at the grocery store or other shop and a Muslim woman wearing hijab is the cashier, I will make sure to pick her register, smile, and be friendly. My cross on a chain is visible, and I want her to know that not all people of a certain faith are hostile to her.

I've come to the opinion that observant (in a traditional way) members of all faiths have a lot of good to say to each other, while still believing that yes, there are differences in belief.

I also think one's media choices play into all of this. I listen to NPR, read The NY Times online (as well as our local paper), and listen to a local AM station that has all local programming and none of the syndicated stuff that is sooooo extreme. I'm TV-free and have been for some years.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and I'm glad you brought it up. I hope the conversation can continue in a good way.

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Old 09-06-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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Does faith influence how I vote, YES. But I don't live that way, NO. I don't get into Christian/politics thing. I feel that Jesus is the answer to all our problems not the goverment.

I do think that many christians have left the faith with this (R) v (D) thing.
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Old 09-07-2010, 12:03 AM
 
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Without getting into the politics...I'm feeling frustration too, as a theological, social, and usually political conservative.

I do *not* fit in with the left. I do not fit in with libertarians, independents, constitutionalists, etc. And I am very unhappy with the political right as well.

"Propaganda" is exactly the right word, used on all sides. This last election really soured me on politics. And yes, particularly disturbing when people who are intelligent enough to know what they're saying is questionable (or frankly incorrect) deliberately use dis-information, inflamatory language, or outright falsehoods and then try to bolster that with their faith. Being on the outside looking in now, I see this in all points on the political spectrum and it makes me livid.

For faith to guide our lives, and even how we choose our leaders is one thing. It is shameful to use faith as a political tool the way its' being used now.
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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I do see a lot of the blanket statements and such that you're speaking of, though I usually don't see them in a specifically religious context. I think that faith and politics are necessarily going to overlap at some point, but I'm not big on parties to begin with (I consider myself an independent conservative). Being Catholic, most of my Catholics friends are pretty socially conservative. We have a couple moms in our group who are more liberal leaning, but they still fall within the teachings of the Church, so it's not an issue. We all have our own opinions and express them, it's not a big deal.

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For faith to guide our lives, and even how we choose our leaders is one thing. It is shameful to use faith as a political tool the way its' being used now.
I agree with this.
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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I guess I am a bit different... I place greater importance on what a person does than what they have faith in. I do not identify with a particular religion but I do frequently seek faith based community. I chose that by what they DO... not by their doctrine. This is frequently politically, or socially oriented (position on war, attitude toward the LGBT community etc...)

This is a tree on fire with love, but it's still scary since most people think love only looks like one thing instead of the whole world. *
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Old 09-07-2010, 01:41 PM
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I am a very opinionated person, to the point of fault and politics was a huge source of anxiety for me, for years.
Since giving my life to Christ I have had a change of perspective that I am very grateful for. Now I can ignore all the news, even from those whose perspectives I would normally support, and focus on God's plan. We as individuals and governments all have our own ideas and agendas, and they may be all well intended and valid but when I put the focus on God and what He is doing, man do I ever breathe easier.
Now when I read history I choose materials that are written with a perspective of having seen God's hand in the world, including signaficant events of history. Even the racial laws in Africa, all that horrible discrimination and inhuman treatment of people, God has His hand in that situation.

I think the problem is how much focus we give to these people. The news easily found on dish or charter is not the only source of news. Politicians are not the only ones who can influence laws. Why do we as people give them so much credit? When we let our thoughts and speech linger on what they are doing we give them more influence, and make them more significant than they need to be.
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Old 09-07-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Without getting into the politics...I'm feeling frustration too, as a theological, social, and usually political conservative.

I do *not* fit in with the left. I do not fit in with libertarians, independents, constitutionalists, etc. And I am very unhappy with the political right as well.
I think of libertarians as being right wing. Most constitutionalists I have met are more right wing too in my mind - do you think of them as belonging to the left?

As far as the OP, I came to the conclusion some time ago that no political group really represents my views. As far as propaganda, it does really bother me, and it really bothers me that people equate certian religious beliefs with certian political views. This isn't as common in Canada, which I am glad of.

I think a big problem is that people who are passionate about religion or a political group can come to put that group above good and truth. The end begins to justify the means. I had a discussion with someone recently where the person was using an information source he knew to be questionable to prove a point. I think this can be a really strong temptation - to align ourselves with an abstraction that we think is true rather than the Truth, even if we don't really know it.

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Old 09-07-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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Most of the libertarians I know are VERY leftist in terms of their views on social issues.
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Old 09-07-2010, 05:01 PM
 
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i try to keep MY political views away from my faith, well as much as i can anyway. sometimes the two go hand in hand, but with that being said, i try to make sure when it comes to my faith i am around "like minded people". i find when i do this no matter my views they are supported. politics and faith are HUGE in many people lives. for me i need to be sure i am not always battling on or the other, because then i lose focus.

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Old 09-07-2010, 05:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by CherryBomb View Post
I do see a lot of the blanket statements and such that you're speaking of, though I usually don't see them in a specifically religious context. I think that faith and politics are necessarily going to overlap at some point, but I'm not big on parties to begin with (I consider myself an independent conservative). Being Catholic, most of my Catholics friends are pretty socially conservative. We have a couple moms in our group who are more liberal leaning, but they still fall within the teachings of the Church, so it's not an issue. We all have our own opinions and express them, it's not a big deal.



I agree with this.
Very well said CherryBomb... the quote you are agreeing with, i also agree with 100%

Your life doesnât change by the man whos elected. If your loved by someone you can't be rejected... decide what to be and go be it! If your a caged bird brake in and demand that somebody free it.
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Old 09-07-2010, 10:32 PM
 
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~~~~~~~~~a moderator moment~~~~~~~~

Heyla all! I'm glad to see such a respectful and communicative thread. As it goes on, please keep in mind that this forum is a safe space for all MDC members, and that's a very diverse group! Do keep the forum guidelines in mind (especially the bolded portion):

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The Spirituality board is a forum of support, respectful requests of information and sharing of faith and practice. To uphold this purpose the board will not host discussions of debate or criticism. Disagreements about spiritual issues should be set aside out of respect for the diversity and varying interpretations and beliefs that we hold as a community.

While we will not restrict discussions to persons of the faith being discussed, we will be active in discouraging an individual from posting for the purpose of disagreement, with no interest in practicing the faith or belief in discussion, or to prove a faith or a belief to be wrong, misguided, or not based on fact. Proselytizing, to convert to a faith or from one, will not be permitted. Controversial subjects of discussion related to spiritual and religious beliefs and origins can be found elsewhere on the internet and we invite you to seek out other sites for that purpose.

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Let's stay focused on the Spiritual heart of the OPs question (basically - when a religious basis is used to support social/political/cultural positions, how do you as a spiritual person respond?) and avoid drifting into discussions of specific political groups/politicians/political rhetoric that falls outside the MDC User Agreement. Thanks and, as always, please feel free to PM a moderator with any questions or concerns.

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Old 09-07-2010, 11:50 PM
 
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I have found myself much less interested in politics as my faith has grown. I just don't have as much trust in the government in general to do what needs to be done. I think that people need to be taken care of - fed, clothed, housed, and given medical care - and the government is really too far gone (into the realm of corporate greed) to do this. And that goes for pretty much all of it, no matter which party is in power. So I'm finding myself less and less interested in politics and more interested in what us ordinary citizens are capable of accomplishing. If other people in my faith put more focus on the political aspect of this world, honestly, I just filter it out. I don't think it's productive for me to spend much of my energy there. That is not to say that my spiritual beliefs don't influence how I vote - it just isn't where I choose to focus my attention right now.
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Old 09-08-2010, 12:25 AM
 
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frankly I think politicians talking about faith demeans it.
I wish they left it alone.

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Old 09-08-2010, 01:38 AM
 
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It's an effective way of promoting political agendas. Use religion to get people riled up. It's practically foolproof.

I'm not a religious person myself. I have respect for those religious organizations that refrain from politicizing their messages, and are open and tolerant towards people of different political stripes.

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Old 09-08-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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Most of the libertarians I know are VERY leftist in terms of their views on social issues.
I don't think leftist is really used correctly in this context though. That is why equating views on social issues wil often lead one in the wrong direction. But it is really a problem with the idea of right and left - it is too simple. After all, libertarians tend to favour economic deregulation, and oppose social programs, which in the US is identified with the right.

Here is the Wiki article - it doesn't mention libertarians, but it does mention anarchists as being on the left, and some libertarians identify as anarchist. But many think they are very right, a kind of uber-conservative (in fact I have heard them described by critics as right wing Utopians.)

This is further complicated because the American usages are often different than the rest of the world.

There are some descriptors for political positions that use a graph with two directions, and they seem to work much better. This one, the Political Compass, is interesting. It also has some famous people graphed, including some religious figures. (I came out near Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and the Dali Lama!)

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Old 09-08-2010, 11:09 AM
 
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Edited. Just skimmed the mods post and don't want to skate on thin ice.
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Old 09-08-2010, 04:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the thoughtful conversation, and it has warmed my troubled heart. I am of the Christian background, and am a follower of the teachings of Jesus. I also practice yoga on a spiritual level. I don't know if my troubled mind comes from changes in my own spirituality as I find myself leaning more toward a mystical Christianity than an evangelical.
I cannot condone religious intolerance. We are all brothers and sisters of the same God/Creator/(s)/Universe despite our chosen religion or spiritual following. To me it goes against how we should treat one another, within my chosen spiritual feelings and most of the other beliefs that I have studied about. And as that plays into politics and unfounded accusations of politicians and certain groups of people, I find it heart breaking that one can associate this kind of behavior with the followers of Jesus. Radical parts of any one group do not represent the group as a whole, but with media and the behavior... it has come to that for many people that they see the radical representation as the accurate portrayal of an entire faith or political group. I think promoting propaganda does nothing to enlighten anyone of any faith, nor is it helpful in drawing those seeking spiritual guidance in any one faith. In fact, for me, it does nothing but harm. I feel like it is so based in the material world and worldly gain that it can't be trusted. Egotism.
So, that said, if the leadership of your spiritual community/faith on the individual congregation/meeting level started demonstrating support or promotion of political propaganda that you find offensive and hurtful to your faith, how would you respond? Would you talk with leadership, or would you quietly leave the congregation/meeting? Or, would you quietly endure hoping it would eventually blow over? What if there were few other opportunities for spiritual community to choose from for your family?

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Old 09-08-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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Part of the reason it is so hard for me to find a new church is just this. I'm looking for a church that does not talk about anything BUT Jesus. The last church that we just left I went to the elder and the pastor and told them I felt they were going down a "wrong road" It was not politics but a big issue in my book.

So yes I would talk to the leader. If I'm part of a faith communty it is my duty to speak-up.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:32 PM
 
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I must be dense, because I have no idea what the OP is trying to imply. But I'd be suspicious of any priest that doesn't stand up for the morality that the Church teaches, if personal beliefs don't affect your decisions and actions in the world it's pretty hollow.
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Old 09-08-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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I don't think leftist is really used correctly in this context though. That is why equating views on social issues wil often lead one in the wrong direction. But it is really a problem with the idea of right and left - it is too simple. After all, libertarians tend to favour economic deregulation, and oppose social programs, which in the US is identified with the right.
Yes, that's true, I thought later "leftist" wasn't the best term. Maybe "socially liberal" is more accurate, meaning, most of the Libertarians I know are pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, against religion in the public square, etc. Although, as you pointed out, they're against most forms of social programs.

Usually, the liberal leaning Libertarians I know will just call themselves Libertarian, while the conservative ones will specify conservative Libertarian.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I must be dense, because I have no idea what the OP is trying to imply. But I'd be suspicious of any priest that doesn't stand up for the morality that the Church teaches, if personal beliefs don't affect your decisions and actions in the world it's pretty hollow.
I'll try to explain without going outside of the scope of the forum rules. It isn't the issue of morality at question here. Of course one will be affected by their religious and spiritual convictions on moral issues, and should talk about those convictions. What I am questioning is accusing persons (especially politicians) or other groups of folks of things that aren't moral issues, but portraying them as if they were this were absolute truth and because they did or are ___ they are bad, unAmerican, out to get us, etc... When nothing of the sort can be proven and even if they were ___ or did ___ it would mean none of those things. So, basically fear mongering and a perpetuation of bad political propaganda that has no basis in factual evidence or at the very best construed.
I'm ok with discussing issues that one would vote on using moral arguments, facts, and scripture to show how ones faith convicts them to vote one way or another... even if I were to ultimately disagree, I feel those discussions/sermons are important. I don't put a label on my politics even one as broad as conservative or liberal. I am me and I vote for whoever I feel is mostly in line with what I feel is in the nation's best interest regardless of political party affiliation.
What I am not condoning, or at least am conflicted about is name calling (as in derogatory) or using whole groups of people and turning their identity into the equivalent of something bad. Or, calling someone else and referring to someone as these terms to infer that they are somehow evil or bad, or trying to trick us into some kind of new world order or such as that. At this point, to me that is going too far, especially when it slaps in the face statements from those people themselves, and actions (their "do") which shows us otherwise. Should we not pray for those who we feel are "lost" spiritually... whatever our religious faith? Judging or condemnation without love or those words as a disguise for hate (the way I am feeling at this point) is immoral. And with a confidence in God's love for us be reassured that as we walk the path we are led to walk it will end in the way that God has planned in our best interest if we are remaining faithful. In that hope we can show love and compassion to even those we might perceive as our enemies in hope that they too find spiritual peace and relationship with God/Creator/Universe.
An example would be the Buddha coming first to those asthetic monks with whom he spent time... those who had mocked his change of heart... first with his message of enlightenment. They becoming his first disciples.
Another is Jesus asking the Father to forgive them for they know not what they do. Even when He cleared the temple of the moneychangers if one had come to Him asking for His teaching He would not have witheld it, and spoke civally with those who asked questions of Him.
Peace... begats peace in my opinion. And my heart is heavy with all the name calling and accusations instead of beneficial discussion and openess. But, I suppose that might only be dreaming... in the world of polictics.

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Old 09-08-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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I think personal morality is one thing.

But I have definitely seen people of faith make an unreasonable attachment between their beliefs and a particular political party or political belief. They are not just Christians who in daily life believe such and such a thing about politics. They cannot separate politics from their faith, and question the faith of others who do not agree with them politically. And I am not pointing the finger at any one group. I see it all across the spectrum.
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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Thanks for clarifying. I'm sure I can't reply to that here and stay within the UA so I won't even try.
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Old 09-08-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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As a Christian and a non-American, I am constantly amazed and baffled by the extent to which religion and politics are mixed together in the U.S. I think it is a uniquely American phenomenon. There is some religion/politics overlap here, and probably everywhere, but it seems to be such a huge issue in the States, and I am not sure why.

I sometimes put on a Christian radio station from the U.S., just out of curiosity. I seldom hear them talking about anything specifically religious; they only talk about politics: what political party a Christian should vote for, which pending bills a Christian should support, how a Christian should stand on gun control, etc. There is usually not a clear connection between doctrine and political position, at least it is not clear to me. Why does "Christian" imply any particular position on school taxes, military spending, or health care reform? It seems like some alliance made years ago and zealously maintained out of habit.
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Old 09-11-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
As a Christian and a non-American, I am constantly amazed and baffled by the extent to which religion and politics are mixed together in the U.S. I think it is a uniquely American phenomenon. There is some religion/politics overlap here, and probably everywhere, but it seems to be such a huge issue in the States, and I am not sure why.

I sometimes put on a Christian radio station from the U.S., just out of curiosity. I seldom hear them talking about anything specifically religious; they only talk about politics: what political party a Christian should vote for, which pending bills a Christian should support, how a Christian should stand on gun control, etc. There is usually not a clear connection between doctrine and political position, at least it is not clear to me. Why does "Christian" imply any particular position on school taxes, military spending, or health care reform? It seems like some alliance made years ago and zealously maintained out of habit.
I have noticed this too, it is a very American phenomena. Here you would find members of all religions in all the main parties.

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Old 09-12-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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I sometimes put on a Christian radio station from the U.S., just out of curiosity. I seldom hear them talking about anything specifically religious; they only talk about politics: what political party a Christian should vote for, which pending bills a Christian should support, how a Christian should stand on gun control, etc. There is usually not a clear connection between doctrine and political position, at least it is not clear to me. Why does "Christian" imply any particular position on school taxes, military spending, or health care reform? It seems like some alliance made years ago and zealously maintained out of habit.
I can shed some light on this. There is a special use of the word "Christian" within the United States. This special use has the additional connotations of "born again," "saved", and/or "accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior." None of which are bad... but they are foreign concepts to Catholicism and some other Christian traditions.

Growing up Catholic, I had some people outright try to tell me that Catholics aren't Christian, based on this special use of the word.

The special use also frequently implies following a Calvinist Protestant tradition. Here's a Time article that helped me identify this insight:
http://www.time.com/time/specials/pa...884760,00.html

Also, where the school taxes are concerned... I grew up in Catholic schools. As a child in a religious school, I tended to agree with people who argued that people who sent their children to religious schools should not have to pay for resources they weren't using (i.e. public school).

That was before I learned that many of the private church-based schools came about in the years following Brown vs. Board of Education.

ETA: So, I don't believe in dropping the taxes for private school-goers anymore. Even though it was a hardship for my family. And I am wrestling with myself over where to send my son for his primary education... I've been leaning towards private, perhaps staying with Montessori... but I worry about what he will learn about race if I do that.

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