You Can’t Politicize Religion Because Religion Is Politics

Religion and PoliticsI came upon this article from over four years ago, The Good Christian. It’s basically about how I don’t dislike Christians. I just dislike Christianity as I normally find it in America. Since then, I’ve written a number of articles about different aspects of this. I think, for example, that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing ever. And it makes clear that religion and politics are really the same thing.

Any time someone claims that you are “politicizing” religion, what they really mean is that they don’t like your religion. Unless you are going to stick to theoretical discussions of ontology, religion is politics. And the sort of people who claim that it isn’t are exactly the kind of people who don’t even think of ontology as part of religion. For them, religion is dogma at best, and tribalism at worst. “I’ve been told that the soul enters the fetus at conception, and that’s that.” They really ought to change those bumper stickers that read, “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It.” It would be more accurate to say, “My pastor told me, I believe it, that settles it.” Because there ain’t nothing in the “literal word of God” that says the zygote has a soul.

In looking for images for another article, I entered “Liberal Christianity is” into Google and it offered the suggestion, “Liberal Christianity is not Christianity.” There are almost 33 million pages for that search. If you enter “Conservative Christianity is” into Google, it offers the suggestion, “conservative Christianity is dying.” There are a half million pages for that search. “Conservative Christianity is not Christianity” provides only 19 million pages. But it does indicate that in the English language, conservative Christians really think that the basis of their religion is control of women and hatred of fags. (Is it any wonder conservative Christians hate fundamentalist Muslims so much? They are almost the same.)

My Religion Isn’t Political!

There is a constant problem of my religion being obviously what God believes and your religion being obviously just what you want to believe. But the truth is that I value religion and I really am interested in the religious beliefs of others. I’ll be honest though, I’m pretty bored with the the whole “personal relationship with Jesus,” which is so common in this country. For one thing, it is a very recent invention. I don’t know the history, but I don’t think it is more than a few centuries old, and didn’t really catch on until the last fifty years.

But what it does is allow people to imagine that religion is easy — that they have a direct pipeline to God. So any notion that comes into their minds must be true. And this is how we get the vulgar displays of professional football players claiming that God was on their side. It’s vulgar because it belittles religion. It makes it all about the believer and not about God. The sports hero who wins the game had God’s backing, but starving Ethiopian children do not. (Note: Ethiopia is a majority Christian country.)

So you see: even the simple act of proclaiming that God is on your side is a political statement. It is a claim that the status quo is right. God wants the poor to starve. God wants the rich to flourish. We all know that God works in mysterious ways, but those ways lead us to where we are now — to the world as it actually exists. Now I have my own conception of God: a linguistic trick allowing us to talk about the nature of existence. That kind of religion isn’t political, because God isn’t something that has any interest in the world. How could it?! It’s a word! But for the vast majority of religious people here in the United States, religion is little but politics.

13 thoughts on “You Can’t Politicize Religion Because Religion Is Politics

  1. The ‘personal relationship with God” thing has always bugged me. It means the universe actually revolves around you. Another I loathe is the “I could have been in the plane crash, but I hit too many red lights this morning” and other random coincidences people attribute to their belief. So anyone who didn’t hit red lights that morning — God hates them?

    And especially that Christianity expressly says we should prepare ourselves for the afterlife (it’s pretty much all Jesus talks about in the Gospels) the obsession with earthly outcomes is pretty nuts.

    • Yeah, there is also the God gets all the credit for good things that happen and none of the blame for bad things that happen. People should just admit: God isn’t dead, he just doesn’t care.

      • Harlan Ellison wrote a story called Paingod. Can’t recall the story at all, but what an evocative title!

    • I disagree that Jesus only talks about the afterlife. I think that’s a misunderstanding of the phrase “Kingdom of God.” It’s supposed to mean anywhere God is sovereign, not “heaven.” Jesus telling his disciples what the Kingdom is like didn’t mean “this is what’s waiting for you when up die,” but rather “this is what the world we’re in now should be like- get to work.” Which, yes, is a political statement.

      • That’s a truly Christian interpretation of Jesus’s message, and I have respect for it. People who are inspired by faith to work for social justice are my allies, whatever their spiritual beliefs.

    • I didn’t much like that film. It’s probably John C Reilly. I really don’t like him. But I think Semi-Pro is an unappreciated work of genius.

        • I don’t especially mind Reilly in a serious role. He was find in Perfect Storm. It’s in comedies where he sucks. He mugs for the camera and apparently there are no professionals around to stop him.

        • I agree to some extent. But like the entire movie, it is satire so extreme that it has no real edge. The stuff about picking your favorite Jesus is brilliant. Most of the rest of it is just offensive. And that’s especially true given that a large section of the audience while realizing it is satire still sees it as cool.

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