‘Christian’ belongs to no political party

Published 4:01 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

By Staff
The weather this week gives new meaning to the "dog days of summer."
It's simply too hot to sit on the porch, at least during the day. What did we do before air conditioners? We sat in front of fans (electric or hand-powered) and let the sweat run! Not a pretty sight!
One comment I often hear, and have said myself, is "If hell's any hotter, I'm gonna mend my ways." That promise, of course, is always short lived – the temperature eventually cools and I don't mend my ways.
But there are always those around who remind us that hell is very much at hand and is a lot hotter than the weather.
I never quite understood the fascination with hell.
Most of the descriptions were the products of Dante and Milton with some very graphic canvases by artists through the centuries.
More recently, we were (and still are) subjected to the fire and brimstone from religious pundits who hold the keys to the Kingdom.
They are ever ready to decide who's right, who's wrong, who's going to hell and who isn't.
These same "truth-sayers"are also ever ready to pass judgment on the political scene and seem to confuse the difference between faith and a political agenda.
In the last few years the dichotomy between the good and the bad has become pronounced.
More and more we are a country divided not only between red and blue states but between Christians and non-Christians.
Andrew Sullivan, in his essay, "My Problem with Christianism," in the May 15, 2006, issue of Time magazine, suggests that "Christianism is an ideology, politics, an ism" as opposed to Christianity, a religious faith.
Sullivan continues to say that many of us Christians are misrepresented by religionists who insist they have the truth – the only truth.
These religionists have gone so far as to state that Christianity is compatible with only one political party.
Having taken that final step, Sullivan states that for some, Christianity is no longer Christianity but it is Christianism.
Excuse me! Hello! I'm a Christian. But I feel very uncomfortable among those who always have the answer and "complete truth" and belong to the "right" political party.
I feel most comfortable with the other political party.
I do not agree with the popular political agenda that discriminates against people because of "race, creed, religion, nationality," or marital status or sexual orientation.
Sullivan put it succinctly: "I dissent from the political pollution of sincere, personal faith. I dissent most strongly from the attempt to argue that one party represents God and that the other doesn't.
I dissent from having my faith co-opted and wielded by people whose politics I do not share and whose intolerance I abhor." And he concludes by saying, "The word Christian belongs to no political party."
Abraham Lincoln is attributed to having said (and I paraphrase), "The question is not whether God is on our side; the question is are we on God's side?"
Okay – it's hot as hell right now, in more ways than one.
Perhaps we do need to mend our ways, not so much to determine what lies in the Hereafter but to identify what we can do to stop the insanity of war, discrimination, hate, intoleranceand violence.
I will mend my ways, my attitudes, my beliefs, to be more Christian – yes, I'll even try to have a better viewpoint towards the "right" party.
I will remember that "Christian" belongs to no exclusive group and I'll not confuse "Christian" with "Christianism."
Dog days will end – sometime.
Will our disdain for those unlike us end, too?