FAITH IDENTITY AND POLITICS

I found the following article to be insightful and I hope you will also. One of the standards has been “you do not mix faith and religion,” yet that has been going on. I am not advocation a political party, nor do I believe the article below endorses a political party. What the article is pointing toward is that seemingly politics is displacing religion in many (most) Americans. In other words, the current trends make politics a threat to one’s faith. Much like the syncretism that took place in Israel’s history and the faith threats to several of the congregations that are addressed in Revelation.

Mark Johnson

There certainly has always been partisanship, deep disagreement, and name-calling in politics. But I do think there are some things that are intensifying this trend toward affective polarization. One of those trends is that, unfortunately, our identities are becoming increasingly political. You can see this in various ways. It used to be that people would marry across party lines – people with very different political views – but would almost always marry someone who shared their faith. Now, almost 40 percent of marriages are to someone of a different faith tradition, but only around 23 percent of people who are getting married, or even cohabiting with someone, are doing so with someone of a different political party. In many ways, political affiliation is now seen as somehow more intrinsic to our identities thank our faith commitments.

Our faith identities are also becoming more tribal in a sense. It’s been reported that around 80 percent of self-reported evangelicals are very strong supporters of President Trump. But if you look at the religious practice, church attendance, [and] adherence to particular doctrines of that group, the idea that they are “evangelical” in a doctrinal sense falls apart. In some ways, “evangelical” is becoming more of a tribal term than a creedal one.

At the same time, our politics are becoming increasingly apocalyptic… Pew found that two-thirds of those who are highly politically involved say they fear the other side. That sense of fear is growing. There’s more fear and, with it, loathing than there used to be… Now there’s a sense that both one’s identity and the future of the republic hinge on [your vote]. That makes it far more difficult to engage in any kind of compromise. It intensifies the idea that someone who disagrees with you is the enemy who needs to be vanquished rather than engaged.

Source: Cherie Harder, in “The New Morality Dilemma,” Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Advance magazine. Fall 2018, p. 44-49.

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