Science and religion are as strange bedfellows as politics and religion. Politics nuzzling up with the Bible has led to a brand of religiosity that can best be described as Imperial Christianity. Where to argue against the morality of the nation is to be guilty of immorality or, dare I say it, liberalism.

My spirituality has been at war with my political life.

I struggle because American Christianity and the Bible appear to be locked in with the conservative elements of the Republican Party. And I’m no longer comfortable with that. First, a confession: I’m a Black Republican. I had a couple reasons for this. I got tired of the Democratic Party taking us for granted, and by the same token (that may prove to be an unfortunate choice of words later), the Republican Party writing off our votes. I’m a conservative person by nature. I love and value tradition. I’m anti-abortion (anti- the mindset of abortion as a valid form of contraception).

That makes me harder to dismiss as a political/theological liberal. Harder, but far from impossible. Especially when “liberal” in many people’s dictionary is defined as “anyone left of them”. I’ve become troubled by the “we’re gonna take this country back for Jay-sus” brand of rhetoric. The church is in danger of becoming a civil religion, one that baptizes the politics of a government.

The Bible is not a political treatise (and I doubt that the people who espouse political views from the Bible would like the kind of politics that the Bible would endorse). The word translated as church, ekklesia, shouldn’t begin looking like a city council. The irony is that the church is quick to jump in bed with politics, to see the will of God borne out through government (because government does so many things well).

Donald Miller (if you haven’t read Blue Like Jazz, you are missing out on a great book) wrote in his book Searching for God Knows What, that this irony isn’t lost on those outside of the church:

“In his book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” Al Franken included a provocative multi-page comic strip about a man named Supply-Side Jesus. In the strip, Supply-Side Jesus walks through the streets of Jerusalem stating that people should start businesses so they can employ the poor and should purchase exotic and expensive clothes and jewelry so their money will trickle into the economy and, eventfully, bring bread to the mouths of the starving.

In the comic, the disciples come to Supply-Side Jesus and say they want to feed the poor directly, but Supply-Side Jesus says no, that if you give money or food or water directly to the poor, you are only helping them in their laziness and increasing the welfare state. Eventually, Rome catches up with Supply-Side Jesus and, before an angry mob, Pontius Pilate asks the masses which man they want to crucify, Supply-Side Jesus or another man, who, in the comic, stands beside Pilate humbly, a disheveled and shadowy figure. The crowd chants they want to free Supply-Side Jesus because they like his philosophies, and they want to crucify this other man, the shadowy figure standing next to Pilate. Pilate tells the crowd this other man is innocent, that he has done no wrong, but the crowd refuses to listen and instead chants, “Crucify him, crucify him.” Pilate then lets Supply-Side Jesus go free, and orders the innocent man, whose name was Jesus of Nazareth, to be crucified.

I sat there reading the book at Horse Brass Pub in amazement. Here was Al Franken, a known liberal who often lambastes the conservative Christian right but who also, somehow, understands the difference between the Jesus the religious right worships and the Jesus presented in Scripture. One Jesus is understood through conservative economic theory, the other through the Gospels.”

We need to be mindful that religion and politics have two different purposes and goals. Christians need to bear witness to the biblical story within a cultural context. However, we are to do so without being co-opted by the culture. What happens when the thing that we are fighting for turns into the thing that we are fighting against? If the Christian fundamentalists have their way, this country would only end up looking like Iraq, with Jesus instead of Allah. History may very well look back on this era of the American church and wonder how we could hook our wagon to such an agenda.