Christians and Politics: Is Something Wrong?

is something wrong with christians and politics

Christians and Politics in a Christian Nation

In this country, about 65% of us identify ourselves as Christians, and 62% of us say we are members of a church congregation.1 In other words, there are a lot of us who would say we serve a God who loves the world, and that living out our faith is our highest calling on this earth

We believe that God sent his own son to earth in human form for the salvation of humanity. And we say that this Jesus lived a perfect life, died an unjust death upon a cross, and rose again three days later.

As new creations, Paul instructs us to renew our minds so that we can discern what is good and acceptable and perfect in the eyes of God.

II Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

As new creations, Paul instructs us to renew our minds so that we can discern what is good and acceptable and perfect in the eyes of God.

Romans 12: 2 (ESV) 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And with our renewed and discerning minds, Jesus himself gave us the two greatest commandments to follow as we orient our lives and are transformed through following him.

Mathew 22: 37 – 40 (ESV) 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Our beliefs in a living and resurrected savior who gave his life for us are wild and radical. But they are the Gospel, the Good News, made available to all people, regardless of merit, social position, race, economic status, or political affiliation. We believe that even though we have differences across those human dimensions, our highest loyalty is to the God we serve and to our neighbors.

But here’s the thing: something doesn’t add up when you ask us about our “politics”.

After all, does it seem to make sense that nearly 7 in 10 white evangelicals say they support the current President, while nearly 9 out of 10 black evangelicals say that they do not?2

When it comes to how believers assess the response to the COVID-19 pandemic for ordinary people who have lost jobs or income, does it seem reasonable that 79% of white evangelical Protestants believe the government is doing an Excellent or Good job, while only 28% of black evangelicals would respond in the same way?3 

In terms of impeachment proceedings, is it odd that 53% of white evangelical Protestants believe that the President did nothing impeachable nor anything wrong at all, yet only 15% of hispanic Catholics would answer the same way?

Are these stark divisions simply something we should tolerate, or even welcome, as Christians living together in a democratic country? Do they point to a community of strong Christians ready to engage and challenge each other in grace and love, as iron sharpens iron5? Or do they reveal that something is wrong under the surface? 

Sadly, the letter below, published in a major national newspaper in the spring of 2020, reveals how we can often deal with each other when we face political views that are different from our own. It reveals how far we are from sharpening each other in grace and love, and that instead, we are not living as a universal body of believers serving one God above all else.

A Problem in Bible Study: Dear Miss Manners

I voted [redacted] in the 2016 presidential election. When did it become socially acceptable to blurt out unsolicited political jokes or remarks? If I did not ask to hear your opinion, I simply don’t want to hear it. This is a very basic social skill that millennials have chosen to abandon.


We are a Bible study, not a political organization. I fail to see how comments like this are necessary or even relevant. They are simply rude, inconsiderate and inappropriate. At least 55 percent of the people in the Bible study are Trump supporters or don’t strongly dislike him; the remaining 45 percent can’t stand him.

I’m at a loss as to what to do. I understand that people aren’t perfect, and I’m willing to tolerate an occasional annoying comment. Every human probably has at least one personal characteristic that others find annoying.

However, if the leaders keep saying comments like this, I think it might be time for me to leave this group. I think ghosting is cowardly, but I’m tired of explaining how people should act. I no longer have patience for adults who refuse to act appropriately for their age, whether it’s people I date or just friends in general.

What’s Going On?

This one single letter illustrates a situation that is far from unique in this person’s challenging Bible study environment.

It’s likely true that most of us can agree that it’s not prudent to blurt out unsolicited political jokes. Most wouldn’t describe that as wise or loving. But what if we always choose to remain silent on the subject when we’re not in “safe” company? Is the practical advice for Christians to avoid discussing the subject entirely because it’s simply too emotionally charged and divisive?

How can it be that a community willing to proclaim the radical truth of a God-man named Jesus who lived, died, and came back to life, is often unable to find common ground that supersedes political beliefs? What does it say about us Christians who profess to serve the same God above all with an eternal perspective, but can’t  even discuss politics without simmering resentments and divisions being exposed?

It would seem to be a shallow faith indeed that left us with avoidance as the only possible way forward. But today, that is often the best we can hope for. When the alternatives are limiting our fellowship to other Christians who share our own political views or lashing out in Facebook comments against those who are “wrong”, the choice to politely avoid the conversation doesn’t seem so bad.

But if we take that safe course, how do we reconcile it with our words about where our loyalty, hope, and eternal perspective lie? How can we show up to church (or virtual church) sharing pews with fellow believers whom we know we’d judge if we started talking about voting preferences? How can we ever hope to share the hope of Gospel with non-Christians if it’s not big enough in our own hearts to let us deal with each other in truth and grace and love?

A Christian faith not strong enough to face up to politics doesn’t say much for our Christian faith.

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