The entire notion of a political leader saying “God is on our side,” tends to rub me the wrong way. I grew up at a Southern Baptist high school where the notion of God and politics crossed paths regularly. It sort of made sense, as much as it could to a rather protected teenager who was taught the idea of “separation of church and state” was some godless plot to turn the country into Sodom and Gomorrah. Republicans were the ones saving the country from a dire fate, while Democrats were heathens who wouldn’t know Jesus Christ if He suddenly showed up in all His glory in the Heavens.
Imagine my surprise to learn in my 20s there were Christians who were Democrats and legitimately believed the government was the best method to ensure the poor, hungry, down-trodden, etc. were taken care of because of the failure of the Church (used to describe all of Christendom, not just a singular denomination). A noble goal, as the Church (again, all of Christendom, including myself) deserves plenty of criticism for failing to follow the standards set by Christ during his time on Earth. We are all fallen, so perhaps it’s too be expected and where grace comes into play.
Another group believes the Church’s attempt to ingratiate itself with the government is folly due to the latter’s ability to completely corrupt instead of purification via religion. It doesn’t matter whether the government is run by Christians or Jews or Muslims or pagans or Flying Spaghetti Monster believers or Satanists. It will end up corrupting via its power. One only has to look at the Holy Roman Empire, the wars between Protestant and Catholic-backed governments in Europe, or the Taliban as examples of what happens when government and religion get too cozy with each other. It’s something we should probably avoid more than embrace, given history’s violent past.
So, when I hear a political leader cry out, “God is on our side,” it immediately makes me question the veracity of the statement. Is he or she speaking from the theory that God (Allah, Yahweh, God the Father) or the gods (pick your favorite pantheon) write history as some sort of novelist and we are just characters who have zero say in our choices? This could be quite depressing to know humans don’t have the freedom to choose their actions, relationships, careers, or lives, in general. There are certainly examples in religious texts where higher powers appeared to be on one side or the other, but the deities either appear to be quite human or the entire book leads to one singular point where death and resurrection of someone fully God and fully man rips up an old covenant and replaces it with a new one.
The more important questions are what kind of agenda is said politician attempting to push through or what voting bloc is he or she attempting to placate? Perhaps I am too cynical when it comes to politicians, but I’ve learned everything they say should be taken with a grain of salt. Those who tend to wrap themselves around in some sort of religious-political ideology also cause me consternation. Even if I admit to not understanding the mind of God and doubt I ever will.
There’s no doubt religion and politics will cross paths in one way, shape, or form while we’re on this Earth. No one should take my hesitation to believe every politician who utters, “God is on our side,” as an endorsement of some sort of ban on religious faith. Far from it. However, we should be willing to question those who declare the backing of a deity until there’s actual proof. While also remembering the actual good stuff may be what comes in the next life and world, and not in this life. If that’s what we choose to believe.