By now, it must be obvious to most people that the Christian Church is close to death from a disease known as irrelevancy. However, death can be avoided through changes that engage the church in the problems faced by the general community. One way is for the clergy to go against the restriction on expressing political views and show all members of the church how they, too, can express their religious views to anyone, on any political issue. The church should not be bullied into being silent about politics because submitting to this bullying is a major cause of the present irrelevancy of the church.
It’s rather strange how voters accept that it’s OK for a politician to vote on issues according to party political views, but it’s not OK for a politician to vote according to denominational religious views. It seems to be OK to put party politics above the good of the country, but it’s not OK to even express a viewpoint based on religion. As strange and unjust as this may seem, I doubt that it will change. Therefore, religious views have to be expressed in a way that is acceptable to the political scene.
Politics is about who gets the power to make rules about how people should act towards each other, while maintaining a healthy economy. Amongst other things, religion is also about how people should act towards each other, while maintaining a healthy economy. However, there is a big difference between the two in regard to the base used for making social rules. To prepare people to speak out politically, the church needs to realise that the parliament already claims to accept the main message of Jesus as the base for making political decisions but doesn’t put it into practice.
A common theme in all the major religions is the principle that all people are equal and the constitution of most countries state that decision-making should be based on the equality of all people. Admittedly, that is not how the religions or countries actually operate but herein lies the great opportunity for the church to regain relevance, by reverting back to what Jesus was mainly on about; establishing the equality of all people as the base for society.
Politicians have succeeded in getting us to believe we have a political view and a religious view and that we should keep them separate. However, if the church were to emphasise that the message of Jesus isn’t true simply because he said it; he said it because it is true. When people take that message as a truth; it becomes their belief and can be expressed as a personal political view, rather than justifying their thoughts by quoting scripture. In other words, the message can become their personal political views because their political views and their religious views are the same.
When our political views and religious views are the same - that from a cosmic point of view all people are equal - we can confidently comment on any issue in regard to politics and economics. And all the decisions we make, including the social systems we set up, should reflect that truth.
I can state what I believe to be the denominational view on an issue, or what I believe to be the party political view of an issue, but my personal view reflects both my political and religious beliefs because they are the same. If I say that my religious view is that all people are equal, but have no choice about living in a social system that perpetuates or increases inequality, I must at least attempt to reduce inequality in my own relationships. Maybe there will always be inequality but my focus should be on improving the social system so it moves in the direction of equality for all. For that reason, the only justification for being a member of a political party is to influence the party decision-making towards establishing the equality of all people.
Can the church be saved from death? In its present form I don’t think it’s possible to save it. However, if it is willing to make significant changes, the church could extend its life indefinitely. The main change needed to become relevant is to lead by example, so the political and religious views of parishioners become subject to the principle that all people are equal. And since the church and the political system already agree on the truth of that base, each could hold the other accountable for putting it into practice. And the people could then hold them both accountable. Imagine the peace that would descend on the world if such a system became the norm in all countries.
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By Bob Myers, an accidental Christian.