The Bible in/and Politics

I want to look at some contrasting views and how Religion and the Bible are used in politics.

As I have pondered the readings this week, I am struck how politicians sometimes use scripture to forward their own position or cause.  In doing this they seem to be causing a paralysis and inability to address the solutions to the problem they see.

Let’s just take immigration, illegal or otherwise.  Nancy Pelosi to forward her stance that there is a humanitarian crisis at our borders stated her favorite scripture, “To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.”

OK, actually, she said, it might not technically be from the Bible. “I can’t find it in the Bible, but I quote it all the time,” Pelosi said as she introduced the quote. “I keep reading and reading the Bible—I know it’s there someplace.

I believe Nancy Pelosi is referring to Proverbs 14:31, He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor. KJV

Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the border by referencing the New Testament. “I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13,” Sessions said, “to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

I find it interesting that, both agree there is a humanitarian crisis at the border, yet neither can come together to do the work necessary to make a positive change with solutions.  Because of many reasons, all based on mistrust of political parties, they are effectively paralyzed, each asserting they are inerrant in their belief. 

Bible, the use of it in cultural wars, and the use of it to justify intolerance are not unrelated.”  (Kutsko 2017 p. 8)

Kutsko, proposes that education needs to focus more on the humanities and social sciences. I have always found it interesting that Social Studies was not one of the mandated classes while Reading, Writing, and Science were. 

In March 9, 1832 – Abraham Lincoln stated, “Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance.”

Dreisbach, in his Book, Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers is emphasizing that an, “open a window on the biblically literate culture of the founding era,” thereby providing “insights into the grand American experiment” (19). In a video online in which he talks about the book he emphasizes in greater clarity, “The founder’s believed the Bible’s moral instruction nurtured the internal moral monitors of citizens required to maintain the social discipline necessary to govern themselves.” Even so he gives a couple of warnings;

“The detachment of American history from its generative biblical culture impoverishes our understanding of the American experiment in self-government. P. 10”

“The increasing biblical illiteracy of the modern age almost inevitably distorts the conception Americans have of themselves as a people, the nation, and their political experiment in self-government.” P.20

Both, Dreisbach and Kutsko, seem to believe education is important, though their reasons for the education, slightly differ. Yes, I do believe that non-Christians can benefit from lessons, concepts, and wisdom in the Bible? We all can benefit from the simple instruction to love one another, to treat others as you would want to be treated. Abraham Lincoln’s quote about education, the first part is in my response on Kutsko, the remainder of the quote is below;

“To say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.” — March 9, 1832, Abraham Lincoln

Our politicians today might heed the warnings of both these authors and educate themselves on both the fathers and the Bible and its role in our foundation, to brake their paralysis of ineffectiveness.

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