The Religious Wrong (for me)

This election messed me up. I know I’m not alone. I know it affected a lot of people. I wasn’t prepared for how upset it all made me. I’m still angry and it is a tricky kind of anger. The big reason is this: a lot of spiritual leaders who I greatly respect and admire voted for Trump and were excited to do so.

That is unfathomable for my brain. I can understand people who looked at the two options and found Trump to be the lesser of two evils--I suppose. It is next to impossible for me to understand looking at Donald Trump and think, “Yes. This is the morally upright, righteous man Holy Spirit is guiding me toward.”

Because Holy Spirit certainly wasn’t pushing me in that direction at all. And we have the same Holy Spirit, right? How can this possibly be the case? Tuesday night, November 8th, I felt an intense sense of loss and disappointment. And I woke up having people I know and respect captioning pictures on Instagram with things like, “I finally feel free again.” And my heart just hurt.

Let me know if I’m alone in this, but I feel intense internal pressure to be a member of The Republican Party--to be conservative. Maybe it’s a leftover vestige of being raised in The Bible Belt. It could just be me, but it sure doesn’t seem like it.

Anyway, I’m not a Republican. At all. I look at the party platform and, while I can respect why someone would be a Republican, it just isn’t for me. In this country, “The Religious Right” platform is so pervasive that I feel like when I introduce myself to people, I need to make that fact known.

“Hi. I’m Katy. I’m a Christian. I know what you’re thinking. I’m not a Republican.”

Here’s the thing, though. The Religious Right, The Moral Majority, all of these terms are relatively new. This concept was invented in the late 70's/early 80's in response to the liberation movements happening throughout the country.

It was a brilliant move by a political party. Majority of the people in the country identify as Christian. Making yourself the political party of an entire faith, even just a large subset of that faith, guarantees a lot of votes every year. And it makes it easy for Christians too. Just slide down the ballot and check everything with an “R” next to it.

Except I don’t like war. I think universal healthcare is a great idea. I don’t understand why two consenting adults can’t enter into any kind of governmental contract that they want to. I’m not really sure what the government’s place is in a woman’s body regardless of how I feel about abortion itself. I think taking care of the environment was made pretty clear in the first chapter of Genesis and I make personal choices keeping that in mind. And I believe that greater love looks like setting aside my privilege to help those without privilege. Also, I’m a feminist and I say that with no shame.

I’ve always felt this way. I am wired this way. And, for a long time, I thought something was wrong with me.

And I still love Jesus.

I grew up in a community that had a “Prayer for our Nation” gathering every Wednesday. It often looked like us praying for our Republican leaders and hoping that God would remove the Democratic ones. It never sat well with me, but if you believe that the Republican Party is God’s party, then it’s completely understandable.

I don’t believe that the Republican Party is God’s Party. I also don’t believe that the Democratic Party is God’s Party. But He can be seen in both.

This may be an oversimplification, but I think I would define a Republican’s values as the following: justice, protection of innocents, defensive preservation of what we own.

Those aren’t bad things. Those are, in fact, godly things. Those just happen to not be things I’m super passionate about. We need justice. We need people to stand up for the innocent. We need to be good stewards of what we are given. That’s biblical. I get it.

I would define a Democrat’s values as the following: mercy, protection of the disenfranchised, self-sacrifice to those who need it.

Yep. Those seem like godly principles to me too. And those are the values that get me excited and passionate (just ask the friends who did not ask for my opinion and got it anyway). Jesus was merciful. Jesus asked us to give of ourselves and give freely. And The Good Samaritan seems to be pretty clear about what loving our neighbor looks like--regardless of race or creed or religion.

What I’m trying to say is, if you are a Christian and the idea of being a Republican makes you feel uncomfortable, your faith hasn’t failed you. The Republican Party did. There’s nothing wrong with what you’re getting from Holy Spirit.

Come on over. The “dark side” is actually also covered by the blood.

I hope this is absolutely clear, if being a Republican feels good to you, then continue to do so. I trust your relationship with Holy Spirit. I hope you trust mine.

If it doesn’t, we might actually need you over here on the left.

Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven like leaven in dough. We are carriers of the Kingdom. It lives within us and we need to spread it throughout the dough. It may be comfortable to all lump together. It may make voting easier, but that isn’t what we’re called to do.

Let’s permeate culture. Let’s let love fill all of us. We need to scatter to all aspects of society, recognizing that the person standing next to you may not pray to Jesus, and the Creator can still be seen in their actions.

Let me wave at you from the Left and you wave at me from the Right, recognizing that the same Spirit that lives in you, lives in me, and we represent that Spirit in all regards. God is big enough and good enough to cover all of us.