Is Christianity Compatible with Democracy?
Increasingly it seems the answer is no. That seems to be the answer I’m getting from talking to some of Evangelical kinfolk anyway. And, judging by the tea leaves I’m reading.. I don’t think they are alone.
Here’s an explanatory anecdote: When complimenting a cousin of mine on a view point that I found to be more moderate than his typical black and white responses he seemed appalled. Moderate? He said that he’s NOT a moderate, because that is closer to “Blue” (Democrats) and thus closer to Evil.
After the shock wore off I asked for some clarification in case I misunderstood. I asked him if it was really that simple: Red good, Blue bad. He said yes. I had nothing left to say to him after that. Where do you go from there? I’ve never fit squarely into either camp, but I’m definitely not in the camp that believes that one party is evil and one is good. There is plenty of “evil” to go around.
The worst part of it is, if you really hold that view there is no room for compromise, which really is a pretty critical part of a functioning democracy. The honest reality of politics and governing is that you need to accept things that you would otherwise find unacceptable. It requires a certain amount of pragmatism that doesn’t fit well with a black and white world view.
What if you, a politician and Christian, need to sign onto a piece of legislation that both frees Christian political prisoners but also has some funding for Planned Parenthood? It’s inevitable that a bill comes along that will help both “your” people and “the others”. I’m not agreeing with this world view, but I see the conflict.
The Tea Party paved the way. Their “don’t do business with the enemy” was a nightmare for Obama. They blocked everything. Which, in some ways is part of the system.. hence the filibuster and other political tools, but it was never about compromise or working together as it was meant to be. They took a “let it burn” approach to government that wasn’t productive, nor did they mean it to be.
Then Trump found the last few seems and started pulling. His language was inflammatory at a deeper and more personal level. It’s “us” vs. “them”.. they are unAmerican, unChristian.. they are godless heathens that want to eat your babies and make you gay. This was the language people I knew echo’d back to me. “They” were destroying our culture.. “our” way of life. They are evil and they want to make our children evil.
This would help explain the willingness to climb on the stollen election narrative without any evidence. It’s the easy out. It’s a way of saying that you really are the true advocates of democracy, like the founding fathers, but somehow the system has been corrupted by the democrats. Many rushed to this lie to justify the more extreme positions.. like Trump.. who openly advocated for his own indefinite rule and routinely asked people to help him “find the votes” needed to cement his rule. His fascist tendencies were on display for 4 years. Do we really think that had be not been so inept he wouldn’t have found a way to stay in office? He berated Pence for not helping him over turn the election. He sent an angry mob towards the White House with hatred in their hearts and murder on their lips. They brought gallows with them.
“They” really do believe it was “In God we Trust” since Columbus saved this land from the savages. Never mind.. well.. American history. “God” was very much intentionally left out of the founding documents and most of the Founding Fathers were deists. But, that is overlooked.. like so many things..
If democracy means allowing abortion for some, gay marriage for others, and other many of “sins” to be prolific in society can a “real” Christian participate in this without compromising their morality? Daniel sat with the lions and walked through fire because he wouldn’t bow to idols.. is that the model? Didn’t he still serve a corrupt government that most likely committed atrocities and make sin acceptable?
Maybe Christian Nationalism is inevitable when you mix this sort of black and white Evangelicalism with government?
Or is there a way to serve without corruption? Maybe it’s possible to do your best and accept that there is separation between Church and State? Maybe you can still give counsel to the leaders without eating the meat sacrificed to idols. You can speak up for the least of these without trying to enforce Christian morality where its incompatible with the Constitution?
Abortion is super hard and I’ve written about it elsewhere.
Let’s go with adultery instead. Prohibited in both Old and New Testament.. slam dunk. Legal? Yes. Imagine if Texas offered a $10k bounty on anyone caught in adultery. LOL, no. They wouldn’t. Imagine how unpopular that would be?
What about giving to the poor? Isn’t that commanded as well? Shouldn’t that be required by a Christian Government?
There are LOTS of commandments in the Bible.. what’s the target here? And if you don’t hit all of them aren’t you guilty of them all?
What about this one: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” This, as Jesus said, is the greatest of all commandments.
How does one legislate that in a democracy? You can’t, which is maybe why many Christians are losing faith in our system. Maybe they need to throw off democracy, “for the greater good”.