A few days ago, I was driving home from work when I noticed a sign outside my old Christian school that read, “Love God. Love Others.” Instantly my chest filled with rage. Was this the same place that sent middle schoolers to a pro-life rally? Was this the same place that advocated against LGBTQIA+ rights? Was this the same place that enforced political candidates with discriminatory platforms?
The actions of my old school convey a message, that discrimination and judgment are equal to love – weaponizing religion. The same message runs rampant in churches and radically conservative political campaigns in America, particularly in the South. In his last four years as president, Donald Trump stoked the fire on this message. Trump has been outspoken against BIPOC, the LGBTQIA+ community, bodily autonomy, healthcare for all, stricter gun control and general human kindness. The Republican National Convention perfectly illustrated the contradiction in practicing “Love God. Love Others.”
The Bible does refer to itself as the “sword of the spirit,” but many people take it upon themselves to literally promote this message — weaponizing the Bible and twisting it to fit their agenda. Many dogmatic Christians spout hate and judgment while preaching about how great their walk with God is. The hypocrisy in all of this is toxic, and for years I wondered how this display of distaste for other people could ever be aligned with the idea that God is love.
In the first century, Jesus had no use for the dogmatic, performative Pharisees. The Pharisees accused Jesus of blasphemy because they felt he was a threat to their religious system. Jesus didn’t follow the Pharisees rules of performative religion. Instead, he socialized with people outside of the church. He radiated kindness. Jesus did not fit the Pharisees mold, so they wanted him dead.
One may argue that the actions of dogmatic, performative Christians resemble the actions of the Pharisees. Therefore, the ones who want to restrict religious politics are probably the same ones that would have been in the crowd, crying, “crucify him.” Today, Jesus has no use for dogmatic, performative Christians who use his name and the Bible to spew hate.
In 2015, Ted Cruz spoke to television host David Brody on Christian Broadcasting Network. Cruz said, “if Evangelicals will simply show up and vote our values, we’ll turn this country around. We can turn our country around, but only if the body of Christ rises up.” Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and now Donald Trump all propagate this theory. I am very familiar with the conservative Republican talking point that one should vote as they believe. However, those of us who believe in God and practice Christianity should think of religion in politics to turn the tide progressively. Perhaps we should wonder, just as Republicans claim they do, what would Jesus actually do?
As someone brought up in a Christian household, always going to church or my Christian school, I spent a lot of time being preached at. Now, as a loosely defined Christian, I find comfort in connecting with my spirituality individually. I begin each day with a prayer about thankfulness, and I end each day with a prayer about serenity. I meditate often and connect with God that way. While I don’t go to church much anymore, I find my peace in showing love and acceptance to believers and non-believers alike.
I believe religion has no place in politics, but if far-right radicals want to infuse religion in political conversations, I would like to remind them of a few things. Jesus was a middle eastern man, a champion for refugees, the impoverished, the sick and the exploited. He showed humility and empathy and was not performative but progressive. He pushed for kindness and generosity to others. He healed an outcast leper. He met the woman at the well who was hurting and in need. In John 8:7, Jesus was the one who said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Jesus was in fact, political, but not in the way most far-right conservatives want to believe. If Jesus could vote, he would vote for the candidates at local, state and national levels that promoted kindness and equality for all, and I plan to do the same.
Coulture’s mission statement says that we aim to be a magazine for people of all shapes and sizes, for those who speak up and stand out. We recognize that it is important to hear from people with personal views, strong perspectives, and something to say. This article is part of Coulture’s “What I’m Voting For” initiative where members write about the issues they care about in the 2020 election.