Separation for the ChurchJuly 24, 2007
Over the past few years there have been a lot of books written warning about the danger of too much religious influence in politics. Although at times the rhetoric goes a little overboard, there is some accuracy in these arguments. However, the greater concern should not be for the government but the church. When faith and politics start to mix it is the church that has the most to lose because of our high calling. During last night's debate of the Democratic presidential candidates (the one with the crazy YouTube videos), one candidate actually briefly addressed this point. Here is what Barack Obama stated (you can watch the segment here):
I am proud of my Christian faith. And it informs what I do. And I don't think that people of any faith background should be prohibited from debating in the public square.He is exactly right about the importance of churches needing true religious freedom to thrive. In fact, Alan Dershowitz makes the argument in his book Blasphemy that the reason America is such a religious nation today when compared to Europe is that America has had freedom and separation.
But I am a strong believer in the separation of church and state, and I think that we've got to translate...
By the way, I support it not just for the state but also for the church, because that maintains our religious independence and that's why we have such a thriving religious life.
For more thoughts on why Christians should be careful about putting politics ahead of faith, check out my book: For God’s Sake, Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak Effectively and When to Remain Silent. There is a whole chapter on politics and Christians (and I think the others are worthwhile as well).