Whenever a politician wears his or her religion on their sleeve, I cringe. Not just because I’m an independent voter who looks to her politicians for governing and her church for preaching—not the other way around—but because it smacks of smarminess. (Say that five times fast, I dare you!)
Aren’t we Christians exhorted to not hold our faith out for public spectacle? “Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract attention; otherwise you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven…And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites; they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them. In truth I tell you, they have had their reward.” (Matthew 6:1, 5 NAB) We are called to have an unceasing, private devotion to God.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t expected to spread the Gospel. Of course we are supposed to, but we also are supposed to “Avoid foolish arguments, genealogies, rivalries, and quarrels about the law, for they are useless, and futile.” (Titus 3:9 NAB) Paul may have been talking specifically about the Gnostic heretics of the time, but his words are relevant today. Isn’t much of the disagreeable politico-religious discourse based in foolishness? Take the so-called “contraceptive controversy”. What should be looked upon as a basic first amendment issue is twisted in the public sphere to become an “us vs. them” argument: Conservatives vs. women, religion vs. secularism, Catholics vs. everyone else. And who is to blame? Not just the architects of the offensive HHS mandate, or those on the left raising this false “War on Women” battle cry. It’s those “Christian” politicians who pull out their crucifixes and thump their Bibles at the end of their stump speeches, who preach through a stained veil of hypocrisy. They hold themselves up as purveyors of truth without qualifying that it’s their truth, not necessarily another Christian’s truth. And in the resulting sensationalism, conservative Christians end up looking like “Jesus-freaks”, liberals looks like God-less maniacs, and our country—religious and non-religious citizens alike—end up that much poorer in spirit and richer in cynicism.
So “Christian” politicians, please—leave the preaching to the pulpit. You are setting a terrible example. Tell me how you are going to protect my civil liberties. Tell me what you’re going to do to fix the economy and pay down our National Debt. Tell me how you will take care of veterans and servicemembers, like my husband and me, both while we’re in service and afterwards. Most of all, stop telling me you’re Christian and show it.
To paraphrase St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”