The Common Good

God Is Still Not a Republican, Or a Democrat

Date: November 5, 2012

During the 2004 presidential election season, Sojourners put out a bumper sticker with these words: "God Is Not a Republican, or a Democrat." The number of orders was overwhelming and we kept running out. The simple message struck a chord among many Christians who were tired of the assumptions and claims by the religious right that God was indeed a Republican, or at least voted a straight-party ticket for the GOP. They also absurdly implied -- and sometimes explicitly stated -- that faithful Christians couldn't support Democratic candidates. We said that voting was always an imperfect choice in a fallen world, based on prudential judgments about how to best vote our values, that people of faith would always vote in different ways -- and that was a good thing for a democracy and the common good.

Our efforts appeared to inject some common sense into our nation's political discourse, but given recent electoral statements and newspaper ads from some conservative Christian leaders, it appears the message bears repeating -- God is still not a Republican or Democrat.

Politics always desires to make a handmaiden of religion. And the voice of prophetic faith witnessing to God's intentions for the world's present and future always seems difficult to hear amid the noisy clamor of political rhetoric. We've watched these dynamics, and participated in them, for four decades. During this presidential campaign, we lament the way in which religious faith has been abused, manipulated and neglected in the heated, focus-group-tested sound bites that fill our airwaves and pass for "substantive" policy debates.