Ron Sider's The Scandal of Evangelical Politics

Tragically, Christian political activity today is a disaster. Christ­ians embrace contradictory positions on almost every political issue. When they join the political fray, they often succumb to dishonesty and corruption. Even when they endorse good goals, they too often promote their political agenda in foolish ways that frighten non-Christians, thus making it more difficult or nearly impossible to achieve important political goals.

At the heart of the problem is the fact that many Christians, especially evangelical Christians, have not thought carefully about how to do politics in a wise, biblically grounded way.

[This] contrasts sharply with what other Christian traditions, especially Catholics, have done. Roman Catholics benefit from over a century of papal encyclicals that have carefully developed and articulated a Catholic ap­proach to public life. Main­line Protes­tants—both through church declarations and the work of brilliant individuals like Rein­hold Nie­buhr—have also de­veloped a substantial collection of careful thought on politics. The evangelical community has simply failed to develop anything comparable.

It is through politics that country after country has come to enjoy democracy. It is through politics that nation after nation has stopped jailing and killing “heretics”—thousands of my ancestors in the 16th century were burned at the stake or drowned in the rivers by fellow Protestants who disagreed with our belief that the church should be separate from the state. It took centuries, but eventually more and more politicians in more and more countries decided that religious freedom for everyone is a necessary mark of a just political order. It is through politics that we develop laws that either restrict or permit abortion, allow or forbid “gay marriage,” protect or destroy the environment. Politics is simply too important to ignore.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2008
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