by Randi Klein

January 12, 2021

Separation of Church and State is an important concept.  This cornerstone of American political life is necessary, not to just protect the political process and those it governs from a single religious expression but ,more importantly, to protect and keep safe a variety of religious expressions. 

When religion aligns itself with political agendas, the essence of what it means to be spiritual is easily lost. We are seeing that being played out currently with the Religious right.  Many leaders, especially those of larger, more established, churches have seen the current administration as a tool to advance some of their personal moral agendas.  Unfortunately for them, once you align yourself with a political agenda, or with a political personality, it becomes almost impossible to not embrace the entire political agenda. The goals and objectives of the political party you’ve embraced begin to define the goals and objectives of the religious group. The primary goals of a political party are to be in control, to attain power and to accumulate wealth.  In the case of the Religious right, I have seen a dramatic shift away from what should be the Christian ideals they purport to embrace, towards a rigid, largely unfounded interpretation of the scriptures designed to validate a political agenda.  The complex context critical to the understanding and application of sacred scriptural lessons has been undermined.  The weight of scripture has been reimagined to support a political message.  Marrying the imperative of righteousness to a specific political party erodes the value of what it means to be spiritual.

Power, money and prestige may be the goal of some religious leaders, so this marriage for them makes sense. However, those who truly wish to know the Christian God and pursue righteousness need to take a hard look at where they currently reside. Have they been using scriptures like a two-year-old with their father’s gun?  Have they reimagined those leaders of the political party to be great men of God, ignoring who they are in favor of the person they want them to be?

Is the danger not obvious?  The religious right is in danger of losing its very soul. The fruits of the spirit are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These MUST be the weights used when measuring what course of action, agenda or belief is desirous and godly.

Having an opinion that is not open to change or growth will often relegate those in opposition to that opinion to the role of “the Devil” even for those who share similar basic tenets. The danger in creating this “us vs them” mentality has been warned against in the scriptures; “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Our current President has been touted as God’s chosen, a man of faith, and an example worthy of our following. The validation of this individual, by certain religious leaders, has been promoted in order for these leaders to achieve political power and social control. They mistakenly believe that this alignment is necessary to achieve their personal goals. Do the “ends justify the means” if you have embraced someone who checks more than one box in the following list from the book of Galatians?

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit…The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

If you look over this list, how can you not see most, if not all of this list applies to the current president?  Yet, even the knowledge of this does not dissuade those who are determined to see him in power.

It bears repeating, the fruit of the spirit is not those things, but love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Are those fruits ripening under President Trump?

The danger of blending a political agenda, or personality, with the purposes of God, will destroy the sacredness and the personal benefits originally intended when pursuing a religious way of life. 

Many accused those who opposed Trump of being enemies of God, since God place Trump in power, citing the scripture, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever [a]resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves.

This is a most difficult passage, in that there have been many political leaders who oppressed and destroyed, never showing signs of the fruits of the spirit which is the measure the followers of Jesus are asked to use. This was also written when the Jewish people were under an oppressive Roman rule.  It was meant as a warning for those (of that time) who were not abiding by, nor supporting the established governmental authority. They were in danger of losing all of their freedom to worship and even possibly their lives if apposing Rome with acts of civil disobedience.

If you take a moment to look at this and the context of when it was written, it becomes a compelling argument for the separation of Church and State. If an oppressive regime is allowed to define the criteria for the Church, then the Church is in danger of becoming unrecognizable as a beacon of truth, love and hope.  This is not just another example of one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel, it is far more insipid. 

This scripture, LIKE ALL OTHERS, can only be understood in the context of those who wrote it, why they wrote it, and to whom they were writing.

Unfortunately, the work of understanding the truth has been pushed aside in favor of bumper stickers and tweets. Much of what we believe has been distilled down to 120 characters or less.

Today’s conservative Christianity, as seen on TV, has more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus and his followers.

If you are still reading this, it may surprise you to know that I am a conservative Christian and registered Republican. So, let me make a challenge to my family in Christ; please push yourselves away from the political table.  Stop ingesting the rhetoric of those who, by their nature are diametrically in opposition to the tenets your soul holds most dear. Cling once again to the mandate you first received from your Lord. Demonstrate the fruits of the spirit. 

A tree produces fruit for the benefit of others today, and for planting of seeds for tomorrow.  Be once again a tree that produces good fruit.

Separation of Church and State is an important concept.  This cornerstone of American political life is necessary, not to just protect the political process and those it governs from a single religious expression but ,more importantly, to protect and keep safe a variety of religious expressions. 

When religion aligns itself with political agendas, the essence of what it means to be spiritual is easily lost. We are seeing that being played out currently with the Religious right.  Many leaders, especially those of larger, more established, churches have seen the current administration as a tool to advance some of their personal moral agendas.  Unfortunately for them, once you align yourself with a political agenda, or with a political personality, it becomes almost impossible to not embrace the entire political agenda. The goals and objectives of the political party you’ve embraced begin to define the goals and objectives of the religious group. The primary goals of a political party are to be in control, to attain power and to accumulate wealth.  In the case of the Religious right, I have seen a dramatic shift away from what should be the Christian ideals they purport to embrace, towards a rigid, largely unfounded interpretation of the scriptures designed to validate a political agenda.  The complex context critical to the understanding and application of sacred scriptural lessons has been undermined.  The weight of scripture has been reimagined to support a political message.  Marrying the imperative of righteousness to a specific political party erodes the value of what it means to be spiritual.

Power, money and prestige may be the goal of some religious leaders, so this marriage for them makes sense. However, those who truly wish to know the Christian God and pursue righteousness need to take a hard look at where they currently reside. Have they been using scriptures like a two-year-old with their father’s gun?  Have they reimagined those leaders of the political party to be great men of God, ignoring who they are in favor of the person they want them to be?

Is the danger not obvious?  The religious right is in danger of losing its very soul. The fruits of the spirit are “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These MUST be the weights used when measuring what course of action, agenda or belief is desirous and godly.

Having an opinion that is not open to change or growth will often relegate those in opposition to that opinion to the role of “the Devil” even for those who share similar basic tenets. The danger in creating this “us vs them” mentality has been warned against in the scriptures; “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Our current President has been touted as God’s chosen, a man of faith, and an example worthy of our following. The validation of this individual, by certain religious leaders, has been promoted in order for these leaders to achieve political power and social control. They mistakenly believe that this alignment is necessary to achieve their personal goals. Do the “ends justify the means” if you have embraced someone who checks more than one box in the following list from the book of Galatians?

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit…The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

If you look over this list, how can you not see most, if not all of this list applies to the current president?  Yet, even the knowledge of this does not dissuade those who are determined to see him in power.

It bears repeating, the fruit of the spirit is not those things, but love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Are those fruits ripening under President Trump?

The danger of blending a political agenda, or personality, with the purposes of God, will destroy the sacredness and the personal benefits originally intended when pursuing a religious way of life. 

Many accused those who opposed Trump of being enemies of God, since God place Trump in power, citing the scripture, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God [granted by His permission and sanction], and those which exist have been put in place by God. Therefore whoever [a]resists [governmental] authority resists the ordinance of God. And those who have resisted it will bring judgment (civil penalty) on themselves.

This is a most difficult passage, in that there have been many political leaders who oppressed and destroyed, never showing signs of the fruits of the spirit which is the measure the followers of Jesus are asked to use. This was also written when the Jewish people were under an oppressive Roman rule.  It was meant as a warning for those (of that time) who were not abiding by, nor supporting the established governmental authority. They were in danger of losing all of their freedom to worship and even possibly their lives if apposing Rome with acts of civil disobedience.

If you take a moment to look at this and the context of when it was written, it becomes a compelling argument for the separation of Church and State. If an oppressive regime is allowed to define the criteria for the Church, then the Church is in danger of becoming unrecognizable as a beacon of truth, love and hope.  This is not just another example of one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel, it is far more insipid. 

This scripture, LIKE ALL OTHERS, can only be understood in the context of those who wrote it, why they wrote it, and to whom they were writing.

Unfortunately, the work of understanding the truth has been pushed aside in favor of bumper stickers and tweets. Much of what we believe has been distilled down to 120 characters or less.

Today’s conservative Christianity, as seen on TV, has more in common with the Pharisees than with Jesus and his followers.

If you are still reading this, it may surprise you to know that I am a conservative Christian and registered Republican. So, let me make a challenge to my family in Christ; please push yourselves away from the political table.  Stop ingesting the rhetoric of those who, by their nature are diametrically in opposition to the tenets your soul holds most dear. Cling once again to the mandate you first received from your Lord. Demonstrate the fruits of the spirit. 

A tree produces fruit for the benefit of others today, and for planting of seeds for tomorrow.  Be once again a tree that produces good fruit.

By Randi Klein

Have we Lost our Soul? Why Separate Church and State?

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