Political idolatry among Christians is in full effect The last few election seasons have revealed how deeply Christians idolize their political affiliation. Political idolatry happens when some political good turns into a supreme thing. When love for one’s own people becomes an absolute, it turns into racism. When the love of equality turns into a supreme thing, it can result in hatred and violence toward anyone who has led a privileged life. Here the end justifies the means, political leaders become “messiahs”, and political policies become “saving doctrines.”
Author Timothy Keller describes the concept in his book “Counterfeit God.” He covers a variety of potential “idols” – created things which we may be tempted to lift up to the place of “god” in our lives – money, romantic love, success, etc. The one that most resonated with the state of many Christians today is political idolatry. The result of political idolatry being widespread in culture is “constant political cycles of overblown hopes and disillusionment and increasingly poisonous political discourse,
As followers of Christ who are engaging in this process, many have crossed a line that should not be crossed. The election season reveals that many have moved into political idolatry by the way they treat people with different opinions, whether on the left or right of the political spectrum. One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life.
This may be a reason why so many people now respond to U.S. political trends in such an extreme way. When either party wins an election, a certain percentage of the losing side talks openly about leaving the country. They become agitated and fearful of the future. They have put the kind of hope in their political leaders and policies that once were reserved for God and the work of the gospel. When their political leaders are out of power, they experience a death. They believe that if their policies and people are not in power, everything will fall apart. They refuse to admit how much agreement they have with the other party and instead focus on the points of disagreement. The points of contention overshadow everything else, and a poisonous environment is created.
Another sign of idolatry in our politics is that opponents are not considered to be simply mistaken but to be evil. After the last presidential election, my eighty-four-year-old mother observed, ‘It used to be that whoever was elected as your president, even if he wasn’t the one you voted for, he was still your president. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.’ After each election, there is now a significant number of people who see the incoming president as lacking moral legitimacy. The increasing political polarization and bitterness we see in U.S. politics today is a sign that we have made political activism into a form of religion.
It seems like there are many evangelical Christians that are willing to die on the hill of supporting the Republican president, supporting Donald J Trump. It seems reason would say that hill is not worth dying on. No matter who the candidate is, no matter who the individual is. To put all your hope into that individual is a dangerous road. Scripture warns against that. However, many evangelicals also see the president as the last line of a political defense against what they regard as encroaching liberalism on their religious values from abortion to LGBTQ+ rights. They have failed to understand the command to “love your neighbor.”
The president’s alliance with religious conservatives has long been premised on the contention that he takes them seriously, while Democrats hold them in disdain. In speeches and interviews, Trump routinely lavishes praise on conservative Christians, casting himself as their champion. Earlier this year, at a rally for evangelicals he declared:
My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith
In public, the president has praised conservative Christian leaders throughout his campaigns and his presidency. He has earned their respect by appointing a large batch of conservative judges to federal courts. Evangelical leaders have rallied around him, touting him as God’s chosen leader to fulfill the conservative agenda. But in private, people who have worked for Trump alleged that the president expressed cynicism and contempt with his remarks on religion. Former aides claim they heard the president mock conservative religious leaders, dismiss faith groups with stereotypes, and scoff at the rites and doctrines of several faith groups.
The election season continues to highlight political idolatry among Christians. Many evangelical Christians maintain there is no political figure whom they have loved more than Donald Trump. However, in private, many of Trump’s comments about religion are marked by cynicism and contempt, according to people who have worked for him. Former aides have allegedly heard Trump ridicule conservative religious leaders, dismiss various faith groups with cartoonish stereotypes, and deride certain rites and doctrines held sacred by many of the Americans who constitute his base.
The election season really highlights the way political idolatry among Christians. or many evangelical Christians, there is no political figure whom they have loved more than Donald Trump. The enthusiastic, uncritical embrace of President Trump by white evangelicals is among the most mind-blowing developments of the Trump era. How can a group that for decades—and especially during the Bill Clinton presidency—insisted that character counts and that personal integrity are an essential component of presidential leadership not only turn a blind eye to the ethical and moral transgressions of Donald Trump but also constantly defend him? It is simple, political idolatry has categorized him as God’s man. Hence, confirming that political idolatry among Christians is in full effect.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The Atlantic: The Deepening Crisis in Evangelical Christianity
HuffPost: Bow To Donald Trump
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