When Your Politics Become Your Religion

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Politics and religion don’t mix—two things we never talk about. Politics are private, and religion is personal. Trying to mix them will just upset your feelings, and you don’t want to cause anyone distress. Here’s the problem, though: My politics have become my religion, and my religion informs and directs my politics.

Before the pandemic, I spent a lot of time accepting that everyone has different views and outlooks. (Spoiler: Mine typically do not align with most of my neighbors.) Watching someone I knew “other” people was sad to me. Disenfranchise the most vulnerable. Denigrate people for who and how they loved. I could seek to understand and accept that not everyone would get along or agree with each other. Sometime around when churches started filing lawsuits against the government for their loss of “religious freedom”- when Christians (for the purposes of this observation, I’m going to use the example of Christians as it is a demographic I’m personally familiar with) who are directed to love one another, above all else, couldn’t wear a mask to keep the people they are supposed to be loving safe I started to realize that maybe there was a place for politics in my faith and vice versa.

You see, I believe wholeheartedly that God loves everyone, with no exceptions. We are called to love, protect, shelter, feed, and provide for everyone. At its root, I always looked at it as how I personally treated other people. Somehow, though, as I watched people profess their love of God and their church with caveats, I found that I couldn’t keep them apart anymore; in my heart, in my speech, and in the expectations I have for the people I have in my life.

The more I watched people who supposedly belonged to my religion protest immigration, health care, and education, I realized that in loving others as myself, I wanted everyone to be able to go to the doctor, everyone to be allowed to get married, everyone that needs help to feed and house themselves be given it, even if it meant more of a financial contribution from me and mine. Because my call to love others isn’t just to be nice, smile, or pray; it’s a live-out-loud, unapologetic vote to love and care for everyone. There are no exceptions. No asterisks. If you couldn’t wear a mask to protect my 34-week preemie, then our values, our intrinsic value of others, were so violently misaligned I couldn’t see how our relationship could remain genuine. If, after having to have a medical abortion because my very wanted and loved second-trimester baby had passed away inside of me, you could call me a “baby killer” because that’s what YOUR religion required of you, how can I count on you to love me and support me? If you cannot love our LGBTQIA+ community with wholehearted acceptance and welcome, then your fear of others has brought pain and heartache to the ones you profess to love every week on Sunday.

This sort of piecemeal version of religion, the technicalities, the obscure Bible verse you can parse to suit your needs; it’s all just become noise to me. There will always be exceptions, changes in society, and extenuating circumstances. Everyone has a right to decide how they feel about every situation they encounter. Even I can find places where my feelings might not inherently match up with this sacred belief I have. Sometimes, I find it hard to love the people who cannot find it in themselves to love everyone. There are times that I see people I love and care for not speak up for the ones that need it most, accepting extremist policy, inaccurate facts, and these generalizations that continue to prosper- that I want to kill babies, leave us in trillions of dollars of debt, that the need for gun control means I mean to take yours, that I vote for a certain party and therefore are unpatriotic and don’t support the military. We are so bogged down in the idea of us vs. them that we live in this world of absolutes and assumptions. In the end, all of this is negated by my pesky faith-filled belief in God’s love for every one of us.

Our world is full of hatred and vitriol; people hide behind their screens and say things that are so sickening to me as a person, as a mother, and as a Christian. The more that people live (and vote) out this hypocritical version of Christianity- the one where they pick and choose who is deserving of love, for themselves and from God; the more I find I can’t separate my faith, my religion, my beliefs, my politics, and, my vote.

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