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Monday, March 17, 2008

God v Country


I'm a politico and have taken a great interest in following the presidential nomination process in the US. Whoever wins in November will have a profound effect (positive or negative) on the rest of the world, just as George W Bush has done over the past 8 years.

I've tried to read Republican and Democratic posts, especially from Christian bloggers and understand how faith informs politics and vice versa. I'm learning why abortion still remains the most important single issue for Republican Christians (in the UK we've not had the option of voting for someone opposed to abortion for 40 years), learning how divided this nation appears to be in so many different ways. So it has been interesting to see the reaction to past sermons made by Barack Obama's former pastor (see here or here or here and follow the links, and watch the news story).

I'm still trying to understand the uproar, all preachers use hyperbole, powerful rhetoric, vivid language and sometimes a line gets crossed. The Rev Jeremiah Wright appears to have crossed that line. That line crossing came foremost when he said 'God damn America'.

In the UK when the church speaks out on a political issue the politicians get all offended and say the church should stick to saving souls and personal morality. But a nations morality is important too, public policy isn't ethically neutral, it has values and it has influence on a nation's life.

If you asked a Republican Christian whether God would bless America for allowing abortion - the answer is clearly 'no', but to say God damn America for policies that affected the black community it seems is inexcusable. I'm still trying to figure out why.

The task of the church is to applaud the government when it gets it right and to call for justice when it gets it wrong - to stay silent while the poor are oppressed, while the vulnerable are preyed upon, while creation is degraded and despoiled, while the unborn are treated as non-persons cannot be right. To say that our country falls foul of God when it does any of these things seems to me biblical, because we are citizens of the kingdom of God before we are citizens of any earthly nation and my patriotism goes first to Jesus and His kingdom before it goes anywhere else.

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