Christians should get more involved in politics.
At the moment, the reputation of Christians in public life is disastrous. Religious people are often seen as fanatical fundamentalists, leading massive hate campaigns complete with picket signs and boycotts.
This projection is not representative of most Christians. Yes, there are those who use religion as a weapon, perceiving a divine backing of their actions though they intend only to attack and insult.
But once you look past these outliers, you discover the true Christians in politics. They are people who hold immense amounts of political power or influence while still recognizing a higher power. They don’t use their religion as a weapon, but they also don’t shove their convictions under the rug on the way to work.
“The most important thing to remember is humility,” one such person told me in a large office in Washington, DC. “I’ve had some amazing opportunities, but I always remember that it is not by my own doing.”
Christians in politics recognize God’s transcendence over the matters of this world, while not discounting the importance of glorifying him by pursuing virtue and justice. When we do this successfully (though never perfectly), we bring the “service” back to public service.
A Christian that engages in firestorm attacks, offensive insults, or unfounded accusations reflects poorly on the whole faith community. We have a duty to glorify God by striving to maintain kindness and understanding in all of our actions.
“We need Christians in politics who believe in conversation and reasoned discourse,” Judge Ken Starr, president of Baylor University, told me in an interview. “What we don’t need, regardless of faith journey, is people who simply yell at one another or shout the other side down. To my mind, that’s not a very Christ-like attitude.”
Starr has had an admirable career in public service, while remaining a committed Christian. He says we “absolutely” need more Christians in politics, as long as they remain “respectful, kind, and compassionate to those with whom they disagree.”
Admittedly, that’s hard to do sometimes. When you know you’ve won a political argument, it’s hard not to gloat. But Starr reminds us of some guiding principles. “We need to take seriously the admonition to turn the other cheek. We also need to control our emotions, and we need to be determined to smile a bit more. Keep our voices down, smile, and advance an attitude of caring and respect.”
Think you can do those things? Then we’d love to have you in the political world.