At the height of the immigration debate in 2016, I accompanied a group of pastors in Washington, DC, to meet with their members of Congress. One pastor of a prominent, large evangelical church, remarked afterward how he wanted to go back to his hotel and take a shower because he felt so “dirty” talking to politicians.
The disdain we feel for our elected officials and political systems is often rooted in a belief that politics are defined by insincerity and dishonesty. Subsequently, many Christians chose to be apolitical. They don’t contact their elected officials, vote, or even discuss issues that show up nonstop on their social media feeds, such as climate change, gun violence, and immigration.
Contrary to those who avoid politics are evangelical Christians for whom politics is the only salvation for a Christian society under threat. Their conviction is marked by a hyperpartisanship, a blind allegiance that neglects the values Christians historically hold. We give a blank check to our “tribe,” and that ends up harming the very people God calls us to love and serve. As Richard Land recently wrote, “to equate God with any human institution, particularly one as flawed and as intensely human as either political party, is a form of blasphemy.”
Evangelical political engagement should be marked by neither political disengagement nor hyperpartisanship. If we are biblically political, we can work for systems and structures that create human flourishing throughout our entire society. But overt partisanship attaches us to centers of empire power and perpetuates injustice.
So how can we engage faithfully in politics?
1. Affirm the Image of God in All People
Our political engagement should be rooted ...
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