There are those who think that religion and politics don’t mix. The truth is that their religion and their politics don’t mix. However, Christianity and politics mix quite easily together, and it is Christianity which gave us western democracy as we understand it and delivered us from the irreligious dogmatism of the 16th-century by recovering true Christianity.
Religion and politics are two features of the human condition that cover the whole of life. This being so, there must be a proper relationship between the two. Our business is to determine what that is.
It is true that false religion has been the cause of all the trouble in the world, but there is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater – true religion with false religion.
The Scottish Christian Party thinks that the Gospel of God’s grace has got much to contribute to public life and the good of society. Our contribution to public life is not mere recording what happens, but we seek to highlight how things could be different if Christian politicians would articulate a Christian solution. The Gospel is very practical because it leads to changed lives and it can change society. So the Lord Jesus commands the church to evangelise and make disciples of all ethnic groups and not simply individuals Mat 28:19.
We do not advocate Christian politics as the solution to all things, but we do advocate that Christianity should be applied at all levels of society – in the home, in schools, in churches, town councils and society at large through national politics. We encourage churches to get involved in local and national affairs, and individual Christians are encouraged to apply Christian principles in their workplace, which is being impeded by secular legislation, which the main political parties have no interest in reforming.
This is why Jesus commissioned the apostle Paul ‘to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel’ Act 9:15. The Christian church speaks to kings and nations as such, as well as to individuals. Kings, as kings, are expected to honour Christ Ps 2:10-12.
The other opinion
However, for some Christians, their religion and their politics don’t mix.
Such Christians line up with atheists Job 34:8, who also think that religion and politics don’t mix. The British Humanist Association (BHA) wishes to remove religion, and Christianity in particular, from public life, including politics. Its mission statement is to “promote a secular state”. This shows that Britain is not yet a secular state – indeed it has a Christian constitution. It appears therefore that, de facto and de jure (in fact and in law), Christianity and politics are already mixed in Britain. However the Christian constitution of the country is at stake and under threat from groups such as the BHA (comprised of humanists who think that their claim to irreligion means that they are not religious), homosexual lobby groups, and indifferent political parties with secular activists close to the centre of political power.
Richard Dawkins wants to go further and remove religion from private life – he claims that teaching religion to children is child abuse. This invades domestic life as well as public life.
Why is there a difference in opinion?
So why do some Christians not support the Scottish Christian Party? Some have religious reasons, and others have political reasons or a combination of both.
Among the religious reasons, some Christians quote Jesus saying ‘My kingdom is not of this world’ John 18:36 as if this means that Christians should not be involved in politics. Rarely will you hear them quoting ‘the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’ Rev 11:15. Some Christian denominations such as the Brethren believe that religion and politics don’t mix, even to the extent that they do not vote. Other Christians do not vote because they believe that politics is too corrupt to vote; to them we say that the Scottish Christian Party gives the opportunity to vote for declared Christians. Some sects, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, think that one cannot vote for worldly governments and they await a future world government of which God approves.
Others simply do not like the SCP ‘brand’ of Christianity. Some have convinced themselves that they already know what ‘brand’ we are, and they do not like it. They compare us to the American religious right, to Irish sectarianism, or to current Christian values parties – none of which apply. This is a common response among particular groups of Christians. They do not take the time nor trouble to find out from SCP personnel. That is their choice, just as some people choose not to listen to the Gospel, but we have often pointed out that if the Scottish Christian Party has got something wrong, then let more Christians join the Party and put us right. This dislike of other ‘brands’ of Christianity is a potent reason why there are so many Christian denominations in the world – and why some people think that a Christian Party cannot hold together – but it is no reason why these Christians cannot speak to one another and even act together in political action. The Scottish Christian Party offers itself as the executive arm of that concerted action. The more denominations on board the less denominational the SCP will be perceived to be. However, the day the SCP ceases to be a political party and becomes a worshipping church is the day that it begins to fall apart because of the religious factionalism native to the heart even of godly Christians. Such factionalism does not characterise every Christian, and even a few Christians joining together for political action may act as an example to the warring denominations and may promote the time when ‘the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ’ Rev 11:15.
Among the political reasons why some Christians don’t support the Scottish Christian Party is that their politics are different from the purposes and aims of the Scottish Christian Party. Put simply – their politics are different. They don’t say that religion and politics don’t mix; they simply mix them differently. This manifests itself in various ways:
1. Whereas some Christian groups plainly believe that religion and politics don’t mix, among those who believe otherwise we have been told by ministers or church leaders that they will not advertise the Scottish Christian Party because of the Christians in their congregation who support other political parties. These church leaders do not usually say that religion and politics do not mix, but they commonly give this other reason. Presumably the reason is because these Christians will make enough trouble in the congregation that it is not worth the effort to advertise the Scottish Christian Party. For such trouble-makers, the SCP and their politics do not mix. This very common reason extends to many groups apart from churches – it is true of some businesses and Christian organisations. We have had leaflets displayed and advertised in secular businesses but refused by Christian organisations. One can understand secular businesses refusing them, although many of these will advertise magazines teaching irreligious doctrines, but how does one explain Christian organisations refusing them? Presumably the answer is to be found among these trouble-making Christians again who do not like the SCP brand, but let each organisation answer for itself, if it cares to do so.
2. If a Scottish Christian Party poster appears outside a church, other major parties will swamp the poster with their secular party posters. Who was responsible for this? Could it be Christians in secular political parties?
3. Christians tend to be interested in public life and therefore many of them are already members or supporters of other political parties. They have invested much time, energy and emotion supporting these parties, and they are unwilling to change their party and begin again – just as most people will not change their bank, energy supply company, etc. This makes it difficult to persuade these Christians to join or support the Scottish Christian Party. However, it should be axiomatic that Christians are open to change.
So it is clear that for some people, Christianity and their politics don’t mix; for others, the Scottish Christian Party and their politics don’t mix. Notice, it is not politics but their politics which do not mix – so you should challenge this thinking when you encounter it.
It used to be said that in polite conversation one should not mention ‘religion, sex or politics’. Now that the sexual taboo is well and truly blown away in public life, it is time to blow away the taboo on religion in public life. It has been bad politics for Christians to allow this taboo to prevail. Jesus said: ‘Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when He shall come in the glory of His Father with the holy angels’ Mk 8:38 and
‘Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father in heaven’ Mat 10:32-33.
7 May 2010: ‘Politics – According to the Bible’ by Wayne Grudem and his UK tour.
30 Mar 2012: What is the Establishment Principle?
10 Jul 2013: Australian Christians urged to vote for the Lordship of Christ.
11 Jan 2014: The Huffington Post thinks that they do mix.