Church and State
The hypocrisy is getting pretty hard to ignore.
By Madeleine Ngo, University of Florida
On July 20, 2016, while accepting the Republican V.P. nomination at the Republican National Convention, Vice President Mike Pence said, “I’m a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.”
In 2015, the former Indiana governor also signed into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay individuals because of their religious beliefs. The act opened the doors for discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. After intense backlash from multiple businesses and his constituents, Pence later signed a more lenient amendment.
The current state of politics has made religion, specifically Christianity, a contentious topic. Usually, when Christianity and politics are mixed, the debate is centered around abortion or gay marriage rights. President Trump continuously cites his “Christian” faith to gain approval from Republican voters. He has said numerous times that he is pro-life. First Lady Melania Trump even opened up one of his campaign rallies in Melbourne, Florida, with the Lord’s Prayer.
Throughout Trump’s candidacy and presidency, he consistently advocates for Christian rights and beliefs, yet he seems to contradict himself. He labels himself as a Christian, but he appears to lack the basic foundation of the religion, which is compassion.
If I have learned anything about Christianity, it’s about accepting others despite their background. Christianity is about creating change and selflessly helping the less fortunate. Although I believe religion should stay out of the state in order to protect the rights of those whose religious beliefs don’t align with the majority’s, if any aspect of Christianity should be mixed with politics, it’s the fundamental rule of compassion.
If you have a Facebook account, you have probably heard of Tomi Lahren, conservative commentator and host of “Tomi” on TheBlaze. In one of her viral videos, she said, “Most conservatives choose God.” A Christian herself, she often denounces liberals for being too “soft.”
Whether or not you agree with Lahren’s controversial viewpoints, she is right. On average, more Republicans tend to believe in God and consider themselves “very religious,” as opposed to Democrats.
For a political party whose majority advocates for stricter immigration procedures as well as a Republican president who recently enacted a widespread ban over mostly Muslim countries and wants to create healthcare cuts for over fourteen million people in the next year, the party doesn’t exactly spell out compassion.
No piece of legislation is entirely perfect or simple, though if the president and the political party he represents are going to use the image of Christianity to benefit their approval ratings, they should reconsider what they are advocating.
Many conservative Christians claim they care about those in need, yet when the time comes to create change, they back out. Vice President Mike Pence claims he’s a “Christian” first, yet attempted to revoke basic human rights from the LGBTQ community by signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Of course, there are many conservative Christians who may not conform to these beliefs, and I’m not trying to misrepresent them. As a society, people should take into account intersectionality and diversity of thought rather than misrepresenting an entire movement or group based on a small subset of radicals (See Syrian refugees and the Black Lives Matter movement).
Christianity has become incredibly political in modern times. Many conservatives tend to justify their political beliefs because of the Republican party’s majority support for the pro-life movement and attitude toward the LGBTQ community. Although most Christian churches are accepting of LGBTQ members, the topic of gay marriage continues to be debated and often denounced.
Rather than focusing on the issues of abortion and gay marriage, Christians should broaden their perspectives and speak out about other topics, like immigration, climate change, women’s rights, gun control and health care. If Christians are truly compassionate, they should extend their empathy. It is hypocritical to advocate for charity and love, yet support government leaders who infringe the fundamental rights of human beings. Although they may label themselves as accepting, altruistic Christians, their policies and legislations fail to reflect this.
While religion continues to be a controversial topic in politics, if any positive light should come out of intermingling the two, it should be support for equality and basic human rights, including LGBTQ members, women and immigrants. Christianity is built on acceptance, something many conservative leaders in the White House seem to lack.
When President Trump was elected, many of his voters claimed that they were not racist. Instead, his supporters claimed to vote out of their intense loyalty to the Republican Party and evident dislike for Hillary Clinton. Many attempted to justify their vote by making it clear that they weren’t bad people. Supporting a candidate who famously made derogatory comments about women and who repeatedly promoted offensive racist stereotypes, though, doesn’t make it any better.
The same concept holds true for all Christians. If you promote selflessness and empathy, then you should do so in all facets of your life, not only the ones that are convenient for you.