This New York Times article covers a very brave pastor in Minnesota who dared to challenge the assumption on the part of many Christians out there that the Republicans party and Christianity should be closely intertwined.
Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called “The Cross and the Sword” in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a “Christian nation” and stop glorifying American military campaigns.
“When the church wins the culture wars, it inevitably loses,” Mr. Boyd preached. “When it conquers the world, it becomes the world. When you put your trust in the sword, you lose the cross.”
Some members walked out of a sermon and never returned. By the time the dust had settled, Woodland Hills, which Mr. Boyd founded in 1992, had lost about 1,000 of its 5,000 members.
I was especially appreciative of this quote: “He said there were Christians on both the left and the right who had turned politics and patriotism into ‘idolatry.'” If you aren’t familiar with Christian conservative churches, turning things into idols – clothes, money, popularity – is a big thing that folks are counseled against. I’m not a huge fan of the “idol” language myself, but all and all, I think it works and has a good effect in Christian churches when used responsibly – it offers language to say “Hey, you aren’t focusing on the important stuff.”
One final quote that I found to be quite wise and I really wish would pick up more steam in evangelical/fundamentalist circles across the country:
In his six sermons, Mr. Boyd laid out a broad argument that the role of Christians was not to seek “power over” others by controlling governments, passing legislation or fighting wars. Christians should instead seek to have “power under” others “winning people’s hearts” by sacrificing for those in need, as Jesus did, Mr. Boyd said.
I’m not saying I’m totally in love with Pastor Boyd. But thank goodness for someone willing to remind folks that Jesus was not a freaking Republican.