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The Political Conundrum of Christianity
Christianity has had dark history with humanity. While founded on principles of peace and love, Christianity has played a role in the political turmoil, societal massacres, and even the decay of moral and traditional values. From the time of the Roman Empire, to America's infatuation with including Christianity in its conservative politics, there's no doubt that the religion has had a hand in influencing many important political outcomes.
For example, the U.S's Supreme Court ruling's for gay marriage is often the central issue of Christianity. Many conservative churches have spoken out against gay marriage. However, other Christian groups have embraced this ruling. Gay churches have even opened up based on their interpretation of the Bible.
Two particularly famous groups that have monopolized Christianity; the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party. The Republican Party has claimed to champion Christian and traditional values, from the "focus on the family" to the rejection of any change that may threaten those values. On the other hand, while the Democratic Party isn't as vocal, it has often focused on social justice, and subtly encouraged Christians to join their ranks.
To be honest, politics and religion didn't really concern me until high school.
I was attending a conservative church with my parents. I didn't really have a problem with it, until the 2016 election. Suddenly, liberals were the bad guys. Hilary Clinton was to blame for all the immorality in the nation. I even recalled someone from my Sunday school saying how, if she were elected, the entire nation would go to Hell. When Trump was elected, of course, everyone was ecstatic. It seemed that, to them, Christianity was the majority these days. From then on, the pastor had a carefree mouth. He bad mouthed homosexuality and science, unless of course, he was trying to make a point. Women shouldn't be pastors in a church. Communists were horrible, and so on and so forth.
After more than a few fights with my family, I left. I joined a Methodist Church where it was alright to talk about different beliefs. I told them I was apart of the LGBT community, and they offered me some cake. The pastor, a woman at that, welcomed me with open arms. And while we did have a few heated debates here and there, everyone got along well. I remember during Christmas Eve, while I was attending a service, the Pastor got up and talked about helping the poor and the marginalized. A few members complained that her speech was too political.
Christianity in Politics
Christianity and politics have often gone hand in hand for the past centuries. Despite what other people may say, Christianity has influenced many legislative decisions, even now. Beginning with a small hand full of believers, and now with modern day America, people have relied on these values, more than they actually realize.
The Catholic Church was a particularly famous institution. Starting with their founding in the Roman Empire, they're not only been responsible for the first churches and influence in politics, but they're also one of the many that have started the various prejudices that have impacted many lives, Christian or otherwise. In fact, they were so important their interpretations, along with many others, have been the subject of the wars and persecutions. Branches upon branches were founded upon, and it'd even gotten to the point where these branches left Europe in order to sail to America, where the first colonies were found. Even then, they brought this persecution with them. This has been seen over and over again throughout American history. Even now, the past still emulates now.
The Christian Right
The first, and perhaps the most famous, of the two branches is the Christian Right. The Republican Party has had a long history with the religion, embracing, or at least trying to, their values in order to secure votes. While the movement encompasses many different cultural beliefs and systems, it mainly appeals to most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians. Basically speaking, the Christian Right is conservative in social issues, and often want to place Christianity within politics.
One example is their view on education. The Christian Right is particularly famous for this through the Scopes Trial, where they prosecuted against a science teacher for teaching evolution in school. They also advocate the removal of sexual education from public schools, and want to institutions to teach abstinence instead. They also support homeschooling and private schooling, as opposed to public schools. My previous church had even funded a private school based on the various donations that the members gave.
Yet another example is abortion. For the Christian Right, they take a strong stance against abortion, believing that life begins from the moment of conception. Because of this, they've opposed legislations that have supported abortion, and have even gone against Planned Parenthood because they provided such services. Another notable issue they have a strong stance against is their opposition against stem cell research.
One final example is their opinions about human sexuality, as well as gender roles in general. Many Christian right organizations have been influential in anti-gay movements, and have even felt that society and government was being demoralized because of this. The Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling was one that Christian right individuals took to the streets to protest again. Even now, many churches have refused to marry same-sex couples. However, transgender individuals have also been targeted; many christian rights have taken the idea that a person's biological sex should determine the person's gender. The Christian Right have also often emphasized gender roles. Alongside their strong stance against abortion, many churches are against having amen ordained. Instead, women are encouraged to become mothers and to concentrate on their families, rather than their careers.
The Christian Left
Despite the fact that they share the same religion, the Christian Left's interpretation and focus of the religion drastically differs from the Christian Right's. Their values and beliefs, as well as their cooperation with other religions, sharply contrasts with each other. They uphold social justice, and tend to be more varied than the Christian Right. Typically speaking, the Christian Left is more often than not associated with left-wing thought. This group includes many Catholics, as well as other minority religions.
In regards to the LGBT community, the Christian Left's attitude differs greatly. Some have supported both gay marriage, and often use the Bible to support their beliefs. Others don't support the ruling, but often describe homophobia and discrimination as immoral. Some even say that homosexual sex is immoral, but unimportant in regards to social justice.
Even so, there is a consistent belief that can characterize a majority of Christian Left individuals. For instance, many oppose capital punishment and euthanasia. In terms of abortion, they see the life of the mother and the fetus as equally important. With healthcare, many support the fact that healthcare is supposed to provide adequate health services for everyone, especially the poor. Even more controversial are the refugees, who many have said that the life of refugees and immigrants matter.
While Christian followers are united under religion, the many different interpretations that spring from it have caused deep divisions that have ended up destroying many communities. Many people have left churches because they disagreed on the messages, whether politically or religiously. It's because of this separation that have caused many people to argue at home and church, trying to prove their point, rather than actually discussing with other people. This is often reflected in American politics today, where it's easy to shout, rather than listen.
It's the reason why we have keep our prejudices in check. This isn't just in Christianity, but can be applied to many other religions as well. After all, you never know what one may believe just because you have the same religion. Your interpretation may be different from someone else's.