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Religion and Politics Always Mix Whether We Like It or Not

Russian and Israeli flags fly outside Second Baptist Church of Houston's Woodway campus in this photo that was posted to Twitter on November 5, 2017. | (Photo: Twitter/Jia Tolentino)

The old saying "religion and politics ought never mix"is utterly false.

Religion and politics always mix whether we like it or not.

Nobody can help it.

What is supreme in a person's heart is one's religion, be it Deity or dogma. One's supreme belief gives birth to one's politics.

God and government or god and government can never be separated. You always govern with a view toward the supreme.

For example, if a person believes in a Supreme Being who has communicated His will to His creation, then that person's view of government will be based on the Supreme Being and Divine law.

However, if a person does not believe in a personal Supreme Being, that doesn't mean he or she is not religious. Religion, by definition, is "a pursuit or interest of supreme importance." A person's supremely held dogma or philosophy is as much a god as a Supreme Being.

Two people; two religions; two views of government.

The inner worship of one's god drives the open wrangling for one's government.

Religion and politics are always mixed.

As an example, The Founding Fathers believed in a Supreme Being that they called "nature's God." The connection between their belief in a personal God and the government they founded is obvious when you walk the capitol grounds in Washington. The word "God" (with a capital "G") is engraved in marble or stone everywhere. The Founders sought to obey God's revealed will, which they called "natural law."

Today, many Americans serve a different god. This god is a philosophy of self, lived out with the belief that "my desires, my rights, and my will" are supreme.

If I speak it, it is true. If I desire it; it shall be. If you disagree with me, you blaspheme my god, which is me.

Religion and politics are always mixed.

Let me prove it.

The Nation of Israel and Jerusalem as the Capital

Former President Jimmy Carter told me that when he was at the Camp David Peace Accords in 1979 with Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat a heated discussion broke out regarding the modern borders of the nation of Israel. When President Carter asked Menachem Begin where he believed Israel's boundaries should be located, Begin opened a Bible to Genesis 15 and pointed to God's words to Abraham: "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river Egypt unto the great river, the river of the Euphrates." (Genesis 15:18).

Menachem Begin's religious beliefs drove his politics.

Some Americans believe that Israel will give up the Golan Heights and the West Bank through political pressure from the West.

It's not going to happen.

The politics of Israel is driven by their religion. Israelis believe God gave them the land of Israel.

Likewise,Anwar Sadat, a follower of the Koran, based his political views on Surah 5:21 which states: "O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has assigned to you and do not turn back [from fighting in Allah's cause] and [thus] become losers."

Arabs who live in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria have their politics driven by their religious beliefs. They will never agree to the Jews living in the Holy Land, and they will never acquiesce to Jerusalem being the capital of Israel, and they will politic based on their religious beliefs.

But what about American politics? Where will America and our government stand on Israel?

It depends.

It depends on the religious beliefs of the American people who hold the political power.

Kirk Humphries and the University of Oklahoma

Kirk Humphries is the vice-president of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. He is also a voice on one of Oklahoma's most-watched television political opinion shows, a Sunday morning show called Flashpoint. Kirk is currently in a firestorm over remarks he made about homosexuality.

"Is homosexuality right or wrong?" Mr. Humphreys asked. "It's not relative. There's a right and wrong, you just said it. So it's either right or wrong. If it's OK, then it's OK for everybody. Quite frankly, it's OK for men to sleep with little boys, if it's OK."

Some Oklahomans are asking Mr. Humphries to resign from his positions of leadership. Mr. Humphries is being called "a homophobe," a "bigot," and "a disgrace" to the state of Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma.

The Lost Ogle, a satirical online newspaper in Oklahoma, said of Kirk Humphries:
"(he is) an out-of-touch, inarticulate, conservative theocratic voice..."

The definition of theocratic is "a form of government in which God or a Deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler."

The Lost Ogle got it right. Kirk Humphries believes the highest lawgiver is God, and he believes the Bible to be the Word of God. The Bible calls homosexuality a sin against God and a barrier to entry into the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10).

Of course, those with a different philosophical persuasion who serve another god believe differently. And their religious belief drives their politics of governance.

It shouldn't surprise many that Kirk Humphreys is siding with The Founding Fathersin his views on homosexuality.

I happen to know Kirk Humphries and his family. Kirk and his wife and children are some of the most personable, generous, and compassionate people you'll ever meet.

Kirk is a religious man. His religion is Christianity. He bases his beliefs on what he believes God communicates to him through the Bible.

Those asking Kirk Humphries to resign are just as religious. It's just that their god is different than Kirk Humphries' God. This is an observation, not a condemnation.

Every person serves a Deity or a dogma.

Religion and politics are always mixed.

The First Amendment

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The First Amendment guarantees five things:

1. The government will not establish a particular religion - The Founding Fathersrightly assumed every person is religious. The First Amendment prohibits government resources from supporting a particular religious sect to the exclusion of others.

2. The government will not prohibit the free exercise of a particular religion - The Founding Fathers wanted people to worship freely as they believed, without government interference, as long as such worship did not physically harm other persons or do damage or destruction to other persons' property (e.g., "violate natural law"). Such harm to others or other's property is the very definition of "terrorism."

3. The government will not abridge the freedom of speech - abridgment, by definition, means "to curtail, shorten, condense, or reduce." In America, a Muslim has the right to speak freely, a Christian has the right to speak freely, an atheist has the right to speak freely, as well as any other person of a particular religious sect, be it a sect that worships a Supreme Deity or a supreme dogma.

4. The government will never take away the right peaceful assembly - The government can't close a house of worship because the government doesn't like the dogma or Deity worshipped.

5. The government will never punish the person who seeks help or relief from violations of the promised freedoms mentioned above -  a freedom that citizens of countries led by autocratic, dictatorial regimes can only dream of having.

Religion and politics always mix.

The First Amendment is a guarantee that your freedoms as an American to believe a certain way, worship a certain way, speak a certain way, and gather a certain way, will never be forcibly removed or threatened with punishment or retaliation by those in authority.

The Founding Fathers would never have dreamed of the day in America when the religious people most likely to be politically blackballed, threatened or coerced to worship, believe and speak a certain way are those who believe in the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible.

Don't be fooled.

Everyone's religious.

It's just that one person's god is not another's God.

Which religious belief leads to the best form of civil governance?

That's a question best answered before the fall of any republic.

Wade Burleson is a writer, historian, and pastor. You can find him at


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