We recently had the chance to speak with Dr. Jeff Myers, author and president of Summit Ministries, an organization that helps the next generation develop a biblical worldview through conferences, semester-long programs for college students and academic curriculum for homeschool, Christian schools and churches.
We discussed his faith-based political curriculum, “The Political Animal: Debunking the myths that keep Christians from becoming more like Christ — and changing the world — through political involvement” and four common myths that keep Christians from voting.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Tell us about “Political Animal.”
I ended up developing it because I saw two problems taking place in opposite ends of the spectrum.
[On] one end people [were] saying to me, “If you're a Christian and you’re involved in politics, you’re a Right Wing bigot. You should be ashamed.” And then on the other side, I [heard] people say, “We’re going to take America back. We’re going to use politics to bring God’s kingdom to bear on Earth.”
I thought, “Are those my only two options?” Because if so, I can understand why somebody might say, “Look, forget it. You guys are both crazy. I’m going to stay here right in the middle. I'm going to work. I'm going to take care of my family. I'm going to do all those good things that good people do.”
But I realized that neither one of those sides really represents what a biblical view could be and the difference Christians could make if they would twist their understanding of politics just a little bit.
Talk about the four myths that keep Christians from being engaged in politics.
The first one is that God doesn't care about politics. But Scripture tells us that God’s glory covers the whole earth.
God doesn’t call us to have a theocracy like ancient Israel. The church and the state are different spheres that are important and that need to balance one another out. But at the same time, Christians [should] say, “I care about everything that God cares about. And God cares about his glory covering the earth. And if there are political decisions being made that affect people who are God’s image bearers, then I need to pay attention. I can’t say God doesn’t care, therefore I don’t care.”
Myth number two is “It’s not my problem. Those people in Washington, they can just go down the path, whatever. It doesn’t affect me.”
The City Council of the city of Seattle voted to defund the police. There was one vote against the proposal and that’s because it was from a person who wanted more radical action. And you say, “Well, I can’t make a difference in who gets to be president.” But if you live in Seattle, you surely can make a difference in who gets on the City Council. You can go door to door and literally affect that vote and determine who gets on the City Council. You cannot say after the fact, “This is terrible. I can’t believe the decisions these people are making.” You made them.
Another myth is choosing between the lesser of two evils.
That’s the myth: that choosing between the lesser of two evils is itself an evil action. And it might be true [but] for one significant, overlooked fact: voting is the beginning of your involvement, not the end of it. You may only have two candidates, but you vote for somebody, and then your involvement begins with the vote.
We’re always encouraging those who are in office to do the right thing. And why do we get to do it? Because they work for us. We don’t work for them. They work for us, and their job is not to give us our rights. According to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, their job is to secure the rights that have been given to us by God.
The fourth myth is that politics just doesn’t matter. How do you respond to that?
Tell the 122 million people who lived under communism in the USSR in Eastern Europe that politics doesn’t matter. They were freed from the grip of communism by political policies.
Tell the 23 million people living in Taiwan, who were freed from the grip of the policies of communist Mainland China.
Tell all of the citizens of South Korea that politics doesn’t matter. They were freed —they’re free to this day — from the military aggression of North Korea because of political policies.
Political acts affect us every day. I go so far as to say there is not a single act that you can take, [on] any given day, that is not either facilitated or hampered at some level by political decision making.
You turn on the water. You expect the water to come out clean. Why do you expect that? Because there is a political body that has come together to clean the water and make sure that it’s delivered properly. You walk in your door and your floor doesn’t cave in. Why? Because there are people who put together building codes that were voted on by the City Council. Food inspection. Utility districts. Stop signs. Why would you put up a stop sign? Because people crash at that intersection. Why do we care if they crash? Because somebody might get hurt and people bear God’s image.
To say politics don’t matter is almost to say life doesn’t matter.
How do you speak into the belief that our nation is grievously flawed?
I think America’s founding was right. A lot of people say, “There are bad things in the Constitution.” It’s interesting how our Founders put together founding documents that are self-correcting. You can have amendments; you can change those kinds of things.
We have unprecedented freedoms. We have the freedom to believe or not to believe, the freedom to print or not to print, the freedom to speak or not to speak, or to assemble or not assemble, or to travel, to vote, to complain, all of those kinds of things.
You can’t just say, “America is bad,” based on a standard of perfection as a Christian. You have to recognize people are sinful. The question is, are we as Americans doing the best we know how to treat people with dignity as bearers of God’s image?
The key is that we begin talking and thinking about these issues and finding a way to move together to solve our country’s problems. To say, “Okay, this is tough. I recognize this is tough. You have a viewpoint. I have a viewpoint. I just want you to know I treat you with dignity. You are a person who bears God’s image. You have dignity. I am a person who bears God’s image. Let’s walk side-by-side toward the truth.”
Watch the full interview with My Faith Votes CEO, Jason Yates, and Jeff Myers here.
My Faith Votes is a nonpartisan movement that motivates, equips and activates Christians in America to vote in every election, transforming our communities and influencing our nation with biblical truth. By partnering with national faith leaders, My Faith Votes provides resources to help Christians Pray, Think, and Act to create an America where God is honored in the public square. Learn more at MyFaithVotes.org.