The news is horrifying. I would never have thought the United States could be in such disarray, such violent disarray. I lived through the sixties, but it wasn’t like this. Protests were actually protests and not riots, no real violence, no arson, no killing. And most important, no willful disobedience on the part of elected city and state officials of their own laws. But the sixties protested the VietNam War, not the country itself.
This looks more like Kristallnacht, more like the racial hatred of Nazism—not least in the practice of “cancel culture”, the refusal to allow expression of any view but the one of condemnation or hate. And like that nightmarish period of history, appeasement justifies the violence and fans the flames. Self-defense is disallowed and even punished. A man in Seattle, I think it was, hid his children in the basement and sat with a shotgun across his knees all night.
But most distressing of all: I saw a newsclip of a vested priest behind the altar leading his congregation in new vows in place of old: I will do whatever I can to dismantle white supremacy, etc. The congregation was obliged to respond as to Baptismal promises. Clutching the snake to their bosom, so many German churches leapt on the political wave during the rise of Hitler.
We have a duty as citizens to participate in our democracy. That duty is to obey the law and to vote. That’s it. Politically minded folk carry the notion of citizens’ duty much further, but that’s all we’re really obligated to do. This steady rise in partisanship to the cracking point is the inevitable result of centralization of power. Everyone knows the latest bit of conflict news from Washington; no one knows the name of their local councilman.
Christ did not involve himself in politics, much to the dismay of many. He was steadfast about that, most notably in the story of the image on the coin. But modern churchmen, using his concern for the poor and outcast as an excuse to justify their political partisanship, tend to involve themselves deeply and attempt to carry their flocks with them. But the fact is that he wasn’t into politics, just people. If his care for the poor inspires anything, it should inspire our personal conduct as Christians. Every time the Church engages in politics in history, it pays a dear price—not in sacrifice, but in culpability. Despite the modern regard of politics as religion, it has no place in the Church because it has no place in Christ’s teaching. Our democratic system allows Christian faith and charity to flourish—if it will. There is an alternative for Christians to all this screaming, violence, and hate. There is Christ.
It’s worth remembering—because nobody ever mentions it—that the vote is via secret ballot. I don’t respond to polls; I don’t talk politics. When the time comes, I will vote my conscience and I will tell no one how I voted. No one is in that booth except the Truth and me.