The Marriage of Church and State: Part 2, The State
I wish I were only kidding, but honest to God, there are campaign signs posted around my town that say, “R U Fed Up Yet?” That a person running for political office would approve a sign bearing text messaging lingo is so alarming to me, I can only respond, “WTF.” And you would think– you would sincerely hope– that that would be the worst of it, but if you’ve been paying any attention at all this election season, you know it actually gets worse.
We’ve all seen the mud-slung ads; we’ve all been besieged by imploring phone calls. But to me the worst of it is the insidious appeals to conscience, particularly to the Christian conscience. From mailers that boast photos of candidates building houses for the underprivileged (I’m pretty sure their left hands are well aware of what their right hands are up to) to online videos calling for the voting of “righteous” candidates (I could’ve sworn there was no one who was righteous, not even one), the message is clear: If you are a good or godly person, you will vote their way.
And really, it’s quite clever. Republicans and Democrats alike have become masters at appealing to morality to guilt people into voting along tight party lines. If your heart is inclined to value life before birth, traditional marriage, and financial conservatism, the Republicans have an in. If your heart is inclined to value life after birth, love in all forms, and financial generosity, the Democrats have theirs. Party propagators have done a brilliant job of grouping certain issues and then polarizing the groups so that most voters can mindlessly choose a side. There’s no real need to think much when your heart is already coerced.
But what if we ignored the prescribed groups? What if the people who valued life fought against both epidemics of abortion and war? What if the people who valued marriage fought against both rampant divorce and discrimination? What if the people who valued financial responsibility fought for conservatism that enabled generosity? What would that mean for the candidates who wanted to represent us?
Surely, it would make their jobs harder. Harder to build platforms to stand on, harder to run win-able campaigns. But maybe if the people of the Church demanded more from the people of the State, there would be less need for politicians to push such an unhealthy marriage.
Today I’m going to vote, but not along any imposed line and not with a coerced conscience. Because yes, I am fed up yet. Are you?