Monday, June 05, 2017

God and politics ...

Rather than doing anything useful this morning, I've been perusing my online "copy" of this morning's Register and thereby came across this little exchange in letters to the editor.

Arlene Kelly of Windsor Heights started it in a letter dated May 25 that commenced, "Like many others, I have witnessed the election of a number of presidents of the United States, but never before have we experienced the vitriolic accusations, lying, name-calling and pure hatred as is being experienced by, and directed toward, our new president, Donald Trump. Regardless of which side you are on, the election is over, and it's time for such vindictiveness to end."

She went on to quote Romans 13:1-2, "Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow."

The implication, Ms. Kelly suggests, is that our current president reflects god's will and we'd darned well better fall in line and stop the resistance.

Robert Cook, of Urbandale, followed up in this morning's Register by noting, "First, President Barack Obama won two elections by far greater margins than President Trump." Then asking, "Did you passively refrain from all criticism and name-calling aimed at Obama — who by your own chapter and verse was also, clearly, ordained by God? Because if you didn’t, I detect the redolent smell of hypocrisy."

And adding, "Second, your Bible-based argument doesn’t just apply to popular U.S. presidents — or even those you happen to agree with. It also applies to every brutal dictator and cruel tyrant who ever came to power over the last 2,000 years. That exact verse was used by countless theocrats over the centuries to justify the divine right of kings. How exactly does that promote life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness in the United States of America?"

The difficulty with those verses in Romans, either when taken at face value or quoted out of context, depending upon one's viewpoint, is that they clearly put god on the side of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and other monsters who, from time to time, have gained temporal power and killed millions. And, no, Donald Trump isn't quite in that category. Barack Obama certainly wasn't.

The inescapable conclusion, following the Romans-based line of thought with the face-value contingent, is that god is a monster --- or an ass.

Which is one of the reasons why many theologians all along the spectrum of orthodoxy suggest that mixing god and politics is not an especially good idea. In the end, politicians may win but god loses.

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