In what he terms “An Open Letter to the Religious Right” Joe Carter recently posted some of this thoughts about how religion and politics intersect. Although he considers himself a member of the “religious right” Carter attempts to clarify exactly what that does and doesn’t mean. Among other things, he makes it clear that it does not mean blind allegiance to any particular party.
Our political alliances, therefore, will often be tenuous and shift based on particular issues. Adherence to our principles trumps loyalty to those who simply share our religious identity.
He also recognizes there is room among those who consider themselves members of the “religious right” for principled disagreement on certain issues, like the war in Iraq. He is at the same time outspoken in his criticism of those who turn a blind eye to the practice of torture.
He begins the article with an anecdote from the life of our sixteenth president, and makes three cogent observations about it.
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was purportedly asked if God was on his side. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said the President, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
Although Lincoln is often praised for this remark by those who oppose the mixing of religion and politics, it contains three of the most controversial ideas in American politics: that it is legitimate to invoke the name of God within the realm of political discourse; that God’s existence not only matters, but that he is always right; and that since God takes sides on certain issues, some people will be divinely justified while others will be in opposition not only to their political opponents but to the very Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.