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Impeachment, Faith, & Politics

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

The often-fraught relationship between faith and politics was on full display in Washington, D.C. last week. On Wednesday, Senator Mitt Romney (UT), the only Republican to vote to convict President Trump of the two Articles of Impeachment brought against him, explained with deep emotion how his faith informed his decision to defy the will of his party: “I am profoundly religious. Faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential...My promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and political biases aside."

The very next day Congress hosted the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual gathering that has been attended by every president since President Dwight D. Eisenhower that, in the view of many, was overly politicized by President Trump. These events underscore the tension that comes with faith in public life. Should Senator Romney have been so explicit in explaining the spiritual roots of his decision-making? Should we even have a National Prayer Breakfast?

Such questions are at the heart of APJ’s vision for faithful political engagement. We all worship something, and our deeply held values shape our view of the common good and public justice, whether we are aware of it or not. Christians read the Scriptures convinced that God has something to say about the nature of justice and human flourishing but feel uneasy about the ways faith has been co-opted for political gain and uncertain about how to live constructively in an increasingly pluralistic culture.

As Stanley Carlson-Thies said over fifteen years ago during the 2004 presidential campaign:

Because we take our faith seriously, we insist that it must shape our political views and our political action. But the mechanisms for much political action are dominated by two parties that each, in its own way, seeks to domesticate religion, either by ignoring it or by capturing it. So the challenge is clear to all of us, as voters, officials, or party activists: at the same time that we work to make a real political impact, we must ensure that our politics are shaped by our faith, and not the other way around.”

At APJ, we offer a different model of Christian political engagement. One that cannot neatly be put in a partisan box but also recognizes our responsibility to “love our neighbor through politics.” One that affirms Senator Romney’s duty to ensure that his decisions flow from his deeply held faith commitments and our duty to work for the good of those around us--those of any faith or none.

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