Well there have been two GOP primary debates thus far.
I must confess, that I have not brought myself to actually watch either of the televised debates. I am pacing myself…
Yet, in reading over news articles the days after, I have been somewhat amazed by the occurrences.
While the media has focused primarily on the issue of Governor Perry’s thoughts towards Social Security, there has been little attention on some of smaller issues that have generated applause or condemnation of the audiences (Peter Catapano has a good piece here on one).
What I have been astonished at, thus far, is that the audiences have seemed to cheer the death penalty (as a form of American “justice”), cheered the desperate fate of a hypothetical sick man without insurance, and booed a policy allowing children of illegal immigrants to attend higher education.
So much for caring for those in prison, the sick, and the (children of) foreigners. All we need now is for some crowd’s applause of the rising percentage of our population living in poverty and I think that takes care of Jesus’s particular message in Matthew 25.31-48.
Perhaps it is the view of the candidates and the audience that the religious commands/principles are to be carried out by the religious communities rather than the government. But this is difficult to comprehend when the same candidates are largely for restricting choice for women and limiting marriage to only the heterosexual. The defenses I have heard so far for these two issues have not been political, they were religious.
Instead, it seems to me that the views of the candidates and the audiences reflect a religious perception that has been compromised by political ideology, domesticated, and limited to the issues the political party will embrace.
So now, not only can we have a political divide, we can also have a religious divide.
The GOP can be supported by the religious communities in the red states that focus on the issues of life and marriage. The DNC can be supported by the religious communities in the blue states that focus on the issues of poverty and social justice. And the two can come together for a few short hours on World Communion Sunday; the GOP churches can offer whole wheat communion wafers and organic grape juice while the DNC churches can offer deep-fried dough and grape faygo (see, we can get along!). We will have communed together by embracing one another’s practice, and then we can go our separate ways again.
Something tells me, however, that this – blue churches and red churches – is not what the world needs nor what God has in mind.
Let us work for and hope that the Church is able to push back against the politicization and reclaim the gospel – all of it.