Opinion

Is the Christian Right Driving Liberals Away From Religion?

Michele Margolis is a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of From Politics to the Pews: How Partisanship and the Political Environment Shape Religious Identity. She writes, “some people on the left are falling away from religion because they see it as so wrapped up with Republican politics.”

As someone who identifies with the Religious Right, I could just as easily make the case that it’s the liberalism of the Left that’s driving people to the Republican Party. Once again, liberals are portrayed as religiously neutral. No one is neutral. Democrats have abandoned many of the core principles of their party. JFK would not recognize the politics or the religious secularism of the Democrat Party. It’s become the party of agnostics and atheists and the worship of the State with abortion as its sacrament and the acceptance of homosexuality as its initiation rite.

The government (public/statist) schools are officially atheistic. God was swept out nearly 60 years ago. Any mention of religion is verboten. The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church, State, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation have worked to secularize the schools. The same is true at the college level where atheism is the official religion. Darwinism is the accepted secular religion, and it’s having a devastating effect on culture.

The following is from an interview with John West that appears in the September 28, 2019, edition of World Magazine. He is the vice-president of the Discovery Institute and author of Darwin Day in America:

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Darwin’s theory wasn’t just about change over time—it was that we’re part of an accidental process. So Darwin has been the greatest gift to people who would like to deny that God exists. But it’s gone way beyond that: We’ve seen Darwinism used to devalue human life, because Darwin thought humans are basically animals. At the end of On the Origin of Species he says it’s through death, disease, and starvation that the best things have come about in nature.

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I have met scholars who say Darwin has nothing to do with religion or morality—it’s just about science. I ask: “Have you read The Descent of Man?” No. That is where Darwin talks about religion, morality, mind, and social policy, about how he thinks we’re destroying the human race by inoculating people against smallpox and helping the poor.

It hasn’t helped that churches have adopted a sacred-secular divide. Religious compartmentalism is a standard fare among many Christian churches. The Bible only applies to a very narrow slice of life. Even among churches that once taught a comprehensive Christian worldview, they have compartmentalized God’s Word into something called Two-Kingdom Theology. This way, the church has self-secularized itself by having nothing to say to the world at large.

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Christians are taught not to judge or to impose their morality on others. As a result, secularism, in the name of unfounded neutrality, prevails.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Christians have been told not to get involved in politics because unbelievers are often offended by religion. There is nothing new in this. Many people in Jesus’ day were offended by a gospel that required righteous living. Jesus also took on the religious, economic, and political status quo. It’s no different today.

A Christian worldview says some things are right and other things are wrong. Killing unborn babies is morally wrong and so is same-sex sexuality. More astute Christians also oppose heavy taxation and wealth redistribution since it is a form of government theft. These moral arguments challenge the religious and political ideals of the secularized State.

We often forget that Jesus was opposed by the religious establishment and put to death even though He raised people from the dead, healed the sick, and fed people. The book of Acts is filled with examples of persecution and even murder to tamp down the effect the gospel was having on the status quo.

Peter and others were dragged before the religious courts and warned not to preach this new religion.

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

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Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:1-4, 18-20).

Before long, things got out of hand for the religious establishment. The persecution continued because the apostles refused to remain silent (5:17-42). This meant more drastic action had to be taken. Stephen became the church’s first martyr at the hands of a Pharisee named Saul (7:54-8:1-3).

The liberal religious establishment of today is opposing conservative Christians on subjects like abortion, homosexuality, transgenderism, and wealth redistribution. It’s a threat to their power base. To counter what they can’t control, they appeal to the State and its courts to shut them down and shut them out.

They did the same thing in the early church. Initially, the Roman government was not opposed to this new religious movement because it was not seen as a political threat. In time, however, the religious establishment maligned the Christians with false claims of political revolution, the same thing they did to Jesus.

It first began with Herod who was a puppet of Rome:

It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also.

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Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply (12:1-3, 20).

The political threat was intensifying. “When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue” (17:1-2). What did the religious establishment do? Accuse the Christians of being a political threat to the Roman Empire:

But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go (17:5-9).

Again, what we are seeing today has a long history. Some of the moral arguments may have changed, but in the end, it’s all about human autonomy, personal peace and affluence, political influence, and money. It’s no accident that the Apostle Paul mentions the “love of money” three times (1 Tim. 6:10; 3:3; Titus 1:7; also, Col. 3:5).

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Being a friend of Cesaer is crucial for so many secularized Americans: “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12). The religion of dependency runs deep, but the Christian religion breaks the need for it. Moreover, it’s an idol. Christianity demands allegiance only to God.

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