In Christians and Politics: its complicated I said that I think Christian responsibility within government is a complicated issue and needs to be approached with understanding and gentleness from everyone involved.
There are a few main approaches for Conservative Evangelical Christians when it comes to political views and actions. There may be more, but based on my observations these are the major ones that I see:
- The Conservative Right – This is probably the biggest group, and easily the most politically powerful on a national scale. This group generally holds that America is founded on Christian morality and principles. Generally it tries to promote Christian morality through the government. It works to elect leaders who oppose abortion and homosexual marriage. It encourages Christian activity and symbols within government institutions (i.e. ten commandments in courthouses, prayer in schools). It generally feels that welfare is a bad system which supports laziness and that war is useful in defending freedom, spreading democracy, and opposing the spread of Islam.
- The Welfare Advocates – This group sees that Christians are called to care for those in need and believes that the government should be used to do that. They generally support redistribution of wealth, government aid programs for the lower-class and impoverished – programs like food stamps, government health care, housing assistance, higher-education assistance, and so on – , providing shelter and basic needs for refugees, and becoming involved, as a nation, in supporting those living in third-world countries and natural disaster zones. They generally take issue with programs that help the wealthy such as government bail-outs and cutting taxes for the wealthy.
- The Politically Disinterested or Apathetic – This group generally believes that from a Christian perspective politics are unimportant. Things having to do with the governments of this world are irrelevant to those destined to the New Kingdom where The Father sits on the throne and Christ at His right hand. They believe that the government has no real lasting value and that they have no responsibility or need to be involved with it. They may vote, and when they do it tends to be along similar lines as the above mentioned Conservative Right (i.e. against abortion and gay marriage, supporting prayer in schools). They usually believe it is important for The Church to care for those in need, and have little to no expectation that the government should/will do anything about it.
- The Limited Government Proponents – This group embraces freedom, both morally and economically. They generally feel that people should be allowed to do whatever they want as long as it does not infringe on the rights (to life, liberty, and property) of others. The basic premise behind this is that forcing people to act moral will not make them Christians; it will not affect lasting change in their hearts, but at the same time people should not be allowed to hurt others and Christians should defend the defenseless, thus there is a limited role and responsibility for the government to protect but not impose morality. This group generally believes in economic freedom as well, feeling that welfare systems do not demonstrate love and promote Christ since they are forced giving through taxation. This, again, would go back to the moral issue, people should give not by compulsion but out of love for their neighbor, government run welfare does not offer that opportunity and limits what can be given willingly due to increased taxation.
What is important to see in the best scenario of all these views is that there is a desire to follow the Bible. The angles are all different but the desire is the same. You may want to encourage Biblical morality, you may want to encourage the Biblical call to care for those in need, you may want to have your attention on the Heavenly Kingdom, or you may feel that it is important to know where people’s hearts really are, thus allowing them the opportunity to act morally depraved. With this understanding, that we all want to be Biblical, hopefully we can deal with this topic a little more friendly. I think we all have opinions about each of these ideologies, but I tried to give a fair and impartial explanation of what I understand the core beliefs of each approach to be.
Like I said, there may be other approaches, but these are what I thought of. Can you think of other Conservative Evangelical approaches to Christian involvement in government?