Religion and Politics Can Mix: Discussions Require Care, Humility and Thoughtful Listening
Religion and politics are two of the hardest things to talk about because both mean so much to us. Realizing the passions these stir in us ought to cause us to approach our discussions about religion and politics with a lot of care and humility, prepared to listen to each other as much as we speak.
At our recent National Convention, participants deliberately showed our commitment to creating safe spaces and engaging in respectful dialogue. It’s a model in reconciliation that we are encouraging people to use at all levels of the church and in our daily lives.
Sadly, much of the discussion we witness around political matters, particularly when someone’s religious perspectives are included, model much of the worst rather than the best in us. Those who disagree with us or fall short in our view are often mocked, ridiculed and demonized.
As we prepare for federal elections and the rhetoric heats up, it seemed wise to seek some perspective on such matters. In our feature article, John Milloy brings such perspective. He is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario who held several cabinet portfolios and is the current executive director for the Centre of Public Ethics at Martin Luther University College, Waterloo, Ont.
He challenges the notion that religion and politics should not mix with the belief that faith can play a positive role in our political system while still respecting the secular nature of our society. He reminds us that faith helps us look beyond each party’sshopping list of promises and determine whether they have a consistent worldview based on compassion, justice and hope.
He also reinforced for me the respect that I have for the people who are willing to serve as our elected leaders.
When considering the platforms of the various political parties, readers may wish to keep in mind an action by the recent National Convention that draw our politicians attention to providing a just and universal access for all to dignified, quality palliative care, as well as the same access in mental health care services. The convention also joined the 2017 Lutheran World Federation Assembly in affirming the fact that the global ecological crisis, including climate change, is human-induced. It is a spiritual matter.
Readers who want to learn more about the church’s positions on a variety of social issues may also wish to explore the website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (elcic.ca/CompassionateJustice) and other websites such as The Lutheran World Federation, KAIROS, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.
Above all, don’t forget to vote. It is a right, responsibility and privilege that should not be neglected.
Have you discovered the columns of our synod bishops? Each offers a unique discussion of a wide variety of things. Bishop Mohr (p. 18) discusses hospitality for the non-newcomer. Bishop Kochendorfer (p. 21) reflects on 30 years of ordination. Bishop Haugen (p. 24) explores two images of God, a shepherd and a woman. Bishop Zinko (p. 27) urges faithful transformation rather thanbusiness as usual. Bishop Pryse (p. 30) discusses transitions in life and church.
Kenn Ward, Editor