Letter to the Editor

The mix of politics and religion

The Rev. Billy Graham once said: "It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it." At the recent national prayer breakfast, President Trump was wildly cheered as he turned the event into a campaign rally.

Many evangelical leaders behave more like partisan political operatives than faith leaders, ignoring irreligious behavior by this president and rubber stamping his directives. They may have irreversibly linked the church to a political movement, discarding the centuries old American tradition of separation of church and state.

Many people no longer feel comfortable in church, as political vitriol often replaces Bible study in Sunday school. Today, only 65% of Americans now identify as Christians, down from 78 percent in 2007. Those classifying themselves as "nones" increased from 16 to 26% over the same period. At that rate, the U.S. will be majority non-Christian by about 2035, with the nones representing fully one third. Young people account for most of this churn.

People of faith need to question whether they may be the righteous dog being wagged by the political tail. History is littered with instances of leaders using the church for political or military ends. Hitler famously said during his conquest of Poland, "The task of the priest is to keep the Poles quiet, stupid and dull-witted." Faith leaders would do well to avoid the toxic mix of religion and politics.