The heated political discourse found in many countries is often affected by religious voices who seek to drive the conversation in one direction or the other. In some countries, such as the United States, Christians form a significant portion of the population and many seek to influence the political process. Is this right? Should Christians (i.e. the “religious right”) try to influence the public sphere?
Timothy Keller is a widely respected Evangelical leader in the United States and founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. In an op-ed piece for The New York Times he provides helpful advice in thinking through this topic. He points out that Christians should both be active in politics but also careful not to equate Christianity with their political positions.
“Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call ‘getting political’ were actually supporting slavery by doing so. To not be political is to be political … Nevertheless, while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.” (https://nyti.ms/2yjZGnK)
There are two main reasons why Keller says that Christians should not equate their faith with their politics. First, it can give those who might be considering Christianity the false impression that following Jesus requires agreeing with everything that a political party stands for. Second, many political issues are not matters that the Bible speaks clearly about and therefore Christians can legitimately disagree on how to address them.