Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

To Serve Or To Be Served

Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:16 am, September 5th 2012     —    4 Comments »

So, the word “God” does not appear in the Democrat Party platform.  What are we to make of this?  Are they in some warped fashion trying to honor the separation of church and state, or is there something deeper at play.

Watching the DNC last night I saw Robert Gibbs interviewed in one of the “on the floor” things (and therefore not transcribed) by either CNN or Fox – I think Fox.  They asked him about the whole “God” thing and his response was, paraphrasing, “Well, if you read it you see a lot of mention of faith and religion – the stuff that really matters.”  And in a flash, what to make of it became very clear to me.

Religion, and “faith” when used synonymously with “religion,” is an institution created specifically to try and preserve and extend what one group of people has come to know about something greater than themselves.  But if you take “God” out of the equation, religion is merely an institution with a purpose subject to the whims of its members.

Now, I do not want to be accused of being one of those that thinks “all religion is essentially the same.”  It most certainly is not, but with the notable exception of Buddhism, all major religion shares a concept of a deity or deities, and something beyond the natural world that we know and experience daily.  The great American Civil Religion tries to unite us in these commonalities of our various faiths while placing us as individual and the nation and its government in service to this greater thing.  Different people may understand this greater thing very differently, but all of us seem to understand that we are IN SERVICE to it.  It is this attitude of humility and service that has made America great.

But the absence of the word “God” from the Democrat platform creates an entirely different scenario.  Because there is now no greater anything, humility and service disappear – leaving only power.  Thus they feel free to  do things like the HHS mandate, forcing religious institutions to pay, even indirectly, for offensive medical services like abortifacients and birth control.  You see, without God in the mix, religion does not serve anything greater and can be pushed around.  Religion, being just another societal institution is now just another lever to push and pull to shape and warp the nation.

Jim Geraghty points out another expression of this concept in the video used to open the convention, a video that featured the line “The government is the only thing we all belong to.”

Isn’t . . . the nation itself, and our national identity, a better description of what binds us all? Aren’t the values described in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution a better summary of what we “belong” to, as opposed to “the government”?

A part of that national identity is the humility and service born of an understanding that there is something more and greater – unless, apparently, you are a Democrat.  I think this explains the attitude that Geraghty describes in his morning newsletter:

But the Democrats, from the elites to the grassroots, have managed to summon the appropriate rage and direct it as needed. From the opening remarks to James Clyburn to Ted Strickland to Deval Patrick to Martin O’Malley, all of the Democrats spoke as if the country was on the verge of a great, epoch-defining change, that if Mitt Romney — Mitt Romney! — were to take the oath of office, the American experiment would come to an end.

There is something very fundamental in the choice this time – that explains the vehemence and energy at play.  One would think, given the unpopularity of the president’s policies and the abysmal record of his first term that the messianic stuff would have come to an end.  But did you listen to Michelle Obama last night?  Here is just a taste:

So, in the end for Barack, these issues are not political.  They’re personal.  Because Barack knows what it means when a family struggles.  He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids.  Barack knows the American dream because he’s lived it.

Dear friends, that is a precise, almost word-for-word, parallel to the gospel message that Christ is God incarnate, who understands our humanity having taken it on.  Of course they took “God” out of the platform – they needed to make room for “Barack Obama.”

The choice in this election is more fundamental that just policy.  I am absolutely sure there are still many good people in the Democrat party, people that fear God and worship deeply – I know some of them.  But they are not in control of the party.  And thus we are faced with a choice between a man, and a party, that understands we all serve a higher power, even if we understand that power differently, and a man that would have himself be that power.

Rome thought Caesar was a god, at least after a while.  The Roman Empire fell in the wake of that change.  Worth thinking about.


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