Instead of using God as a political wedge, American Christians ought to pray to be used by God, says Tim Alexander, a Church of Christ minister in Nashville, Tenn.
“I think churches have made the bargain of Esau,” Alexander says in “Golden Rule Politics: Reclaiming the Rightful Role of Faith in Politics.” “They sold their ability to stand apart, to be the prophetic voice. They sold that for the swill–the soup–of access to power.”
Alexander, minister of Smith Springs Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., is scheduled to take part in panel discussion at a free public screening of the DVD Nov. 8 in Nashville.
Joining Alexander on the panel will be another Nashville pastor who appears in the film, William Buchanan of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church. Other panelists are Mark Schiftan, senior rabbi at the Temple Congregation Ohabai Sholom, also in Nashville, and Gray Sasser, chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder, associate pastor at New Covenant Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and assistant professor of religion at Belmont University, will deliver a closing challenge.
The screening and discussion are scheduled 7-9 p.m. Thursday at Second Presbyterian Church, 3511 Belmont Blvd in Nashville.
“It’s crucial that Christians remember we are not the captives of any political party,” said host pastor Jim Kitchens.
“For far too long, conservative churches have been seen as vassals of the Republican Party and liberal churches of the Democratic Party,” Kitchens said. “If we are going to be true to our calling as followers of Jesus, our call is to critique any party’s professed values from the perspective on his life and ministry.
“When Jesus reminds his followers that the greatest commandment is to love God and love neighbor as self, his words challenge every politician’s and every party’s vision of what is best for human society.”
Produced by the Baptist Center for Ethics, “Golden Rule Politics” challenges the myth created by the Religious Right that GOP stands for “God’s Only Party.”
In an online video clip from the DVD, Buchanan terms efforts to identify God with any political party a “major spiritual distortion.”
“God is Spirit, which means if God is Spirit, then God is neither Democrat nor Republican,” Buchanan says. “I think we have attempted to place God on one side or the other of this political battle. But if God is Republican or God is Democrat, then we have reduced God to humanity. We know humanity has its weaknesses and its frailties, and we have made God like us. If God is Republican or if God is Democrat, the world is in a major fix, because both parties have proven their vulnerabilities.”
The DVD also argues for an expanded Christian moral agenda beyond the short list of issues paraded by the Religious Right to include “high sacrifice” problems like poverty, health care and the environment.
For Alexander, that doesn’t mean abandoning concern for issues of private morality.
“I do believe abortion is a moral issue, because I believe abortion has an approach to intimacy and relationships and the value of life that bleeds over into the larger culture,” he says in the DVD. “Not only that, I think it’s been a historic biblical, Christian issue ever since the early Christians rescued abandoned babies.”
The screening is sponsored by Doing Justly, a Nashville interfaith organization.