“Someone’s knocking on the front door. You’d better answer it,” my mother told my father.
“No one we know comes to our front door,” my father replied. “Besides, it’s almost dark and it’s Sunday.”
The knocking continued and grew louder. Finally my father answered the door. I saw the expression on his face before I saw who was at the door. I immediately knew trouble was standing at our front door.
“Well aren’t ya’ gonna’ invite us in?” several voices asked almost in unison.
A few moments later a carload of my mother’s relatives poured into our living room. They were just returning from a big family get-together at my great grandmother’s – the big get-together they had every four years on the Sunday before the presidential election.
The Pope Is Gonna’ Be Runnin’ The Country
The year was 1960. The date was November 6, two days before the country would decide if John Kennedy or Richard Nixon would be our next president.
We attended most family functions, but never the political ones.
My father came from a political family. His father had been a career politician. Spell that D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t. My father married into a very conservative, religious, rabidly Republican family that equated their politics with their religion. They knew about my grandfather, the D-e-m-o-c-r-a-t. (Good Christian folks shouldn’t say dirty words like Democrat, so they spelled it out.)
Since John Kennedy, both a Democrat and a Catholic (gasp!) would be on the ballot in two days, the family had decided to send a delegation to convince my father to vote for Nixon, since they assumed he was planning to vote for Kennedy.
My father loved my mother and didn’t want to offend her family, so he suffered through almost three hours of a tirade that equated Kennedy with Satan, Democrats with Satan worshipers, and voting for any Democrat with voting for Satan himself.
A Straight Ticket
Apparently unknown to my mother’s relatives, my father was a moderate, as well as a devout Christian.
When he came home from work two days later, my mother asked him if he had voted.
“Yep. A straight ticket.”
We all knew what that meant. He hadn’t been planning to vote a straight ticket, but my mother’s relatives had convinced him to vote against every one of their candidates.
Never Discuss Politics
Undoubtedly my views on discussing politics, especially in a religious context, hark back to that gray Sunday afternoon in November of 1960. I refuse to discuss politics, not only because of that memory, but also for at least eleven additional reasons:
- I think that your political opinions are none of my business and that my political opinions are none of your business.
- In my opinion, following Jesus does not translate into voting for or against certain candidates or issues. For me, following Jesus means researching the candidates and issues and voting as I think best, not as someone else thinks I should vote.
- As a follower of Jesus, I believe God is in control and does not need you to convince me how to vote or me to convince you how to vote.
- Since I believe God is in control I don’t place nearly as much importance in election results as do many other people.
- People who know my political opinions want me to give money and time to their political cause. I choose to give my money and time to people in need.
- Political discussions often turn people away from Christians and the church.
- Many people find political discussions offensive.
- Political discussions usually focus on candidates, political parties and issues. I have never heard any political discussion focus on loving people.
- Political discussions focus on solving our problems at the ballot box, instead of depending on the Christ we follow.
- Political discussions rarely focus on Jesus, but instead tend to turn people away from Jesus.
- Political discussions often make me dislike my neighbor, rather than love my neighbor, as Jesus commanded.
The only thing I ever heard my mother’s conservative, religious relatives get worked up about was politics. It was never Jesus. It was never loving their neighbor. It was never helping the poor. It was Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon and others.
I was always under the impression that politics was their real religion.
Who do you follow? – The god of politics or Jesus?