Kristine Kaiser: GOP appropriated God for political purposes

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 02:30 AM

The 19th century’s society drew a line between the public and the private spheres. The public realm was comprised of politics, business and commerce. The private space was made up of the family and the church.
In the 21st century, there is no longer a separation between the public and the private. The two spheres merge. The home and the church are no longer private matters; they fit uncomfortably in the public realm. Religion is often a political agenda. For some people, all they know about religion is found in the political news.
The Republican Party has appropriated God for political purposes. Religion is no longer about salvation. It is about issues. It is about myriad bills concerning abortion. It is about mandatory ultrasounds. It is about fetal personhood. It is about contraception. It is about defunding Planned Parenthood. It is about gay marriage.
The political appropriation of religion is a serious problem. More and more, people are turning away from religion. Upright values are diminishing. People aren’t always for the common good. Citizens are out for themselves. Violence replaces peace. We lack goodwill. Greed drives the nation. Social maladies can’t be fixed because there is too much money to be made from the problems. Corporations sponsor our elected officials.
Political religion has nothing to do with spirituality. It has nothing to do with God’s grace. It won’t teach us to be better people. Today, religion is too synonymous with right-wing politics. Religion is a big wedge. It drives people apart. Today, religion is much more exclusive than inclusive; it seeks to divide and keep people out. Religion is used to promote conservative ideology. It is little wonder that religion is losing its appeal.
The political appropriation of God is not a first for the Republican Party, but it is the move worthy of rejection. There was a time when an American could not look at a flag without prompting an image of George W. Bush. Bush appropriated the symbol of our country. More recently, the Tea Party appropriated the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. The Republicans latch onto vital ideas and use them for their own purposes. For years, I have watched the political strategy. But when it comes to God, I object.
The private sphere must make a comeback. Churches must influence folks outside the political realm. They must be a force from the altars, building strong spiritual foundations. Let people with upright values create laws rather than the church as a political entity. Politics spoils the church. An overtly political church is more made up of partisans than worshipers; its doctrines are tainted from “the war” in politics.
Renounce the Republicans’ sole grip on God. Such appropriation steers people away from all religion. It makes for religion that mostly confuses. St. John writes, “God is love.” Politics is about strife. It is about public policy. It is not about tender feeling.
The Catholic Church recently put forth a call to make Dorothy Day a saint. I say that she was too political for sainthood. Political struggles rarely make a saint. They just don’t.
Let churches return to an emphasis on true spirituality. Let them use the churches’ teachings to build up character and improve souls. The family and the church should not be lost to modernity. The private realm is still so important in American society.

Kristine Kaiser is a writer living in Kernersville. Contact her for comments at: Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.