Do you have questions or want to talk to someone? We would love to help you!
01 of September 2010
In an electoral year and, as has happened in recent years, we hear of the offers of candidacies or spaces that political parties make to Christian leaders, or of candidates seeking the support of "the Christians." We also see how some pastors try to add support to certain candidates or parties, either because they have been promised "benefits" for Christians or some share of power. In this context, some have come to speak of “a Christian political party”, an idea that, thank God, has never prospered in Mexico or Spain and tends to stop being mentioned.
Although as a Christian denomination we respect and even tolerate the decisions of each of our members, given the multiple consultations and situations that have been generated, it seems appropriate to express the consensus that should characterize the churches of our denomination on this matter.
We can give the benefit of the doubt and assume that both the politicians who make the offers and the pastors who accept them have the best of intentions and seek only the purification of politics and the common good. Both are wrong and, in the case of pastors, this mistake has fatal consequences for the church and the gospel.
Politicians are wrong when, excited by the growing number of Christians in Latin America or Spain, they believe that if they manage to add one or more of their leaders to their cause, “the Christian vote” will come behind them. They do not understand what the Christian church is and how it works. This thought responds to the idea of seeing Christian churches as sects and thinking that their members are docile followers of their leaders. There is no such direct influence relationship between leaders and the Christian people. The majority of those who tried this in some Latin American country did not even add up the votes of their own congregation.
Is it wrong for the church to take an interest and act on social problems?
Of course not. The Christian churches have extensive experience here and their participation in situations of social crisis, education, addictions, poverty, marginalization and defense of life has not yet been valued in its proper dimension by the rest of society.
Is it wrong for a Christian to participate in politics?
Of course not. We must encourage our brothers and sisters to be present in all areas of society with excellence, dedication and holiness. This also includes the realm of politics. We believe that as Christian churches we have not sufficiently encouraged our members to engaged and responsible political participation. For different historical and theological reasons, the field of political participation was always seen in the Latin American Christian media as something dirty that should be avoided. It is time to change this mindset.
However, pretending to participate in the political struggle as a church or "Christian people" is a distortion of the mission of the church. It is the mission of the church to defend values such as those of life, justice, truth, equality, human dignity or the sanctity of creation, to name just a few. When it has, it has truly affected society and more than once it has had to pay the high price of sacrifice.
The logic of politics is contrary to the logic of the kingdom of God. Politics is built with power, the Kingdom of God is extended with service and integrity.
The temptation today comes under the promise of quotas of power or privileges. "If they vote for us, they will have this space", "If they vote for us, they will achieve these privileges." The church is not there to serve itself. Social transformation will never be done from power. Whoever wants to affect society in the name of Jesus Christ will do so from service and not from power.
Let's recall some examples from recent history: Who changed the history of the United States in the 20th century? Evangelical politicians, some of them racists, advocates of the death penalty and war; or the Afro-American pastor Martin Luther King with his preaching that led to his martyrdom? Who affected the situation in South Africa the most, the politicians, many of them evangelical reformed supporters of apartheid, or Bishop Desmond Tutu? Of course, what these men did had political consequences, but they did not act from political power but from the "weakness" of dedication, coherence and faith.
Some say: "we need true Christians in politics." It is a mistake if you think that just being a Christian is enough. What is needed in politics are prepared, capable, upright, honest, efficient men and women, with the same values that we defend, and if they have a faith in Jesus Christ, much better. Many fall under the seduction of power and accept political candidacies with no other background than their ministerial tasks. They are men of God prepared to serve God and it is to be recognized that in the arduous pastoral work they are experienced and prepared. But in the political area, what has been your militancy? What has been your training? Do you have a project for social transformation from a political point of view? The answer is usually: “it is a door that God opens”.
The temptation of power is one of the most difficult to resist and often comes under a subtle guise. Jesus Himself had to endure this temptation
It is therefore worth remembering Paul's advice to those in the Philippian church who fought for quotas of power. To them he said: “Each one should not look out for his own interests but for the interests of others. Your attitude must be like that of Jesus Christ, who… did not consider being equal with God as something to hold on to. On the contrary, he voluntarily lowered himself by becoming a servant, similar to human beings. That is why God exalted him to the utmost ”.
The world needs more politicians who encounter the transforming power of Jesus Christ and not more Christians, Catholics and Evangelicals who allow themselves to be seduced by the temporal power of politics.