Religion and Politics
A number of months ago, a friend and I were talking about the dangers of mixing religion and public policy. We both agreed that faith can motivate us to advocate certain issues, but using faith to advance a particular agenda could be dangerous.
A few nights ago I had a party with my friends to talk about this trip. I spoke for a few minutes to share with them about why I was going to Colombia. I said that even though the trip was not without some nice benefits—my interest in international public policy, being immersed in a second language, and getting out of Chicago during the coldest temperatures of the year—the impetus behind my going were the stories of courage I read about in preparation for the trip. I read stories of children of pastors who are nearly killed and then sent home with a warning for the parent. I read stories of people who had to flee their homes for helping the displaced and homeless. On and on they go. Does it matter that the pastors are of one particular faith? Is courage a member of one political party? Is speaking out only for those in the Presbyterian denomination? Does social justice live only at the nearest archdiocese? I told my friends at the party that these stories of courage made a deep call on my heart. I told them that this project is bigger than any political party or agenda. This project is bigger than any religious denomination. This project is about human rights and I can’t see too many more important causes to get behind.
If ever there was a chance to be motivated by my view to focus on the issues rather than a partisan agenda, this is it. Helping workers who are advocating for human rights for the displaced is not a Democrat, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian, or Independent cause. It’s not a value that the Baptists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, or atheists have cornered in the marketplace of ideas. Sure I have a certain faith and certain political affiliations. But while these values may fit into any or all of these groups; at its core, this project endorses a human cause. That’s why I’m here.