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Politics and Religion

September 24, 2015

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” This has given rise to the phrase “separation of church and state”, usually referring to the separation of the powers of their respective institutions. But it is more often used now to indicate a complete separation of everything dealing with religion or politics. The recent visit of Pope Francis and his speech to a joint meeting of Congress resulted in numerous complaints that the Pope has no business talking about global warming or immigration, for those are political issues.  But for many of us, our concerns about global warming and immigration are valid moral concerns and not solely governmental concerns.

So to me it is entirely appropriate for the Pope to express such concerns. Politics is not just what Senators and Congressmen do. Politics and religion are both an integral part of our society and cannot be separated. Yes, we must be careful to keep the respective powers of our political and religious institutions separate. David Galston, Academic Director of Westar Institute and Jesus Seminar Fellow, writes, “How we think about religion – even if we are skeptics or atheists – will spell itself out in how we think about society. In other words, our theology and politics are inexorably linked. The difference of course is that politicians get to enact their thinking as policy.”

So, both as a citizen and as a Christian, I applaud Pope Francis for his concerns about how we are or are not caring for the earth and our environment, and how we are or are not caring for our society and its members.

Loren Bullock
September 24. 2015

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