In relation to politics, I find these statements from Christian people cringe-worthy:
1. "Our party ______________ . . . ." No party is thoroughly Christian, either as defined by its platforms, its policies, its leaders, or its loyalists. Christians should not adopt a wholesale party identity for this reason. No party is fitting as "our party."
2. "True conservatives are more Christian than false conservatives." Christianity does not fit neatly under either a "liberal" or a "conservative" label--true or otherwise. Christians should not adopt a wholesale conservative or liberal label because their Christian identity should not be subjected to such an overlay. The Pharisees were the religious conservatives of their day and were rebuked in strong terms by Jesus Himself.
3. "I like _______ because he will make America great again." I take "great" in this context to mean rich, powerful, and righteous. Only one of those is a fitting aim for a Christian.
4. "I feel safer with an [anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic] immigration policy. " Wrong focus. Jesus never put safety first in his practice or his teaching and we shouldn't do so either.
5. "I like him because he's a successful businessman and is independently wealthy." Wrong value. Most direct Bible references to wealth are couched in warnings against its associated hazards--not commending its pursuit.
6. "I'll be glad to support the nominee, whoever he is." This reveals naked partisanship and is not evidence of thoughtful discernment.
7. "That's typical of the liberal media [in reference to anything critical of conservatives]." The media is made up of all kinds of contributors. Some of them are rational, truthful, and interested in providing an unbiased, useful service. They are so evenhanded in their writing that it takes a lot of reading and oftentimes some research to figure out what biases they might hold. I love reading the writing of people like this. Michael Gerson and Kathleen Parker come to mind as examples. Others are terminally biased and can't admit a truth as big as a barn if it counters their own biases. Reading such writers isn't worth my time, especially if media bashing is part of the message. Christians should be evenhanded with their assessments and cognizant of their biases and happy to hear truth telling.
8. "America has lost so much respect [among other countries of the world, because of not being militarily strong enough]." These people must not know or are choosing to ignore how betrayed others in the world sometimes feel because of America's military interventions. This "respect" narrative seems like an opinion in search of justification. The truth is far more complicated.
Sometimes displays of military might actually elicit disdain from those looking on--not admiration or respect. More than 15 years ago when Iraq invaded Kuwait, the US came to the rescue of Kuwait, and intervened militarily. A relative who lived in another Middle Eastern country at the time noted that it seemed to be common knowledge there that America's intervention was all about protecting its oil interests rather than about heartfelt concern for the oppression of the Kuwaiti people.
9. "I've given up supporting [ ___________ (a presidential candidate)]." This is cringe-worthy only in the sense that it implies earlier support for that candidate--unwarranted from the start, as I see it. Placing great hope in any candidate is to invite disappointment. Christians' eggs don't belong in politicians' baskets.
10. "People who don't vote for . . . (the 'best' candidate) are promoting Satan's agenda." This makes no sense whatsoever in my Christian universe--where the power of prayer is the first resort in all matters, where one vote is a puny thing, and where none of us is alone privy to the will of God or the knowledge of others' hearts.
I don't often respond immediately when I hear things that pain me on topics like these. Sometimes I wait because I know I need to think of something kinder than the first thing that comes to mind. At other times I just don't have enough energy to engage in debate. Sometimes I'm not sure of what I think, and I need time to evaluate.
I am encouraged that some of the above statements have been retracted and even apologized for.
Obviously it's no big deal to anyone else what I cringe about, but if telling about them elicits careful consideration of one's own tendencies for others as it does for me, it's worth detailing them.
Do you have something to add to the list? Do you wish to challenge or identify with mine?
After I published the above, I read a piece by Greg Boyd that stated positively much of what I believe about Christians and politics. Boyd came to the historic Anabaptist position via a very circuitous route. His father was an atheist. Boyd was first a Catholic, then a Oneness Pentecostal. Next he became an Orthodox Christian. He studied at both Princeton and Yale, where he distinguished himself academically. His 16-year stint as a professor at Bethel University ended with his resignation after a dispute with other professors there over open theism. John Piper, another Bethel University professor and Baptist pastor, has actively resisted the influence of Boyd since then. Boyd helped found and still pastors at the Woodland Hills church in Saint Paul, MN.
I thought I could share some excerpts from Boyd's piece to whet your appetite for reading it, but I gave up. I wanted to quote the whole thing. It's written as an answer to these questions: "In your Anabaptist view, do you believe Christians should be involved in politics at all? Should they even vote?" We need people like Boyd to help us Anabaptists become "more like us" instead of more like other American Christians. Here's the link.