On Politics, Voting, and Separation of Church and State

“Do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes of your day to do what young people all over the world are dying to do: vote.” – Rick Mercer (Canadian Wit Extraordinaire)

“Mrs. Mary Baker Eddy has always believed that those who are entitled to vote should do so, and she has also believed that in such matters no one should seek to dictate the actions of others.” – from Prose Works by Mary Baker Eddy

I appreciate that in the Christian Science movement there’s no official authority telling its members how to vote on issues, or which politicians they should try to elect.  Members are expected to vote as individual conscience and understanding dictate.  And this, I believe, is as it should be.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, was a strong believer in separation of church and state.  She writes, in Miscellaneous Writings: “Progress, legitimate to the human race, pours the healing balm of Truth and Love into every wound. It reassures us that no Reign of Terror or rule of error will again unite Church and State, or re-enact, through the civil arm of governments, the horrors of religious persecution.” (No and Yes, p 44) And, warning against the tendency of religious institutions to try to dictate the workings of government, she writes: “It is the pulpit and press, clerical robes and the prohibiting of free speech, that cradles and covers the sins of the world, – all unmitigated systems of crime; and it requires the enlightenment of these worthies, through civil and religious reform, to blot out all inhuman codes. It was the Southern pulpit and press that influenced the people to wrench from man both human and divine rights, in order to subserve the interests of wealth, religious caste, civil and political power.”

Although there’s no one within the Christian Science church telling its member which political candidate should get their vote, Mary Baker Eddy did describe, in Prose Works, the type of individual I want representing me: “The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the sane, – at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen…He assumes no borrowed appearance. He seeks no mask to cover him, for he acts no studied part; but he is indeed what he appears to be, – full of truth, candor, and humanity. In all his pursuits, he knows no path but the fair, open, and direct one, and would much rather fail of success than attain it by reproachable means.”

My conscience and understanding lead me in the direction that points towards individual freedom and choice. One of the guiding questions for me, as I vote on ballot issues, is: “Is this any of my business?”  As the Bible says, we all need to work out our own salvation. We all need to be allowed to have our own experience, and to make our own choices – so long as those choices do not cause harm to others.

In the Bible, Peter had pretty strong words to say towards those inclined to be a “busybody” – putting it in the same category as “murderer” and “evildoer”:  “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” – I Peter 4: 15

(Whoah, right?)

And when considering the workings of politics, and separation of church and state, I’ve always found these passages in The Bible helpful:

When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.” – John 6: 15

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

“ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

“They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

“When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.”

–   Matthew 22

Amen.

I love this!:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-is-what-theyre-teaching-the-kids-in-schools-these-days?c=upw6

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7 thoughts on “On Politics, Voting, and Separation of Church and State

  1. If only all the political posts were as well written and fair as this one. I really enjoyed reading it and do agree. I too will be voting my conscience even if others believe it to be a “wasted” vote. Each must look within themselves and vote what is right for them.

    • They may not tell people how to vote, but they do enjoy making sure there are no laws that infringe upon their “right” to withhold medical care from children (among other travesties), and actively try to rally fellow CS to make phone calls/write letters to make sure their views are made into laws (or broad exemptions — if it works so well, why do they need exemptions?). The Committee on Publications has a lot to answer for.

  2. I believe MBE held the most correct interpretation of the separation of church and state. She states clearly the difference between an official State church tied to the civil workings of government, the separate duties required of each, spells out their errors and warns of the danger of imposition, one on the other. In a modern emulation of Jesus’ “render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” she sets the entire issue squarely on the shoulders of those who who would be about their Father’s business rather than the business of men.
    Karen, you have summed it all up perfectly. Thanks.

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