Both religion and politics seek to address our human life together. No wonder the lines often get blurred. Faith communities seek a life in abundance for all people, including the weakest members of society. They also seek to help children of God treat one another with justice. Likewise, governments are the forum where citizens work to create a society where justice reigns so that liberty and justice for all truly happen.
Our country was built on a foundation of separation of church and state, religion and politics. One church would not control the government, and the government would not control religious groups. And yet the founders and signers of the Constitution were mostly Christians from what would become mainline denominations in the new country.
More than two hundred years later the tension remains. What role does our religion play in our political life? Is it just religious values we receive that should inform political decisions? Or should our religious institutions play a more powerful role and tell us who to vote for?
This study pack addresses some of these questions. It includes a two-session study on the history of religion and politics in America by church historian Martin Marty that will provide a background for how the relationship has been handled so far. Five essays follow. Two are reflections by politicians who are religious, Senator John Danforth and Senator Barack Obama. And three are by religious leaders who are political, Marian Wright Edelman, Tony Campolo, and Ron Sider. Each essay addresses the question of how the author understands his or her faith as influencing that person's political life.
We suggest your group begin with the "History of Religion and Politics in America" study and then read the essays. A Leader's Guide is provided that will help the facilitator and participants engage each author's reflection and help participants express their own understanding of just how religion and politics should mix.
The two-session "History of Religion and Politics in America" by Martin Marty may be purchased separately, but the five essays are available only as part of the study pack, which includes the Martin Marty study. We encourage you to order the entire study pack, as it also includes Leader's Guides for each essay.