Politics has become the religion of a growing segment of the population.
The most rapidly growing demographic in America’s religious landscape is “Nones”; people who identify as holding no religious faith. While they may not self-identify as such, they are spread across several other labels; atheist, agnostic, secular, materialist. Generally, they regard traditional religious faith as incompatible with science. There is no reality beyond that bound by space, matter, and time.
But a rejection of traditional religious faith doesn’t terminate the very human inclination to believe in something larger than the self. There is a persistent need to attach meaning and purpose to existence. A person may eschew religious faith while simultaneously embracing an ideology that credits them significance.
For many today, Politics is that ideology. It’s become a substitute for religion. They hold to their political beliefs with religious zeal, developing an “us versus them” mentality that vilifies those with whom they disagree.
When traditional religion held pre-eminence in people’s worldview, political discourse had the potential of being more polite because such interactions were shaped by a higher set of values and priorities. But when it’s politics itself that sets those values, discourse degenerates into sloganeering and intolerant rhetoric. Dialog flattens to loud monolog.
Jesus-Followers must be careful to not allow the elevation of “politics-as-religion” to shape the way they behave. Our political views ought to be a carefully reasoned application of the Biblical Worldview shaping all we are and do. Engaging in political discourse in a hostile public square in a way consistent with our relationship with Jesus requires a healthy dose of grace and the Holy Spirit.