April 11, 2007

Learning to Love It

2007 1510 page29 cap hate politics.
For me, politics are the equivalent of eating raw Brussels sprouts, covered in ketchup, while listening to Michael Bolton—all of which I find profoundly despicable.
There are several reasons that I tend to break out in a rash at the slightest hint of politics. First, it has always seemed inaccessible to me. Government is huge. Between the countless tiers of governors, senators, courts, and branches it appears more likely for an elephant or a donkey to go through the eye of a needle than to get an average person’s thoughts into the hands of someone who has any power.
Second, those who work in upper levels of government probably do not share my interests. The average senator is 54 years old and makes $150k to $200k per year. I am 26 and get excited if I find a dollar in my pocket.
Third, I think every politician is a crook. That’s right—every one. They are bundles of broken promises, surrounded by stacks of scandals, interested only in making money for their personal enterprises. No, I can’t prove it—I just know it. How’s that for a biased opinion?
So when voting time comes ’round, I need only to glance at a debate in which candidates waffle on issues, or make the same unfulfilled promises over and over, to know my vote is no.
2007 1510 page29Unfortunately, my illogical indignation with politics is opposed by a cluster of scriptural examples.
When Jesus was confronted on the subject of taxes, He handled the coin with Caesar’s image on it and said, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21, ESV).* Jesus challenged Pilate—a very political politician governing Judea: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11, ESV). Christ was not a passive player in political issues. Paul talks about this as well.
In Romans 13:1 Paul wrote to submit to governing authorities, saying God appointed them! In 1 Timothy 2:1, 2 we are told to pray for our leaders. But in Acts we are told that we are not to submit when rulers require things contrary to God’s will. These texts make it difficult to make a case for Christians to ignore politics. Therefore, I am taking a class about religious liberty this semester.
Apart from learning that I should probably supplement my reading by locating a fifth-grade civics textbook, I have discovered both an issue that concerns Adventists in the United States as well as an accessible way to make a difference.
The issue is the Religious Workplace Freedom Act (RWFA). Each day in the United States three Adventists lose their jobs because of their Sabbathkeeping. As a country—and especially as a church with a unique understanding of prophecy—we have a responsibility to look out for those who are unfairly treated because of their worship preference. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act is Senate Bill 667 (H. R 1431 in the House of Representatives). It was proposed before but did not pass because of lack of support (see “A Voice on the Hill,” Adventist Review, Jan. 25, 2007). Here’s where you and I come in:
A Web site, www.religiousliberty.info, links citizens with issues and those who can make sure bills such as RWFA get passed. All you do is log on, and in the box that says “NARLA Action Center,” type your zip code. Instantly (depending on your Internet connection) you are whisked to a page containing the pictures and contact information—including e-mail addresses—of legislators to whom you can write, endorsing the RWFA.
I was recently informed that five to 10 letters—a piddly amount—is considered significant when they arrive at your legislator’s office. So what do you say? For the 90 or so Adventists who lost their jobs this month—would you be willing to write a short message asking your representative to support the Workplace Religious Freedom Act? God can multiply our simple efforts into a major impact for our brothers and sisters in Christ. And who knows to whom God may inspire us to be of further help as we begin to see results?
I may even start to enjoy politics.
Seth Pierce studies at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He lives with his wife, Angela, in Berrien Springs, Michigan. He is the author of Pride and Seek, published by the Review and Herald Publishing Association.