A Reader Writes: “I believe in Jesus and not politics.”

A reader writes:

Writing in response to this article:
Hi Brian,
Let me say that I am a Christian first and I believe in Jesus and not politics.  I never have believed in politics because the goal isn’t doing
something good for someone else, but to get votes and get money for yourself.
I voted for Obama the first time and not the second time.  I did not vote for Trump or Hillary, because both people are not suited
to run this country with their corrupt teams of people.
However, to fix things in this country, we would have to fire almost everyone at the top because it’s not based on performance like any other job.
I am disappointed in your response only if not being able to think for yourself and relegate everyone else as them.  The “US” vs “THEM” mentality is why
we are in this mess today. As a person of faith I want a better world for everyone, that includes Muslims.  Scientology is an abusive religion and is bad for it’s people.
Islam is abusive religion and is bad for Muslims as well as everyone else.
The so called “Muslim” ban isn’t a Muslim ban at all.  Trump didn’t handle it well and I am disappointed with the way he has handled things because he is supposed to be able to handle a business and “plan” for things and do it right.
The ban is simply a 90 day vetting process of countries that want to kill Israel and want war with us.
Now, I don’t even like Trump.  I didn’t vote for him because he doesn’t think things through and he doesn’t respond the way he should.  He just brute forces things.  He is a womanizer and is kind of prude in which he can’t take his eyes off his own mirror, but the media that is feeding you information is feeding you spin. Back, when I was a child, there was Walter Cronkite on TV and he would say “That’s the way it is….”.  He would just tell you the facts and let you decide, but in today’s world with blogs and propaganda it’s spin and always spin and yes fake news.
Let me give you an example of fake news.  I have subscribed to a progressive channel on Facebook called “The other 98%” and they had many articles up (like 4 or 5) saying that Trump took away meals on wheels and they made fun of him.  Well, I got a link from someone that it wasn’t true.  So, I decided to Google it and guess what I found on USATODAY.
Well, as you can see it’s not even close to being true.  It’s all false information.
This is my point.  Many people are given false information and actually believe false information all of the time and because we have this awesome technology called the internet with no accountability, this is what happens.
I want better for all Americans, but we need to get to the facts first and we need to then put things in action.  Politicians are going to line their pockets for both parties.
In the end everyone loses when it comes to politics, but that’s where I believe that the children of Christ can make the biggest difference.
I am a conservative person socially and I am fine with that.  At the same time I want to make the world a better place.
You don’t need politics for that, you just need leadership and willing to work together with people.
For example…. The poor you were talking about.  Why can’t we provide services for people so
that creating jobs is easier for everyone?  We need to build people up and stop playing with politics that will bring them down.
Thank you for listening and please understand not to judge all Christians to be like this or that.  I don’t listen to Christian radio.
I just love Jesus and want Jesus to use me in my life.  I just want to show love and be a part of that love. 🙂
Thanks for writing. We have a lot in common. I don’t “believe in”politics either. It’s a dirty business these days, as you say, necessary and terribly important, but not something to “believe in” in anything like a religious way. I hope someday in my lifetime politics will be worthy of more respect, but I hope that we will never deify or absolutize politics (that’s called “nationalism”) and “believe in” it as if it were a god.
So we agree on a lot. But if I read you correctly, you feel that I may have been judging all Christians to be “like this or that,” and you are raising an important point.
I am glad for conservative Christians like you who make up part of the 19% who didn’t vote for Trump. Yes, 81% of white Evangelicals did vote for him, along with 60% of white Catholics, but that means that 19% and 40% didn’t. Conservative Christians like you have an important role, I believe, in speaking out to your fellow conservative Christians who did vote for him – and who, by the way, remain his strongest base of support.
As more and more damage is done – to our nation, its reputation, to the earth, to the poor and middle class, and to minorities in the country whom his policies single out – voices like yours will become more and more important. So not only do I not judge you, I want to say that our country and our world needs you and people like you to raise your voices to your fellow conservative Christians who, I believe, have fulfilled Jesus’ words about “gaining the world” (i.e. won the election) while “losing their soul.”
I also agree with you that both parties often create straw men and either exaggerate or falsify in their claims. These days, though, the errors aren’t symmetrical – not even close; there isn’t anything remotely resembling equivalence in the amount of disinformation being purveyed by each party. Still, neither party is pristine, and we need to listen with scrutiny and even suspicion to what both “they” and “we” are saying, whatever our party. It’s simply a fact of human nature that we often exaggerate our strengths and their weaknesses, while minimizing our weaknesses and their strengths, whoever “we” and “they” are. On that, I am confident, we agree.
I do see a few things differently from you. For example, I think the courts were right to see Trump’s ban as religiously biased, and therefore unconstitutional. They weighed the evidence (which included Donald Trump during the campaign calling for a ban on Muslims) and made their decision, and I think they were right. So we see this differently.
When you say,
I am a conservative person socially and I am fine with that.  At the same time I want to make the world a better place.   You don’t need politics for that, you just need leadership and willing to work together with people.
For example…. The poor you were talking about.  Why can’t we provide services for people so that creating jobs is easier for everyone?  We need to build people up and stop playing with politics that will bring them down.
I am also fine with you being a conservative personal socially. Most of my relatives and many of my friends are as well, just as I used to be (as I explained in the article you responded to). And I am so in sync with you when you say you want to “make the world a better place,” that we need to be “willing to work together with people,” and that “we need to build people up.”
One other place where I see things differently is where you say that we don’t need politics. I actually think we do. As I see it, the antidote to dirty dysfunctional politics is not no politics; it’s clean and functional politics – or at least cleanER and MORE functional politics.
That’s why I have felt compelled to speak more about politics in the last year or so than I ever have. The dirtiness and danger of what is going on in our culture and politics have rendered me a “prisoner of conscience” to use whatever influence I have to speak out … for my beloved country, for my beloved faith,for my beloved children and grandchildren, and for my beloved friends and neighbors (many of whom are people of color, Muslims, LGBT people, and others especially threatened by the current resurgence of white Christian nationalism). I feel the same as pastor/blogger John Pavlovitz: I have 62 million reasons to speak out – and if doing so makes me sound more “political” or even partisan, so be it.
Let me offer an analogy to health. Imagine I said, “I want to make the world a healthier place. You don’t need hospitals or governments for that. All you need is good diet and exercise.” If I said this, I would be so right about the importance of good diet and exercise. I would also be right to be suspicious of many hospitals and governments, where waste, fraud, and malpractice can and do occur.
But my rightness would be incomplete, because, for example, when dangerous epidemics (like Zika) come along, we need hospitals to do research on the virus and to treat victims, and we need governments to keep the disease from spreading. And because health is deeply related to the environment, governments have a responsibility to protect the environment – because no amount of diet and exercise will compensate for radiation induced by nuclear war, or contaminants in the air, soil, or water. You can easily imagine dozens more examples.
And because our government currently relies on two parties, we end up needing to make choices not between good and evil, but between better and worse, knowing that neither party is perfect, and that each party changes over time (for the better or worse).
We’re all choosing between imperfect alternatives, and I respect and understand those who feel the conservative/Republican party is the better option. I leaned in that direction many years ago. But I hope you will respect and understand me when I say I have been required by my conscience to change. You may decide to change at some point too, especially if President Trump succeeds in winning over the whole party more and more to his ethics, epistemology, and tactics as well as his policies.
In the meantime, we’ll all be so much better off if we can have respectful dialogue about our differences and our shared values (reflected in your email, and, I hope, my article and this response). Sometimes achieving respectful disagreement is a major milestone. God bless you!