Time for Golden Rule Politics

Wed, 2019-10-16

AUTHOR: BRIAN KAYLOR, WORD&WAY EDITOR

As the leaves start to turn to signal the final stages of 2019, the 2020 elections are already in full bloom. And as candidates from both major parties—and some other parties—crisscross the nation for raucous political rallies and soundbite-driven television interviews, churches often find themselves in the crosshairs. Some candidates seek to offer campaign remarks during worship services, which not only violates IRS tax rules but also perverts the sacred time. And even for churches off the beaten campaign path, the temptation remains to divide along partisan lines as pastors and members echo a liturgy learned on their chosen cable news program.

In a time when every corner of our society seems hopelessly polarized, can churches give witness to a better way?

With that goal in mind, leaders from several Baptist groups joined with those from other Christian denominations to call for Christians to act Christlike, even in political conversations. The effort is called “Golden Rule Politics 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics.” Leaders from the American Baptist Churches USA, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention endorsed this call along with Episcopalians, Lutherans, Mennonites, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others.

The call is seemingly simple and yet challenging to actually implement: They are requesting Christians from across the theological and political spectrums to “apply Christian principles to our political discussions.” This includes to “reflect on Jesus’s teaching that we ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’” This effort raises an important point for us to consider: “how politics in 2020 could be different if Christians practice Biblical teachings about how to treat people who disagree with them.”

Imagine a world where Christians — both those running for office and those just planning to vote — actually applied the Golden Rule. Stop laughing! I know it almost sounds impossible and even ridiculous. Some might want to quickly retort something along the lines of “If we do that, we’ll lose” or “But nice guys finish last.” Yet, we should hear the words of Jesus responding back: “What will it profit someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

The question, then, is this: Do we really believe this stuff in the Bible?