The Spirituality of Politics
As we approach the 2020 presidential elections, Christians should think deeply about their vote. Clearly, no current political party has any right to lay claim to being the G.O.P, “God’s Own Party.” Traditionally, believers (myself included) have sought to avoid taking a public political stance in order both to respect the political choices of fellow believers as well as to avoid the dangers of focusing on secondary issues and being side-tracked from the primacy of gospel preaching. But as time goes on, and politics becomes increasingly religious, with deeper moral implications, the difference between primary and secondary issues becomes fuzzy. In my opinion, politics has become deeply spiritual.
Those who, some years ago, were turning to odd forms of “spirituality” in their search for inner peace have begun to peg their hopes on politics rather than the seemingly obscure practices of meditation or chakras. Although many still dabble in Eastern philosophy, younger generations are pinning their hopes on a this-worldly political utopia. They have drunk of the intoxicating belief in the “imperial sovereign self,”which creates the spiritual theory behind “identity politics.” Such a spiritual faith in the self is no longer tempered by the Christian notion that humanity is fallen or that the Creator is the ultimate source of meaning. As one expert in modern Gnosticism (philosopher Eric Voegelin) put it, today’s temptation is to “immanentize the eschaton”—that is, to bring the end-time into the present and create a final utopia in the now. This is, perhaps, the real meaning of “progressivism,” which can be understood as a sort of political Gnosticism.
What is Gnosticism? In very simple terms, this ancient heresy in the second and third century church taught that humans are divine and have no need of a Creator. If this were to be true, then we would no longer need a biblical reference point, such as the one on which the American culture began. Notions like natural law, normative male and female distinctions, the family, a civil society of free speech, and the special place of the Church—all once considered natural and necessary institutions mediating between the state and the individual—are dismissed out of hand. A gnostic view of life recognizes no such natural or necessary institutions. Salvation can only be a-theistic, without any reference to God. Should progressivism win the day in the 2020 presidential election, what will be the practical result?
We don’t have to guess.
The Equality Act, of which Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s choice for Vice-President, has been a leading supporter, was already passed by the House. This act elevates sexual orientation and gender identity to an anti-discrimination category in law, on the same level as race. What people feel about their sexual identity now has been granted the status of federal law. A Christian ethicist called this project “the most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America…. Its sweeping effects on religious liberty, free speech, and freedom of conscience will be both historic and also chilling.” Should progressives win a majority in the Senate this fall and pass the Equality Act, there would be immediate implications for all things Christian. Here are just a few:
- Christian colleges will be obliged to accept LGBTQ students and provide them with their desired dormitory arrangements. Should they refuse, they would most likely lose government funding, and their diplomas would become useless to their graduates in the job market;
- More Christian businesses will be sued and closed down;
- More Christian doctors will be fired from posts in conforming hospitals;
- More Christian adoption agencies who refuse to send children to same-sex homes will be shut down;
- Christian public school teachers who refuse to comply with imposed curriculum and gender pronouns (an attack on the biblical sexual binary) will be fired.
This bill has fangs. Businesses that violate the new law will be subject to fines up to $250,000. The bill will eliminate the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a law which was introduced 27 years ago by no less than Congressman Chuck Schumer and signed into law by President Clinton on November 16, 1993, in order to “ensure that [in all federal legislation] interests in religious freedom are protected by law.”
One of their goals is the abolition of the “Hyde Amendment.” Passed by Congress in 1976, this amendment was one of the first major legislative gains by the pro-life movement, since it excludes abortion from the comprehensive health care services provided by Medicaid. With its abolition, the taxes of Christians will support abortion and abortion will become a government-sponsored and officially-endowed program.
Sometimes we need to chose the lesser of two evils. Both political parties are made up of sinners, but one, in the clear statements of its party platform, is attempting to undermine the principles of free speech, constitutional government, making the killing of children a law for everyone, and imposing ssm on citizens via the Equality Act, while the other side is opposed to this program. Sometimes we need to make a distinction in politics between a politician’s personal opinions which hover and change, and lawswhich oblige all to conform. Trump may have said he is for ssm but he says it from theological ignorance and he could change his mind at any point, but we should never vote for him or his party if they endorsed the Equality Act, as the Democrats have done. We also must keep in mind, that while Trump expresses support for ssm, he has also taken a strong stand in support of freedom of Christian conscience. In a fallen world, these are the choices we must make.
Where will America end up?
For years, hate speech laws have been used to censor points of view and silence critics. Public schools have replaced education with “politically correct” narratives, while Christianity is banned from public life and the public square. Already, free speech is undermined on university campuses, where it is supposed to thrive. Religious free speech regarding issues of sexual morals and “women’s health” (abortion) will doubtless soon be threatened for individuals, institutions and for churches.
Currently, progressives are leaning hard toward socialism/Marxism. We see this in the integration of Bernie Sanders’s socialist policies in the Democratic program. Should they take power in 2021, America will feel the bite of an administration run by politicians bent on giving socialism one more chance in the world.
One example of the kind of politician who will no doubt be appointed to a key administrative position is Karen Bass, one of the final contenders for the Vice-Presidential appointment. Though not selected, Bass represents where the party is going. She is the Congressional Black Caucus chair and her political leanings are not merely socialist but hardcore communist. This led to her decades of involvement in the Venceramos Brigade in communist Cuba. An undercover police deputy testified that “to be a member of the brigade, you had to be confirmed as a Marxist‐Leninist.” A defector who fled to the United States in 1971 described the Cuban Intelligence Service as a direct subsidiary of the Soviet Union’s intelligence service.
Bass was also a member of the Black Panthers. Bass was also connected to a loose organization of radical Marxist-Leninists who aligned with the Maoist New Communist Movement, called rectificationistswho sought to go further left than Marx by following Mao. David Horowitz, once as radical as Bass, states from first-hand knowledge of the scene: “If [Bass] was part of a rectification movement, she’s a Maoist.”Bass herself declares that her previous activist background forms her governing “agenda”:
One of the things that I try to do in my job is insert my politics every chance I get and I also try to look for some area where I can bring about change and push the envelope…One thing that a progressive can do is go in with an agenda, recognizing that there are a whole lot of folks that have no agenda and have no concern about having an agenda.
Clearly, Marxists like Bass, in another version of “the long march through the institutions,” have come out of the wilderness and are finding their place in a recognized political party, through which they intend to “transform America,” to quote President Obama. A 1976 FBI report reveals that the objective of the Cuban intelligence officials running the Venceremos Brigade (in league with the Soviets) “is the recruitment of individuals who are politically oriented and who someday may obtain a position, elective or appointive, somewhere in the U.S. Government, which would provide the Cuban Government with access to political, economic and military intelligence [emphasis mine].”
How many, like Bass, under socialist or communist influence, will scale the summits of American political influence, serving as senators, judges, mayors and governors? I have to say, “Close but no (Cuban) cigar,” since Bass was not chosen as the 2020 Vice-Presidential candidate. The Cuban intelligence service, however, has proven successful beyond its wildest dreams.
Bass spoke of two main policies she would like to affect: solve the nation’s race problems, giving leadership where there is none now, and defeat of COVID-19. Controlling a pandemic is nothing a politician has much power to affect. However, the race issue will weaken American culture for generations to come. Progressives are using the turmoil of the pandemic, in addition to the emotional disagreements about race issues to destabilize the conservative fabric and moral confidence of the nation, making way for a neo-Marxist revolution to take power.
Today’s racial conflicts are not so much a revolt rising from genuine moral outrage as they are a replay of a Marxist attempt 60 years ago to create dissatisfaction with American culture. In his book Color, Communism and Common Sense, Manning Johnson, a first-hand witness of that attempt, describes the activities of communist adherents in the 1930s and 1940s. They determined to undermine faith in American institutions by exposing America as a deeply racist society. Johnson, who calls himself a once-dedicated “comrade,” sought to liberate his fellow blacks from the tyrannical white culture. For this, Soviet and white American communists trained black enthusiasts like him in “organized street demonstrations, mob violence, how to fight the police and how to politically ‘throw a brick and hide.’” (7). The goal was to create “a common front against the white oppressors” (15). He documents that the plot to use “Negroes as the [expendable] spearhead” of the undermining of America was created by Stalin in 1928, ten years after the creation of the Commintern (the World Organization of Communism). “The top white communist leaders” hypocritically used the idea of racial conflict in “a cold-blooded struggle for power to advance the cause of Communism in America” (37).
Johnson saw the hypocrisy of the project, since he realized that “white men sold white men as slaves [and] black men sold black men as slaves” (43). Both were capable of racism. Nevertheless the hypocritical goal was “to make the white man’s system, the white man’s government responsible for everything” (44), using “smear as a cardinal technique, in seeking to divide America” (52). Interestingly, he noted the communistic tendency of the liberal media of the day, showing “biased attitudes against whites” and failing to report any racial progress which it deliberately “wiped out” and smeared as “a propaganda hoax” (54).
What we see today is a renewed attempt, this time by neo-Marxists, to accomplish what the project failed to achieve a few generations ago. The current movement has rallied many powerful allies: the Marxist-inspired Black Lives Matter, the terrorist Antifa, the gospel-denying critical race theory, the notion of inherent evil white racism now taught in grade schools, and the manifestly false message that police are waging war on African-Americans. Should progressives who share Bass’s convictions, and there are many, win the White House, the Congress, and many local positions of authority in our upcoming elections, the United States would be vulnerable to the very spiritual/cultural revolution that Marx, Lenin and Mao realized in the past. In this event, sooner or later, the country would experience the suppression of human and religious liberty, the rejection of God and his laws, the wholesale destruction of churches and the systematic persecution of Christian believers.
Some will accuse me of being sensationalist. This could never happen here! But Christians felt that way about Germany in the 1930s, when 92% of the population was Christian. They watched and voted naively for what turned out to be a godless and inhuman system. Then, suddenly, only a few years later, it was too late. Ronald Reagan famously observed nearly sixty years ago: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.”
American Christians who vote must realize the like-never-before anti-Christian nature of the progressive agenda. In your vote, help stop the slaughter of millions of babies, black and white, in and out of the womb. Stand against an increasingly hostile culture opposed to the God of the Bible. For the sake of your children and for love of your neighbor stand for creational, God-honoring, cultural goodness in marriage and sexual identity, while continuing to announce the gospel of the Creator who became flesh to take on himself the sins of the world. Obviously, you are not voting for perfect people, but your vote should be cast for as many candidates as you can find who still respect the principles God has ordained in creation and in his Word. Anti-God, human utopias always end in destruction and disaster.
Only our gracious God knows the course of human history. Only he loves his rebellious creatures enough to die for them in the person of his Son. Only as we submit to God’s creational laws and receive his act of gracious salvation will we one day, when Christ returns, enjoy a life in which evil is defeated and we will live, perfected and delighted, in the company of the personal God: Father, Son and Spirit, in a transformed heaven and earth. We wait with patience for that final utopia. In the meantime, the glory of God is our end, Christ is our only hope and the Holy Spirit our power to live in holiness before our Lord and before the world in witness to his holiness. It is true. God does not belong to a political party, but may he grant you wisdom in the upcoming elections to support policies that witness to his goodness as the all-knowing and caring Creator who, through the law, brings us to Christ, our gracious Redeemer.I urge you to register and vote!
 Andrew Latham, “The Foundering of the American Republic,” The Imaginative Conservative (6 Aug 2020).
 Such is the studied opinion of Andrew T. Walker, senior fellow in Christian ethics at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/equality-act-anti-christian
 Mansour, “Five Facts.”
 Mansour, “Five Facts.”
https://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individuals/karen-bass. See also progressive author Laura Flanders in her book Blue Grit (2008), who identifies Bass as “a former Black Panther.”
 Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramon, Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (New York University, 2010).
 Johnson, Manning, Color, Communism and Common Sense (NY: The Stuyvesant Press Corp, 1958).