ELECTIONS DIVIDE CHRISTIANS
(Editor’s Note: Contributor Mike Patrick came across an article by Tom Mullen about 10 years ago and submitted it to the Reporter-News. It concerns how Christians are divided by elections and seems timely today, too. The article by Tom Mullen, “On Election Year Tensions,” was part of Mullen’s book, “Where 2 or 3 Are Gathered, Someone Spills His Milk.”)
By Tom Mullen, submitted by Mike Patrick
By and large, Christians get along well with one another. They gather in their churches on Sunday with a minimum of disagreement, and most serious conflicts are set aside for denominational meetings.
The exception to this is during election years. Some church members will forgive their fellows of theft, murder, and embezzlement, but they may never be able to understand how a person can be a Christian and Democrat (or vice versa) at the same time. Upon learning that some among the baptized brethren are actually of the opposite political faith, they can only shake their heads in dismay and assume that either brain damage or high blood pressure confuses their minds at election time.
…Each group thinks one ought to identify Republicans and Democrats by the way they live their lives.
Democrats tend to think of themselves as the more open-handed party. Republicans agree. You have to have an open hand, they say, in order to reach into somebody else’s pockets. They, in turn, think of themselves as more frugal and tight-fisted. Again, surprisingly, there is agreement from the Democrats. The Republicans already have theirs, they point out, and they’re not going to let anyone else take it away.
…Republican boys date Democratic girls, even though they plan to marry Republican girls. However, they feel they’re entitled to a little fun first. Once married, Republicans sleep in twin beds—some even in separate rooms. That’s why there are so many more Democrats.
Confirmed Republicans and Democrats claim to be able to identify the other by their leisure-time activities. Republicans fish from the stem of a chartered boat while Democrats sit on the dock and let the fish come to them. When they’re done fishing, Democrats clean and eat what they’ve caught. Republicans hang them on the wall.
…Most Democrats and Republicans do not go to church at all, but their reasons for not going are different. The Republicans are up early to play golf, while the Democrats are still in bed recovering from an all-night pinochle game.
Such stereotypes…are only partially true, but they may serve at least one good purpose. They may help remind us that ultimate loyalties must be reserved for Ultimate Beings, and when we think the saved and the damned are identifiable by political affiliation, we have made a significant mistake. In fact, Jesus may have spoken of the Kingdom of God rather than the Republic of God in order to help Christians avoid fighting with one another at election time.
Luke 17:20-21 reads, Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Mike Patrick retired as Chaplain and Ministry Education Coordinator after 27 years at Hendrick Medical Center.