Trying to redeem the time between the gas pump and the grocery store, I was flicking between radio stations when I stumbled upon an interview with Jesse Ventura. While I find the man exasperating, I grudgingly acknowledge that he has led an accomplished life. A warrior, athlete, actor, and politician, the man has seen some measure of success in all these vocations. While Ventura has left public office, due to his celebrity status, he is asked to weigh in on civic concerns. It is at this point that I grow exasperated.
As I was navigating through the scurrying mass of cars, I heard him say, “I don’t care what you think, in this country we have the separation of church and state”. A proud atheist, Ventura was complaining that Christians consistently interject their faith values into civic society. In his opinion, the public discourse is meant to be free from religious ideals. I understand why atheists promote this idea; I don’t understand why Christians believe it.
Too many believers have swallowed this myth and feel obligated to restrict their faith to the private arenas of home and church. The effect of this is calamitous for our communities. Now that Christians are disallowed from imposing their value system on other citizens, secularists are free to impose theirs unimpeded. So when browbeaten Christians agree to be seen but not heard, they give free reign to ideals that offend God and denigrate his people.
What makes this so tragic is that people, who have been granted freedom, act as though they have none. The first amendment does not bridle people’s faith convictions; in fact it does just the opposite. It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What we have here is a clause that protects religious convictions from state control. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not feature in our constitutional documents.
This is why I grow exasperated with Mr. Ventura and his like. They should know better. But honestly, I grow even more exasperated with my own tribe, we should know better. And we should not, under any circumstance, live a duplicitous life where we operate from two different playbooks. Our faith in Jesus is to transform our thinking and our doing—all of it!
I am not advocating that Christians become more political. I am advocating that they become more spiritual. In all your ways (public and private) acknowledge him. (Prov 3:6)