Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Losing my religion because of politics

Britain is a very divided country these days. The EU Referendum has split the nation, and despite assurances by certain politicians that "the country is uniting behind Brexit", in practice that seems not at all the case.

Now we are in the final weeks before our snap general election and - in contrast to previous elections where the main parties really seemed much of a muchness - there are marked differences between the parties, and their plans and manifestos.

Today, as I sat quietly with the Quakers, pondering life, it came to me: It is not my religion that defines me, but other, deeper values, attitudes and beliefs. Other people who share my religious beliefs hold very different political views and have very different attitudes towards social justice, international affairs and the environment.
Give me the humble atheist/agnostic with compassion for the vulnerable in society over the cruel vicar's daughter any day!

My religion is the desire for a caring and compassionate society, which happily and proactively cares for the needy and vulnerable; a society which encourages individuals not to just think about themselves, but to build a secure world for future generations; a society which seeks cooperation and constructive relationships with outsiders and foreigners.
And yes, I find many of those elements in Christian teaching - but probably only by ignoring those elements which contradict my personal values.
I also recognise that people of other faiths and none find those elements in their teachings and worldviews too ... and possibly only by equally ignoring certain elements which contradict their values. How else can the cruel vicar's daughter and other people with totally opposing political views to mine still profess to the same religious faith as me? And how can other followers of other religions also have found very different political positions?

Over the last year or so on Twitter I have come to realise that I am much more tolerant of other religious beliefs than of differing political views. Believe what you like, as long as your actions are in line with what I believe to be right and good.
My point is, I seem to have more in common and feel more closely connected with people who have similar political stances than some people who share my religious beliefs.

I can only conclude that rather than my religion shaping me, my deeper values shape my religion, how I understand it and how I apply it.
Do I still call myself a Christian? - I think I do.
Where do I go from here? - I don't know. Perhaps I need to sit in silence a bit more to fathom it out.

I guess one question which remains is what came first: My religion or my politics? - Any thoughts?


  1. Hi Anke it`s Jo (@SanFairyAnne) I`ve always believed that people shape their religious views to suit their principles and not the other way round. I`ve met some lovely, kind Christians and some really hateful ones,the hateful ones usually have Conservative in their bio too.

  2. I absolutely share this sentiment - I feel so much more at ease with people who share my politics - religion never seems to matter in real life. No one really brings it up here in Canada and I've heard it's similar in UK. - Godless Mom

  3. The bible contains a wide variety of (im)moral teachings. This explains the wide variety of "christians" as everybody cherry picks their own values.

    Slave owners were just as "christian" as you, Anke.

    The wide variety of (im)moral teachings is a strong point for people who claim they get their morality from the bible. It's a weak point for people who see it for what it is: salesmanship.

    The bible caters to everybody.

    1. Some (Christian) friends have raised the question whether Christianity is a framework for moral teaching at all. It is not exactly consistent in its moral instructions.