When viewing Christianity in the U.S., it is easy to notice how our religion has become conflated with political standpoints. What should be seen as a grasp at higher truth and love has become a facet of political dealings. While Christianity functions as a belief system we use to guide our own lives and evaluate events happening at home or around the world, we must make sure that our Christian identities shape our opinions and actions, not the other way around.
Recently, Pope Francis dismissed Raymond Leo Burke from cardinalship for Burke’s behavior over the last couple of years. His actions ranged from saying he would refuse to give communion to Senator John Kerry to chastising Notre Dame University for giving President Obama an honorary degree in 2009. While these events seem to be entirely unreasonable at first, the reasons behind Burke’s actions bring Christian controversy to light. Kerry and Obama are supporters of pro-choice regarding abortion, something most Christians agree violates the sanctity of life. With this knowledge, surely most would agree the ex-Cardinal acted according to his beliefs. While the beliefs behind Burke’s actions correspond with Christian beliefs, the actions themselves do not represent an effective Christian worldview.
Christianity’s message focuses on love and forgiveness. In fact, that love and forgiveness is the true essence of Christianity; the religion would not exist without Jesus’ love and God’s forgiveness. Burke’s support for the sanctity of life is commendable, but he does not show love in his actions. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm to judge coupled with a reluctance to love seems to be associated with Christianity by many, simply because of the attention we pay to these harmful examples in the news. So, while we as Christians should take a stand on political issues with regard to our faith, we must make sure that our political standing does not pollute our Christianity. Instead of separating ourselves from important issues or simply rebuking those who act in ways we find disagreeable, we must be open and approach others with love, not with disdain.