Religion and politics don’t mix — well that’s what the pietistic evangelicals of the religious right used to tell us back in the days of apartheid. Therefore, they concluded, Christians should not criticise political leaders and their policy of apartheid and the ethnic cleansing that resulted from it. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.
Now the boot is on the other foot, and it is the secular humanists and the “new atheists” who are saying that religion and politics don’t mix, and one gets the impression that if they had their way there would be two voters rolls, an A roll for atheists, to elect 350 members of parliament, and a B roll for agnostics, who would be allowed to elect 50 members of parliament, and the rest would have no vote at all, and everyone knows that all war, hatred and oppression in the world has been caused by religion, and until the superstitious have come to their senses they should not be allowed to vote.
But what about the politicians themselves?
Over the last week there have been several news items about prominant politicians and their religious views, practices or utterances, to wit Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama and Jacob Zuma. These have been interesting, but even more interesting have been the responses.
Let’s start with Jake the Fake. So far no one has put it better than Tinyiko Sam Maluleke’s Blog – Thinking Allowed!: Welcome to Jacob Zuma’s Heaven:
“When you vote for the ANC, you are also choosing to go to heaven. When you don’t vote for the ANC you should know that you are choosing that man who carries a fork … who cooks people.” Thus spake the son of God to loud cheers and unstoppable giggles. And not for the first time, mind you. He spoke before, he is speaking now and he will speak again. How many times before, has he underlined the intimate relationship between the ANC and the Lord? With uncharacteristic calm and collection, our Jacob has pointed out that until the Lord returns, the ANC will rule. To the ANC has ruling authority been granted during this interim period of uncertainly — the in-between period — the period between the ascension of Jesus and the return of Jesus. Only those who hide in the ark called ANC will survive the trials and tribulations of the current age! You have heard it said before that Jesus will return to fetch the righteous and the holy, but in Mthatha last Friday, Jacob the son of God said to you, Jesus will return to fetch those clad in the black, green and gold.
‘Nuff said. If you want to read more, go and read the rest of it on Tinyiko’s blog.
Then there was this: Putin on Mount Athos pilgrimage:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited the monastic community of Mount Athos in Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites.
He was the first Russian leader to visit the male-only community, on a narrow, rocky peninsula east of Thessaloniki, Russian TV reported.
The trip was part of Mr Putin’s two-day visit to Greece.
He has openly embraced the Orthodox faith, despite having served the atheist Soviet regime as a KGB officer.
Well, I suppose that makes him an apostate atheist, but at least he has gone to the source, unlike the days when the leader of the Russian Communist Party, anxious to acquire some of the magic pixie dust that fell from the church, which public opinion polls showed was more trusted by the people than politicians, decided to visit a church one day for a photo-op, and lit a candle with his cigarette lighter.
And then there is Barack Obama.
If Putin was a convert from atheism, Barack Obama, was a convert from agnosticism and, rather touchingly, seems as much concerned about his own family as about religion in the great affairs of state or the fortunes of his party. Barack Obama affirms his Christianity | The Guardian:
The US president told the national prayer breakfast in Washington that he prays for peace in the Middle East – and that he also asks for God’s assistance with his 12-year-old daughter, Malia.
‘Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance, where there will be boys. Lord, let her skirt get longer as she travels to that place,’ Obama recounted.
Obama’s speech today was laced with Biblical references in his most public affirmation of his faith. With many Americans under the illusion that he might be a covert Muslim, Obama explained: ‘I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my Lord and Saviour.’
Obama described his upbringing as ‘not religious’, his father as a non-believer and his mother ‘grew up with a certain scepticism … she only took me to church at Easter and Christmas – sometimes’.
The response of one American (but typical of other responses) to this news was to say “The Koran permits lying if doing so benefits Islam.”
We are urged to pray for rulers and civil authorities, so let us pray for all these leaders. But especially Barack Obama, because he is evidently president of a nation of lunatics.