“The United States of America did not create religious liberty.
Religious liberty created the United States of America.”
Former Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, spoke these famous words before the Iowa Caucuses in Boone, IA.
Currently, we are holding elections for the next president of the United States. I am no stranger to party politics, for I once worked with former Speaker of the House John Boehner and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. However, as a third year theology student, I have gone through some rough changes this past year. At the same time that my love for party politics was growing, the Lord was working on my heart to show me the defects of my character, particularly the error of my involvement in politics.
My love for politics first started while I living in Kentucky and working for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as a Bible worker and later as a full time literature evangelist. I don’t know how I came to enjoy politics. Interestingly, neither of my parents had ever voted and had no intentions of doing so, (unless one day I were to run for public office). Still, I had a great desire to become a State Representative or State Senator, and planned to run for a spot in the US representatives or US senate, even dreaming to one day become President of the United States.
In fact, I was a strong Republican, a card-carrying member of the RNC (Republican National Committee), a member of the Michigan GOP (Grand Old Party) and held membership in many other high ranking Republican spots. Sadly, these memberships fostered a spirit of hatred toward those who didn’t believe in my mainly anti-Democrat views as a Republican.
As you can see by the title of this article, by God’s grace I have indeed changed. Admittedly, while I still quite thoroughly enjoy politics, my friends can tell you, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me that involvement in politics is not a place for a Seventh-day Adventist.
MY STRUGGLE BETWEEN CARD-CARRYING AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
While I was studying theology, I fell back into that old way of life. However, the Bible tells me in Proverbs 24:16 that a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked fall into calamity. In other words when you fall you need to keep getting up from the fall. So, though during this election, I slipped into some of my old ways, I just want to praise the Lord that He indeed has given me victory over party politics, as well as a new love for religious liberty!
I was a member of NARLA (North American Religious Liberty Association) when I first started attending college in the fall/spring of 2013-2014, but didn’t know much about religious liberty, or even how it worked. However, I knew I was part of something special. Recently I have renewed my membership and am thoroughly enjoying learning everything I can about religious liberty. In fact, I have been in the process of memorizing the US Constitution with all the amendments, quite a fun experience!
We, as Seventh-day Adventists, have been blessed with such a rich history in religious liberty! Sadly, many Adventists are so caught up in politics they do not do anything for the Master! Notice this quote from Ellen G. White: “What kind of spirit takes hold upon our people, when those who believe we are now under the third angel’s message, the last message of mercy to the world, brothers in the same faith, appear wearing the badges of opposing political parties, proclaiming opposite sentiments and declaring their divided opinions . . . There is danger, decided danger, for all who shall link themselves up with the political parties of the world. There is fraud on both sides. God has not laid upon any of our people the burden of linking up with either party” (GCDB, February 17, 1897).
The reason I share this quote is because it strikes at the very core of who we are as Seventh-day Adventists. We believe in the third angel’s message, a message of mercy to those who are perishing. How does ranting about Republicans verses Democrats aid in spreading the third angel’s message? How are we making Christ the great center of our minds? Friends, Jesus is coming again, and we have no time to waste!
GOD’S WARNING TO HIS LAST DAY PEOPLE
Mrs. White makes another startling statement. “We cannot with safety vote for political parties; for we do not know whom we are voting for. We cannot with safety take part in any political schemes. We cannot labor to please men who will use their influence to repress religious liberty and to set in operation oppressive measure to lead or compel their fellow men to keep Sunday as the Sabbath. The first day of the week is not a day to be reverenced. It is a spurious sabbath, and the members of the Lord’s family cannot participate with the men who exalt this day, and violate the law of God by trampling upon His Sabbath. The people of God are not to vote in place such men in office; for when they do this, they are partakers with them of the sins which they commit while in office” (GW, 391) (emphasis mine).
While Mrs. White made such a bold statement, she also said it is our duty as citizens to vote. For example she said we are to “stand decidedly on all questions relating to temperance reform” (RH, Oct. 15, 1914). In other words, we are to stand firm against the issues that would greatly affect our chance of winning more souls for Christ kingdom. Friends, it is not our duty to side with party politics, because to do so also divides the church. Sadly, the church is already divided on so many other issues we cannot afford to continue to divide God’s remnant church of Bible prophecy.
POLITICS DIVIDES THE CHURCH
A recent pew research study came out showing that 35% of Seventh-day Adventists sided with the Republican Party while 45% sided with the Democratic party, leaving 30% who were either Independent or who really did not care. Undoubtedly, politics divides the church. I met many people who wanted Dr. Ben Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist, to win the election, but I also saw how it divided the church everywhere I travelled.
If you do not understand the seriousness of what Ellen White is speaking about, perhaps this last statement may help you. “Every teacher, minister, or leader in our ranks who is stirred with a desire to ventilate his opinions on political questions, should be converted by a belief in the truth, or give up his work. His influence must tell as a laborer together with God in winning souls to Christ, or his credentials must be taken from him. If he does not change, he will do harm, and only harm” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 477). As you can see from this statement, it is seriously wrong to get involved with politics and speak your opinions out loud, especially in a church or school setting.
I would strongly encourage every Seventh-day Adventist to get involved with Religious Liberty, part of our church for over 100 years. As I have been involved with Religious Liberty, I have been contacting my representatives and senators about certain legislation, and come to appreciate the counsel we have been given as God’s peculiar people. We have no time to waste in dealing with frivolity. We must not be conformed to this world’s standard. We belong to the King of kings and one day the world will become the kingdom of our Christ. Take courage my brothers and sisters of the faith and stand for the truth.