Giving God a bad name?

Using God as a political mascot, for either party, is a sin.

By Alan Bean

Republicans and Democrats are fighting about God. The GOP scored points by publicizing the fact that the blue team’s platform doesn’t mention the Almighty. Democrats responded by putting God back in their policy document and ensuring that virtually every speaker at last week’s convention referenced religion at some point during their presentations.

This Convention-as-Godfest idea didn’t sit well with all delegates. Big-tent Democrats don’t want to exclude the non-religious or privilege any particular religion. Moreover, the manipulation of God-talk on the right makes a lot of liberals uncomfortable with religious references of any kind. This explains why sticking the Creator back into the party platform wasn’t easy.

Should the name of God be associated with party politics? Let’s face it, both parties are working overtime to spin the issues in their favor. Party conventions are about translating pretty faces and fancy words into votes. Truth telling isn’t a big issue. I’m not complaining; that’s the nature of the political process. At least no blood is spilled.

Electioneering is a species of sales. On two occasions I have tried to sell things. First it was the Encyclopedia Britannica. Then I tried to hawk high-end cook wear. I’m not a good pitchman. The guys who sold lots of books and pots were never on good terms with the truth. Frankly, they would say whatever it took to move the product. Some were outright liars. Those with winning personalities just sold themselves.

It is no different with party politics. It’s a form of rhetorical roller derby where a good elbow to the trachea always gets style points.

Do we really want to drag God into the arena complete with helmet and knee pads? The God who comes to us as Prince of Peace has no interest in bashing heads for either team.

Unfortunately, political hucksters figured out long ago that God speaks in silence. If we incorporate the Holy Name into our political brand who’s going to challenge us? There will be no fireball from heaven. Who knows, maybe God finds it flattering. So why not draft the Almighty as a party mascot or a marketing gimmick?

Because God forbids it: “You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.” That’s what taking the Lord’s name “in vain” means. It isn’t just tacky; it’s blasphemy. Associating the holy name of God with the rancorous rough and tumble of American politics is a sin. The Bible says so.

The Democrats were smart to insert God into their public perorations this week. It’s good politics, at least in America, at least for now. But using the name of God to get a leg up on the opposition is wrong, even if you’re trying to be sincere.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.