“I attribute it to God… God acted through the people on my behalf.” – A segment of Dave Brat’s statements referring to his primary victory over Eric Cantor –
We hear much rhetoric about the separation of church and state. Most people presume that this separation preserves the right for each of us to believe what we want without a mandate for a particular religion or the lack thereof imposed on us by the government. This is true; if you wish to believe that Santa Claus is your savior you have every right to do so without interference from the state. I wouldn’t mention it during a job interview or a first date but that would be entirely up to you.
We don’t, however, hear so much about the reverse protection, which is in fact the safeguard of government from religion.
The founding fathers of America were very much aware of the pattern of kings who claimed that God wanted them in power and then subsequently went on to gain the endorsement of the church. This turned out to be a match made in Heaven for the church and any number of kingdoms because the church had its doctrines enforced throughout numerous regions and at the same time if you criticized the state in your hometown you could well end up being tried as a heretic. Needless to say there weren’t too many political dissenters in a big hurry to lose their head offending God and country.
Consequently, during the formative years of our early government the likes of Jefferson and many others eloquently crafted a careful language addressing the concerns of mixing religion and governance. I may be a little off here but they said something like, “Okay, that’s enough of that sh*t.”
In other words there was never going to be a president who was going to decide we didn’t need to bother with all of those incommodious elections anymore because God wanted him or her to stay in office.
Therefore, I get a little nervous when I hear politicians claiming divine providence in American elections. With all due respect to Dave Brat, God did not speak in this election, the people did and God knows fifty thousand orangutans can’t be wrong.
Jesus Himself in not so many ways evoked the separation of church and state when He said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
Let’s hope Dave Brat adheres to that principle.