ATTENDING A RECENT service at Ripon Community Church (RCC) are, front, Mandy Kimes; second row from left, Cris Magana, Kim Frisque, Jacob Kramer, Justine Jacobsen; third row, Ataly Hatfield, Lauren Van Den Heuvel, Luke Hatfield, Josh Schubring; fourth row, Mikaela Hatfield, Traeger Hatfield and Mohammad Nafisi. Luke Hatfield is lead campus minister and Kimes is campus minister at His House Christian Fellowship, which brings religious teachings and experiences to Ripon College students. In addition to its weekly meetings, Bible studies and special events, the group sponsors an annual Ripon “church crawl,” which last month included RCC, St. Catherine of Siena, Hillside Assembly of God and Trinity Evangelical.  	 			 submitted photo
ATTENDING A RECENT service at Ripon Community Church (RCC) are, front, Mandy Kimes; second row from left, Cris Magana, Kim Frisque, Jacob Kramer, Justine Jacobsen; third row, Ataly Hatfield, Lauren Van Den Heuvel, Luke Hatfield, Josh Schubring; fourth row, Mikaela Hatfield, Traeger Hatfield and Mohammad Nafisi. Luke Hatfield is lead campus minister and Kimes is campus minister at His House Christian Fellowship, which brings religious teachings and experiences to Ripon College students. In addition to its weekly meetings, Bible studies and special events, the group sponsors an annual Ripon “church crawl,” which last month included RCC, St. Catherine of Siena, Hillside Assembly of God and Trinity Evangelical. submitted photo

     During a recent Ripon College forum on promoting civil discourse during a time of protests, name calling, raised voices and insults, audience member Candy Fitzwater posed an interesting question.

     “Do you agree that religion has now started preaching from the pulpit who people should vote for and what people should believe?” she asked the panel.

     Fitzwater explained that her daughter had learned at Bible study that former President Obama is the anti-Christ.

     A friend of 50 years told Fitzwater that her church, “which is civic minded and does wonderful things,” advocates supporting President Trump because he is a reformed sinner “and that everybody has the opportunity for forgiveness.”

     This resulted in a few guffaws from what likely was a predominantly Democrat, anti-Trump crowd.

     Milwaukee Journal political reporter Craig Gilbert took the first stab at responding to Fitzwater, pointing out that religion and politics have danced together for a long time. “Religion fueled the abolition movement before the Civil War,” he said. “You can find all sort of examples. The relationship between religion and the civil rights movement.”

     More recently, he said, research shows that churchgoers are more likely to vote Republican. “That’s just a pattern that’s a little truer now than it was in the recent past,” Gilbert said, adding that he doesn’t know whether there is more mobilizing and proselytizing going on in churches.

     To that, we say, there should be more politics from the pulpit.

     Whether pews are filled with Democrat or GOP fannies matters not.

     Organized religion can play a vital role in public discourse.

     It shouldn’t pontificate nor organize for particular parties or politicians; naked politicking is beneath the higher-calling of the houses of worship.
No, the church’s role — particularly during these highly fractured, acrimonious times — should be to remind us how to behave as Christians (or as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and those of other faiths).  

     Christians embrace four gospel guideposts that provide tremendous direction for how to act as concerned citizens, particularly in polarized times. Their true north is humility, actualized via repentance; forgiveness; grace; mercy; and the notion of putting others — particularly the poor — ahead of oneself. ...
                                      
  — Tim Lyke

     To read the entire editorial, see the Oct. 4, 2018 edition of The Ripon Commonwealth Press.