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Viewpoint

In today’s media-saturated America, everyone has an opinion. From Bill O’Reilly to Chris Matthews, Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow – there is no shortage of viewpoints. But how many of those perspectives bring you back to a place of passionate, persistent prayer for the nation?

“Viewpoint” allows the expression on the political, social and moral issues of the day. At times, you may not agree. But in the end, you will be energized to pray for America, with the prism of Scripture and a decidedly Godly direction as your guide. Plus, you can blog your comments to every article, have your say.

Read – then pray with an enlightened, more informed viewpoint for your nation and its leaders. 

Congressional Christians Practice Poisonous Partisanship

View Point

Faith does not necessarily eliminate differences

By Tom McDonald

Bob Dylan told us in 1964 The Times They Are A Changing. One thing that hasn’t significantly changed since that time, however, is the percentage of Christians serving in Congress.

Beginning with the 87th Congress in 1961, the first year for which comparable records are available, the ratio of Christian men and women serving in Congress has remained relatively constant—and at over 90 percent, according to Pew Research.

When the 87th Congress convened in January 1961, 94.9 percent of its members were Christians. Similarly, in the 115th Congress that began earlier this month, 90.7 percent of its members profess to be Christian. And that despite the number of Christians in America has been declining in recent years. Only 71 percent of United States citizens now profess to be Christian, compared with 92 percent in 1961.

Given that there has been so little change in the religious makeup of Congress in the past 50-plus years, the questions many want answered concerns why and how the "product" of Congress has changed so drastically.

There are several considerations, but the most compelling, I believe, are related to the courts, the changing culture and gridlock accentuated by party politics, and an unwillingness on both sides of the aisle to compromise.

Let’s begin with that last point first. The 87th Congress is noteworthy for a sweeping amount of important legislation. In 1961, that Congress submitted to the president 10 major pieces of bipartisan legislation that passed both chambers and became law. At least three of the most prominent bills had worldwide ramifications that are still vital to international relations today. They include enactment of the Peace Corps, the Arms Control and Disarmament Act of 1961 and the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961.

In addition, the 87th Congress approved two constitutional amendments—the 23rd Amendment that gave Washington, D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections, and the 24th Amendment that prohibited poll taxes, thus ensuring the rights of minority voters.

In contrast, the 114th Congress that adjourned on January 3, 2017, enacted possibly the least amount of important legislation in recent history, and has been dubbed a "do-nothing Congress" by both Republican and Democratic officials and journalists.

Most agree the reason for that failure is the aforementioned unwillingness of members of Congress to compromise even on legislation that is vital to our national interests and security. And, after legislation has passed, one only has to tune-in to his or her preferred network news programs to hear accusations of party preference over the good of America, and one-upmanship being cast by members of both parties against their respective political opponents. A lose-lose situation if ever there was one.

Equally important in considering the differences between the two congresses is the changing culture. While I will not voice opinions on the changes—I believe everyone must draw their own conclusions—suffice to say some of the battles in recent congresses were unheard of in the 1960s.

Gay rights is a prime example. In the 1960s, sodomy laws were still on the books in many states, and there were few, if any, court battles over LGBT rights.

Legalization of marijuana is another example of changing cultural norms. In the 1960s, only those who had "tuned in and dropped out" favored changing laws against marijuana usage. Today, those interested have expanded to include investors, farmers/growers, and the medical profession—just to name a few.

Need I even mention Roe v. Wade?!

Court rulings also play a role in the differences between the 87th and the 115th Congresses. There is little question recent congresses have been hamstrung in passing legislation knowing that most every enacted law will be challenged in the court system.

No matter how carefully a piece of legislation is crafted these days, there will be naysayers who did not want the law passed, or who did not get every provision they desired included in the signed bill, who will challenge the final product in the courts.

Moreover, no matter which party is successful in the court challenge, the verdict will be appealed until a decision is reached by the highest court available. Ultimately, legislation is tied up in the court system for years, which leaves both parties standing on unsure footing awaiting a final ruling by the courts. And then, sometimes, it simply begins all over again.

The challenges facing the 115th Congress are numerous. That more than 90 percent of its members are Christian, and that many of them may take their faith into consideration in making decisions on legislation, is heartening to me as a believer.

With that assessment, it is also important for me and all believers to recognize the diversity and differing ideals within the faith community. Just as there are various means for worship of our God and Savior, so, too, are there differences in how we wish to see God’s plan enacted within our various communities, and in our country.

As we pray for America this week, ask God to speak to our elected officials, and for those same officials to be open to hearing and obeying the voice of God. Pray the same for each citizen believer as well. God bless America!

Tom McDonald is a journalist, speaker and thespian. He and his wife, Jill, live in Mesa, AZ.

 




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