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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Lutherans & politics

The 'two kingdoms' and putting the needs of others first

Some say religion should have nothing to do with politics. Others claim that their political proposals are Christian and ought to be supported by any true Christian. As we ponder the upcoming election, what can we learn from the Lutheran tradition about the role of faith in politics?

My father was a farmer. He never sought office, but he was regularly on the township board, the local or county school board, the cooperative grain elevator board, the church council, and various other committees. Neighbors would frequently stop to talk — sometimes just to visit, sometimes to explore a community concern, and at other times to find a good listener.

For the troubled, he was slow to give advice but often ready with a story that invited them to see their problem differently. Whenever a controversy erupted in the church or community, he deliberately talked with people on both sides to learn something, to correct misinformation, and to signal that no disagreement was important enough to disrupt community relationships. He had a position, but it was open to change.


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