Trump Is 'Unlikely' To Be The Anti-Christ: Meryl Streep And The Corrosive Politicisation of Society
Meryl Streep has joined a long line of celebrities in using her public profile as a vehicle for her political views.
Now you may agree or disagree with her comments but my question is: do you want an awards ceremony for films and TV to become a political soapbox? For that matter do you want to hear Wayne Rooney's views on Jeremy Corbyn next time you go to watch Man United? What about the local headmistress at your child's primary school airing her opinions on Brexit next time you're at the school fun day?
I guess if you happened to agree with them you might not be too bothered. But if their opinions struck you as ill-informed, inappropriate or just plain wrong you're likely to feel slightly taken advantage of and irked. Yet increasingly it seems such events are being hijacked by someone with a need to opine.
Let me suggest however, that more than just being a bit of bore, this trend actually has a corrosive effect on the cohesion of society. The politicisation of non-political events means occasions that could bring people together are turned into divisive ones. So the idea that whatever our political views we can at least come together in having a shared common interest in the arts, or sport, or education is undermined. It's no longer enough to support this event you must, the implication follows, also hold a certain set of political views too. So people of different stripes who could relate to each other on the basis of one thing are forced apart by the need to take sides over something else.
It would be nice to go a concert, a sports meeting or indeed an awards ceremony and just enjoy the music, the skills and the achievements. After all I don't watch Question Time to hear football fans trash Jose Mourinho or lecture me about how great Arsenal are.
Deification of Politics
Such extraneous division is something churches need to be on their guard against too. In the age of Trump, Farage, Corbyn et al it's very tempting for churches and pastors to jump on the politicisation bandwagon – to feel it's cool, virtuous, even necessary. The pressure to comment is particularly heightened in our society where politics has become almost deified – that is, put forward as the answer to every human problem and thus the most important realm of life.
But the church of Jesus Christ transcends politics and politicians – it is not "The Tory Party at Prayer" or indeed the "Anti-Trump Alliance". It is a kingdom not of this age but of the age to come – it understands that every Caesar and Empire will be no more than a footnote in the Great Story of God's work in history. That is not to say that it has nothing to say about politics but it is not partisan or partial – God's Word equally condemns the abortionist and the racist. Obama was not the Messiah and Trump is unlikely to be the anti-Christ. In either event the Bible calls us to pray for both and indeed to give due respect (1 Timothy 2 & Romans 13).
The supreme king
Christians gather together not because they share the same political views but because they recognise the supreme King is Christ and the whole earth is subject to his rule. As has been pointed out there is One who "trumps Trump", but equally there is One who eclipses Clinton, supersedes Sturgeon and masters May.
So let's avoid the politicisation of our church gatherings, for the sake of insiders and outsiders alike. Let's make sure church is a place where if comment is made it is made with humility, fairness and without a worldly agenda. Let's ensure that church is a place where people know our leaders are just like us – sinners. A place where they know that even great sinners are not beyond God's love and mercy.
And may God, in His mercy, give us leaders better than we deserve.
Andy Hunter is Scotland Director for the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC), a grouping of more than 550 churches across Great Britain. Before joining FIEC in November 2013, Andy worked for Greenview Church in Glasgow for nine years, prior to which he trained at Oak Hill College in London. Follow him on Twitter @andyhunter1967