[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]
As a former Baptist pastor, I am concerned by what appear to be Christian nationalist views laid out by a Burien City Council candidate.
In a video which had been taken down, the candidate promoted a class he was about to teach entitled “Heaven in Government” by sharing what I believe is an incorrect interpretation of a key passage in Matthew. His conclusion from that misinterpretation led to several statements, in which he talked about what he sees as God’s interest in government; discipling the authority of Burien; the Kingdom of God coming down just like Jesus wanted it to; and the perfect alignment of Burien here on earth and God’s idea for Burien up in heaven.
I am concerned by the potential for those views to influence the policies and decisions of a member of our city council.
The term “Christian nationalism” (Wikipedia link) describes American nationalists who believe American identity is inextricable from Christianity. Proponents contend that laws at all levels should reflect Christian theology and values. One of the most alarming aspects of this belief system is that it omits the beliefs, desires, values, and culture of anyone who is not a Christian. Other red flags include the fact that different Christian denominations emphasize different Christian values.
I am convinced that Christian faith calls me to serve people, institutions, and governments, rather than take them over and attempt to mold them to my beliefs. This conviction fits very closely with the view of the Kingdom of God which is generally held outside Christian nationalist circles. According to this view, Jesus, as King, brought the Kingdom of God with him. He and the New Testament writers didn’t see the Kingdom of God, at that point, as an earthly realm where he would physically rule people and governments, but as a spiritual reign in the hearts and minds of those who chose to follow him. The Old and New Testaments do talk about the Kingdom of God as a coming physical realm, but they place that realm in the future.
This inner, spiritual reign has nothing to do with taking over and re-forming governments. It has everything to do with living an outward life that reflects the inner values of Jesus and his kingdom. It entails loving, serving, enabling, working alongside, and sacrificing for others, whether they share our faith or not. As such, it doesn’t preclude service and involvement in government, but it does change our goals, the way we accomplish them, and the people we work with.
This is a difficult time for our nation and our city, and we need to work together to support the people, institutions, and governments that are in so many different kinds of need. We need to support candidates for Burien City Council who will do that work. We also need to stand against those of any faith who wish to remake Burien city government to match their theological view. That approach didn’t work for the colonies, so when their leaders formed our brand-new government, they made sure to make the separation of church and state one of our core principles.
Thank you for your patience,
– Don West
EDITOR’S NOTE: Do you have an opinion you’d like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [email protected] and, pending review and verification, we may publish it. Our letter policy is here, and please note that we will not be publishing any letters about local politics during the week before Election Day (between Oct. 26 – Nov. 2). Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources – as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).