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by Jim Gordon

Let’s just say this right off, Jesus was not a Christian. Also, Jesus was not white, nor American, nor a Republican. 

Here in the United States, when we think of Jesus we usually think of Christianity. Actually, Christianity is just another religion that men started based on Jesus. Jesus did not come to start a religion, yet in our modern era, Christianity is thought of as a religion more than it is a lifestyle of following Jesus. 

Jesus does not belong to any particular religion, nationality or political party. He loves and accepts people no matter what they believe, where they live, who they love, who they vote for or what they look like. He came to show the love of God to the human race which includes all people in every part of the world.

If we describe being Christian as a follower of the example of Jesus, then there is nothing wrong with using this word to describe our fellowship with Him. If we use the word Christian to describe belonging to a particular church, following a particular doctrine or set of rules or belonging to a particular political party, then we have totally missed what being a Christ-follower is all about. I would rather not have anything to do with the word Christian used in this sense. 

Jesus is the Son of God, and He loves all people. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like, a God of love and acceptance. A God that loves the entire world. God does not see Muslims, Jews, Christians or any religion. God loves people, all people, every nationality, every political party, every race, every man, woman and everyone who is LGBTQ. God sees people who need and want love and acceptance. The only way people are going to come to true fellowship with God is through Jesus…not Christianity. 

It is time we stop looking to organized religion as our way of becoming acceptable and pleasing to God. We need to look to the example of Jesus and allow the Spirit to live through us to love all those we meet each day. Stop demanding that people come to follow your doctrine, your rules, your beliefs and accept people as they are. Show the love of Christ to them and let the Spirit do the work of God in them as God sees fit. 

We are never going to completely agree with each other on doctrine and religion. Only through Christ and the love He gives will we be able to love and accept others. Let us be known by the true meaning of the word Christian, being someone who is doing the works of Jesus and following the example of Jesus by loving God and loving one another. 

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Well-meaning people, especially politicians who represent those who believe in a God and those that don’t, say things like “we need to get back to biblical truths” as a nation.” But those who appreciate the Bible don’t all agree what the Bible claims God thinks about gays, women, destiny of unbelievers, etc. Different interpretations of the Bible are normal. We need to find a way to speak of our personal beliefs without assuming all are necessarily committed to the Bible, God, or agree what the Bible claims about God.   

Belief in God or unbelief is not an excuse for chaos

Politicians often claim or imply that our rights are given by God. Any such belief is personal not universal, or one is claiming God doesn’t desire a mutual relationship. Self-evident rights may be found in a Book or natural law, as we all have an inborn sense of good and evil. No rational being argues sexual abuse isn’t evil. We can though have healthy debates what climate policies are for the greater good. We can share our personal beliefs in God and other matters in the public arena without imposing or assuming we all agree what biblical values are.

Biblical truths are debatable

Hell is often used in religion circles to scare one into a commitment to God. Some commitment if just looking to avoid burning forever after death! Biblical scholars and laypeople don’t agree what the Bible says on Hell. Some argue unbelievers burn in Hell after death. Others believe the Bible reveals all when meeting God will become convinced their Creator is loving and desire to live for eternity with God. Circumstances here on earth may prevent such belief.

Religious folks often claim views contrary to their own views aren’t biblical. But even if you believe the Bible is inspired by God, the Bible requires interpretation. It is often said we best know God according to “biblical truths.” The truth is contrary biblical interpretations exist for many moral issues. No one can claim their truth is God’s truth according to the Bible. Yes, the Bible says murder is wrong but that is an obvious truth to those that don’t have a Bible.

Insisting on biblical truths often leads to misrepresenting God

It’s logical to suggest we can’t always be certain what an invisible, inaudibly God thinks, but supposed certainty has led to justifying slavery and other atrocities. Certainty has led to condemning gays, though scholars who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible disapproves of same-gender loving, monogamous, consensual relationships. Women, though gifted, are denied entrance into the priesthood or pastorate in God’s name. Often uncertainty, not certainty about God, protects against imposing possible false beliefs about God. God surely is able to reveal their Likeness to individuals who desire a relationship.

Can We Stop Saying “Everything Happens For A Reason”!

Can We Stop Saying “Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin”!

Can We Stop Saying Our Rights As A Nation Come From God? 

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

We are nearing another election season here in the USA. Each time election time comes around, I get aggravated seeing churches endorse candidates and allow politicians to come to their service and talk or be recognized. This is just another sign to me that the modern-day Christian church is off base and involved in things they should not be. There is separation of church and state for a reason.

I am not saying we as individuals should not be informed and that we should not vote. Each person should take the time to know what the candidates stand for, and then get out and vote for the ones they feel will do the best job. Yet, that does not mean churches need to be the ones to endorse candidates and issues.

The Church (“Church” meaning each individual believer) is here to love one another and show the love of God to all we come in contact with. The church (“church” meaning organized religion/building) is just another big business today. It is time the church stops allowing politicians to come in and be recognized as another way to get their name in front of voters. The “church” needs to stop being just another big corporation in America, and be there to encourage the “Church” to start being what God intended, a people sharing the love of God with everyone.

Another reason the church should not be involved with politics is, unfortunately, politics in general is a major divider between people. Most people who are Republican think the other party is a danger to our country, while those who are Democrat feel the same about the other party.

Rather than work together for the good of the country, there is more time spent on overcoming the power of the opposite party. I see more fights and arguments over political views. I see friends and even families separated because of their differing political ideas. Sadly, politics is certainly something that divides and brings out the worst in people.

Obviously, no specific politician or political party will be the answer to all our problems. It will take politicians and political parties working together for the common good of the people of this country. Finding such politicians will be up to the people who will get out and vote for politicians who are willing to do what is necessary for the good of us all, and not just a specific political party.

In all of this, I feel the job of the church is to focus on spreading the love of God to all people and not get bogged down in the game of politics which can cause further division among the people.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

It seems that our world is fast becoming devoid of people who want to work together for the good of others. What is missing in our world today? The same thing that is missing in the Christian world today… love, concern and acceptance of others.

Most people and groups are more concerned about their goals and purposes and what is best for them. Many seem unwilling to compromise or work together for the good of others.

Where are the followers of Jesus and his teaching from the Sermon on the Mount? Where are those who allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, thus producing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Seems like everyone has started taking sides and creating an us versus them world. We seem to take a stand rather than try to understand the other side. We dig our heals in and would rather fight, degrade and hate rather than love one another.

Jesus said to love God and love one another. I do not think we are to judge, condemn or hate anyone. This does not mean we cannot have our personal views and opinions on things. None of us will ever see eye-to-eye on everything. The problem is when we refuse to see any other view or opinion other than ours.

Here in the United States, it seems people are getting meaner and meaning and refusing to be open-minded on various topics and events. This seems to be happening often in regard to politics. So often people of opposing political parties want to fight and be hateful to others rather than push for change through the voting process. We are fortunate to have the option to vote for people who back our views. If the majority of the people are dissatisfied with the way the government is going, they can vote for new leaders. The sad thing is that when their particular candidate or political party does not get elected, rather than regroup and get ready for the next vote, they will do anything to attack the other side, cry foul and disrespect the election progress.

Rather than continuing this sad path we are on where we are mean, exclusive and hateful, let us love God, love others and seek the good of all people rather than for just a select few.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Political life is a pretty big thing, especially here in the United States. There can be a lot of terrible events that happen in the world of politics. So much sometimes, that it makes you wonder if we as Christians should even be involved.

We know the Spirit of God lives within us, and because of that we are spiritually living in the Kingdom of God now. I believe that everything we do is spiritual. Since the Spirit lives within us, we can go out each day sharing the love of God and doing things that are pleasing to God whether we think it is spiritual or just normal daily life.

What we participate in should always be done with the purpose of being ambassadors for Christ. We go about our daily activity doing things in love, fairness, compassion and equality. We do not hate or exclude others, we do not cheat and take advantage of others, we do not discriminate against others.

If we choose to participate in politics, we do so in ways that show the love of God and actions of Jesus. It is hard to find a political party or politician that is truly committed to following the example of Jesus. We often have to choose to support those who are only partially committed and who we feel will come closest to representing what we think is best for our country.

It is hard to support politicians who promote discrimination, exclusion, hatred, unacceptance, and those who seemingly work for their own power and financial gain. And truthfully, it seems harder and harder to find those who are not this way. Yet, there are those out there who really want to do what they feel is good for their country. It is up to each voter to do some homework and find the best candidates available.

We also need to consider the subject of Christian nationalism, which is mixing Christianity and Politics with too much importance. God loves the world, not just the United States or any one particular country. It seems there are some in politics in the United States that have a goal of making this a Christian nation. This should not be. It is against the constitution and against what we are told in the bible, that God loves the world, not just one country or group of people.

We sometimes seem to think that living for God on this earth can only be achieved by politically enforcing Christian values through laws. Many people seem to think we should use this political power to force Christian values on everyone. I for one do not believe we should or can legislate Christian values and morality on anyone. God does not force his love and ways on us, so why should we try to force our values and beliefs on others.

Some people want a country or church that lives a biblical life. That problem is there are so many interpretations of the bible, so many opinions and views that it would be hard to set down specific ways of life that people could agree upon.

The bible can easily be made to say about anything a person chooses, so instead of living a biblical life we should strive to live a Christ-like life. Our example should be the life of Jesus and not the words written in a book.

Here in the United States, it has become a common belief by some that to be a Christian means to be a Republican. That could not be farther from the truth. Our Christianity has nothing to do with a political party, although there are Christians who are Republican, Democrat, Independent, liberal or conservative. Being involved in politics should not mean the political party controls us, but our love of God and love of others should guide us in our political thinking.

I would love to see people stop bringing Christianity down to a political stance. It is not wrong to participate in politics and support the political party you feel is best for the country. The problem is when politics controls the person and the political party is more important than doing what is best for all of the people of the country. We should focus on Christ and loving others no matter which political party they endorse.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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By Mike Edwards

Why can’t we have discussions with others about politics and religion when disagreeing? There are differences in the political and religious arena, but politicians and religious folks have similarities when disagreeing. I will discuss religion disagreements more in my next post.

Could the problem be about power and control? 

There may be an elephant in the room. Not all but many seek to impose their beliefs on others without debate. I can’t read the hearts of individuals. I do know control and power are intoxicating and a part of human nature. These internal forces flourish when others are not allowed to discuss alternative opinions in the public arena. When only one side is presented, control and power grow intentionally or unintentionally. A free, democratic society requires debate.

Recognize your opinion may not be the more moral view 

Politicians and religious folks often hide behind either science or a book such as the Bible. Opposing political views are often said to disagree with science or be immoral. But science is not black and white and demands challenge. Most admit science can change, revealing claims should always be open to debate. Refusing challenges can suggest some underlying fear or dysfunction.

Your view of climate control or immigration, whatever side you stand on, must be open to challenge. You may be right; you may be wrong. Yes, expert opinions exist on both sides of the aisle. Different opinions must be allowed to stand side by side as we attempt to come to an agreement which actions may be the most caring for the greater good. Can you imagine how different our nation would be if all politicians were open to such discussions?

Accept disagreeing about most issues is normal

My wife and I didn’t argue much when dating, which didn’t exactly prepare me for the first years of marriage. Love doesn’t make go away having to share bathrooms, finances, closets, in-laws, etc. Love requires learning to disagree well so to live happily incompatible. Partners begin falling out of love when each assumes their way is right. You don’t have such intense conflicts with others friends because you don’t live with them.

We must stop hiding behind science or a Book. I bet I can get all politicians to agree that murder or sexual abuse is wrong. We make decisions how to punish such offenses, not whether such actions deserve punishment. Science or the Bible don’t make such actions immoral. Murder is immoral due to our inborn sense of good and evil. It is a dictatorship not a democracy when we impose our will on non-moral issues such as health care, taxes, climate change, immigration, etc.

We must have rules for war – I mean conflict 

We must learn to respond not react over our differences. Begin conversations by looking for areas you agree. Both parties must seek to understand before being understood. Stop demonizing by moralizing. Handle differences with physical and verbal civility. It does take two to tango in politics. When the other side doesn’t act cooperatively, one behaving doesn’t always win the other side over in politics. Different actions may be required. Cancelation of different opinions is disastrous and unacceptable in politics or any relationship.

Why Can’t We Disagree About Politics?

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Both the belief that God exist or doesn’t exist requires faith. Let’s not accuse those who put their faith in God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being in denial or immoral. Those of any faith or religion must in politics, business, or friendships respectful convey rights to not believe in God or supposed biblical truths.

One Christian nation can’t exist

A “Christian nation” implies or requires all believe the same. This is a violation of God’s very nature. God created freedom of beliefs for the possibility of authentic relationships. A parent guides their children to freely make future choices hopefully for their benefit as well as for others. God would be a terrible terrorist or extremist since opposed to forcing personal beliefs on others.

But, didn’t God choose one nation under God such as with Israel in the Old Testament? God choose Israel as a mouthpiece to introduce God in the beginning, but God wanted to have a relationship with all nations (i.e. Gen. 12:3). Other nations could look to Israel to compare God against their gods. Jesus didn’t try to turn the Roman Empire into a Christian nation. Jesus taught that serving was more important than gaining power.

A free society isn’t an immoral society 

We all have friends not into God that are moral, and we have Christians friends who seem closer to the devil than God. A society that doesn’t respect freedom to believe in God or not, seems destiny for tyranny. Most Christians think such freedom was given to us by our Creator.

So, everything goes! C’mon! Who doesn’t believe murder or physical or sexual abuse is wrong? We aren’t always certain how to best love, but most know that we ought to love others as we want to be loved. Different opinions on immigration, health care or taxes can stand side by side as we discuss the most loving approach.

Using the Bible as foundational truth

Christians give speeches or hold signs up at civil protests to argue we must follow “biblical truths” as a nation. This is a disregard for freedom of beliefs for all and ignores that differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. See here.  I can’t imagine Jesus holding up a sign. He simply spoke of and lived out caring for others. That is how you make policy.

Discussing what are biblical truths are more appropriate in a worship setting where all share the same beliefs about God. I am convinced though an open view as opposed to an inspired or inerrant view of Scriptures encourages more contemplating what a loving God is really like. And surely an inaudible Creator influences though our moral intuitions. Common, moral sense is not the enemy.

God and politics

The only way we can be a Christian nation is if all believe in God or at least forced to. We must not speak as if all must believe the same. We are fortunate to be able to freely to speak of influences in our life. When people ask what influences or motivates me, I talk about God’s presence in my life. That can be voiced in the public square as well. But our language must carefully respect the beliefs of others and not assume or insist on a belief in God. I believe as a God-follower that God can inspire unselfish motives but each must make that relational decision for themselves.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

The political situation in the United States right now is really not the best in my opinion. Seems most every country has political issues and difficulties, but here it seems unusually different.

After one of the most different elections I can remember with all the talk of fraud, the events of the extremist’s groups and all the arguing about who is right and who is wrong, it would feel good to get back to some peace and calm in our political arena.

Politics can be very divisive. It can cause anger and hard feelings among friends and family. We want to take sides and argue our case even when it causes division among us. All the while we are arguing and losing friendships, the political party or the politician we are supporting could not care less about us.

Speaking to christians only, we know that the political system is not our answer. Jesus said that his kingdom is not of this world. As followers of Christ, we are living spiritually in the Kingdom of God. For us to get caught up in the anger, hatred, divisiveness and all the arguing over political parties and politicians is really sad to see. We know that Jesus came promoting another Kingdom. It was not one of this world or like the governments of this world. Nothing wrong with supporting those who govern the country, but it is aggravating to see people fighting and rebelling because of it and putting all their faith and hope in a political party.

It is sad to hear and read about so many christian people being more concerned over who is president and which party is in control than we hear about Jesus. It seems that many in the American church system have forgotten Jesus and the Kingdom he reigns over, and are looking to human beings as the answer. They seem ready to commit their allegiance and support to another human rather than trust in God.

We also tend to forget that the USA was founded upon the principles of freedom of religion. I do not know if this is completely true or not, but there seems to be a push by some christian groups and politicians to force biblical laws and Christian ways of life on the country. I have heard of some who want to put into law what they consider to be biblical rules and force them on everyone. This is something we just cannot do. Freedom of religion means there can be no one religion forced on everyone in the country. We are all free to choose which religion, if any, we choose to follow.

As believers, we are to pray for our leaders. Not just one leader or one party but all leaders of the government. Yet we need to remember that Jesus is King, not a president or political party. Earthly politicians and political parties come and go, but as followers of Christ, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, and it is an eternal kingdom. Let’s invest our efforts and allegiance to this Kingdom rather than spend our energy on something that is only passing.

Another good article on this topic is by Stephen Mattson and can be read by clicking this LINK:

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Shannon Glenn, Guest Blogger
https://lifeofaprodigal.wordpress.com/

In the Christian faith much is written about the power of words. In fact, the Bible mentions the power of life and death lies in the power of the tongue:

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

For those who are not keeping up with American politics, we have just come through one of the most divisive and damaging Presidential campaigns in my lifetime, and perhaps in the history of our Country. I have watched, feeling helpless as my friends took sides. Both sides fancy themselves smarter and sure of the ignorance and short-sided vision of the other.  Both sides shout with proud sarcasm statements which uttered at other times would be considered libelous and slanderous. 

In this age of quick tweets shared with little thought before posting, statements intended to prove and disarm opposing arguments are falling on increasingly deaf and uncaring ears. Accusations of liar, thief, traitor, ignorant, and fool are thrown around as casually as comments about the ever-changing Tennessee weather.  These words are wielded like a sword to slice at the integrity and credibility of those in opposition.  While the intended victim may be wrapped in a cloak of self-righteousness and not feel the sting of rebuke, onlookers and bystanders certainly feel the sharp barbs.

Never have I seen people more marginalized and individual humanity being stripped away as people are lumped into groups of “those people.” Trump supporters and Biden supporters alike have wielded their swords of “truth”, not realizing they are for the most part only speaking into the echo chambers of like-minded friends.  Those who think differently are simply not listening as they too are locked in their own echo chambers of those who share their beliefs.

I did not realize how different the type of information we receive daily is until I spoke to a friend recently. During a conversation, I realized the information, rhetoric, and “truth” I had been spoon-fed is not the same information, rhetoric and “truth” in his feeds. It seems based on our past interests, upbringing and grouping of friends, his social media and internet feeds were vastly different. While I had been fed fear and distrust of everyone, his information was not the same. It became obvious he did not understand where my anxiety was coming from. In that moment it became all too clear that I, too, was in an echo chamber . . . one of the past.

Even though I try to find balanced reporting, and to stay away from the damaging half-truths and fear wielding statements, I may still be trapped in misinformation. It is clear my social media and internet feeds have been shaped around current and past interests. They are not varied enough to reach the whole story. It was an alarming and upsetting moment. I can only hypothesize the predictive algorithms are trying to decide for me exactly what I would like to see. However, these algorithms cannot predict the changes of the human heart and enlightenment as we learn and grow.  (While much has been and could be said about the dangers of social media, that is not the purpose of this discourse.) I am increasingly alarmed at how I have been unable to find the truth even as I search for it.

 We have all heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. I had always heard the second part of the quote, but in searching for a reference, I found the full quote:

“Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

– Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Although I appreciate the sentiment behind the words, I do not believe it is necessarily true, as the pen is also mighty when under the rule of men not entirely great. This is not a political commentary; I am not educated enough to speak with authority on that score. However, I can speak from my heart, which I know very well. I live in Tennessee, a state known for our Volunteer spirit. However more recently Tennessee is known for something else, a Christmas Morning bombing.  As “facts” come out about the accused bomber, it is clear the current climate of hate and fear fed his paranoia and contributed to his need to act. I am heartbroken to realize that his trigger for making a bomb, possibly taking his life, and causing damage to both people and the communications infrastructure of our state was fear of technology, and the current toxic climate and likely an echo chamber of his own making.

Careless words thrown around by those who have their own agendas, which we do not fully know, cause real damage to those who hear them. Whether fueled by the anger of being so sure the other person is wrong, convinced with pride their leader is speaking “truth,” or tormented by fear stemming from this uncertain climate in our country, each word takes a toll. In this case it took at least one life and greatly affected so many.

While people are cocooned in their smug assurance of their righteous agendas, others are trembling and heartbroken in the state of our country and the potential for further violence. This man with great technical knowledge who is so overcome by his emotions and closely held beliefs felt he had to act. While he provided a warning to clear the area in an assumed effort to save lives, the next person compelled to act may not take such a precaution. I wholeheartedly believe the careless words of others are partially responsible for causing reactions in people that cannot be easily controlled. We know based on history how much blood can be shed in the name of faith or truth. We see evidence of this in the comment section of almost any news story on the internet.

I do not know how all this will play out, but I do know words have the power to heal or hurt and once spoken they cannot be taken back. Remember what you say affects not only your own life, but also the lives of those you hold dear, and, unfortunately in this time, of those you despise.

Have a care before you say it, type it or share it.

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by Jim Gordon

Here in the United States, things have seemed to be pretty weird this year. Just with the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and all the strange events with demonstrations, hurricanes, forest fires and such, it really makes a person wonder what is happening. I have to say, what we see going on in the world and especially in the USA is quite disturbing.

Many people like to blame politicians and political parties, a president, police, militant groups and many other reasons. I am not sure any one person or group can be blamed for everything, yet I personally do not put any faith or trust into any politician or political party. I do not think any of them are the answer.

It makes me angry that here in the US, so many people would rather focus on a politician or political party and fight and argue, even ruining friendships and separating families over people who do not even know or care about us. Politics will never be the answer for the world’s problems. I believe if we would stop putting our entire hope and trust in any political party or politician, things would be better. Politicians do not care for the people. They say they do, but they really only care for their party and their interest in gaining power and money.

I do believe if we human beings could look past the labels and differences of opinions and work together, care for one another and look for what would be the best for everyone, things would improve.

Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was more concerned in the heavenly kingdom of God than he was in any political party or kingdom of this world. We would be so much better off if we could do the same.

Nothing wrong with being actively trying to improve your country through political action. Yet to put your complete hope and confidence in a political party is futile.

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