Update: Part 2 of this article is up.
A while ago, I wrote up a defense of Wikileaks, cataloguing several of the prevailing myths surrounding this event. I have been in nearly unqualified support of Wikileaks, but it has given me much pause to hear the nearly unified voice with which people in America have been opposing them.
But in the end, I can’t help but feel that I and the little corner of pro-Wikileaks columnists and writers around me are standing on the outside of a greater narrative of secrecy, propaganda, and historical analogy that is bewildering to see the American people fall for in such droves.
For the first time in my life, I’m actually scared of my government.
But, there’s the added reality that I am a Christian; a source of meaning and interpretation far deeper than politics, but equally impacting on my thought as a political being. And so, I’m forced to ask myself (and the reader) how, if at all, should my theology impact how I view this issue I have become so passionate about?
There are generally two camps to the age-old question of the interaction between politics and religion: those that think the two should absolutely be enmeshed and help one another’s aims; and those that think they should never enter one another’s spheres.
Unfortunately, the usual liberal/conservative dichotomies do not help us here. Though the conservative/fundamentalist marriage has been the most-highlighted of American religio-political entanglements, both sides usually fall into using the government to accomplish their aims–each just have different aims.
All that being said–in the interest of full disclosure–I personally tend more Libertarian and “hands-off” when it comes to this relationship between Church and State (though I wrestle with it often). When considering the issue of Wikileaks, and its negative impact on our government, it seems to me that there are a couple of things a Christian could say.
First is a principle most clearly mentioned in Romans 13 where the Apostle Paul says “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.”
In light of this (and other places in Scripture, like 1 Peter 2), one could reasonably say that Wikileaks has “resisted the authorities” that God has rightfully placed over us, and so, as Christians we should resist Wikileaks because we are meant to support our government so they can continue to “carr[y] out wrath on the wrongdoer” (read: “terrorists”).
But another way of looking at this–and the way I’d like to advocate–is the following. A couple of years ago I wrote a series of articles called “God-merica: Blog Post to a Christian Nation” on my personal blog where I argued for the disentanglement of religion from politics.
I pointed out that the Apostle Paul advocates for Christians to support the government and seek to change individuals rather than institutions by being the Church to the broken world around them (which will in turn shape institutions). I then looked at Paul to see how and why he engaged politically the way he did. Paul mostly stayed neutral in political matters, but engaged politically and pulled his “I’m a Roman citizen” card whenever it would enable him to further “be the Church” and preach to those that had not yet heard (namely the Emperor himself).
The conclusion I drew from this and the model I argued for in the relationship between Church and State is that political views are generally theologically-neutral and are up to the individual Christian’s conscience except when the State hinders the Church from freely being the Church to the world around it. At that point Christians are called, I feel, to engage in whatever means necessary to remain independent and able to do that which they are called to do: preach, gather, serve, give, and love.
I’ll give you all today and tomorrow to read those articles if you’re interested and see what conclusions you draw. Be sure to come back here and make comments so we can engage in some lively discussion. On Thursday, I’ll post the other part of this and show how these conclusions can be applied to Wikileaks itself.