Quotations & Writings
> Biblical Reference > Historical Precedents > Quotations & Writings > Commentary
> Home > Quotations & Writings > Government > Church & State > "Religion Has Nothing to Do with Politics?" -- John Mitchell Mason (1770 - 1829)
> Category

Religion Has Nothing to Do With Politics?—John Mitchell Mason (1770 – 1829)

In 1800, John Mitchell Mason published his book The Voice of Warning, to Christians, on the Ensuing Election of a President of the United States. During the election of that year, many Christian pastors spoke out in opposition to the election of Thomas Jefferson as President. Jefferson’s supporters, in a shrewd retaliatory move, attacked these ministers with the notion that religion should have nothing at all to do with politics, that there should be a strict separation between Church and State and thus a strict silence about politics in the pulpit. Jefferson enshrined this wall-of-separation perspective in his oft-quoted, 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

In this excerpt from his book, Mason shows the foolishness of believing any part of human life—including politics—to be exempt from the law of God. Pastors have not only a right, but a duty to proclaim the Word of God into the public square.

That religion has, in fact, nothing to do with the politics of many who profess it, is a melancholy truth. But that it has, of right, no concern with political transactions, is quite a new discovery. If such opinions, however, prevail, there is no longer any mystery in the character of those whose conduct, in political matters, violates every precept, and slanders every principle, of the religion of Christ.

And what is religion? Is it not an obligation to the service of God, founded on his authority, and extending to all our relations personal and social? Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Where did you learn this maxim? The Bible is full of directions for your behavior as citizens. It is plain, pointed, awful in its injunctions on rulers and ruled as such: yet religion has nothing to do with politics. You are commanded “in ALL your ways to acknowledge him.” “In EVERY THING, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, to let your requests be made known unto God,” “And WHATSOEVER YE DO, IN WORD OR DEED, to do ALL IN THE NAME of the Lord Jesus.” Yet religion has nothing to do with politics! Most astonishing! And is there any part of your conduct in which you are, or wish to be, without law to God, and not under the law of Christ?

Can you persuade yourselves that political men and measures are to undergo no review in the judgment to come? That all the passion and violence, the fraud, and falsehood, and corruption, which pervade the systems of party, and burst out like a flood at the public elections, are to be blotted from the catalogue of unchristian deeds, because they are politics? Or that a minister of the gospel may see his people, in their political career, bid defiance to their God in breaking through every moral restraint, and keep a guiltless silence because religion has nothing to do with politics?

Yes, if our religion had more to do with our politics; if, in the pride of our citizenship, we had not forgotten our Christianity; if we had prayed more and wrangled less about the affairs of our country, it would have been infinitely better for us at this day.1


John Mitchell Mason, “The Voice of Warning,” in The Complete Works of John M. Mason (New York: Baker & Scribner, 1849), 560-561.