Montana Ethic Project: Can religion and politics co-exist?


Joey and Libbie Early

The Rev. Jessica Crist, bishop of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, speaks on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

This is the sixth chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features the Rev. Jessica Crist speaking on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?” Crist, who lives in Great Falls, is bishop of the Montana Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can watch the whole video below. Here is how this chapter opens:

“Can religion and politics co-exist?

“You bet.

“My involvement in politics is informed by my faith. I can no more imagine separating the two than I can imagine separating my head from my heart.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Crist’s presentation:

“All people have values. All people have ethics. All people have morals. The artificial separation of people into values voters, which means they vote in a particular way on a particular, narrow set of issues, and other voters is absurd. Whether you consider yourself to be religious at all, you are a values voter. You have a value system that informs the choices that you make, both personal and public. For some of us that value system is religion. So I’m going to argue that religion and politics can indeed co-exist, that in fact they are integrally related.

“Religion gets at the very root of who we are, of why we exist, what is the meaning of our existence, and why it matters at all. Politics is how it all works.

“If something matters to us on a deep level then it only makes sense to find ways to implement it on a practical level. That’s politics. There has to be a reason to do things. There has to be a plan, there has to be a larger whole in order to undergird the political action. That’s religion.

“Oversimplified? Of course. But it’s a start.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife, visit


First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan: “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz: “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.

Next week: Chuck Tooley: “The Montana Character.”

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