Talking Politics and Religion with Sean Astin
Pro-life, pro-choice, taxes, immigration reform, and equality in the workplace are just a few of the politically charged conversations our country is in a debate about. Even amongst friends and family it can be hard to gather without getting into a debate about what we believe. Oftentimes, someone leaves the conversation offended. But for actor Sean Astin, best known for his roles in Goonies, Rudy and Lord of the Rings, his vision is to bring people from opposing sides to the table to have political conversations and leave with mutual understanding. We interviewed Astin three years ago and talked about what he feels is his God-given mission and how his radio show, Vox Populi is a platform for political discussion.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
Astin opens up about why he is passionate about his radio show, Vox Populi and why he believes it is his God-given mission.
“I was raised to believe that life was a no-holds-bar, anything goes, free-for-all in terms of emotions and ideas and communication. But as I developed and matured in my life, it became clear to me that politics and religion are two taboo subjects that people often avoid sharing about at all costs, except for with people they absolutely agree with them. Because what normally happens is people don’t have tools. They don’t have discursive tools, the critical thinking skills. They aren’t developed enough in their own faith or political ideologies to be able to navigate what very quickly and very often becomes contentious in conversations. And of my missions on this earth – I believe it is a God-delivered mission to me – is the ability to help people learn how to work together and how to communicate together, especially when somebody holds a completely divergent viewpoint.”
“And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:10-12
Astin explains why he wanted to do a political radio show and how he sets up the program so that people from opposing views can have a conversation and not get attacked.
“What I understand, and the reason I wanted to do a political radio program, was that I wanted to host conversations where a couple of things happen. One is that we pick topics and we talk about them. A lot of times people don’t want to talk about politics because even though they are very sure of themselves, they don’t know a lot about a particular subject, so they don’t want to talk for fear of appearing stupid. What I do is pick topics, many of which I know very little about, and we go forward and talk about them in a simple and straight forward manner and in doing so, we end up very quickly at a place where we can have a sophisticated conversation with intelligent people who find themselves enjoying a forum where, if they say they are pro-choice or pro-life, for this or for that, they are not going to get attacked by anybody.”
Share your faith. Often we don’t share our faith or our beliefs because we are intimidated. Many churches and faith-based ministries offer classes and workshops on how to share your faith, learn about other faiths, and to have conversations with people from other faiths. Grab a friend or someone from your small group and sign up. It can be less intimidating to share your faith if you go with a friend. Pray and ask God to give you the words to share and for the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation.
Don’t argue. If you find yourself in a heated conversation about faith or politics, take a step back. Pause and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation. Rather than argue, listen to the person. Rather than trying to win an argument, consider your relationship with the person. It might be worthwhile to continuing the conversation at another time when things are less heated and hopefully preserve a friendship.
Pray for our country. It is easy for us to criticize our political leaders and the issues at hand. Instead, commit to praying weekly for our country’s leaders. Pray for those that have faith in political positions that they would seek God’s direction for decisions that need to be made. Pray for the leaders that don’t know Christ that they would come to know Him in a personal way. Ask the Holy Spirit to turn the hearts of unbelievers to Himself and pray that the believers would have unity.
to read the entire interview click here.