written by Matthew Glover
I’ve never been inside of a temple of any sort, and by temple I mean the physical building like the ones found in Mexico belonging to the Aztecs, or Sumeria, even the structures in ancient Greece or Rome.
I’ve always wanted to go to Israel and see the Western Wall, the last vestiges of Herod’s Temple that stood in Jesus’ day.
The closest I’ve ever been to the temple of first century Israel, or even the Wilderness Tabernacle used by the Israelite people of Exodus, was at the Christian “Theme Park” The Holy Land Experience. They have a whole façade that replicates the front of Herod’s Temple, nowhere near the scale of course.
In another area of the park there is a huge model of the entire city, and even a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, where actors would portray what the priests did inside.
It was definitely an awe inspiring imagination because of what it meant.
These actual places, that these representations modeled, were places where, in my faith, the presence of God filled.
I’ve also never been to the Capitol, let alone inside the Capitol Building in D.C.
The pictures are absolutely stunning, but they look a lot like ancient Roman temples.
And that’s a problem…
On January 6th, 2021 House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi stood in front of the House Chamber and uttered these words, “To those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of democracy, American democracy, justice will be done.”
This wasn’t the only opportunity she took to cherish the sacred dwelling of this deity she called “democracy”.
During her acceptance speech on January 3rd she commented, “As Speaker of the House, it is my great honor to preside over this sacred ritual of renewal, as we gather under the dome of this temple of Democracy to begin the 117th Congress.”
These words are disturbing to me. “Why?” you may ask…
There are a few reasons. Let me go over them.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
- The Term Temple Denotes A Place Of Worship
- Our Representatives Are Not Priests
- What Is The Sacrifice Made On The Altar Of Democracy
- Democracy Is Not A God To Be Worshipped
- Could I Be Wrong?
THE TERM TEMPLE DENOTES A PLACE OF WORSHIP
In ancient antiquity, as early as ancient Mesopotamia, temples have been an integral part of the community because it was a place to worship the god of the community. Whether that god be some ancient deity that lived on the highest precipice or the deified king himself, the temple is where the community could offer their sacrifices and worship them.
The practices that took place in these places of worship varied.
In ancient Sumeria, the people would construct these large buildings called ziggurats. These places were constructed with rooms at the top to house the gods so they could find rest.
Many ziggurats were equipped with bedrooms for the gods, and kitchens so the priests or priestesses could prepare food for them to eat.
Some temples were built around altars dedicated to their gods where different practices were carried out in the service of those gods.
The book of Exodus lays out plans for the people of Israel to build a “wilderness tabernacle”. A place to house the very presence of God.
So what does this make the Capitol Building, if it is a temple of democracy? What type of worship takes place here?
Some may think I am taking this analogy too far and this is not what Nancy Pelosi meant, but I would argue that her recent remarks about the attack on the Capitol Building as “desecration” strongly suggests that she sees it as a place where veneration for the system, and those who are a part of it, should take place.
However, the Capitol Building does not house a god, and the people working their are not priests.
OUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE NOT PRIESTS
Consecration and sanctification are words used a lot in religious settings, and are definitely used a lot in the Bible and they mean a separation.
Making something holy or sacred is to separate it from the normal and mundane as something supernatural, or extraordinary. To make something Holy is to elevate it from the common.
Even in the ancient Greco-Roman temples there was a pool before going near the altar where the priests and priestesses would wash, no common citizen was allowed into the interior of the temple.
The duties of priests are seen as civic duties in order to bring the people in favor with the gods, or in the case of the Jews, God.
In contrast the duties of our representatives, here in the United States, is the common good and protection of our freedoms. The duties that are seen as “sacred rituals” are not in service of the people for some deity, but is in service of the people FOR the people themselves and to protect and serve THEM.
One could argue this is what Pelosi means when she says “democracy”, however there is no evidence this is her opinion as she stands in allegiance with legislation that benefits other nations and not the citizens she is sworn to serve.
WHAT IS THE SACRIFICE MADE ON THE ALTAR OF DEMOCRACY?
If we continue our analogy of the Capitol Building being a temple, every temple has an altar where sacrifices are made.
If you live in America you’ve probably heard this saying:
As the priests go into the ancient temples they carry with them bowls filled with the blood of bulls, sheep, goats, or doves to sprinkle on the altar in order to absolve the people of their transgressions. Then they filet the meat and spread it over the coals as a burnt offering to please the gods, or God.
What does America do? What do we sacrifice?
We send our troops off to war in foreign countries to not only “protect” the democracy we live under, but to spread it to other said countries.
I don’t want to belabor this point, because it will probably upset a great majority of people reading this right now, but if we take this analogy to its logical conclusion we will continue to perpetuate this idea that in order to appease our deity, Democracy, at the altar inside the Capitol Building the human sacrifice we take part in is inevitable, necessary, and a good thing.
DEMOCRACY IS NOT A GOD TO BE WORSHIPPED
I will make this final point, and this is the pinnacle of my argument; politics is a public service not a religious ritual and democracy is not a god to be worshipped.
When the Babylonians built the first iteration of the Tower of Babel, the Bible says they did this to “make a great name for themselves.”
I’m sure the Babylonians felt the need to unite civilization under one banner, one nation, and do what’s right for them as long as they gathered them under one image.
That’s not what democracy is supposed to be about. Democracy, in my humble opinion, is not about uniting nations together under one rule and one law, but to protect the citizens who our representatives are responsible for.
Not to rule or govern, but to protect and serve.
Democracy is not some god to be worshipped, but is a system that protects the freedoms of individuals to live their lives how they see fit.
COULD I BE WRONG?
Could I be wrong about how Speaker Nancy Pelosi is using this type of language? Could she be elevating the duty that the representatives are supposed to be doing?
I hope so.
However, from a Christian perspective this language is…well holy and should be reserved for what a temple is and should be.
Not some building where people argue and divide their country, but a location that houses the very presence of God.
Heaven on Earth.