By Christina Wagner

Jesus and Politics at Grinnell College

What do you get when you mix Jesus and politics? Usually a very messy situation, often better left untouched. What happens when a Christian fellowship brings up Jesus and politics? As we found at Grinnell College, students start talking.

As a fellowship, we were finding our large group Community Worship meetings had become rather stagnant, in both content and participation. So we decided to change things up. Instead of singing worship songs that would be scarily unfamiliar to a non-believer, or even a non-regular-attender, we opted for a more conversational setting — coffeehouse-style discussion tables, large group discussion, easy-listening background music.

Students were invited to come and participate in open discussions about how Jesus might handle various political and social dilemmas. Political views were not promoted. Because the gubernatorial election had been the previous week, and because politics is generally of interest to most Grinnellians, we came up with questions and topics of discussion that had to do with the interaction of politics and religion. These questions ranged everywhere from tolerance of religious holidays to nuclear proliferation.

My favorite question involved an actual situation occurring in our area: “An Iowa correctional facility has welcomed a national faith-based prison rehabilitation program that has halved recidivism rates at other facilities. However, the program was recently challenged in court because it was primarily funded by government money. How would Jesus vote?” The idea was not to instigate disagreement but simply to get people talking about issues related to Christianity from a very practical real-world point of view.

This is a condensed version of an article posted on InterVarsity’s website for students. To read more, go to