The history of the phrase “Jesus is Not a Republican or a Democrat”

Perhaps you have seen this phrase on a bumper sticker. I occasionally see it on cars in the parking lot at Messiah University. Most of them say “JESUS (or GOD) IS NOT A REPUBLICAN” and then in smaller letters, “or a Democrat.”

Here is a taste of Chris Gehrz’s recent Anxious Bench post “‘Jesus is Not a Republican or a Democrat’: A History“:

So what’s the history of this expression? It goes back at least as far as a Clinton-era book by Tony Campolo. Is Jesus a Democrat or a Republican? (1995) took its title from its first chapter, in which Campolo argued that

God expects us to never let partisan loyalty tempt us into reading the platform ideas of any party into the Bible. If we are to be faithful to the true God, we must not allow the principles of any party to override what the Bible has to say to us.

In 2004, the progressive evangelical group Sojourners printed the “God is not a Republican… or a Democrat” bumper sticker that GW affixed to his car. Two years later, in the preface to his book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, Sojourners founder Jim Wallis reiterated that

God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious commitments for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake. The best contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable nor loyally partisan. Both parties, and the nation, must let the prophetic voice of religion be heard. Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground.

Read the entire piece here.