One of my favorite historians, Edward J. Larson, writes about George Washington's death in 1799. There was one prominent politician, who refused to attend Washington's funeral. He refused to attend any memorial service for Washington. He refused to send any note of condolence or issue any statement to the press expressing his respect for Washington. That man was the vice president of the United States. That man was Thomas Jefferson.
It was almost two years before Jefferson demonstrated any hint of respect. After winning the presidential election in 1800, he called upon Washington's widow. Jefferson had grown bitter in his opposition to Washington’s political views. Finally, only after winning his election to the presidency, he did the right thing.
I crack up today when I hear folks complaining about partisanship and hostility in politics. Truth be told, it is rare when there is a lack of partisanship in politics. Throughout our history, the political dialogue has typically lacked civility and been mean-spirited.
This is one reason why I think we, as Christians, must be very careful regarding politics. Our calling is much greater. 200 years have not made Thomas Jefferson’s snub look any better, even though he was a Deist. Imagine the poor reception we receive from the unchurched world, when we behave in a way inconsistent with our Christian ideals.