Monday, April 28, 2008

Faith and Politics


I am often reminded of the two op-ed's that appeared in the NY Times, in March and June of 2005 -- penned by John Danforth, the Republican former Senator, ambassador, and ordained Episcopal priest.

Danforth's op-ed "In the Name of Politics" skewered the GOP's unholy merger with the religious right; here an excerpt:

By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.
In June, he followed with an op-ed titled "Onward Moderate Christian Soldiers":

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two.

To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.
Danforth expanded on these ideas in his book "Faith and Politics". His argument was not that people of faith should withdraw from the public square, but that they approach it in a spirit of compassion and humility, with a healthy respect for the religious freedoms of their neighbors, rather than with certainty and zealotry. He called on moderate Christians to speak out on behalf of their values, and to bring their voice of moderation to the debate.

Danforth was right. Religion will be less divisive in America when the government is not co-opted by one religious group.

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posted at 2:35:00 PM by Neil

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