Saturday, June 23, 2007

Just Politics

Micah 6:8: ‘He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’

What is the rightful role of faith in politics, and why, over the last three decades, have Democrats allowed Republicans to promulgate the myth that GOP stands for "God's Only Party"?

Rick Warren, a Southern Baptist evangelist has said that Christians should decide which candidate to vote for based five "non-negotiable" issues: abortion, euthanasia, stem cell harvesting, gay marriage and human cloning. Those seems like awfully easy choices for him, and in fact, for most people. He will never be pregnant, so he will never face a personal decision about an abortion. Most people do not face personal decisions about stem cell harvesting or human cloning. And, since gays are a minority, most people will never face the pain of not being allowed to marry their partner in life. Humility and sacrifice are core themes of the gospel, but they have no place in the prosperity-laced teaching of the religious right. Just check those five boxes, and you're all good. Easy.

I don't see it that way. We are a diverse nation, one where the founders ensured our religious liberty by prohibiting the establishment of any religion by the government. My faith does impact my political views, and the values that stem from that faith are the reason I am politically active. But, I don't believe that there is any evidence in the Gospels that Christians are called to a life of ease or of judgement. Instead, we are required to "do justice" and expected to sacrifice in order to help "the least of these." So, my litmus test issues end up being very different from Warren's. Poverty, healthcare, the environment and education top that list, and to address those issues adequately requires sacrifice.

Over the last three decades, the religious right has assisted the wealthiest and most powerful segment of our society by crafting a belief system that makes greed good and justifies ignoring those who suffer, because, after all, they brought it on themselves. The truth is that in the stories of the Old and the New Testament, some who suffer are sinners, some who suffer are saints, and one who suffers is a savior. That complicates things a bit, doesn't it?


Kathy said...

You tell em Amy! You are singing my song! The kidnapping of Christ by the religious right is a wrong we Democrats have just got to rectify. Unfortunately this is not the first I've heard about the five "non-negotiables"...but things are looking least in my church. We are beginning to pray about poverty and war. Heck, last week the priest even quoted Barak Obama.

As we used to say back in the day: Keep the faith!

Tina said...

I guess some people have forgotten about "Judge not lest ye be judged." And it's a rather safe and effortless type of religion that mainly consists oof being against things that are unlikely to affect you and your family anyhow. There is a tinge of Aristotelian scholasticism in some of the topics that are rearing their heads in political debates these days, i.e. creationism vs. evolution. Hey, it's 2007. Religion is not about the How Many Dinosaurs Were on the Ark. It's about how you treat your neighbor.