Thursday, July 10, 2008

Religion AND Politics, Woohoo!

For an excellent take on what I am about to comment on, read this article by conservative evangelical, Peter Wehner.

Okay, I’m gonna get a little political here.

I have found that as I age (mature, perhaps?), I start admiring candidates/politicians less for what they say their policies are, and more for the way that they think – even if the conclusion they come to is disparate from my own.

And on the flip side, I find myself disliking those that come to their conclusions in a questionable way, even if I agree with the results.

For example, I respect a leader who listens to all arguments, opposing and supporting; weighs those arguments and then comes to a decision. Even if I disagree with that decision.

And I have no patience with a leader who makes their own decision, is willing to only hear supporting opinions and punishes those that attempt provide an alternate point of view. Even if I agree with the initial decision.

I guess I’m just not an “ends justifies the means” guy.

Which brings me to the attack from James Dobson of Focus on the Family on Barack Obama’s view of faith and politics; specifically on a speech Obama gave on the topic a few years back.

Go and read the speech. Some aspects of it are stunning.

Including this little evangelical ditty, in talking about the majority of Americans seeking a spiritual life:

“This religious tendency is not simply the result of successful marketing by skilled preachers or the draw of popular mega-churches. In fact, it speaks to a hunger that's deeper than that - a hunger that goes beyond any particular issue or cause.”

Obama goes on to give his testimony, a rather blatant one for a public politician.

(“You need to embrace Christ precisely because you have sins to wash away - because you are human and need an ally in this difficult journey.”)

The core of his speech creates an argument for the necessity of allowing (nay, encouraging) our personal religion/faith to influence our public discourse.

In his words:

“But what I am suggesting is this - secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square… So to say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

And then he lays argument and advice on how to go about doing so in a country that firmly supports freedom of religion – the tricky, tricky mix of church and state together. (“…a way that reconciles the beliefs of each with the good of all.”)

Part of that process, by the way, seems straight out of Sunday School:

“So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.”

Personally, I don’t agree necessarily with where Obama lands on some of that mix, but I strongly appreciate his desire to get there by taking seriously personal faith and ethics.

And his willingness to be open to hearing arguments, and to repent (my word, not his, but dang he comes close to that language!) when shown to be in error.

So what would a professed evangelical like James Dobson take umbrage to in this?

The answer should be obvious. But, unfortunately, it’s not…

To be continued.

Just my thoughts,


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