Moral Contradictions

Thursday, May 19, 2005

My tin-foil hat

I've been accused of wearing a tin-foil hat when it comes to Dominionists. The person didn't explain exactly in what regard he meant this in, for I'm well aware of the Dominionists existence, their funding, and their agenda. To deny their existence or their power is like believing 40 midgets can beat a lion in a deathmatch. (I'll let you think on that one) Will they succeed fully in their theocratic agenda? I pray not.

Mainstream Baptist has a post that discusses an interview with D. James Kennedy and Frederick Clarkson on NPR's Fresh Air. Dr. Bruce Prescott rightfully observes that after denying he wanted a theocracy for this nation, he then claimed that Christians need to create a culture "in which civil institutions (i.e. the government, the courts, and public schools) are involved in 'teaching' all nations 'to observe all' that Jesus commanded." That sounds like a theocracy to me!

Whatever happened to churches playing this role? Christianity is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, yet Kennedy refers to it quite a bit. We can debate all day about "the intentions of the Founding Fathers", yet in the eyes of the law, printed words matter over intention.

He then charges that legislators have added so many "foriegn" things or concepts to the Constitution that America is now unrecognizable compared to 1776. Mr Kennedy: Where in the Constitution does it guarantee prayer in school or the explicit reference that this is a Christian nation? The only reference to religion is the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion".

Yet 33% of adults believe that Christianity should be the official religion of this nation. If that isn't a call for theocracy I don't know what is. Again, with these simple statements in our body of law guiding us over the last 200 years, why do we now need to legislate Christianity into our culture? If Christianity was such a part of our society then, why did it suddenly go away?

Oh that's right, it's not the church's fault, it's the secularists and atheists who have led us astray. Has any thought been put into how the church might have failed society? Could it be its past advocation that racial segregation is God's will? Or how about justifying slavery with the Bible to further economic gain on the back of an entire group of people? To assume that the church hasn't made mistakes and may be at least partially to blame for the "ills" of our society is ignorant and judgemental. Some introspection is needed.

The American church is not perfect and I believe fundamentalist's obsession with reforming society should originate there. Instead of forcing people to adhere to Christian principles, why not willingly invite them? Instead of telling people how to live, why not show them? If you don't agree with evolution, teach what you believe at church. If people are interested in what you have to say, they'll come all by themselves. It's amazing.

They'll see us Christians living the way Jesus called us to, no matter what type of government we have, and might be interested to know why we act in the way we do. If they're not interested, that's their choice. I believe we call it "free will". Folks, the simple fact is that creating a "Christian Nation" is the same as the "Islamic nations" of Iran and the former Afganistan.

Jesus didn't pass a single law, yet changed the world with His death at the hands of the theocrats of His time.


  • You make some interesting points. I agree that the founding fathers were certainly not all Christian and did not specifically advocate (or denounce) school prayer, etc. as some infer. However, you might also consider that someone like Lincoln would surely be accused of being a "theocrat" in today's environment. David Brooks had a good column on this subject a couple weeks ago.

    Also, you may want to take a look at Dignan's recent post on Dominionism and chime in over there.

    By Blogger Chad, at Friday, May 20, 2005 10:37:00 AM  

  • Chad,

    I too believe that faith should be in politics, yet I differ over its implementation.

    Thanks for the article. In regard to Lincoln, I don't sit well with equating today's issues to an issue that our country divided over and eventually went to war. (Or Nazi-ism for that matter)

    3/4 of the way in the article, there's these sentences:

    "Lincoln believed in this cause [evangelistic reform agenda] as fervently as anybody, but he was always trying to slow down his evangelical allies. As the great historian Allen C. Guelzo argues, Lincoln favored the classical virtue of prudence, which aims at incremental progress and, to borrow a phrase from Lincoln, at making sure that politics doesn't degenerate 'into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle.'" (Emphasis mine).

    I'd argue that the hard-right is seizing upon a self-perceived cultural mandate and is demanding sweeping changes, instead of incremental progress. I believe we're seeing today what President Lincoln feared.

    I have no problem using faith in politics to push reform. I disagree with the focus of today's agenda (I'd rather work against poverty and for health insurance instead of banning gay marriage or rolling back corporate regulations), and I disagree with the means used (blackmailing 2008 Presidential hopefuls for future support hinged on their votes on today's issues).

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, May 20, 2005 11:29:00 AM  

  • It's true that Lincoln was able to strike a balance and had a sort of healthy skepticism and doubt and sought to keep some more extreme religious proponents in check. That's a good lesson. However, I also notice when I read Lincoln's words that he did not hesistate to mention publicly that faith was a huge driver in his decision-making. I would say the same for Martin Luther King. Whenever Pres. Bush mentions God as a major force in his life, he is accused of "wearing his religion on his sleeve".

    I do agree with you, by the way, that there is too much focus on the right on certain "pet" issues. I'd rather see energy and effort spent addressing say, the huge AIDs crisis in Africa, than the attempts to alter the constitution to outlaw gay marriage.

    By Blogger Chad, at Friday, May 20, 2005 1:11:00 PM  

  • Unfortunately I think we need a politician like Lincoln these days, for he found that "balance" that is lacking these days. Truly one of the greatest, if not the greatest President we've ever had.

    Moderate politicians who are Christians and try to vote their conscience while voting in regards to their constituents and the law are all too often labeled as "liberals" by the hard-right. If a Christian politician votes for a huge bill with a small amendment important to the hard right tacked on, and he votes for "the greater good" versus the way the Christian right thinks he should, he's strung up and lambasted for being against "people of faith". Nevermind that the 99% of the bill is good legislation and a vote of "no" would send the legislature into ineffective chaos... he's called out on the carpet as "anti-life" or whatever. See all of the posts I've written about Shaun Kenney and the 54th Va district Republican delegate primary. The incumbent Bobby Orrock is currently receiving this treatment.

    On the other hand, you have the far left who seem to fear anyone bringing their religion into politics. They don't draw a distinction between a more nuanced implementation of faith versus overt displays.

    All that said, I wholeheartedly believe that as the two sides move further toward their respective political extremes, more "moderate" or "reasonable" folks are left out in the cold. If our political system wasn't so hard-wired to 2 parties, there could be an opportunity for a third to rise.

    I saw a post somewhere (maybe your blog?) that we're in a political arms race: if either side cools the rhetoric for one moment to listen, its perceived as a sign of weakness.

    How will all of this end? That's where my anxiety lies.

    By Blogger Nathan, at Friday, May 20, 2005 1:32:00 PM  

  • "On the other hand, you have the far left who seem to fear anyone bringing their religion into politics. They don't draw a distinction between a more nuanced implementation of faith versus overt displays."

    That's an astute observation and it's admirable that you're willing understand and point out the faults in both ends of the political spectrum. There are far too many hard-core ideologues unable to listen or admit to faults in their own "side" of the debate. Always good to meet someone who is not one of them.

    By Blogger Chad, at Friday, May 20, 2005 4:59:00 PM  

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