Friday, February 04, 2005

Religion & Politics

There's been a bit of a dust-up on the religious left after Barry Lynn published some comments critical of liberal evangelical Jim Wallis.  Some folks took up for Wallis (see also here), others for Lynn.  It would all be a tempest in a teacup, except that they're in fact arguing about important ideas.

Bruce Prescott of mainstreambaptist :

Lynn is also right when he says, -- elected officials should make decisions based on the public good, not private religious belief." When all is said and done, as much as is possible, it is the responsibility of elected officials to make decisions that are based on convictions shared by people of all faiths and of no faith. No faith group's sacred scriptures, or interpretation of a sacred scripture, holds special or uncontested authority in the public square when public policies are being debated. The idiosyncratic convictions peculiar to certain faith groups, even if it is the majoritarian faith group, are not appropriate topics for legislation.

dlature of movable theoblogical :

the Church truly does have a radical call to incarnate, and it involves "confronting the powers" and speaking the truth to power. This was the prime self-perception of the Church at the beginning, and along the line, like with the adoption of Christianity as the "official religion" of the Roman Empire, the battle lines between "subservient" Church and the , well, NON-swubservient; the "independent"; dare I say "progressive"?

Who's right?  Who's left?  You decide.

Pres. Bush made some damn speech or another this week.  What was it?  National Pork Producers Association?  State of the Union?  Same difference.

Reaction's been rolling in all over the place, but here's some you might not have thought of:  from evangelicals.  See also here, where some of the more conservative Christian figures remind Bush that they have some chits they'd like to cash in.

They may have to wait a while.  First off, this is an administration that is particularly prone to not holding up its end of the bargain.  Second, between Michael Gerson's departure and this kind of blathering, it doesn't look like W. is inclined to move much beyond paying his usual lip-service to faith and moral values.  We say this with all respect and no snark:  it would appear that conservative evangelicals wound up holding the bag this time.

Speaking of conservative evangelicals, some of 'em are black.  (It's hard to believe that a propaganda piece like that could get run in any paper in the US, but that's another story.)  Other black pastors have created what they call a "Black Contract With America," focussing mostly on social hot-button issues.  But some more progressive pastors have fired back, and Media Matters has noticed just how cozy some of the conservative voices are with shills like Sean Hannity.  Scroll down here for more links, and while we're giving props to Media Matters, check out this piece on a scary Richard-Scaife wannabe.

More media advocacy:  a group called Citizen's Project has challenged Focus on the Family's tax-exempt status over a voter guide included in a FotF publication last fall.  See the Carpetbagger for more details.  If what he says is true, this could be real trouble for Dobson.

Some quick hits:  Joe Feurherd of the Nat'l Catholic Reporter has some interesting things to say about how the Washington "expert" game
works: :

Outside pressure on Congress is an important part of the equation, which is where [Maggie] Gallagher came in. As part of her contract with Health and Human Services, she ghostwrote an article on "Closing the Marriage Gap" for Horn. The article appeared in the June 2002 issue of Crisis, the conservative Catholic monthly.

Gallagher-as-Horn wrote that "children raised by their own parents in healthy and stable married families enjoy better physical and mental health and are less likely to be poor. They're more successful in school, have lower dropout rates, and fewer teenage pregnancies. They abuse drugs less and have fewer encounters with the criminal law."

Self-evident as that might sound, there was more.

Gallagher-as-Horn argued that married people earn more money than single people. To buttress this controversial finding, Gallagher-as-Horn cited an expert author. Who might that have been? None other than Maggie Gallagher, who in addition to writing a column and moonlighting for the government is the coauthor of The Case for Marriage.

So what do we have here? A syndicated columnist uses her position to get a no-bid contract with the government to ghostwrite articles in which she promotes her own book. Good work if you can get it.


The Revealer has an interesting take on the ouster of Joel Hefley from the House Ethics Committee.  RNR was not aware that he represented Colorado Springs.

Last but not least, American Public Radio's series Speaking of Faith will be carrying a series on Reinhold Niebuhr in February.  Why should you care?

  1. He's perhaps the most important American theologian of the 20th century.

  2. One of his principal interests was politics, and what he had to say remains extremely relevant today.

  3. Go.  Listen.


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