Friday, February 11, 2005

Religion & Politics

  • Bruce Prescott lays a smackdown on the Southern Baptists for their uncritical support of the President's Social Security piratization plan. And when we say "smackdown," this is what we mean:

    It would be hard to find a better example of how debasing it is for a religious denomination to place loyalty to a politician above the proclamation of the gospel.

    Focus on the Family falls into the same trap here, simultaneously continuing their campaign to have their non-profit status lifted. (Warning: that's a .pdf link.)

    And as long's as we're twitting FotF, can we just say this? Look at their logo:

    Does that not look like a 1970s advertisement for an ice cream parlor?

  • Given how critical we've just been of faith groups supporting the President's agenda, you might expect that we'd be equally hard on groups that take positions against it. Well, we would, but there's some important distinctions here. The interfaith group going after the budget does some theological reflection, which is far different than the SBC and FotF's partisanship under the guise of informing their members on the Social Security debate. And while the budget group is highly critical of Bush's proposal, notice that they don't call for its rejection outright; instead, they call upon Congress to reflect upon their values and vote accordingly. That's far different than support based not on faith, but ideology.

  • Evangelical Christians have been thrown into sudden prominence after last year's elections, and they're now in the process of sorting out what all that means. So you have the National Association of Evangelicals urging caution, and people like Ron Sider and John Thune floating baloons. Thune's about as bad as you'd expect: he participates in Bible study with Tom Coburn, and like every other wingnut out there, lists getting Bush's judicial nominees confirmed and DOMA as top priorities. But Sider, who's often mentioned in the same breath as Jim Wallis, isn't as far away from Thune as we'd like. He's against same-sex marriage, he believes children are better off when raised with a mother and a father, and he's in favor of school vouchers. RNR appreciates some of his critiques of the evangelical movement, as well as his support for environmental and anti-poverty legislation, but still. We're not quite ready to endorse him as the religious left's answer to Jerry Falwell.

  • Speaking of Jerry, he's been filling in for the now-vanquished Tucker Carlson on Crossfire. Yecch.

  • The Virginia House has passed a proposal to amend the state constitution to "protect" religious speech. You know, because Jefferson and Madison were such weak-kneed liberals when they wrote in the separation of church and state in 1786.

    We're suspicious of the proposal for two reasons, though. First of all, it's based on the kind of common overreactions that don't need to be dealt with through legislation. Second, because quotes like this from the bill's supporters lead us to believe the real agenda is entirely different than the stated one:

    Jack Knapp, executive director of the Virginia Assembly of Independent Baptists, said he believed court decisions have made the amendment necessary.

    "We've come to the place now where the Christian religion is not even treated as an equal partner in religious liberty. We've come to the place where to express anything Christian is now against the law in the public forum," he said.

    This is about controlling that public forum, not protecting anything.

  • Also in the South: the Georgia Senate shot down Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed amendment enabling government subsidies to religious social service groups. DNC leaders, are you paying attention?

    Democrats said they support the amendment's goal, but offered their own version, which specifically stated government money could not pay for sending students to private and parochial schools.

    "This isn't an issue of whether you're for or against faith," said Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna, the Democratic plan's sponsor. "If you vote for this resolution the way it is currently worded, then you have enabled school vouchers in this state."

    School vouchers, in many parts of the South, is code for "subsidies to racist Christian academies." Even in the North, vouchers are hotly contested. Here's a way to turn back support for "faith-based initiatives."

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Good stuff, but don't count the theocracy out in Georgia. The vote will probably come back up Monday.


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