Saturday, June 18, 2005

On My Religion and Politics

John Danforth, a former (Republican) senator and an Episcopal minister, has an excellent op-ed in today's Times.
It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative.
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People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Moderate Christians are less certain about when and how our beliefs can be translated into statutory form, not because of a lack of faith in God but because of a healthy acknowledgement of the limitations of human beings. Like conservative Christians, we attend church, read the Bible and say our prayers. But for us, the only absolute standard of behavior is the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repeatedly in the Gospels, we find that the Love Commandment takes precedence when it conflicts with laws. We struggle to follow that commandment as we face the realities of everyday living, and we do not agree that our responsibility to live as Christians can be codified by legislators.
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[M]oderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics.

For us, religion should be inclusive, and it should seek to bridge the differences that separate people. We do not exclude from worship those whose opinions differ from ours. Following a Lord who sat at the table with tax collectors and sinners, we welcome to the Lord's table all who would come. Following a Lord who cited love of God and love of neighbor as encompassing all the commandments, we reject a political agenda that displaces that love.

5 comments:

ashvin said...

I agree with his vision of christianity and I wish more christians (particularly in america) would see it that way. Despite what the fundamentalists and the "Biblical-literalists" say, I think there is enough ambiguity in the bible and christian tradition for people to project their own vision of the world onto the religion. I suspect that, more often that not, people are not really changed by religion, but simply incorporate it into their existing worldview. So hawks and doves will remain hawks and doves no matter what religion they are a part of.

I think the popularity of fundamentalism in Christianity (and perhaps Islam) is because most people find it difficult to live with ambiguity and uncertainty. Also, the stark choices that fundamentalist forms of religions offer are easier to market: they, imho, appeal to people's baser natures (eg. fear/hate/exclusion, instead of love or the search for truth).

Sorry for the rant. Glad to see you blogging again.

Nitish said...

Don't apologize, Ashvin, that's what the comment section is for! You have a very good point re: the popularity of fundamentalism. Something for me to think about.

Indu M said...

Nitish!!! Dear, you've been tagged :-)

Deepak said...

someone tag me !! someone tag me !!
waaah - "i have no blog but i must scream"

Nitish said...

Don't worry, Ditch. As soon as Indu tagged me, I decided to do the same to you. There's at least a couple of people who don't have blogs of their own, so you can all answer in the comments section of my next post.