Sunday, April 24, 2005

Regarding "Justice Sunday." Here's a snip from a recent Jim Wallis SoJo email (4/21/05):

"That is an escalation of the religious/political war. And the two together sound like assertions of a Republican theocracy. Behind these activities lies a fundamental assumption by Republican operatives and their conservative religious allies that they own religion in America. They demand that religious people vote only their way. They claim that "values voters" in America belong to them, and they disrespect the faith of those who disagree with their agenda. There are better words for this than just "politically divisive" or "morally irresponsible." For these are not merely political offenses, they are religious ones. And for offenses such as these, theological terms are better - terms such as idolatry and blasphemy.

We should bring our religious convictions about all moral issues to the public square - such as the uplifting of the poor, the protection of the environment, the ethics of war, or the tragic number of abortions in America - without attacking the sincerity of other people's faith, or demanding that we should win because we are religious. We must make moral arguments and mobilize effective movements for social change that can powerfully persuade our fellow citizens, religious or not, on what is best for the common good."

In the C-J on Friday Joe Phelps, pastor of Highland Baptist Church made statements on how the "Justice" meeting was against Baptist principles, and the separation of church and state. The pastor of Highview's response was to impugn Phelps' character: saying he just wanted to get in the paper and on TV.

This is a standard right wing tactic: switch attention from issues by making personal attacks.

Today in the C-J, Sen. Mitch McConnell wrote an op-ed piece stating that Democratic complaining is the standard line from the liberal elite media. "Why can't Republicans go to church," he asks? He does make a point; I'd like all Republicans to go to church and read all the words of Jesus about the poor, the widows, the hungry.

Most complaints about the meeting today are not that Republicans are meeting in a church, but that Republicans are saying that by filibustering 10 appellate court nominees, Democrats are denying their Christian freedom. (NOTE: yet another right wing trick: write an op-ed piece about the wrong issue). Hence the theocracy comments by Wallis.

I don't recall Democrats denying conservative Christians the right to go to church, to pray and interpret the Bible as they see fit.


Dan Trabue said...

Amen and amen. That's exactly what I thought as I read part of the McConnell column: this is a straw man argument! The complaints we have are not addressed at all here.

But so it goes...

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

When McConnell points out that Democrats have often violated the IRS code by campaigning in churches, however, he has a point. We need to be more vigilant at this point.

As for me, I have mixed feelings about the filibuster. What outraged me--and the reason I went to Freedom and Faith at Central Presbyterian yesterday and then the vigil outside Highview later--was the claim that ANY opposition to any Bush nominee was "anti-faith!"

It is clear that the Religious Right is now the most powerful force in U.S. politics--and yet they still whine as victims. How do they convince themselves that they, who control ever larger parts of public life, are persecuted? It's amazing.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

My reflections on Justice Sunday and its counter-event, Freedom and Faith Rally, have led to an essay on "Two Types of Religion" on my blog. Take a look when you have time.

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