Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Reflections: Faith and Citizenship in Turbulent Times

Yale Divinity School publishes a journal called Reflections. This edition is titled "Faith and Citizenship in Turbulent Times."

Listen, I know what you are thinking - if Senator Jack Danforth (R-Mo) went to Yale Divinity School, it must be some radical conservative place where preachers are taught to handle snakes. Some of you are thinking - quit mixing religion with a Democratic blog and just go back to bashing the religious right wing. If Jack Danforth can bash on the religious right, so can I. Remember Danforth's great op-ed in the New York Times:

By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Danforth is right - his party was transformed into the political arm of the religious right. Some of these bible thumpers care more about judging thier neighbor than feeding thier neighbor. What shocks me is that it is the corporate folks who bought the Republican party who are amazed when the religious right won't just go away so they can have lower tax rates (i.e. Huckabee).

One of the many articles on Faith and Citizenship in Reflections is Theologies of Democracy in a New Century by E.J. Dionne, Jr. Under the caption of "The Waning of the Religious Right," Mr. Dionne writes:

There has never been a better moment for a new religious conversation, especially one organized around the theme of community. We meet at a moment when the religious winds are changing. The future of religious engagement with American public life will not, I believe, be defined by the events of the recent past. . . . The public voice of religion, as reflected in the supposedly liberal mass media, was deeply inflected with a particular brand of southern, conservative evangelicalism. . . . But in the new millennium, new religious voices are rising to challenge stereotypical views of religious faith.

He goes on to describe religious leaders on the right, like Rick Warren, who talk of caring for the poorest of the world. He mentions Bono standing up for the poor. He notes Rev. Jim Wallis who wrote God's Politics; Why the Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.

So here is the question - is the Democratic party's tent big enough to handle people of faith? If John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talk about faith, it makes the front cover of Time. If may faith tells me to love my neighbor (caring for the sick, feeding the hunger, clothing the naked) and your personal values tell you the same thing and we both think universal healthcare is a great means to care for other Americans, can we still be in the same party?


fellow sinner said...


Phil Cardarella said...

This is real simple:

Republicans believe in SOME of the Commandments and SOME of Leviticus SOME of the time. (They tend to gloss over not killing and not stealing, but are murder on adultery -- unless it's young Reagan or old Guliani. And they will eat shellfish.)

Democrats believe in the Beatitudes -- and quite often act upon them. (Unfortunately, they don't have all the money to do all that good.)

Bishops tend to be Republicans. (We won't even go to how far right Popes can get! Being infallible means you have to be right, nor far right.) Nuns are usually Democrats. Dominicans -- who ran the Inquisition -- were definitely Republicans. Franciscans pretty much would vote Democrat. Jesuits, of course, keep their votes secret.

Bottom line: Jehovah sure sounds like a Republican, but his Son definitely caucuses with us.

I am not sure this all constitutes a scism. You're on you own on the affiliations of Allah, Buddha, Krishna, etc.