Monday, January 02, 2006

Give me that old time (exploitation of) religion

So ... the Democratic party is getting religion. As Joseph Loconte relates in the NY Times:

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, sounded like an Old Testament prophet recently when she denounced the Republican budget for its "injustice and immorality" and urged her colleagues to cast their no votes "as an act of worship" during this religious season.

This, apparently, is what the Democrats had in mind when they vowed after President Bush's re-election to reclaim religious voters for their party.

Is this a good thing? Not if the spiritual left repeats the sins of the religious right.

There is another worrisome trait shared by religious liberals and many conservatives: the tendency to moralize in the most extreme terms. William Sloane Coffin of the Clergy Leadership Network was typical in his denunciation of the Bush tax cuts: "I think he should remember that it was the devil who tempted Jesus with unparalleled wealth and power."

This trend is at its worst in the misplaced outrage in the war against Islamic terrorism. It's true that in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, some Christian conservatives shamed themselves by blaming the horror on feminists and gays, who allegedly incited God's wrath. But such nonsense is echoed by liberals like the theologian Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University.

"The price that Americans are going to have to pay for the kind of arrogance that we are operating out of right now is going to be terrible indeed," he said of the United States' response to the Qaeda attacks. "People will exact some very strong judgments against America - and I think we will well deserve it." Professor Hauerwas joins a chorus of left-wing clerics and religious scholars who compare the United States to Imperial Rome and Nazi Germany.

People of faith need to be involved politically. Their faith should inform their political decisions. But what we have in the Republican party today and are starting to have in the Democratic are secular organizations exploiting and trying to co-opt religion for political gain. Unfortunately it works, for the most part. But when faith can be bought it is cheaper because of it.


eric said...

Well put, and a very good case for the true separation of Church and State. I sometimes think that the words "God" and "country" shouldn't ever be used together in the same sentence. One might say that we are either working for God, or working for Rome, but never both. That's obviously too cut-and-dry, but I for one am pretty tired of hearing my government justifying it's actions based on it's vision of what's "moral."

Bruce Geerdes said...

I could support a moritorium on mentioning God in political discourse. I'm tried of hearing about the dubious policies that He supports.

What I really want, though, is not the removal of morality from political discourse but a doing away with hypocrisy. (Probably too much to ask of politicians.) The Republicans and Democrats love to point out the splinter in the other's eye while ignoring the log in their own. A pox on both houses.