Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The sad lessons of "Justice Sunday"

In a profoundly arrogant political stance, our good friends on the Christian right this last Sunday night showed their true colors. In my recent--and naive--past, I had hoped that religion could play a more significant part in our political discourse. The beliefs we hold, the various ways we structure the world, our ethics: these are the core of just policies intended to better human life. However, political discourse has deteriorated into a facile bifurcation. One is either a rabid, intolerant conservative or a weak-minded, idealistic liberal; a God-hater or a true believer; rational and thoughtful or deceived by faith and thus foolish. What has happened?

Perhaps we can begin to place some blame on the vapid ethos of marketing which now pervades political discourse. Zinging debates sell while nuanced and fair discussions cause us all to snooze. Perhaps we can begin to place some blame on our pastors and churches who too often fear a congregation who questions and doubts. But ultimately the fault lies with all of us, with the silent majority of Christians who permit extremists on both sides to represent us.

I still hold some hope that religion can play a productive and enriching part in our political discourse. The narrow-minded efforts of pure secularists to expunge the public square of matters of faith is blind, inept, and impotent. Equally so is the narrow-minded effort to place the public square in the midst of pews and a single authoritative pulpit.

For more thoughts on "Justice Sunday," check out the Mainstream Baptist blog.