Friday, June 17, 2005

More Like This, Please.

John Danforth strikes again!

People of faith have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to bring their values to bear in politics. Many conservative Christians approach politics with a certainty that they know God's truth, and that they can advance the kingdom of God through governmental action. So they have developed a political agenda that they believe advances God's kingdom, one that includes efforts to "put God back" into the public square and to pass a constitutional amendment intended to protect marriage from the perceived threat of homosexuality.

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.

(snip)

In the decade since I left the Senate, American politics has been characterized by two phenomena: the increased activism of the Christian right, especially in the Republican Party, and the collapse of bipartisan collegiality. I do not think it is a stretch to suggest a relationship between the two. To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility.

By contrast, moderate 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.

I think the unspoken distinction here is between Old Testament Christians and New Testament Christians. It's the difference between defining mindsets of "Thou Shalt Not" vs. "Be Excellent To Each Other."

2 comments:

oldwhitelady said...

Whew! What a thoughtful guy! I hope his quotes get more media attention.

chicago dyke said...

i'm going to be an angry contrarian and say, "here's an idea: let's get all elected officials to fucking shut up about their beliefs, period. there's little reason for them to talk about the subject, except to guarantee the rest of us freedom of expression and from gov't support for a specific institution. why don't all of you old, white monotheists just keep it in your churches/whatever, and let the rest of us hear you speak about issues that effect all of us.'

i'm so tired of hearing about the invisible sky people and why i have to do what their followers say.