Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Religion informing voting

I read today about a New York Times advertisement in reaction to rhetoric by the Christian Right. The advertisers are unhappy about statements by people like Jerry Falwell to the effect that lots of people have religious duties to vote for President Bush. I think they're right to be unhappy about that, but I don't know that I agree with the direction they took. The ad begins:
God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat.
The idea, which is a popular one in some circles, is that religion and politics should be kept seperate. This quote typifies the attitude:
"We don't think God has become a Democrat," Campolo said. "What we want to make clear is that Jesus transcends both political parties."
Now I have to say, I just don't get this. Jesus *transcends both parties*? What does that mean? It might meant that God is indifferent between a George Bush administration and a John Kerry administration -- God considers them to be equally good outcomes. But given the sorts of things that God IS supposed to care about, this would be a surprising coincidence. Or maybe it just means He wouldn't vote, even though He knows one candidate is better than the other. But I don't see why that should be the case. The Presidential election is a moral issue. For people who's moral beliefs are informed by their religious ones (a practice that I think is mistaken), religion *does* have a place in determining whom to vote for. I've heard some great arguments that a Democratic administration would be likely to stand for Christian principles better than the current Bush one. And like everyone in American, I've also heard a lot of arguments with the opposite conclusion. I think those arguments *are* important. I wish they were more balanced (well, I wish they were balanced heavily in the opposite direction), but I don't think they should go away.


  1. I subscribe to the newsletter of Sojourners, the organization in question. They've been pestering me to sign the petition.

    They don't at all think that religious convictions shouldn't influence political beliefs. They think that any party that claims that in order to be a Christian in good standing, you must support that party, is evil and blasphemous. I agree. So, for the record, does Focus on the Family.


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