May 07, 2008

The Evangelical Manifesto

The Evangelical Manifesto was released today, and the Christian end blogosphere is abuzz with comment. At the end of this post I'll list the articles I've seen on the subject; I'm certain that there are many more that I've missed, so if you've seen one or written one yourself, let me know in the comments and I'll add it in.

On the whole, this is a very positive document, and one that I support 100%. Evangelicals have been defined by our politics for far too long; it is time we're defined by our theology, since evangelicalism is after all a theological movement. My hope is that it becomes more than just another piece of paper that is ignored in a few weeks; that it becomes a pattern of behaviour among Evangelical Christians.

Just a few thoughts on specific quotes from the Manifesto: more...

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May 03, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

I just found out about this, thanks to Dr. Bock's blog. CNN had the story Friday.

The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."

"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," the statement says, "while we have condoned our own sins." It argues, "we must reform our own behavior."


I'm looking forward to reading this on Wednesday - it sounds like something I could get behind.

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September 18, 2006

Church And State -- Gotta Keep 'Em Separated

(title apologies to Apologetix)

The IRS is demanding that All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA turn over all their documents and emails so that they can determine whether the church violated any campaign laws and should lose their tax exempt status. The church is notoriously liberal, and is very active in social causes, so government policy is often mentioned in sermons.

From this Sunday's response to the IRS:

... we would argue that this entire case has been an intrusion, in fact an attack upon this Church’s first amendment rights to the exercise of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.
...
Our faith mandates that always stopping short of endorsing or opposing political candidates, the church can neither be silent nor indifferent when there are public policies causing detriment to the least of these.

I'm sure that I wouldn't fit in at All Saints. I'm sure that I disagree with the folks there on matters of politics, morality, and theology. But I have one thing to say after reading the statement from yesterday.

Amen.

Our faith requires us to speak out. Our faith demands that we are not silent. And that is what the rest of the world refuses to hear, or understand. Faith is not an option to us -- it's an integral part of who we are. We can't not speak out and be consistent with our faith.

And so, while I would most likely stand opposed to All Saints and rector Ed Bacon, I want to let them know publicly that I am 100% behind them in this. This is an attack on freedom of religious expression that should alarm people of all faiths everywhere. We must speak out on this, or we will all lose.

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December 23, 2005

They Couldn't Do This Today ...

So I was cruising around the Internet looking for some stuff to post -- something quick and easy, so I could go wrap presents or something -- and I found something that really made me pause.

December 24, 1968. NASA astronauts James A. Lovell, William Anders and Frank Borman read Genesis 1:1-12 from lunar orbit.

In his autobiography Countdown, Frank Borman later wrote, "There was one more impression we wanted to transmit: our feeling of closeness to the Creator of all things. This was Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968, and I handed Jim and Bill their lines from the Holy Scriptures."

About six weeks before launch, a NASA official had called Borman. Noting that the crew would be circling the earth on Christmas Eve, he said, "We figure more people will be listening to your voice than that of any man in history. So we want you to say something appropriate." (from the Christian History Institute)

No WAY that could happen today. NASA would be sued. The three astronauts would be sued. Scientists around the nation would be up in arms at the unscientific sentiments expressed from these three astronauts.

But in 1968, it was appropriate. We've come a long way, unfortunately.

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July 07, 2005

Swear on Which Book??

I've always wondered -- when a Jewish man or woman testifies in court, do they swear on the Christian Bible? What about a Muslim? And if they do -- does it really mean anything? After all, they are swearing on a book whose contents they largely (if not completely) disagree with.

And what about atheists? They're doing the equivalent of swearing on a copy of Mother Goose to us -- they're swearing on a book they consider to be a work of complete fiction.

In a society where Christians, while in a slight majority according to the polls, are not close to the only spiritual/philosophical group, why do we make everyone who testifies in court swear on the good old KJV?

There's a group in Guilford County, North Carolina who are asking the same question. They're petitioning the courts to use various religious texts in the swearing-in process.

The group - made up of more than 20 religious leaders from the area, including those of Christian, Jewish and Buddhist faiths - sent a letter Tuesday to Guilford Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Albright, who has said an oath on the Quran is not lawful.

"In North Carolina, we continue to be people who take our religious beliefs and practices very seriously. But we no longer live in the Bible Belt. Today, we live in the Bible-Talmud-Qur'an-Veda-Dhammapada-Guru Granth Sahib-Kitabiiqan Belt," the letter states.

This should be a no-brainer, folks. Those who are giving sworn testimony should do so on a book they consider holy -- whether that's the Bible, the Talmud, the Quran, or The Fountainhead.

And the local judge doesn't get it.

Albright, who sets policy for Guilford County's nine Superior Court courtrooms, has said that an oath on the Quran is not a lawful oath under state law, which refers to using the "Holy Scriptures."
But it doesn't say whose. That's the point the group is trying to make.

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June 30, 2005

Something About That Name

You can pray all you want to before the city council meetings in Great Falls, SC. -- just don't mention Jesus.

"This sends a message that this behavior is unacceptable," said Darla Wynne, whose 2001 lawsuit started the legal battle. Wynne practices Wicca, a nature-based religion based on ancient Western European and pre-Christian beliefs.

She said her victory made her feel a sense of accomplishment for the "little guy." Wynne was opposed by some religious leaders and the state's attorney general during her legal fight.

The town's lawyer, Michael Hemlepp, said he will advise Great Falls officials to "obey the law."

more...

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May 11, 2005

Pastor Resigns after Political "Misunderstanding"

Chan Chandler, the pastor of the now-famous East Waynesville Baptist Church, has resigned after a closed-door meeting with the church last night.

"I am resigning with gratitude in my heart for all of you, particularly those of you who love me and my family," Chandler said, adding that the dispute was rooted in his strong feelings about abortion.
more...

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January 14, 2005

Church/State Issues

There are two church/state separation issues in the news right now, and I haven't really been talking as much about this as I should, so I want to cover them both here.

First, the prayer at the Inauguration. Michael Newdow is back in court, challenging the President and his desire to have a prayer at the inauguration. And Newdow does have a good point, if this is true:

"The government is coming out and saying, 'OK everybody, while you watch, we are a Christian nation,' " Mr. Newdow said. "It is a declaration to the nation and the world that we are a Christian nation."
We're not a Christian nation. We are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles, in which the clear majority of citizens are Christians (or at least claim to be Christians). Our country was founded to be a refuge for people who were persecuted for their beliefs -- no matter what those beliefs are. We take pride in our stand that people should be able to practice their religious beliefs, no matter what they are.

President Bush is a Christian. What I do not understand is how being President makes George W. Bush unable to practice his faith. He's not allowed to make public references to God. He's not allowed to pray, or have a prayer said, at his inauguration. It seems that what Newdow is saying is that Christians, and other people of faith, are only allowed to practice their faith in private. No public displays, no public acknowledgement, especially if you are a government employee or politician.

If the President were trying to make this a Christian nation, I would be on the front line trying to stop him. The Christian faith is not something to be forced on anyone. I believe strongly that only God can convict someone to become a Christian, and that if God is convicting, there is no resistance to His call. When we look back in history, we see what happens when Christianity becomes an established religion -- just look at the Inquisitions in Europe, Constantine's forced baptism of his troops, the persecution of non-Puritans in New England in the 17th and 18th centuries. I believe that Christianity is true. I believe that Christ is the answer to the problems we have today. But we cannot force people to become Christians -- all that makes are pretenders.

I don't think that is the President's goal. I think that he simply wants to recognize publically his dependance on God, as have past Presidents, and I am angered that people who are supposed to be in favor of tolerance are being so intolerant on this issue.

The other issue is over the "evolution stickers" that have now been removed from Georgia biology textbooks.
This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.
I see no reference to creation in that. What is wrong with encouraging students to approach things in science with a critical mind? It seems to me that science is all about looking at things critically. If evolution is a clear scientific fact, as most opponents of the stickers believe, then it will stand up to critical scrutiny. If it can't, then it needs to be discarded and a new theory developed.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the person to debate creation/evolution. I actually never studied it in high school -- the biology teacher (an evolutionist) didn't have time to cover it because there were things she thought were more important. The two best students in the class were both creationists, so I wish we had been able to get into the subject -- it might have sparked some interesting debate. Back then, I was a serious science student -- and creationist. Now, I'm just a creationist -- a four-year degree in business doesn't leave much opportunity to keep current on the debate. (There are plenty of blogs out there that do discuss it well -- a couple of them are on my blogroll.) I think that we are being arrogant to think that we know conclusively how the earth was created, and how life began and has developed -- I don't see how science is threatened by telling students to examine it's claims critically.

I am in favor of keeping the government out of the church's business, and keeping religion out of the political arena. There should be no "religion test" to see if a candidate is suitable for office. But we should never expect people to ignore their religious beliefs when they are in office, or to stop practicing their faith.

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December 08, 2004

Why Political Activism is NOT the Answer

I've said it a few times before -- I think Christians need to pay attention to politics, we need to vote according to our beliefs, and we need to encourage others to do the same. But politics is not going to make America "God's Country" -- and it shouldn't be our focus to change the US into some sort of 21st Century Christendom.

Christian principles are to take care of the poor without obligating them to anything, to forgive people who have done things to us WITHOUT thought to whether they deserve our forgiveness. Government can't do this all the time -- when it's been tried, it has failed. It is not the job of government to take care of the poor. It is not the government's job to decide right and wrong -- the government decides what is legal and what is illegal. It is the church's duty to be the arbiter of morality, and to strictly enforce those standards on it's members. If we can't even get THAT right, how can we expect to be able to run a country?

But society can not, and should not, expect Christians, or anybody of any faith at all, to set their beliefs aside when the time comes for important decisions like who to elect to the highest office in the land. It is insulting when I read that Christians need to leace the religion stuff at church -- as if my faith should have absolutely no effect on who I am today. (I always thought of that song when I heard John Kerry campaigning this past year.)

There are a whole host of articles about this topic wandering about on the internet. Here are a couple that peeked my interest:

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November 14, 2004

He's Getting the Band Back Together

World Magazine has it, but it was Jollyblogger who broke the news to me -- Jerry's decided that it's time for a reunion tour.

I was at Liberty when Jerry decided to retire the Moral Majority. I saw the revival that broke out on campus, just because we had a Chancellor who was involved, and was able to contribute spiritually to the university. It made a huge difference in a lot of lives.

And now, even though we've got the closest thing to an evangelical President that we've ever had, Jerry Falwell is gearing up for another try at influencing national politics, with the Faith and Values Coalition. He's turning over day to day operations at Liberty University to Jerry, Jr., and day to day at Thomas Road Baptist Church to Jonathan Falwell. Jerry, Jr. is a pretty good choice, with his legal background. I feel a little sorry for the folks at T Road, though -- looks like they won't get to pick their own pastor when Jerry fully retires from the pulpit. He still plans on preaching each Sunday, but he's handed the control of everything else over to his son.

I hope this turns out well. I really do. I hope that Liberty continues to be the school that it has become, and can improve without sacrificing the values that made the school what it is. I hope that the church grows, and continues to be a blessing in the community. I hope that Jerry will not forget that the church that God gave him to lead is his primary responsibility.

But I only expect to be disappointed. So the only hope I have left is that the Faith and Values Coalition will remain true to it's name, and not end up becoming the Christians for Republicans Coalition.

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October 23, 2004

Faith in Public

Jared over at Exultate Justi has an outstanding piece on this topic. There's more at National Review Online. I've said my piece on it a time or two.

I do not see how faith and action can ever be separated, if you are following your faith in a consistant manner. Faith requires you to believe a certain way about things, and those beliefs require you to act in certain ways. This is hard for people without faith to understand. They cannot see what it is about faith that makes it so vital to people who have it. Part of the problem is us.

People of faith often are not living consistently. We say that we believe one thing, but in other areas of our lives, we act a different way. God is supposed to be a vital part of our lives, but we act as if He's jsut an old relative that we go to visit on Sundays. We nod at the message, we sing the songs, and nothing that happens within the walls of the church has any impact at all on our lives. We'd be better off staying home and sleeping in. The Barna group has a survey dealing with this issue. I was going to address it here, but after looking at it, I think it needs its own post. I may save that one until next week, while I'm writing papers.

If faith matters (and I say this to people of all faiths, not just Christianity), then it always matters. It matters when you go to school. It matters when you get to the office. It matters when you decide what you are going to read, or what you will watch. And it matters when you are elected to public office.

Unless you are John Kerry. Then, faith is a personal thing, not a public thing. It has no impact on anything he does outside of church. In many ways, he would fit in quite well with the average American evangelical.

And that's a shame.

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October 13, 2004

Church/State Separation UPDATE

I have to say, Americans United works fast. I sent the form in this morning, and got a reply at about 10:10. Robert Boston told me that they have received numerous complaints -- I wonder how many conservatives complained, as I did, just to see if they would do anything to their own side.

They have filed a complaint with the IRS, which was delivered this morning. Have to admit it -- I don't like most of what they're against, but at least they are consistant. And I really didn't expect them to do it. They told me that the New York Times would have more information, but I'm having trouble accessing their site from the computer lab here at school. I'll stay on it, and update when I find out something.

{UPDATE} You have to register (but the piewview thing works here), but check out this link.

I especially love the Kerry campaign's statement: "Speaking to a church is well within the limits of the tax code and it is quite different from the way the Bush campaign has aggressively pushed to use churches to distribute their campaign material and treated them as an arm of its re-election effort." Bush doesn't have a Baptist minister working for him -- Kerry does (Rev. Jackson).

A church endorsing a candidate explicitly is a clear violation of the law. It's also an abuse of the pulpit. I have no problem with a preacher admonishing the congregation to vote their conscience, or even to vote for a candidate that holds to a specific position on something like abortion or same-sex marriage. I have a problem when "Vote For {candidate}!" is proclaimed from a pulpit -- and that is exactly what happened in Florida. As far as I know, churches that support Bush haven't done anything this blatent (or this stupid) -- but that may be simply because the attention is focused on them, rather than the liberal churches.

I'm glad to see that Americans United (I've given the link enough -- I don't want them getting TOO much traffic from me!) is consistant in their objective of keeping churches true to the letter (AND the spirit) of campaign law.

{UPDATE AGAIN} I forgot about this. They've done it before, and are doing it again.

The amazing thing is how little press coverage this is getting. The Times is the only paper so far to cover the newest story, though beliefnet has also mentioned it. Very little has been said about the Kerry campaign's targeting of churches -- only Bush's. Of course, Bush has done more, but that shouldn't matter. If it's being done at all, it should be news, no matter who is doing it.

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Church/State Separation Update

Still haven't heard from the folks at Americans United. I DID find out that they have an online form to report violations (like Kerry speaking at a church in Florida, for example).

The form is here. If you look at their web page, you'll notice that they're really only concerned with conservative religious separation -- I have yet to read anything they've said about a Baptist minister being active in politics -- I'm talking about Rev. Jesse Jackson. Nothing about Rev. Al Sharpton, either. Pat Robertson, however, is featured on the main page. (Personally, I think that any minister of the Gospel should consider it a demotion and a failure in his calling to leave the pastorate to run for any political office, but that's just me.)

Maybe if we ALL let them know about the Florida 'violation', they'll be forced to actually do something about it. I still haven't seen anything about it on their site -- and I really don't expect to. They're as inconsistent as any other liberal organization.

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October 11, 2004

Church and State Separation

WHERE are the folks from Americans United for the Separation of Church and State? I'm blowin' the whistle on this one:

Meanwhile, Kerry hit the trail in Florida on Sunday, attending a Catholic mass before speaking at Friendship Mission Baptist Church in Miami alongside Rev. Al Sharpton and newly-hired campaign adviser Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Kerry received a standing ovation at the church, where he told parishioners that God was present there. After the church speech, Kerry has some down time before heading to New Mexico, where he will do his final debate preparations before Wednesday's debate.
(from FoxNews)So a church is backing Kerry -- rather obviously backing him, from other reports I've read. And not a word out of anyone but some conservative bloggers.

Maybe someone should call Project Fair Play. I've sent them an email; we'll see what happens.

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October 03, 2004

Another Christian Political Party

Thanks on this one to Antioch Road, which is a new addition to the blogroll, even though I've been reading it for a little while now with my RSS newsreader.

The Lighthouse Party's mission is simply to be heard.

Our mission is to be heard. Our mission is for everybody to know who we are and what we stand for. Though our belief in Christianity is slowly declining here in America, and in the world, our popularity would not get us elected. Even though we understand this, it does not give us the right to sit back. We need to continue to fight for what is right regardless of its popular standing.


They at least recognize that it's tough for a third party to be elected. And they're brand new - just founded in September this year. IT will be interesting to see how this new party grows and changes, and especially what their platform will shape up into. I'm hoping that they won't simply be another Constitution Pary, but that they will have a platform that all Christians can support.

And I hope that they remember that, as Christians, we have a power greater than politics -- a power that can bring change to the world, one life at a time.

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August 21, 2004

The ACLU Does Something Right

When I was an undergrad at Liberty, I tended to speak of the ACLU as the Atheists, Communists and Liberals Union. I'd crack jokes at their expense, and often wondered at what a great place it would be for Christians if the ACLU went away. I wasn't alone. Listening to the ACLJ's radio program, and some of the callers, it seems that there are still people who wish the ACLU would go away and never come back.

Jay Sekulow isn't one of those. He often talks about the ACLU, but he is often complimentary. He makes the point that they have a right to believe what they do, and that the place to fight them is in court. And he has admitted that they have been right on several occasions -- even working WITH the ACLJ from time to time.

So I've tryed to post stories that show the ACLU doing something right. These are stories that often get overlooked by the Christian media, but we need to know about them -- because it shows that the ACLU really IS concerned with civil liberties, and they DO sometimes help Christians out.


This story is a good example of that. Briefly, a city in Nebraska is trying to zone a church out of existance, and the ACLU is trying to stop them. Here's a quote from the story, in case you don't feel like clicking through. The quotes are from ACLU Nebraska legal director Amy Miller.

"The city is proposing an outrageous burden on the right to free exercise of religious beliefs,” Miller said. “The current city proposal would require that the church hire a mechanical engineer and install a new air intake system with shut off valves in case of a hazardous spill.”
The small congregation is renting its current location, so such a requirement “is tantamount to ordering them to close down,” she said.
“No other businesses in the industrial zones – auto body shops, daycare centers, health clinics and even live adult entertainment – are required to have this sort of expensive renovation. If there were a true danger requiring these changes, would it not apply to day care centers and health clinics also?”
So let's hear it for the ACLU. They did something right. Let's pray that they keep it up.

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August 01, 2004

Kerry's Sleeveless Faith

And let me say it plainly: in that cause, and in this campaign, we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say this to you tonight: I don't wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.


I knew that Ron Reagan's words would come back to us. I didn't think that John Kerry would quote him in his acceptance speach.

I was personally a bit irritated at Ron Reagan for his obvious politicizing of his father's funeral. But it was his dime, he could do what he wanted -- even though I wonder what his dad would have said. I know that Democrats all over the nation stood and cheered what Ron said -- even those who were secretly pleased that his father was gone.

Kerry's faith card will appeal to the folks who would have voted for him anyway. People who think that religion is for Sundays, but that it has no place in public life. Kerry's faith has given him values to live by, but not to influence society with. He has hope, but not hope to share with anyone. He's said before that he personally opposes abortion, but won't follow his personal values when elected. He has a personal Jesus, but not a very practical one -- or a public one.

This is what people mean when they talk about wearing religion on one's sleeves. They want faith to stay put, and not influence society. That may work with some faiths -- Buddhism, for example, or some forms of Judaeism. Christianity is an evangelical faith -- evangelical in the braodest sense of the word. It is meant to be spread, by preaching and teaching, converting and baptizing. That is what Christ's final command to us was all about -- Go, preach, teach, and baptize. In Acts, we read His words: "You shall be witnesses ...". We will be witnesses of Him, either by our actions or by our inactions. Wearing your faith on your sleeve means that you will be a witness by your actions -- by your words, your deeds, your faith in action on a daily basis. Andrew Fuller understood this over 200 years ago. John Kerry hasn't figured it out yet.

Your faith may be sleeveless, Mr. Kerry. True faith, the faith that the martyrs died for, the faith that built the Church, the faith that Christ expects from His followers, has sleeves.

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July 03, 2004

Bush's Mass Mailing List

Not usually a political blogger, but I found this story over at Christianity Today. Seems the President is getting some addresses and phone numbers for a mass mailing/telemarketing program.

And he's getting them for free.


The President is asking supporters to send him their church directories. This is going to give him a wealth of information -- names and addresses especially, but also phone numbers and possibly some demographic information (age, number of kids, etc.).

Marketers pay a LOT of money for these lists; in fact, these lists are one of the biggest expenses involved in any marketing campaign. Bush is going to get them for free.

Needless to say, Bush opponents are up in arms. I can understand why -- the Bush campaign is getting thousands of dollars worth of marketing information for free. I'd think that this is streatching the campaign rules a little bit. Bush had better be careful here.

Other things the Bush campaign is asking are for volunteers to encourage their churches to hold voter registration rallies, recruit churchmembers for the campaign, and put together voter information packages. Some church/state separationists are upset about these things as well.

I don't like the church directories being given to the campaign. I have no problem with any of the other things Bush is doing; after all, the Democrats have been doing it for years, with Rev. Jesse Jackson at the head of the campaign. Part of the problem is that people don't think of Jackson as a minister -- he's first and foremost a politician. Part of the problem is that church/state separatists tend to be more toward the liberal side of the spectrum, and they don't notice the beam in their own eye.

I'm not sure how I feel about this plan. I can see that it's very efficient, politically, for the campaign. I can see, however, that it could cause some problems in churches that are politically diverse. It can cause concern about tax-exempt statuses for many churches. And I'm not sure it's going to gain the President many new voters (though I could be wrong here).

I know that if my church held a voter registration drive, I'd participate. I know that if my church held a campaign dinner, or if someone asked me to volunteer on the campaign, I'd probably say no. I support President Bush, but I don't want him to think that he's getting a free ride from Christians simply because he's a Republican. He needs to make sure he doesn't forget about us two years after re-election, as has seemed to be the case.

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July 01, 2004

The NAE and Civic Engagement

I promised this yesterday, but I've been mulling over what I want to say. Some of the things in the document, I don't agree with. Some things in the document, conservatives won't agree with. But I think that there is a lot that is worthwhile here, no matter what nation you live in.

One thing to remember is that this document encompasses all evangelicals -- or is meant to. Not all evangelicals are politically conservative, and their influence can be seen in the document.

One thing that the document makes clear is that "disengagement is not an option". We have to remain engaged with our nation as much as we can be, to try to make the changes to our society that government can make. This is something that I think people have misunderstood about things that I have said -- I don't believe that we should just go away and let the nation go; we have to be engaged. The isue that I have is that many Christians seem to think that if we can get the politics straightened out, everything will be OK. The government cannot fix everything, and we shouldn't expect it to.

One thing that conservatives will disagree on is the ammount of government. The NAE does not advocate a small government; in fact, it sees a role for government in welfare (and welfare reform), protection of the sanctity of life, international peacemaking, and many other areas. It also calls for improved access to health care for all citizens.

The Bible makes it clear that God cares a great deal about the wellbeing of marriage, the family, the sanctity of human life, justice for the poor, care for creation, peace, freedom, and racial justice. While individual persons and organizations may rightly concentrate on one or two issues, faithful evangelical civic engagement must champion a biblically balanced agenda.
In other words, don't ignore the poor. Don't ignore environmental issues. Don't ignore racism. If we are truely going to bring a Christian worldview to our politics, we have to make sure that it is consistant.

We will differ with other Christians and with non-Christians over the best policies. Thus we must practice humility and cooperation to achieve modest and attainable goals for the good of society. We must take care to employ the language of civility and to avoid demonizing those with whom we disagree. Because political work requires persuasion and cooperation with those who do not share our Christian commitment, we must offer a reasoned and easy-to-grasp defense of our goals.
In other words, no name-calling, from either side.

I especially like this quote:
Christians engaged in political activity must maintain their integrity and keep their biblical values intact. While they may frequently settle for "half-a-loaf," they must never compromise principle by engaging in unethical behavior or endorsing or fostering sin. Evangelicals should join political parties and fully express their biblical values. In doing so, they must be careful not to equate Christian faith with partisan politics.
The emphasis there, of course, is mine. The whole Republican=Christian thing is not only untrue, it's unbiblical, as is Christian=Republican. Party politics are not tied to faith in Christ, as I tried to illustrate elsewhere. All we can do, and what we need to do, is make sure that our political views reflect our Christian beliefs. That may involve supporting (gasp) a Democrat. Or an Independant. Or Libertarian, or Constitutional, or Green. Political parties will take us for granted, unless we make sure they know we vote issues, not party.

There is a large section on protecting liberty of conscience, which should relieve the folks who think we're a bunch of Reconstructionists. Then again, they probably won't listen to us at all.
Because human beings are responsible to God, these guarantees are crucial to the exercise of their Godgiven freedom. As God allows the wheat and tares to grow together until the harvest, and as God sends the rain on the just and on the unjust, so those who obey and those who disobey God coexist in society and share in its blessings (Matt. 5:45; 13:24-30). This "gospel pluralism" is foundational to the religious liberty of all.
THIS is where our call to evangelism comes into play. Government MUST allow all faiths to practice their beliefs, including those faiths who are called to proseletyze. We must be about the Lord's business, and government cannot interfere. At the same time, we must realize that other faiths are allowed to exist in our society, and not strive for laws that restrict their practice.


We commit ourselves to work for laws that protect and foster family life, and against government attempts to interfere with the integrity of the family. We also oppose innovations such as same-sex "marriage." We will work for measures that strengthen the economic viability of marriages and families, especially among the poor. We likewise commit ourselves to work within the church and society to strengthen marriages, to reduce the rate of divorce, and to prepare young adults for healthy family life.
I'm curious about how many people who are in favor of the Marriage Ammendment are divorced. Do they not realize that divorce is interfering with the integrity of the institution of marriage as much as the whole 'same-sex marriage' issue? There are more heterosexuals who get divorced every day than there are homosexuals who want to get married. Consistancy. We should oppose divorce with the vigor we oppose gay marriage.
We further believe that care for the vulnerable should extend beyond our national borders. We link arms with Christians everywhere in calling on individuals, churches and governments to do more to reduce the scandal of widespread poverty in a time of abundance.
Kinda puts a damper on the Constitutional Party's foreign policy platform, doesn't it?

The paper goes on to discuss government's role in providing for the poor, and taking responsibility for the economic well being of it's citizens. I think that they give government too big of a role in this area. I think that the church should be the primary provider of welfare for the poor, with the government stepping in only when they church cannot, or does not.
Restoring people to wholeness means that public social welfare must aim to restore people to self-sufficiency. While basic standards of support must be put in place to provide for those who cannot care for their families and themselves, incentives and training in marketable skills must be part of any well-rounded program.
Sound familiar??

They also call for sound environmental stewardship. God gave us the earth to care for -- to have dominion over, true, but also to care for and take care of.
Because clean air, pure water, and adequate resources are crucial to public health and civic order, government has an obligation to protect its citizens from the effects of environmental degradation. This involves both the urgent need to relieve human suffering
caused by bad environmental practice and the responsibility to use foresight in egulating
the use of land and resources to minimize the effects on the poor and others who are less
able to protect themselves. Because natural systems are extremely complex, human actions can have unexpected side effects. We must therefore approach our stewardship of creation with humility and caution.


I really think that this paper, if adopted with anywhere close to the language it contains in this draft, will change the way evangelicals are perceived by the secular world. It will also result in our modern fundamental brethren deciding that we have compromised. Oh, well -- they'd do that anyway.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 09:22 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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June 27, 2004

The NAE and Christian Politics

I'm following this story with some anticipation -- and I'm about a week behind in reporting on it. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is drafting a new document concerning the role that Christians should play in the political process. According to the Detroit News story:

It affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and the disabled, including fair wages, health care, nutrition and education. It declares that Christians have a “sacred responsibility” to protect the environment.

But it also hews closely to a traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of families, opposition to homosexual marriage, and “social evils,” such as alcohol, drugs, abortion and the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. It reaffirms a commitment to religious freedom at home and abroad.
It also addresses consevative Christians' tendancy to play party politics:
In domestic politics, evangelicals “must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party, lest nonbelievers think that Christian faith is essentially political in nature.”

The full document is available here. I'm going to print it out and read it tonight/tomorrow, and I'll comment more fully Tuesday evening. Right now, I'm excited. I think that this might start to emphasise to Christians that a lot of the things we want government and political parties to do , the church should be doing.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 07:28 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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