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.

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June 19, 2004

Constitution Party -- Explicitly Christian?

It is our duty to raise up Christian candidates who can then use their power to influence a return to the Biblical principles upon which our country was founded. A very good beginning to this process is to check out the only explicitly Christian platform of any political party: www.constitutionparty.org and visit Michael Peroutka's website.


This quote from Buddy Hanson appears on Michael Peroutka's website. I started to wonder if the party's platform actually was explicitly Christian. When you read pary materials, it sounds great -- no abortion at all, no gay marriage, strong defense but otherwise small government, reform of every governmental entity including the Department of Education, the House of Representatives, and the US Senate.

And they have attracted a lot of conservative Christians. Christians have grown disillusioned with the Republican Party, and it's catering to Christian ideas and issues only twice every four years. So I'm going to take some time and look at the platform of the Constitution Party, to see if it's really explicitly Christian. You can find their platform right here

  • The Sanctity of Life plank is every pro-lifer's dream, Christian or not. No abortion under any circumstances (even rape or incest). No euthanasia, infanticide, or suicide, either (though how do you enforce a law making suicide illegal?). So this plank passes the test, although it's adoption ensures that no candidate who campaigns on it will ever be elected.

  • The AIDS plank is interesting.
    Under no circumstances should the federal government continue to subsidize activities which have the effect of encouraging perverted or promiscuous sexual conduct. Criminal penalties should apply to those whose willful acts of omission or commission place members of the public at risk of contracting AIDS or HIV.
    In other words, homosexual practices involving an HIV individual would be illegal. I can easilly see this turning into a Sodomy law similar to the one that was overturned in Texas.

    Jewish law loves this plank. This follows the injunction in the Old Testament against the practice of homosexuality. The New Testament talks about the punishment of God being heaped on those who practice homosexuality, but doesn't say anything about civil government legislating against it. Have to give this one a no, if we're talking about Biblically-based Christianity. If we're just talking about what Christians would like to happen, though, it gets a yes. There's a distinction here.

  • Bringing Government Back Home. This one doesn't mention God or Christians in the plank. The Bible doesn't say anything about the size of civil government, so this one gets a no.

  • Character of public officials. Nothing in the Bible about how to select elected officials, either. This I'm giving a maybe, though, since it stands to reason that Christians should expect their elected officials to behave themselves.

  • The next several planks deal with governmental issues -- size of government, defense, etc. I'm skipping over them, although the Bible says little about these subjects. One thing I'd like to point out, though:
    we should immediately give notice of our withdrawal from the Nixon-Brezhnev Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

    Under no circumstances should we unilaterally surrender our military base rights in Panama.
    The Bible does teach us not to lie, and to be people of our word. As a nation, we have signed these treaties, pledging our national honor to keeping them. Whether we agree with them or not, it is not a Christian characteristic to go back on our word. So we've got a bunch of 'no's here.


{continued in the next post}

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Constitution Party part 2

{continued from previous post}


  • Education: The Bible teaches that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their kids. I support school choice. I don't support ending compulsary education, which is what the platform says. I don't think the Bible has a lot to say on this, either.

  • Electoral College, Election Reform -- not a lot in the Bible about this stuff either. I'd bet a lot of good Christians would disagree with the proposals in the platform.

  • Energy: I agree with them, but I don't see a lot in the Bible about energy policy.

  • Environment: The Bible has a lot to say about the environment. It's God's creation, and we are to use it wisely. Stewardship is important, especially in the case of resources that are not renewable, or are very slow in replenishing themselves. SOme people would say that it is the duty of a Christian government to make sure that the environment is protected. Not the Constitution Party. Hands off is their policy.

  • Executive Orders -- nothing in the Bible about that.

  • Family -- I can give this one a check mark. That makes two planks that are distinctly, explicitly Christian.

  • Federal Aid and Foreign Policy bring some questions to mind. Shouldn't Christians be concerned about the welfare of people in impoverished countries? Shouldn't we be concerned with helping people overthrow tyrany? Shouldn't we be doing for the least of these? Not according to the Constitution Party. No more foreign aid, no entangling alliances, no nothing.

    The party's foreign policy would have worked a hundred years ago. Now, America is a dominant nation on the earth, and we are often called on by other countries for help. The Christian thing to do is not to turn our back on these people.

    I'd go on, but I think it's clear that, while very conservative, the Constitution Party is not explicitly Christian. They are very strict interpreters of the Constitution (which explains the name...). Pat Buchannan would be right at home with these folks. Many Christians would not be.

    The real question is -- should Christians be trying to use the civil government to bring the Kingdom of God into existance? I've talked about that one before.

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June 15, 2004

'Under God' Stays

Because he doesn't have the right to speak for his daughter, Michael Newdow's case to eliminate the phrase 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance has been thrown out by the US Supreme Court.

I wondered about this from the beginning. In fact, I seem to recall that the girl was reportedly not offended by the pledge -- her mother claimed at one point that the girl was, in fact, a Christian. In any case, he does not have custody of his daughter, so he cannot speak for her.

I wonder if this was the best ending to the case. I tend to agree with Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas that the majority opinion dodged the issue. All that has to happen is for a custodial atheist to protest the pledge on behalf of his/her kid, and we're going to go through this all over again.

I also like what O'Connor said about the so-called 'heckler vote'. We won't get anything done if we are always having to worry about the protest of one person. Everything we do is bound to offend someone -- the Constitution doesn't give anyone the freedom from being offended.

If you want a legal opinion of this decision, take a look here. In fact, you might want to keep checking back there if you're interested in the issues the Supreme Court is ruling on.

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June 13, 2004

ACLU and the LA Seal

Just when I was thinking that the ACLU might have gotten it's act together.

I've posted twice about the ACLU doing something FOR Christians, rather than TOO Christians. I was starting to think that they'd gotten religion or something, but they haven't.

This story has been blogged about quite a bit -- if you've been living in a cave with no Internet access, check this out, or you can find it here. Post 7 or 8 at Free Republic has a picture of the seal. If you look closely, you can see the cross, middle right. That's what the fuss is all about.

Of course, the big picture of a pagan goddess right in the middle of the seal. Maybe we should complain about that. I'm waiting, as are others, for the ACLU to go after the name of the city/county -- after all, angels are religious figures, and many might be offended by the endorsement of a specific religious system over those who do not believe in angels. And what about all the 'San's in California? Are we going to see a wholesale name-change in California?

I don't even see this as the ACLU 'going after' Christians. I kinda agree with Ed Brayton that this is silliness on both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, the city caved in.

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June 03, 2004

Faith-Based Initiatives

A lot has been said recently about President Bush's faith based initiatives. Most has been said by people who don't like the idea, and see it as the religious right trying to take taxpayers money to fund their evangelistic efforts.

Oddly enough, evangelicals don't always see it that way. In fact, the people who seem to be the most in favor of funding faith-based charities are fiscal conservatives, who see it as an opportunity to cut down the size of government and reduce federal spending.

I've talked to people on both sides of the issue; people who are eager to receive more funding for their work, no matter the source, and people who are afraid of what accepting federal money might entail -- if not now, then later.

I find myself increasingly in the latter category. I find myself wondering what strings might be attached to all that government money. Will we be able to evangelize? What about hiring practices -- can we still only hire people who accept our statement of faith? I know some faith-based charities who don't hire anyone who has been divorced -- what will happen to them if they suddenly are required to hire homosexuals? When we have to hire people who reject our beliefs, can we still seriously be called faith based?

I understand that there are a lot of groups who want the money. Many of these groups are more interested in social welfare than spiritual welfare. If that's their mission, then more power to them -- take the money and run. Don't complain in five or six years when Washington is less favorable to Christians and they try to restrict what you're allowed to do, say, etc. I don't worry about what will happen now as much as I do about what will happen then.

If you are truly faith-based, maybe it's time to exercise that faith, and let God supply all your needs, according to His riches and glory in Christ Jesus. Get the government out of the way.

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Let's Hear it for the ACLU part 2

Thanks to The Great Separation for the heads up on this one.

Not sure I'd want to be baptised in the Rappahannock, especially around January or so, but I think it's great that churches are still doing traditional, open-air baptisms. I also think it's a shame that the park can't figure out that they're violating the free exercise clause of the Constitution by kicking them out. And I'm placed in the position of giving the ACLU an 'atta-boy' for actually jumping in to defend the Constitutional rights of Christians. If that happens much more, I may get a rash ...

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