Religion and politics

I just read “Putting God Back in Politics” by Jim Wallis. This article appeared in the December 28, 2003 edition of The New York Times. Jim Wallis is editor of Sojourners magazine and the convener of Call to Renewal, a national network of churches working to overcome poverty. He faults the Democrats, esp. the presidential contenders, for secularizing their campaigns and not using religious language to address progressive social issues thus allowing the Republicans to define what the religious issues are and capturing the vote of most church going Americans. He makes a persuasive argument which I agree with.

Liberals’ personalizing and privatizing religion, not wanting to offend anyone or not wanting to expose their views which they feel they may not be able to defend, has left the field of religion and politics dominated by the likes of George Bush, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. I know liberal pastors also who are reluctant to express their views clearly to their congregations for fear of loosing their jobs. I know that is a real possibility because I openly expressed progressive theological, social and political views to my congregations. As I result, I am no longer in parish ministry.

It did give me pleasure on Friday to see “Now with Bill Moyers” on PBS focus on Rev. James Forbes at Riverside Church in New York. Rev. Forbes is not afraid to speak truth to authority even with Dick Cheney sitting in the pew. We need more preachers like him and Jim Wallis to speak out. Christians need to realize Jesus wasn’t a conservative. He was really a radical, and if we’re going to claim to be his followers, we need to be also. It certainly entails risk, but it is even more risky to abandon the culture wars to the religious conservatives. I am active with the local West Michigan Call to Renewal network, and you may want to see if there is a chapter near you. It is a worthwhile movement.

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