Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Why the Christian Right is Wrong: Part 1

Author's Note: I am a professed believer in Jesus Christ, a member of one of the largest Baptist churches in North Carolina, a Master's of Divinity recepient from a highly regarded non-denominational seminary, I voted for George Bush in 2000 and 2004. I am not a member of the "Christian Right" and I have serious misgivings about how Christianity is portrayed in the political process as well as how Christians leaders in the country interact in the political process. What is the role of Christianity in the political process? How do Christians balance theology and political ideology? These are the answers I hope to find over the next series of posts.

Introduction

In the Presidential election of 2004, incumbent President George Bush was swept back into office for a second term largely on the backs of socially conservative voting blocs in key states. In Ohio, where the President won by 118,000 votes, an initiative to ban gay marriage on the same ballot helped to energize the Christian conservative base thus tipping the scales in favor of the sitting President. A similar scene played out across the country where Bush, who is a professed born again Christian, was the default choice for voters focused on the moral issues. Democratic candidate, John Kerry, a devout Catholic from Massachusetts was not a palatable choice for staunch Protestant voters who tend to distrust Catholicism, believe that Massachusetts is a liberal cess pool of immorality and are fairly convinced that electing a Democrat means gay marriage for some and abortion for everyone. This is the current trend where moral issues and Christian values are influencing votes even if they do not actually influence the lifestyle of the voter in general. The concept of separating church and state is a fundamental ideal meant for the protection of the church from the government and to stave off the formation of a theocratic state. However, when it comes to the hearts and minds of voters as well as the influence of public policy on issues like abortion, gay marriage, and freedom of expression through risque mediums religion, particularly Christianity, cannot be easily separated from the mix. The result is the formation of organizations and political machines for the very purpose influencing votes and laws to better suit Christian values. The organizations are collectively known as the "Christian Right" and most any conservative voting Christian is lumped into this group whether they accept the party line or not. While Christians have every right to exercise their freedom to influence society, the Christian Right is making several key mistakes on a variety of precarious fronts which kill the message of the Gospel and present Christians as legalistic theocrats, not purveyors of the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. The Christian Right and its approach to issues like abortion and gay marriage reveal a trend of thinking and behavior which does not align with the message of Christ. There is also great concern for how the leaders of the movement present Christianity to the non-believers of the world as well as to those who are professed enemies of the faith. Christians should be an agent for change in the world through the Gospel. The current agenda of Christian Right does not reconcile itself with that thinking and the results may be far more damaging than the evil which they are fighting to prevent.

Next: Part 2, Who are They?

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