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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Politics in the Pulpit

Do politics and religion mix? They already have.

On numerous occasions, Sen. Danforth has expressed concern that the “Republican Party has been taken over by something that it’s not” . Who does Danforth suggest has taken over? Bible believing Christians. But Danforth wagers that the alliance between Christians and “traditional” Republicans will not last: “The more people think about it, the more people will resist it. People do not want a sectarian political party…” Danforth feels comfortable preaching his religious view—that Christianity is not tolerant enough to guide public policy—but has plenty of faith in his own “traditional” ideals.

History itself consists of moral agendas contending for the hearts and minds of the people. One such example is the many abolitionists who were unwilling to compromise the rights of slaves. With Christian convictions, these heroes advocated a moral agenda unaccepted by many. But Danforth is not suggesting that people with conviction do not promote their beliefs, he is suggesting he does not want to belong to a party that promotes Christian ideals when they conflict with his agenda. Danforth worked with Christians during his ambassadorship to Sudan and the fight to get Clarence Thomas confirmed to the Supreme Court. He knows that politics and religion mix, because in the past Christians have gone the extra mile for Republican candidates. What Danforth does not want is Christian ethics to mixing with a vaguely defined, middle-of-the-road politics as usual position if produces less fundraising dollars, less party seats, less raw political power in the hands of the political elites.

The notion that politics and religion should not mix results in legal positivism. Talent’s decision to support the use of human life for research is an example of legal positivism. Legal positivism is a philosophy of law in which there is no connection between law and justice; a law is just because the public supports it. Both Gov. Blunt and Sen. Talent have come out in favor embryonic stem cell research for fear of losing the cherished “moderate” voters and special interest groups support. Talent's decision to remove his support for a Federal ban on human cloning should make us ponder not whether a Christian ethic should guide public policy, but why Missouri lawmakers are compromising the moral convictions of Missourians.

It is not a question of whether politics and religion should mix, but which religious ideals should and are being promoted. A Christian definition of life is that life begins at fertilization. The protection of life is not a sectarian ideal; it is in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Those who define life based upon convenience or profitability of research and patents are mixing their own personal beliefs with politics as much as anyone. Danforth wants Christian values out of the Republican party. I'm just wondering if Christians will put up a fight, give in and vote Republican anyway, or find candidates that truely represent biblical values across the board--even if those ideals fail to represent the majority.

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