Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Monday, July 31, 2006

Religious Left and Religious Right the divide widens

There are a couple Adventists blogs who are excited about a typical liberal media production done by the New York Times. It is introduced by the Intersections and the Spectrum Blog.

The Washington Post last week told of the new offensive of the Religious Left Gears Up to Face Right Counterpart by Thomas Ferraro

With a faith-based agenda of their own, liberal and progressive clergy from various denominations are lobbying lawmakers, holding rallies and publicizing their positions. They want to end the Iraq war, ease global warming, combat poverty, raise the minimum wage, revamp immigration laws, and prevent "immoral" cuts in federal social programs.
Unfortunately this is not Religion it is simply politics. The Liberals lost the last two elections and they blame the conservatives. Evangelicals are mainly conservative politically as well as in their religion. Since they are mostly conservative and agree with the Republicans more then the Democrats they became the force which the Liberal media and Liberal democrats choose to attack. As if they are being trained by their religion to be conservatives so their religion is bad. So you hear lots of rhetoric from the liberal side such as this from the Washington Post article:
The religious right intends for you and I to live in a country where church and state are united -- where only their interpretations of biblical law dictates the law of our land," said the Rev. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist minister in Washington who heads The Interfaith Alliance which seeks to maintain the constitutional separation of church and state.
This type of over the top generalization is very common from the liberal media and blogosphere. Those involved have accepted the concept of speculation and impending crisis as their method of argument. In any case as the Washington Post article continues this is just creating a greater divide.

But it's unclear how big an impact the religious left will have.

Laura Olson, a Clemson University expert on religion and politics, said the religious left is energized, but "a lot of times it shoots itself in the foot. It often pushes an overly broad agenda that results in conflicting priorities."

And analysts warn that greater activism can worsen the political divide.

"Religion has never been as politicized in recent times as it is right now," said Allen Hertzke, who teaches religion and politics at the University of Oklahoma.

"Politics is about combat -- 'us versus them.' Religion shouldn't be about that," Hertzke said.

Despite increased energy on the left, the religious right -- featuring big-name preachers, popular talk shows and legions of followers -- remains a far bigger influence than the loosely knit left.

In the past Christians in the United States have embraced both political parties. But today the politics are used to create greater division within the Christian community. And too often our own personal political views are used to define our fellow Christians. It is very possible for good Christians to want Justice, peace and social order and still disagree on how to arrive at such things. But the politics of division are not the way to arrive at anything constructive.

5 comments:

Ryan Bell said...

To me, there is a big difference between Politics and politics. Jesus was political. And he wasn't often subtle either. But he wasn't Political in the sense of partisan politics. The Religious Right as overtly tried to link conservative Christianity with the Republican Party and has succeeded. My point is not to say (as a sore loser) that we now need to hitch the church's wagon to the Democratic party. I don't hear Wallis or others saying that either. I want the church to be the church, which means following Jesus boldly into the world and living as he taught us to live. If one of those issues happens to be taking a stand against violence and war, then so be it. Everyone should have observed that there is as much division in the Democratic party over war as there is in the Republican party. My job as a Christian, and even more so as a pastor, is not to say which party is closer to being right, but to declare the gospel of the kingdom, which eschews violence. If that makes me unpopular with whichever political party, then that's just the way it will have to be. That's what I hear Greg Boyd saying in his messages, too. It's not about partisanship, though I agree with you that this division in the church is unfortunate. I think we have to ask ourselves how we got into this mess. My answer, very simply, is to say that the church has little by little been coopted by the culture and now is more in service of the American dream than the gospel.

Alexander said...

Ron,

We are of the same faith and I share a desire for greater peace and justice.

Re-read the language of your post. And compare it to the four Adventist posts on the Times piece. Where is the divisive language?

Using novelist Crichton again to dismiss danger misses the point. When experts talk and consensus builds, we need to act. See Katrina, 9/11, welfare reform.

With 37% of Botswana infected with HIV, 1 out of every 6 Americans without health care, every major science organization urging environmental concern, there comes a point when the cry in the theater becomes common sense and moving becomes both an action of self-preservation and moral necessity.

Most people would rather see, not just hear a sermon. Principled political action can be a sermon, too. MLK and Gandhi showed us that. What disturbs me is not the mix of politics and religion - they did it and it is reality. Rather, the sin is the manipulation of religion for political ends, especially by the religious right on the war in Iraq, gay marriage and abortion.

To toe the status quo is itself political and to call those who work for progressive change "divisive" fails to follow the long arch of justice and Christ's mission to the least of these.

Raising the minimum wage by a dollar or opposing war sounds is not "divisive" if you are hungry or being bombed.

In good faith,
Alexander

By the way, you might check out this evangelical scientist.

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week947/profile.html

Sherman Haywood Cox II said...

Ron,

I agree with alexander...Your piece is much more "partisian" using language like "liberal media" and attacking some sort of liberal establishment...than the post on Spectrum's blog or the commenters to that entry...

Interestingly enough the original pastor in the article seems to be almost apolitical...see in the current post on my blog a discussion of this dimension...

Ronald Osborn said...

"Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that cripple them is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial."

-Martin Luther King Jr.

jonathan scriven said...

'Over the top generalization' was invented by talk radio hosts -- most of whom are wildly conservative. To suggest that this kind of rhetoric is only visible in the 'liberal media and blogosphere' is itself and over the top generalization.