Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Conservative Christian Minister with the Right Message

Interesting article in the Times today by Laurie Goldstein, Disowning Conservative Politics Is Costly for an Evangelical Pastor. Makes for a good comparison with an article in this week's The New Yorker by Frances Fitzgerald, Holy Toledo: Ohio's Gubrnatorial Race Tests the Power of the Christian Right. Fitzgerald's article talks about evangelical Christians in Ohio becoming more and more actively involved in politics to the point of doing what they can to elect the next governor of the state who supports their agenda. This involvement has gotten to the point that the IRS has begun to investigate the tax free status of a large number of churches in the state (due to other clergy bringing the problem of religion mixing too closely with politics to the attention fo the IRS), and causing the head of the IRS to warn that there's a problem out there with where churches are taking themselves when the start to dance with politic activism. The tendency we're seeing in Ohio fits nicely with what Michelle Goldberg warns us about in her book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, which I've discussed on more than one occasion here.

Rev. Boyd, highlighted in the Times article, has the right message: the church doesn't have a place in setting the agenda for the country, certainly not in running the country, and there's no reason to assume that even a conservative congregation should be lining up behind the Republican party and its agenda. Of course, as the article title hints, espousing this to his
congregation comes with a price, in this case losing about 20% of a 5,000 strong following.

The religious right is not to be ignored, and I applaud Rev. Boyd for this principled stand on where politics and religion should and shouldn't meet. I fear, though, that the good Rev. is in the minority and we're just beginning to see problems with the religious, i.e. evangelical Christian, right's push to tell us all how to live and believe.

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