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Sunday, June 20

Evangelical Leaders Reexamine Christian Principles

The National Association of Evangelicals are advocating responsible Christianity. This is a wonderful thing if it's really true. It's no secret that I have been more than perturbed at the conduct and values of the religious right. Their public persona of late has been rather intolerant, selfish, overly judgmental, discriminating, hateful, bigoted and downright not in keeping with the Gospels. For any non Christians out there, the Gospels, taken in context, advocate the opposite of how evangelicals associated with the religious right have been presenting themselves.

I know many evangelicals are hell bent on condemning homosexuality and abortion, but there is a lot more to being a Christian than these 2 issues and what's more, especially concerning abortion, you have to begin to change how society views life before you attack abortion. This is something I have been advocating for over 2 decades. A woman's right to choose and homosexuality is really none of their business as far as politics goes. But I suppose if you are totally hell bent against abortion and truly view it as murder, I can sort of understand why they are making it a political issue. I'm not going to discuss that now though. You can put comments and debate it in the comments section if you so desire. Abortion in the Bible is very debatable as well as homosexuality. Evangelicals are more concerned with what the Bible says literally than what modern reason/philosphy/science coupled with ancient traditions reveal to us today.

If churches want to keep their tax exempt status, then I recommend that they keep out of politics. If they want to pay taxes, then they can voice their opinions like the rest of us who pay taxes. If they want to tell their followers not to have abortions and not to be gay, that's fine with me. That's why we have religious freedom in this country and we better keep it that way. They better keep politics out of church and church out of my politics. My religion told me not to eat meat on Friday and we didn't go around telling people to vote for those who don't eat meat on Friday. Whatever gay men do behind closed doors or in their private communities, is their business. I don't think about what they do anymore than I wonder what Republicans do in the bedroom. There are some in this country who spend an awful lot of time thinking that morality only has to do with sex and that is just a teeny tiny miniscule part of what morality entails, isn't it? Of course it is.

From the LA Times: Evangelical Leaders Reexamine Principles:
[The National Association of Evangelicals] affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and disabled, including fair wages, healthcare, nutrition and education. It declares that Christians have a "sacred responsibility" to protect the environment.

Wowie zowie Batman! Now that sounds like Jesus-speak to me. Caring for others, caring for the earth, caring for the poor.

But it also hews closely to a traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of families, opposition to homosexual marriage and "social evils" such as alcohol, drugs, abortion and the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. It reaffirms a commitment to religious freedom at home and abroad.

In the midst of a presidential election year, war and terrorism, the framework says Christians in their devotion to country "must be careful to avoid the excesses of nationalism." In domestic politics, evangelicals "must guard against over-identifying Christian social goals with a single political party, lest nonbelievers think that Christian faith is essentially political in nature."

I sincerely doubt that any Americans are against families and raising decent kids who don't grow up to be drug and alcohol abusers, criminals, idiots and spreaders of STDs. This doesn't need to be legislated. This is a family thing that should be taught at home first. Most schools also teach kids the difference between right and wrong. The terrorists who taught my child in public school also covered drugs, alcohol abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and such reinforcing what I had already taught my son at home. Stem cell research should only be discussed by those who understand it. It's easy to misunderstand it and explain it improperly as the president has done on this and so many other issues.

I am flabbergasted over this quote: "must be careful to avoid the excesses of nationalism." Taken out of context like that it seems to be an anti-fascist statement. I would have to read the whole thing to see what they are really saying. It sounds too good to be true. The part about not identifying with a single political party is a good thing, but not necessarily for the reasons given. It's a start though.

Evangelicals have been assiduously courted by President Bush, who recognized that they could be counted on in large numbers to vote Republican. Bush, a born-again Christian and member of the United Methodist Church, has won plaudits from both evangelicals and Roman Catholic bishops for opposing abortion, expanded use of human embryos for stem-cell research and gay marriages.

Bush also has advocated government funds for faith-based charities and other outreach to serve the needy.

This is all wrong. It's unconstitutional and it doesn't take into account the fact that just about everything else about Bush is decidedly anti-Christian. So what are they going to do about it?

But the framework before the national association looks beyond local charity programs and declares that evangelicals and the government must look at the underlying government policies and economic practices that could institutionalize poverty and injustice.

"When social structures result in such gross disparities and suffering, the Bible writers envision structural solutions, such as periodic land redistribution so that everyone can have access to productive resources and be dignified members of their community," the draft states.

This is the really Christian part... yeehah!: "look at the underlying government policies and economic practices that could institutionalize poverty and injustice."

Both political parties are guilty of institutionalizing poverty and injustice. The Reagan Era brought new meaning to it. Bush is so busy being a "war president" that even the middle class is in danger of becoming extinct. The constant talk about privatization of government agencies that once helped those on the margins of society, the elderly and our children will only serve to make corporations richer. The outsourcing of jobs to other countries is condoned by the Bush administration. Bush's allegiance to his corporate cronies and contempt of the American people and other leading nations of the world puts our country in great danger and the risk of world war is growing graver daily.

But under the new public engagement framework, evangelicals may find themselves sometimes at odds with political allies in the culture wars that have buffeted the country for two decades. Genuflecting to political realism, the new framework calls on evangelicals to seek to work with whom they disagree in common cause. The framework also recognizes that in the give and take of political compromise, they may frequently have to settle for "half a loaf."
"I think it will be a surprise to those who have a very stereotyped idea of what evangelicals are," Knippers said. "I also think that it helps the media understand evangelicals more accurately."
It is also a recognition of the tensions within evangelicalism.

This is a mouthful because it is not what we expect to hear from evangelicals, is it? It seems that they are willing to call for a compromise politically. Good. This is a secular nation. Everyone is compromising somewhat in order to live peacefully. This is a huge step for any large religious group to take... but it's necessary. If separation of church and state isn't held up, we are in for a civil war in this country and the bad guys are going to end up being the so-called religious right. What an oxymoron.

The March poll, for example, reported that although 37% of white evangelicals said moral values were of most concern, 41% of all African Americans and 34% of all Hispanics said they worried most about the economy and jobs.

This poll doesn't explain exactly what the 37% of white evangelical people who are concerned about moral values actually believe are moral values. Are they talking about advocating for social and economic justice which are moral values according to the Gospels or do they think moral values only have to do with sex and gayness? Jesus spends the majority of his ministry according to the Gospels advocating for the poor and condemning the rich. Careful reading of the Bible would lead a critical reader to only one assumption: Love God, love one another, take care of one another, especially the poor. The rich are going to get their rewards here on earth while those who advocate for economic and social justice will live forever is consistent with the Bible.

Ranting about gay marriage is not doing any good for the poor. Neither is forcing pregnant poor women to have babies they can't afford. Changing societal values and advocating for life across the board, including prison reform, education reform, government jobs programs, health care for all and offering all Americans an equal chance at living outside the realm of poverty is most likely to make abortions become rarer. People are just going to have to learn to tolerate homosexuals because they keep being born to heterosexual couples who love them very much. The war in Iraq is debatable among Christians.. probably because the real story behind the war is so garbled, constantly changing and secretive. There is a "Just War" doctrine and this blonde doesn't think that the Iraq invasion would fall under this doctrine. It's not even constitutional.

I printed out the whole LA Times article in the BlondeSense Annex.

Other posts of interest:
The Beatitudes: This is what Christianity is all about. For real!
My Letter To Bishop Sheridan: He wants to deny Catholics, who support democrats, communion.
The Christian Wrong: More of my rantings.
The Right To Life: It doesn't end at the moment of birth.
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Interview with Mario Cuomo

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