Thursday, March 06, 2008

Faith and Politics

The intersection of faith and politics is not just an important issue for the 2008 US presidential election; it has been of vital concern to both the church and the state for thousands of years. It's certainly a common theme in current headlines - on the right, we have the religious right's hold on the Republican Party and the evangelical shift in focus as embodied by Mike Huckabee and Rick Warren. On the left, there's the Daily Kos spinoff Street Prophets and the success of Sojourners Magazine and Jim Wallis' books. In the middle stand John Danforth and E. J. Dionne. Recent history gives Martin Luther King and Jimmy Carter. I won't even touch discussions of Middle East politics, Islam, or Barack Obama's true identity (he's UCC, dammit), and so on.

The issue is a complex one that shouldn't be overly simplified. Talking to some friends just now about faith and politics in general, I thought of a myraid of ways to break the issue down. Here, then, is a brief list of questions raised by the phrase "faith and politics":

1) What issues are people of faith called to address? Abortion? Poverty/economics? Homosexuality? Environmental stewardship?
2) Is the calling Scriptural, logical, traditional, all of the above?
3) Do we need to act on our faith as Christians or just out of faith as people who care? (Sort of what my Rollins sermon addressed.)
4) What is more important, the issues we address or the way that we address them? (Also my sermon.)
5) What is the importance of the separation of church and state, not just to the state but to the church?
6) Is this more important than a personal relationship with God, less important, or equal to?
7) To what extent was Jesus a political revolutionary? (I love this one.)
8) Are there specific candidates and/or parties that Christians should (or should not) support?
9) Should we (or our liturgical cousins) deny communion to politicians who we feel violate tenants of our faith with their positions?
10) Is this Christian-specific or is it true of all faiths?

And so on.

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