return to religion-onlineReligion and Politics
According to William May, Camus rejects political realism in both its conservative and revolutionary forms and summons man to a modesty, an honesty, and a decency that he believes to be within the reach of man—and certainly within the reach of Western man—as it recovers the best in the European revolutionary tradition. Camus argues, man overreaches himself, pretends to one sort of divinity or another, but concludes by justifying the violation of man.
The attempt of David Barton, vice-chair of the Texas Republican Party (2004) and one of the "most influential evangelicals in America" (Time Magazine, 2005) to establish legally that the United States of America is a "Christian nation."
Choices between policies and directions must be generated outside of electoral politics.
The notion that politicians must not permit their religious sensibilities to affect political decision-making has reduced political dialogue to a seminar on pragmatism.
A thoughtful discussion of the possibility of forgiveness in the political realm.
Robin Lovin's review of The Political Meaning of Christianity: An Interpretation, by Glenn Tinder. Tinder’s evaluation of politics is shaped by the conviction that Christianity has understood human possibilities and limitations better than its markets and liberal competitors, so that the prospects for the future depend greatly on recovering Christian insights, understanding them and using them to shape our political expectations.
Faith-based organizing shows the enormous potentials found in grass-roots America and particularly in the rich web of religious communities.
William May reviews Richard Hofstadter’s published series of essays on the Radical Right entitled The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Knopf). May suggests that Hofstadter is actually discussing the "Manichaean" style of our politics since the metaphysical and moral presuppostions of the Radical Right are Manichaean to the core. The Manichaeans were dualist, reducing all distinctions to the cosmic struggle between two rival powers: Good and Evil, Spirit and Matter, the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness.
The Century interviews Mike McCurry, President Clintonís press secretary: Subjects include church politics, the duty of a public servant, the possibilities for a religious left, and President Clinton's personal difficulties.
According to Sherman, one of the best things about Jim Wallis' book, The Soul of Politics, is that it calls us to listen to the people who live there as we reflect on the inner city's woes. One of the worst things about the book is that the author seems unwilling to hear all that they have to say. In his emphasis on the injustice of the system he allows the poor to escape taking personal responsibility, even though he exalts an increasing spiritual awareness and the activist role of the (mostly) black churches. When he moves to the problems of economic stagnation in the less developed countries his proposal for a "third way", transcending liberalism and conservatism, ignores the successes of market-friendly systems.
The author reviews a book about Americanís attitude toward the government. The writer, Garry Wills, offers a catalog of the various forms taken by American distrust of government since the late 18th century, and ventures to debunk the historical myths that have sustained them. He argues for government as a necessary good.
May engages in dialogue with the author of a book on presidential leadership. May agrees with the author on the role of the president as persuader and teacher. But he faults the author for overlooking the communitarian aspects of American life. And he takes the occasion to argue his own exposition of what kind of leadership a democracy requires. He allows for the art of persuasion. But he also asks for wisdom, courage, temperance and public spiritedness.
While economic considerations dominate the political sphere, it should not be applied to the real world in which markets are only one part of the whole of social life. For most people, there are other goals in life besides acquiring goods and services. Values cannot be identified simply with what is desired, and society cannot accept the market alone as the basis for deciding which desires should be fulfilled. The economization of politics is extremely damaging to human society and the natural world, and if the process continues, it will be disastrous.
Lying is wrong because it violates our covenant with God, a covenant that sustains us in our human frailty.
We are a people both summoned and sent. We are summoned before God to be judged and forgiven through confession and pardon. Then, nourished by Scripture and edified by preaching, we are sent again into the spheres of our public responsibility.
Walter Lippmann in The Public Philosophy grapples with an issue that has long concerned Reinhold Niebuhr in lectures and writings, namely, the problem of a relevant political ethic. There are, Mr. Lippmann argues, two realms that earlier and wiser philosophers and theologians described as the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. The one is the realm of the spirit; the other is a realm of immediate, particular, and ambiguous events.
Matthew Miller, in the book reviewed, thinks it possible to bring thoughtful Democrats and Republicans together to work out the intricate set of compromises that would provide and pay for the large-scale programs that are both needed and possible.
The liberty of conscience transcends any and all political orders. Human freedom rooted in God declares that all states and all political orders are under God. States can crush or kill human beings, but they cannot alienate them from their responsibility to God and conscience.
The author asks: How do people of the progressive Christian movement deal with the very firm political reality that when you mention religion and politics in the U.S. you are talking about the religious right?
Moral rhetoric is no substitute for moral conduct and practical virtue, in politics as elsewhere. Neither of the 1984 presidential candidates (Reagan vs. Mondale) has fully understood the complexity of the other’s views on the religion-in-politics issue.
Wall explores the meaning and application of the religious freedom amendment in the Bill of Rights for our pluralistic society with its many religious minorities, and a majority that is Christian, white and middle class.
An assessment of Sanford Horwitt’s biography of the legendary and controversial community organizer Saul Alinsky.
It is necessary to look beyond the rhetoric of the faith-based initiative. The author lists six myths.
The author of God and Gold believes that Anglo-American ideals will lead to a larger political accord that cannot be escaped as hard as we might wish. These values will set the conditions for the development and conflict of the globe.
Do inequalities in wealth benefit the wider community? That question should be the subject of political discussion. Is the freedom to contribute money to a political campaign part of our guarantee of freedom of speech?
The vigorous defense of the separation of church and state at the institutional level must be matched by a quest for an integrated view of life at another -- and deeper -- level. We are in for a longer and more arduous struggle than we have yet recognized, for our vision is tarnished and the message of the ecumenical church unsure without whose mainstays people make decisions according to their own interests -- and the interests of the powerful generally prevail.
As a religious vision, socialism commands respect; as a practical system, it evokes skepticism. I confess as a matter of considered judgment that democratic capitalism is not only a more humane and rational economic-political system than socialism has yet produced but also the most advanced human form of liberty, justice and equality of opportunity yet fashioned by the human race.
The trouble with liberalism is that too many liberals are disenchanted with politics. We have had a strange procession of candidates who dislike the actual tasks of politics. Although liberal politics in America is at a low point, the sweep of our history is so filled with recoveries that no one has any right to despair.
Todayís pessimism has little to fasten on -- no islands of hope, no prefabricated ideologies. It gropes in semidarkness, conscious only that the light at the end of the tunnel is flickering.
In single-issue campaigns, voters may be manipulated for ends not their own. Single-issue voting can, in some cases, be morally justifiable and even required -- an appropriate expression of the politics of principle.
Churches should be more cautious than individuals or groups of Christians in taking political stands. Christians, especially churches, should be more ready to make pronouncements on issues than on candidates—always recognizing that times come when issues and men are inseparable. Christian judgments should never stem solely from the clergy but should involve lay specialists with skill in public affairs.
Political entrepreneurs are beginning to exploit the rise of ethnic consciousness in the U.S. Political ethnicity and conflict are certain to grow when government validates or legitimates racial, religious or nationality quotas, proportional representation, community control, communalism or sectionalism.
In the present crisis of mankind, all emphasis seems to be placed on utilitarianism in both science and religion. In religion, to which we want to direct our attention, the growth of the utilitarian spirit is an alarming phenomenon. Utilitarianism seems to mark not only the attitude of the political powers that use religion for the sake of social control and transform it to suit their purposes, but also the attitude of many who oppose them.