D.R.: Those other Christians
Joe Klein, in his column this week in Time, tapped something I’d been thinking about for awhile.
The piece, “The Second Commandment Republicans,” concerns the presidential race and the problems the religious right has with the field for 2008. I mean, when Newt Gingrich is your shining model of the morality the conservatives seek, you’ve got big problems at a very basic level. The Revs. Dobson and Falwell may fall for the former House speaker’s tortured explanations about how he can secretly fool around on his wife while impeaching President Clinton for the same behavior. But somehow I doubt that will pass the smell test in greater America.
But that is the usual political parsing, the sort of truth twisting that puts such politicians ” and the politicized pastors ” into such low regard outside their congregations.
What interested me was Klein touching on something that has bothered me for a long time. The largely self-righteous “law” Christians have dominated the faith’s political involvement, sometimes making it sound as if only Republicans can be members of the faith.
These folks act as if they have God’s ear, and His interests fall pretty much to hellfire and brimstone. And cutting taxes, along with obsessing over gays, Hollywood and disgusting people who fool around on their spouses. Unless they happen to be Republicans. Then, just confess and run for president.
What happened to those other Christians? You know, the ones who don’t talk so much about how everyone should behave but do the Mother Theresa stuff. All that lame, help the poor, lift the sinners, say inconvenient things like “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.” The ones who go to New Orleans after Katrina.
Much to the holy rollers’ dismay, the two most religious of the Republican presidential candidates ” Mike Huckabee and Sam Brownback ” are cut more from Mother Theresa’s cloth than Dobson and Falwell’s.
Huckabee explained to Klein that he’s a “grace” Christian, full of views that belie the righteous view. He talks of providing good education, feeding the hungry, health care and other anathemas to the rightwingers.
It’s really pretty fascinating. I love seeing a field of Democratic candidates who remained with their first spouses taking on the marital infidels running as front-runners for the Republicans. (Of course, I once thought the Republican Party was the one that wouldn’t spend and spend, a step farther than tax and spend. At least the Dems are honest enough to find ways to pay the debt they run up.)
Obama, Edwards and even Clinton show more cred in faith than Giuliani or McCain. Romney should count, but as a Mormon, that might be a bit much for the Dobson-Falwell crew. And although he has since repented, Romney showed too much feeling for the rights of gays and women who sought abortions while serving as governor of Massachusetts. Easier to forgive serial infidelity if you have the right politics.
The genuine true believers, Brownback and Huckabee, display a faith more in tune with liberals than the religious right surely can abide.
Personally, I’m with that “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” and keep the church out of politics. It’s not that easy, I realize, since our spiritual beliefs cannot help but shape how we live.
Still, I’m enjoying the comeuppance for a corrupted religious right ” is there another explanation for where they throw their political support right now?
And I’m looking forward to the other Christians standing up and defining the faith in better balance. Religiously speaking, there’s a lot more integrity on the left right now.