|An attempt to hijack Christianity
by Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners' magazine
Last week, I wrote about the "Justice Sunday" event held
at a Louisville, Kentucky, mega-church. James Dobson of Focus on the Family,
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Prison Fellowship's Chuck
Colson, and Southern Baptist leader Albert Mohler were joined by Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist on video in the event titled "Stop the Filibuster
Against People of Faith." Of course, I have no objection to Christian
leaders expressing their faith in the public arena - it's a good thing that
I do all the time. The question is not whether to do so, but how. As I heard
more and more about "Justice Sunday," it felt to me like it was crossing an
important line - saying that a political issue was a test of faith.
So, when I was invited to speak at an interfaith "Freedom
and Faith" service at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, I agreed.
On Sunday morning, I flew to Louisville, and that afternoon addressed more
than 1,000 people who attended the rally. I didn't go to say that these
leaders shouldn't bring their faith into politics; the issues concerning
them - abortion and family values - are also important to me. But the way
they were doing it was wrong. The clear implication of their message was
that those who opposed them are not people of faith.
We can get some historical perspective by looking at how
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. did it - and he was the church leader who did it
best. Once after he was arrested, he wrote a very famous "Letter from a
Birmingham Jail," addressed to the white clergy who were opposing him on the
issues of racial segregation and violence against black people. Never once
did he say that they were not people of faith. He appealed to their faith,
challenged their faith, asked them to go deeper with their faith, but he
never said they were not real Christians. If Dr. King refused to attack the
integrity and faith of his opponents over such a clear gospel issue, how can
the Religious Right do it over presidential nominees and a Senate procedural
issue known as the filibuster?
After the "Justice Sunday" event, and the controversy
surrounding it, some of the sponsors are denying they ever claimed that
those who oppose them are hostile to people of faith. Yet their words stand
for themselves. In the letter announcing the event on the Family Research
Council Web site, Tony Perkins wrote: "Many of these nominees to the
all-important appellate court level are being blocked...because they are
people of faith and moral convictions.... We must stop this unprecedented
filibuster of people of faith."
So, I told the Louisville rally that when someone has
stolen our faith in the public arena, it is time to take our faith back.
"Justice Sunday" was an attempt to hijack Christianity for a partisan and
ideological agenda. Those on the Religious Right are declaring a religious
war to give their version of faith religious supremacy in America. And some
members of the Republican Party seem ready almost to declare a Christian
theocracy in America. It is time to take back both our faith and our
It is now clear there are some who will fight this
religious war by any means necessary. So we will fight, but not the way they
do. We must never lie or misrepresent the facts or the truth. We must not
demonize or vilify those who are our opponents. We must claim that those who
disagree with our judgments are still real people of faith. We must not
fight the way they do, but fight we must. A great deal is at stake in this
battle for the heart and soul of faith in America and for the nation's
future itself. We will not allow faith to be put into the service of one
This is a call for the rest of the churches to wake up.
This is a call for people of faith everywhere to stand up and let their
faith be heard. This is not a call to be just concerned, or just a little
worried, or even just alarmed. This is a call for clear speech and
courageous action. This is a call to take back our faith, and in the words
of the prophet Micah, "to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly
with our God."
From SoJo Mail
Watch streaming video of Jim's message at the "Freedom
and Faith" service:
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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