Monday, November 06, 2006

Gerson on Religion and Politics

MSNBC: NewsweekNewsweek online has an article this morning very much worth reading (click here). Michael Gerson, now a senior fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations, describes an emerging Evangelicalism in America that has broken with the religious right and fundamentalism and is working toward a new more progressive involvement in politics and the world along the lines of Bono's social gospel.

The article contains some very well articulated quotes:

Throughout the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures and the teachings of the New Testament, social arrangements are judged by their effect on the weak. And while this perspective isn't utopian---perfection being unavailable in this fallen world---it can be radical. In our country, that faith-based radicalism helped drive the abolition movement, the cause of women's suffrage, the reform of prisons and mental hospitals. It was not long ago that the three-time Democratic candidate for president, William Jennings Bryan---who championed legalizing strikes, giving the vote to women and a progressive income tax---was also a fervent, Bible-quoting evangelical. A politically progressive evangelicalism is not an innovation, it is a revival; not a fresh track in the snow, but a rutted path of American history.

Here is another quote:

These changes in evangelicalism should be an opportunity for Democrats. But seizing it would require a philosophic shift. Modern liberalism has defined the belief in truth as the enemy of tolerance because absolute claims of right and wrong lead to coercion. And religious claims, in this view, are the most intolerant of all, and should be radically privatized so no one's morality gets "imposed" on another. It is difficult for liberals and Democrats to appeal to religious people while declaring their deepest motivations a threat to the republic. And it is difficult to imagine the history of the republic if this narrow view had prevailed. How does moral skepticism and privatized religion motivate decades of struggle against slavery, or lead men and women, step by step, toward the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma? If there is really no truth, why believe in, or sacrifice for, the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence?

Comments Welcome!


Blogger Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


Thanks for this post. I think the author is right on target. For the Democrats to embrace the radical concepts of the prophetic religion contained in the Hebrew Bible there would have to be a paradigm shift of tetonic proportions. I don't think this will happen soon simply because as he writes, religion in the eyes of many liberals is to be a private matter only.

Mon Nov 06, 05:10:00 PM GMT-5  

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