In this special Fourth of July issue, the Alban Weekly is taking a look at the relationship between faith and politics in the United States. Recently, much has been made of the culture wars that seem to sharply divide Americans along conservative and liberal lines. Many thoughtful people, however, have been delving into the way that faith and politics interact in the national political arena and have begun to speak out as religious moderates.
Below you will find three newspaper opinion articles, each written by a person of faith, that address the question of how much a person’s religion should influence her or his politics. In particular, in a country that seems to simplistically categorize the left as secular and the right as religious, the authors ask whether moderates can forge a space in the middle that would bridge the two sides.
Our intent is not to support any particular viewpoint. These articles simply made us think about religion’s proper role in politics, and it seemed appropriate to share them on the day that we celebrate our nation’s founding. If anything you read stirs up some thoughts within you as well, we invite you to join in the dialogue by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share your thoughts in a future issue of Alban Weekly.
Finding a Space in the Middle
Click here to read “Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers,” an op-ed article by John C. Danforth that recently ran in the New York Times. Danforth is an Episcopal priest who was formerly a U.S. senator and Alban board member. In this article, he argues that Christians who relate more to the middle of the political spectrum than to the right have a duty to add their moderate voices to the political discourse.
Click here to read “A Country Divided by Christ” by N. Graham Standish, a Presbyterian pastor and author of the book Becoming a Blessed Church. In this article, which originally ran as an op-ed in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Standish urges Christians to be careful about aligning themselves too firmly with a political party.
Click here to read a Washington Post op-ed article by Henry Brinton titled, “Can We Take Action without Taking Sides?” Brinton, the pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church near Washington, D.C., writes that strong relationships and common values between people of faith can overcome differences in political beliefs when those people work together for common goals.
Additional Resources on Faith and Politics
Moral Values, Politics, and the Faith FactorThe Brookings Institution sponsored this event on January 18, 2005. It was hosted by John Podesta, moderated by E.J. Dionne, Jr., and its panel consisted of Jim Wallis, Richard Land, J. Bryan Hehir, and Marian Wright Edelman.
Jim Wallis argues that the political right has adopted the language of religion to support its policies even though many people of faith disagree with those policies. The left, on the other hand, has abandoned religion completely in favor of an artificial secularism. Wallis calls on leadership from both sides to find a way to responsibly incorporate religious values into political leadership.