Rightful Role of Faith in Politics

May 19, 2008

Robert Parham has a good column at Ethics Daily entitled "Seven Touchstones for Reclaiming the Rightful Role of Faith in Politics." Here are his main points:

First, the rightful role of faith in politics begins when clergy offer the theological declaration that God transcends politics.

... Second, the rightful role of faith in politics continues when clergy stress the theological conviction that God expects people of faith to engage the public square.

... Third, the rightful role of faith in politics calls clergy to speak from the moral high ground to the battleground of concrete issues.

... Fourth, the rightful role of faith in politics requires faith leaders to retain a prophetic distance from those in power.

... Fifth, the rightful role of faith in politics is for clergy to articulate a broad moral agenda, not a truncated one.

... Sixth, the rightful role of faith in politics for faith leaders is to ensure a high wall of separation between church and state.

... Seventh, the rightful role of faith in politics for clergy is to speak for peace in the time of war.
He explains each of these points and offers us some important issues to think about when considering the role of religion in politics.

5 comments

  1. I pretty much agree with Parham, with the exception of his (1)intelligent design in academia and (2) anti-war in every situation misstatements.

    The discrimination against intelligent design isn't a church-state issue, it's an academic freedom issue, and thus a wrong example to cite for his sixth point.

    Speaking for peace in the time of war is nebulous enough to perhaps pass, but the blanket anti-war stance he takes in the article smacks against Eccl. 3:8 and numerous other instances in scripture.

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  2. ~OFF TOPIC~

    Brian,

    Write something nice about your home state.

    ;)

    Tim

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  3. Thanks for the comments!

    CD: Although you are correct that intelligent design is an academic freedom issue, it is also a church-state issue when dealing with public schools. That makes it a difficult case because of those two important principles. I see his piece as clearly written in the shadow of one particular war rather than anti-war in general but that difference could be more clear. However, it would not be against Eccl. 3 to oppose all wars--it could be that the time for war has already passed!


    Tim: Sorry for the delay in responding! You sure do know how to stir up an answer.

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  4. Brian,

    Intelligent Design is not equal to Creationism, so how so do you say it's a church-state issue?

    ID simply answers the question "how" with "through intelligent design" as opposed to evolution's "without intelligent design."

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  5. CD: Some versions of ID are creationism. That is what got the school district in Dover, PA in trouble. The ID book they used was an edited version of an earlier draft where the only thing that was changed was references to "creationism" were changed to "intelligent design." The judge thus ruled that the new phrase was merely an attempt to get around the ruling that they could not teach creationism. Now, not all ID is simply creationism with new words, but that is what some ID advocates are offering. This becomes a church-state issue when--as in the case I just mentioned--we are talking about public schools.

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