Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Jesus Litmus Test in Politcs

Writer Kathleen Parker certainly raised the right issue when she wrote in the Washington Post, "Enough With the Jesus Test." In writing about the respected pastor Rick Warren's recently televised interviews with both candidates at his Saddleback Church, she says:
This is about higher principles that are compromised every time we pretend we're not applying a religious test when we're really applying a religious test.

It is true that no one was forced to participate in the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency and that both McCain and Obama are free agents. Warren has a right to invite whomever he wishes to his church and to ask them whatever they're willing to answer.

His format and questions were interesting and the answers more revealing than what the usual debate menu provides. But does it not seem just a little bit odd to have McCain and Obama chatting individually with a preacher in a public forum about their positions on evil and their relationship with Jesus Christ?
None of this is meant to disparage Rev. Warren, whom Parker acknowledges is as decent a human being and minister as you'll find. He's more than walked the walk and lived the talk he gives in his books and sermons. And Parker also isn't trying to disparage religion.

I happen to agree with her points and I consider myself a person of faith. But I am growing more and more uncomfortable with a political conversation that is mostly directed at Christians while leaving out Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and just about everybody else. Christianity is the major religion in this country. But the United States is a more and more pluralistic nation with many faiths, and some people who have no faith. They too are citizens who serve in our military, work in our industries and offices, pay taxes, and contribute to society. Yet they are being shut out of an increasingly sectarian and denominational discussion.

We are choosing a president, not a saint and not a pastor. In fact, Parker ends with the interesting point that among our founding fathers, if Thomas Jefferson, a Deist heavily influenced by the Enlightenment, had to run for office in today's religio-political climate, he couldn't win.

Makes you think doesn't it?


spotter said...

I think the reason conservatives like Kathleen Parker are suddenly deciding that the "Jesus test" is a bad idea is that there's no way their candidate passes it.

That said, your points about tolerance and pluralism are well-taken.

AnonymousIsAWoman said...

Thanks Spotter. Whatever reason Kathleen Parker wrote this, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has become uneasy about it.