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Every denomination needs one of these...

The Role of Religion in Politics: Day 2

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quite unbelievably, PastorDan took my post yesterday and somehow twisted into something completely different. In no way was I positioning Niebuhr as a mushy centrist - he certainly was not. Before I move past this, I want to break this down clearly so there is no misinterpretation. Niebuhr argues that there are two wrong answers to how we bridge our religious and political convictions:

1) "The one wrong answer is to equate religious and political commitments and to regard every political decision as simply derived from our faith."

2) "The other wrong answer stands at the opposite extreme. It is to find no relevance at all between our faith and our political actions."

My comment was that "the issues are defined in idealistic religious terms where there is no room for pragmatism and ultimately resolution." This wasn't to suggest that our political/religious convictions should be reduced to a comfortable middle-ground, it's a reflection of Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer. As Scott Paeth reminds me, this is in part the meaning of the serenity prayer — having the courage to change the things that SHOULD be changed (not, as in the popular version "can" be changed), the GRACE to accept with serenity the things that can't be changed (not "serenity" but grace!), and the wisdom to know the one from the other. We need to throw ourselves forward into political life with all the ferver that our commitment to justice implies, but we shouldn't mistake our commitment to justice with infallibility with regard to truth.

Whether we want to admit it or not, this is the trap that I believe our denomination has fallen into and the consequence is clearly our own irrelevance in the political spectrum. Instead of strategically identifying where we fit and where we can have the most impact, the United Church of Christ national offices would rather whine about our lack of representation on "Meet the Press" as if we've even earned that kind of recognition.

Today, we are politically irrelevant.
posted by UCCtruths, Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Well said James!
commented by Anonymous Drew, 4:05 PM  

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