A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Politics and the Church

John Thomas, head of the UCC, gave a speech on the relation of the church to our current politcal landscape which understands the pitfall to the Gospel when it comes a tool for political purposes, a lesson for the religious left and right to heed:

"In a society marked by deep political and ideological alienation, where the fabric of the commonwealth is frayed to the point of tearing, communities that find ways to tolerate difference and live creatively with diversity may be their own form of redemption not simply for themselves, but for all of us.

In order to be this redemptive community, we will need to resist the political interests who would use us for sectarian, partisan, and ultimately deeply dividing interests. Here the challenge is the same for progressive and conservative churches and their leaders.

It is seductive to have political leaders and interests approaching you for your blessing. But do pastors and church leaders really want to have politicians lining up at their door come election time? Do they really want to be welcomed into a world where support and influence are traded like futures on the commodity market?

The Old Testament is clear in its distinction between the prophets of Yahweh and those court prophets who offered their blessing to the king in return for a comfortable place in the court.

The IRS may be the one institution challenging churches to ask the right questions about how best to engage the public square. How strange that when churches and church leaders are tempted to succumb to such political interests, it may be the IRS that helps us keep our integrity and allow us to be the church we are called to be.

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