Skip to comments.Sects, Politics, and Religion: A review of Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics
Posted on 04/10/2011 2:06:09 PM PDT by Caleb1411
For some Americans, as for the Founding Fathers, the separation of church and state means that the government and religious bodies ought not to exert power over the others areas of legitimate authority. To others it means that religiously informed policy proposals may not become the laws of the secular government. So, on this meaning, a law that prohibits embryo-destructive research would violate the separation of church and state, since (it is assumed) such a law reflects a sanctity-of-life ethic derived exclusively from a theological tradition.
Notice that the latter understanding is concerned not with the actual content of the religious citizens policy proposal or with whether or not he has offered a cogent, rationally defensible argument. This metaphysical exclusionary rule bars these proposals without regard for the quality of the cases offered for them. Their secular contraries are not subjected to this philosophical apartheid, even though they offer answers to the same questions and rely on beliefs no less contested than their so-called religious counterparts.
Consider embryo-destruction research. One side claims that the embryonic human being is a full-fledged member of the human community who is identical to his postnatal self and thus possesses the same moral worth and intrinsic dignity throughout its existence. The other side denies this, arguing that embryonic human beings lack some characteristic or property that would make them moral persons and therefore subject to the usual prohibitions against homicide.
Although the religious citizen is motivated by what his theological tradition teaches, that tradition is itself a consequence of an extended argument over time, no different in character than its secular counterpart. For the secularists position is shaped by certain inherited beliefs acquired during his academic and cultural formation that are central to his intellectual tradition. These beliefs in metaphysics (nominalism), epistemology (scientism), and religion (subjectivism) are, like the believers beliefs, the result of an extended argument over time.
In Good and Bad Ways to Think About Religion and Politics, the Lutheran scholar Robert Benne provides a clear and compelling brief for the religious citizen and the ecclesial community to which he belongs. Director of the Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College, he offers Christians and their detractors a way of thinking about religion and politics that addresses some of the concerns that both believers and unbelievers have expressed over the past three decades since the ascendancy of the Religious Right.
Benne distinguishes two positions on the relationship between religion and politicsseparationism and fusionismand argues Christians ought to reject both. As for the first, there are at least two varieties, one secular and one religious.
One sortchampioned by writers as diverse as Richard Dawkins, Andrew Sullivan, and Damon Linkerviews the participation of religious citizens in the formation of policy as deleterious to democratic liberalism, if the policies these citizens propose have their genesis in their religious beliefs. Benne shows that to actualize this prescription would limit religious liberty in ways inconsistent with the promise of the American founding. For the Founders understood churchstate separation as separating the state from the institutional church and not sequestering religion from politics. Moreover, contemporary separationists are notoriously selective when they lament the mixing of religion and politics, for they rarely if ever decry the political activism of liberal Christians in mainline denominations who almost always agree with the left wing of the Democratic Party.
The other sort of separationist is usually a devout Christian who believes that the Churchs involvement in politics will corrupt its character and thus undermine or make more difficult its duty to save and nourish souls. Baptists in the tradition of the late J. M. Dawson (18791973) have been strong proponents of this view. This separationist often cites historical cases in which Christian churches have compromised their witness in order to curry favor from the government.
Benne sees this as a legitimate concern. Nevertheless, he argues, because Christianity teaches that God is sovereign over all creation, including political and social institutions, and because the gospel requires us to love our neighbors and to will their good, we must engage the political realm. Christianity is a knowledge tradition that properly informs us about the good, the true, and the beautiful in every facet of human existence.
While separationists offer a theory of how religion and politics ought to interact, fusionists practice their faith with little theoretical reflection. For that reason, Bennes account of fusionism is descriptive rather than prescriptive. Fusionists connect their political beliefs and/or cultural affiliations and the teachings of their faith. They fail to distinguish positions that seem to be close to obvious entailments of Christian belief (e.g., malefemale marriage, pro-life on abortion) and positions over which Christians of goodwill may disagree (e.g., whether a particular war is just, the existence and scope of the welfare state, school-sponsored prayer in public schools, or whether America or another nation is guided by direct providence).
Some Christians fuse ethnic solidarity and patriotism with their theological traditions, sometimes fomenting the sorts of violence we have seen in places like Bosnia and Northern Ireland. Domestically, some left-leaning Christians, though properly concerned about the plight of the poor, insist that some form of socialism is the only just economic system. Some right-leaning Christians issue Christian policy pronouncements that range from opposing abortion to supporting the war in Iraq. It is one thing to claim scriptural support for the unborns personhood; it is quite another to suggest that the Bible has a definitive position on global warming or food stamps.
Benne proposes an alternative to separationism and fusionism: critical engagement. He derives from the central claims of Christianity about the nature of God, creation, salvation, and man several politically relevant principles and explains how those principles may be applied given the historical, political, national, and social situations in which an ecclesial community may find itself.
So, for example, a Christian, based on the central claims of his faith, has good reason to believe that the unborn from conception is a moral person and thus his neighbor. Nevertheless, he may have a difficult time placing that belief in our laws if he lives in a society in which most of its citizens cannot see the unborns personhood. In that case, the Christian, relying on the principle of prudence, may opt for more modest attempts at shaping policy that provide a means to teach his compatriots about the sanctity of human life (as well as to protect as many innocent persons as possible). So, he and his church may support a partial-birth-abortion ban, since it requires that their compatriots confront this gruesome procedure and what it does to a being that seems obviously to be one of us.
Although this is a small book, it is packed with real insight. Benne wisely navigates between two extremes while remaining always mindful that, though the Christian is a citizen of two kingdoms, it is only in one of them that he can find the eternal source of all that could possibly be good and true in the other.
Francis J. Beckwith is professor of philosophy at Baylor University and a resident scholar at Baylors Institute for Studies of Religion.
I posted my rant in #20...and could have said alot more.
This whole abortion thing still rests on the “rights of the mothers” entirely ...especially if they have the child.
Most address the child after the fact and prescious few address what really is at the root of all these pregnancies...having sex outside of marriage... and they want to be taken seriously once they find themsleves pregnant...then the drama begins...the “informed decisions” suddenly are significant...and always the Mother is elevated either way she turne...oh the struggle..oh the what am I going to do re-runs.
As you see I have zip zero compassion for the woman selling their stories. They all pulled their pants down knowing full well the result could very well be a child.
ABORTION, for ANY reason is murder. and if done by a doctor or a second party, or two or three more parties, is murder and conspiracy to COMMIT murder. I have NO compassion either for the “mother” or the “doctor,” or for that matter, anyone who condones this.
It, MURDER, is the one and only absolute moral imperative that when trangressed, is fully deserving of the death penalty. You can maybe be forgiven for almost anything else, but murder is never forgiven. You can never ask the dead for forgiveness, and unless you can ask forgiveness from those against whom you have transgressed, there is nowhere left to go except oblivion.
In the case of abortions, the death penalty as we usually think of it, is probably not an option, but the end result is the same. Someday, you pay.
The pro-lifers I know and have worked with over the course of three decades ignore the armchair quarterbacks carping from the sidelines. Many babies' lives are being saved by those who serve.
""Every day in the United States pregnancy resource centers assist an average of 5,500 Americans, female and male, young and old, with sexuality-and-pregnancy-related concerns. The reach of America's pregnancy centers and the scope of their success continue to attract new attention. In January 2008, on the eve of the 35th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, Nancy Gibbs of Time magazine cited the "evidence that the quiet campaign for women's hearts and minds, conducted in thousands of crisis pregnancy centers around the country, on billboards, phone banks and websites, is having an effect" in reducing abortion rates, which are down by one third from their U.S. high.
"Assisting women, counseling couples, providing goods and services, offering free and confidential pregnancy care, these "centers for women's true reproductive health," as Heartbeat's president, Dr. Margaret Hartshorn, calls them, are playing an indispensable role in the health of our families and communities. They are witnessing and acting in the spirit of Matthew 25:40, "Whatever you did for one of the least of my brothers of mine, you did for me."
"Over 20,000 women and their babies have been recipients of grants totaling over $4,000,000."
You lifted my burden--
"Dear Cradle of Hope, I want to thank you with my whole heart for helping me. It's not easy to ask for help but it's nice to know that in my time of need, there is someone/organization out there. t helps me and my situation and helps to lift some of my burdens." ~ Laura
Our daughter came early--
"Cradle of Hope, My family wishes to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We knew our daughter would have a difficult time when she came early. I couldn't work and spent lots of time at the hospital. Your donation dollars came at a perfect time for us. Thank you very much!" ~ Danni
"Thank you so much for "being there" to provide help and hope to the numerous women and babies in critical situations. You truly make a difference! I am espeically grateful to Cradle of Hope for fulfilling requests that our local agency in Mankato periodically submits on behalf of women in need. Thank you all for being the "hands and feet" of Christ. God will continue to bless and provide all that is needed for Cradle of Hope. In His Service," Sally
"Thank you so much for the generous grants provided to many of "the moms" I care for during pregnancy. I feel so fortunate to be able to share the news and hear or see the joy in the good news. Thanks, again, to all who are involved in this process." Linda C. RN
"Kathy, This is D. with Birthright. I want to tell you that I just came from L.'s home and delivered the crib voucher. She told me that you also paid for some of her car insurance and she just broke down and cried. She was so happy! They have nothing [since coming up here after the hurricane.] Her husband is on a 90-day start up program with his job and she's hoping he'll get on full-time and receive medical benefits. By then, she'll be going back to work. I cannot explain in words her expression. She was just in awe. So, thank you very much - It just makes my day!" - D., Birthright Volunteer
I decided to carry my child--
"Dear Cradle of Hope, Thank you so much for assisting me with my rent this month. As you know, I decided to carry my child to term and because of this decision, my parents cut me off emotionally and financially. I truly appreciate that you decided to help me - I don't know where I would be today without your assistance. Thank You!" ~ Sara
A 'Gift' back--
"Dear Cradle of Hope, I really, really thank you! Please keep my card and this donation towards anyone else who needs help." ~ Jillian
"Dear Cradle of Hope, Thank you so much for helping out our family with the food certificates. They really helped up out a lot. We are very blessed to have such a special family and also to have an organization like yours who help make our situation less stressful. We hope to help out others in our situation in the future. Thanks, again!" -The M. Family
It's a well researched and detailed statistics website. Kudos to the man
The US is not at the highest in terms of % -- the highest is Greenland at 51%, and the US is 22.6% with theUK at 21% for 2008
Mexico is just 0.09%
Abortion peaked in the US from 75-80 (nice graph he has), but the highest number of abortions was in 1990 - 1.6 MILLION. 2008 is lower at 1.2 million babies murdered but still too high.
I moved to Poland last year and one of the family friends is part of a pro-life group that is working to reduce the loopholes for an abortion. Right now in Poland an abortion is allowed only for three reasons: 1. Danger to mother's life, 2. Rape, 3. Mental/physical health of mother and child
Note that these are the 3 excuses that pro-baby-murder activists cite, yet they account for just 160 abortions a year in a country 1/10th (approx) the size of the US. So, there are only 1,600 or 2,000 abortions that of these kinds in the US
And the family friend wants to remove options 2 and 3. I agree with him. Since the banning of most forms of abortion, there has been no increase in pregnancy-related deaths
You can find also interesting statistics for Northern Ireland, which though a part of the liberal UK, has the same strict anti-murder laws as Poland. Of course, the Northern Irish women can just hop across to Scotland to kill, but that's a journey for a purpose no matter how easy and many presumably think, because the murder of baby rate in N. Ireland is 4.4% only as compared to 22% for England, 20% for Wales and 19% for SCotland
"In a culture of death, we have had the opportunity [with the ultrasound machine provided by Focus on the Family's Option Ultrasound program ] to let them see the life that is pulsing inside, the life of the unborn baby whose presence was already touched by God's hand and blessing. To see and hear the heartbeat of their baby is one of the most shocking and thrilling experiences for most of our clients, who originally came with the expectation of seeing a conglomerate of blood and tissue that they did not think was a human being.... Thank you for helping to change Romania!"
I think the thing is that in the former Eastern bloc, it was so common and it was not hit hard in their minds that it is murder. Only in Poland was that fact driven home and driven home politically (banning the murder). But more needs to be done.
WHAT does any of that, beautiful as it is, have to do with this article that you defended? I did not question your commitment to the cause. Why are you acting as if I have? Further implying that somehow, I am NOT?
I am asking you straight up WHY you defended an article designed to KEEP allowing abortions while freeing the conscience? And you will not answer a straight question with a straight answer. WHY?
Not quite....I agree with everything except the above. It's true you cannot ask forgiveness of the people who are no longer living. And for certain the accuser of men stands before a Holy God procliming them murderers, but that's where Christ steps in and says to God...Excuse me Father ... I paid for that. So it's not hopeless... for those who have accepted Christ's finished work on their behalf. But those without Christ will indeed pay the penalty.
I know woman who have had abortions and were eaten up with guilt thereafter.....until they came to Christ and knew His forgiveness covered all sin...and that includes murder. That does not mean one moves ahead without the awareness they took the life of their own child. Which sometimes can trouble their hearts...but they do know His forgiveness for that and they are free from the Gods wrath.
The sin can be forgiven but that does not mean the consquences this side of heaven will not be played out, but.."... there is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."
I cannot imagine what it means to carry the guilt of taking the life of your own child but it must be a terrible weight on ones heart and soul. One gal was able to push that aside until she married and gave brith to her second child. She could not look in that childs face without also seeing the face of the child she never knew....
“So, for example, a Christian, based on the central claims of his faith, has good reason to believe that the unborn from conception is a moral person and thus his neighbor. Nevertheless, he may have a difficult time placing that belief in our laws if he lives in a society in which most of its citizens cannot see the unborns personhood. In that case, the Christian, relying on the principle of prudence, may opt for more modest attempts at shaping policy that provide a means to teach his compatriots about the sanctity of human life (as well as to protect as many innocent persons as possible). So, he and his church may support a partial-birth-abortion ban, since it requires that their compatriots confront this gruesome procedure and what it does to a being that seems obviously to be one of us.”
No where does he advocate letting babies die for political reasons. That one would malign a sincere pro life Christian by your misreading and assumptions is uncharitable and shows a lack of comprehension. Bottom line in tackling public policy on abortion you can not win all the battles right away. The battles that are easiest to win are the ones where you can appeal to what is obvious to most people. For example the fact that partial birth abortions are performed on late term pre born is a gruesome and horrible procedures. It does not take much public education to show that fact. However it is harder to get many people to an understanding that early abortions even though they don’t involve potentially viable fetuses are just as wrong. This wrong is evident to pro lifers both from scientific arguments and philosophical arguments. Such arguments are not obvious to many people especially those brought up in a culture where abortion is an accepted norm. It is much harder to push for public policy if the reasoning behind that proposed policy is not understood. So you do what you can. You do it by education. You do it by fighting for laws such as requiring ultrasounds for those considering aborition. You do it by requiring parental consent for minors who want to have an abortion. You do it by providing real support for women who are pregnant in difficult circumstances.
Deciding that you are going to first bring people’s attention to the horrors of late term abortion does not mean you have become an advocate of early term abortion. At some point it becomes possible to leave the argument that abortion is wrong because concrete facts of fetal age and method to abortion is wrong because of abstract philosophy such as personhood and principles of natural law.
This understanding takes a revolution in how many people see the argument over abortion. Which is now couched for the most part in terms of a woman’s right to choose. Until we see more people gaining an understanding of the foundation for opposing abortion the less likely it will be to change laws regarding it.
I believe a woman who repented of her abortion will have less to fear from the judgment of Christ than those who mock His mercy and forgiveness.
Are you implying that I am mocking Jesus? Are you really?
I am not implying you are mocking Jesus. I am stating that you are mocking His promise of mercy and forgiveness for those who repent and turn to Him.
So, for example, a Christian has good reason to believe that the unborn from conception is a person ...BUT...he might not be able to convince the hacks of unbelief. In that case, the Christian may opt for more modest attempts which forestalls fully attempting to END the practice and allows abortion to continue unchecked, BUT, that is alright because while millions of unborn innocents are STILL being slaughtered, the godless can be educated into becoming godly and in about 10 thousand years, abortion will be stopped once and for all.
Yeah. I get it.
I think Christ was addressing the people in this way because it was pretty obvious they could not understand at that time why the Messiah they were expecting to Rule was being crucified. They really didn’t understand the crucifixion and rightfully so. They were expecting certain things to occur when their King came and this certainly didn’t figure in with their thinking.
He even told His deciples many times, even they didn’t get it until after the resurrection. Then they understood all that He had spoken of before.
But because no man then could do enough to satisfy the requirments God has established, and because there can be no forgivenes without the shedding of blood, He himself provided the solution and took our sin upon Himself so that we might choose eternal life thru Him. That is the choice one must make.....just a matter if an individual wants forgiveness in the manner in which God has established that as possible. One can know with certainty he is forgiven by God.
I think Christ showed His love for them when He spoke those words to His Father.
Late term abortions are no more gruesome then snuffing out the life of a child thru other means...it’s all death and bloody. No matter the form it takes the child is abused and suffers from abortion. No matter how ones culture or ideas of what that chid is or not or their faith...life is life and even to conside rhe idea of taking life should itself be a wake up call to the individual....and it is as they struggle away from the natural flow intened when one discovers they are going to have a baby.
Let me note that when one desires a baby and finds themselve pregnant they announce they are having a baby, regarless how many weeks it is. They are having ababy and delight in the news shared with others.
When a child is not wanted it suddenly becomes a fetus or something else altogether...and the stuggle then begins.
“I think Christ was addressing the people in this way because it was pretty obvious they could not understand”
THAT is the point. They did NOT understand. Those who did not understand could be forgiven. But what of those who did and chose it anyway? There was no wiggle room in those words.
I don’t think any of them understood Mesta. Just as with the Apostle Paul, before he met Christ, on his way to butcher those who believed in Christ. He had a tre and sincere zeal for God but no understanding that it was Christ he was persecuting.....until Christ met Him and revealed Himself to Paul.
And that is how God really does work with us...no matter if Jewish , an unbelieverr, or something else....when it is our time to meet Him He is already waiting in the way that we go to reveal Himself to us. Some will hear His voice within their heart and others will walk away. But that is where the choice of life is made for all men.
You are preaching to the choir. But we are talking about people who have no idea what music is let alone whether it is in key.
The biggest task and the one with the most far reaching results will be to change the abortion argument from one which is understood in terms of a woman’s right to choose (hah) to one in which the scientific and moral foundations of prolife beliefs become the foundation for the arguments on public policy.