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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Christian Who Deserves the Name

Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers - New York Times by John Danforth: "To assert that I am on God's side and you are not, that I know God's will and you do not, and that I will use the power of government to advance my understanding of God's kingdom is certain to produce hostility. By contrast, moderate Christians see ourselves, literally, as moderators. Far from claiming to possess God's truth, we claim only to be imperfect seekers of the truth. We reject the notion that religion should present a series of wedge issues useful at election time for energizing a political base. We believe it is God's work to practice humility, to wear tolerance on our sleeves, to reach out to those with whom we disagree, and to overcome the meanness we see in today's politics."
The Honorable Reverend Danforth has offered a clear and gentle denunciation of the Religious Right. His perspective deserves a good deal of attention, in my opinion, because he provides a reconciliation with the strongly held, emotional and irrational religious opinions of many with the concept of a government free of ties to such religious doctrines. If we subject our political debate and discussion to the doctrines of a religion, however well intended, we subject that debate to the indubitable. Religion does not suffer evidence. It does not suffer question. It does not suffer discussion. It is considered de facto true by the witness of the supposed revelation. And yet these people who suffer from sincerely held revelations feel strongly that they should be able to make civic decisions based on the moral guidance they derive from their revelations. As the Hon. Rev. Danforth suggests, however, it is incumbent upon us all to insist that our revelations, beliefs held without repeatable evidence, not be used as sticks to beat the unbeliever into submission. As Danforth observes, many of us have similar, possibly compatible revelations that are not in agreement. None of these revelations are subject to an objective measure of merit in large part because they are not subject to any measure. They are not observable. As a final observation on this post, I would note that it strikes me as particularly absurd to posit an omnipotent, omniscient, infinite divinity and then suggest that this divinity is limited to only one revelation, one truth, one expression of reality. How anthropomorphic can you get?

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