Campaign ’08 Lessons on Religion and Politics
Melissa Rogers summarizes what the U.S. presidential campaign has taught us so far about religion and politics in the U.S. today. She lists 6 major lessons, some of them very painfully learned. Click to her site and discuss.
Myself, I hope that one major lesson that pastors learn is refuse to endorse political candidates. I hope the media learns that membership in a church does NOT equal agreement with all a pastor’s views and that attempts to cull through sermons for “gotcha” material on a candidate (unless that candidate has actively sought an endorsement) hurts the church and other members. I hope candidates learn that, although seeking the support of people of faith because one shares many of their moral views and wants to try to forge public policies that reflect those moral concerns (while also respecting church-state separation and our pluralistic society) is perfectly legitimate, one should not actively seek out personal endorsements of particular faith leaders.
Here are some other things Melissa didn’t mention that we have learned if we didn’t already know them:
One can smear a candidate by spreading the false rumor that he is a “secret Muslim.” To the detriment of U.S. citizens of Islamic faith, and to the detriment of our foreign relations with Muslim-majority nations, it has become painfully obvious that the public widely equates “Muslim” with “terrorist,” and that at least one political party (and a campaign in another?) is prepared to exploit that fear and ignorance rather than work to correct it.
The (white) media have zero grasp of liberation theologies, especially Black Liberation Theology, and most have little or no grasp of the dynamics of a black church.
Although members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) share many moral values in common with conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics, the majority of those evangelicals and Catholics who vote Republican still think of Mormonism as a cult and will not vote for a Mormon for president.
Despite the fact that both major Democratic Party candidates showed up at Messiah College in PA for a Faith and Compassion forum hosted by CNN (which was very intelligent and informative, much so than the Democratic “debate” a few days later), and the GOP candidate boycotted it, a plurality of white evangelicals still seem poised to vote for GOP candidate as “more Christian.” (I don’t understand this, but I didn’t understand the evangelical abandonment in 1980 of a Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher who tried to let his faith influence public policy on many issues for a divorced Hollywood actor who drank like a fish, almost never attended church, and whose knowledge of Christianity seemed limited to reading Hal Lindsey!)
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