Carol Platt Liebau: Getting Religion

Friday, June 30, 2006

Getting Religion

Barack Obama gives Democrats a reality check in high minded terms -- about the importance of reaching out to people of faith.

Even setting aside the militantly secular wing of the party, however, Obama's plea is wrapped in contradictions. Take the one example he offers of where religious faith could be involved in political debate: The estate tax.

Tax issues have, traditionally, never been an area where religious leaders have made their stand (unless, of course, it directly impacts churches, for example). You don't see Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson making a Bible-based plea for estate tax eimination. Usually, conservative religious leaders have focused on a fairly narrow spectrum of issues -- like abortion, public prayer, gay marriage, assisted suicde and the like. In other words, issues either protecting the practice rights of religious believers, or dealing with matters of life and death.

When politicians start relying on religious leaders to weigh in on matters that don't have an absolutely clear religious nexus, they run the risk of looking like they are trying to manipulate religion to achieve particular policy ends -- much as if, for example, Republicans relied on a pastor to make the case for cutting the capital gains tax or raising the drinking age.

The other risk is that, by trying to get Democrats in the game, Barack is suggesting expanding the scope of issues where explicitly religious dialogue is welcome. It's an interesting idea . . . one just wonders whether it's to the Democrats' overall advantage to be introducing religion into even more public spheres.

As far as I'm concerned, though, they're welcome.

6 Comments:

Blogger stackja1945 said...

Dems get religion? What would the left say?

6:29 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

As a resident of the People's Republic of Illinois, I was amazed to hear Obama speak out in this manner. Turns out we're of the same denomination. The UCC is a very liberal denomination which takes pride in being the first to ordain an openly gay dude. Their stance on many other issues are also what one would expect from the left. Each congregation is autonomous with no mandate to adhere to the larger org's resolutions (Thank God). My congregation is mostly conservative. Though I'm prez of the church council and chairman of the Board of Elders, I'm really still unsure if I will remain. My congregation is in the process of determining just where we stand on certain issues. We do definitely have some Dems amongst us, including our pastor, and debates do arise. I'm one of the few who don't mind politics from the pulpit provided there's Scriptural support. But public pronouncements of faith by Dems will be weird, though welcome. But right off, Obama uses the phrase "monopoly on truth". This is code for, "I don't care what you or God says, I'm doing it anyway!" It will be interesting to see the reaction of fellow lefties to Obama's statement. I predict we'll see and hear more politicians posing as people of faith. It will be like a new fad for them in hopes of garnering votes. Will we see any blips on the sincerity radar?

10:27 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

Marshall,

What you wrote makes absolutely no sense.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Marshall Art said...

Sound out the big words, ditto.

12:24 AM  

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