Tuesday, July 31, 2007
In the Christian Century, Jan Linn objects to the recent Democratic presidential candidates' forum on faith and politics:
The issue is not whether Christians or members of any other religious group have the right to vote for candidates who share their faith and values. The question is whether the way Christians on the right and left are involved in politics undermines both our democracy and the faith communities they represent. With good reason many of us have believed that the Christian right has done so. I would suggest that any group that focuses on the faith of candidates as a qualification for public office will negatively affect government and religion, even if its agenda is one of social justice.
Jim Wallis responds:
A forum on "faith, values and poverty" with leading candidates is appropriate in a presidential season. This forum showed that Democratic candidates, along with Republican candidates (who will appear in a similar forum in September), can be comfortable with issues of faith and public life, respect the separation of church and state, and show their own faith to be both personal and real while connecting it to broad policy issues like poverty, environmental responsibility, criminal justice, war and peace, the notion of the common good, the sanctity of life and healthy families (and thankfully not just the last two issues).
Our forum recalled the words of Lincoln, who warned us not to believe that God is on our side, but to worry and pray earnestly that we are on God's side. We might also heed the advice of the U.S. Catholic bishops, whose guidelines on faith and public life bear repeating. As Christians, they wrote, we are called to be political but not partisan, principled but not ideological, clear but also civil, engaged but not used.