Two things you should read

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Looking at the news this morning, I ran across two editorials in The Washington Post that I think are worth reading, so I'm passing the links along in case you missed them.

Kathleen Parker comments on the recent, appalling religious test the Presidential candidates recently submitted to in "Pastor Rick's Test--The Candidates Submit, and a Principle Suffers".

David Ignatius writes about the price of bravura, and whether Senator McCain really has the chops to deliver a responsible foreign policy in "The Risk of the Zinger".

Both commentaries say everything I would have said, more eloquently and with better editing--right down to Ms. Parker's invocation of Jefferson, who--if he were running for President today--would have properly declined to show up at the Saddleback Church affair and would have been slaughtered by the pundits for it. So I don't have anything more than a head nod to add, and I hope you get something from the pieces.


Jeri Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 4:53:00 PM EDT  

What's interesting, Eric, is that while I agree with you on principle, the Rick Warren grilling is really a centrist thing.

The very sizeable fundamentalist far right loathe Warren. They consider his position of ecumenism to be antithetical to concept of "doctrinal purity". (Ewwww.) They fear the great thinkers & "heretics" he admires, like Mother Teresa. There are a number of other doctrinal and positional points, but basically, they consider him to be a denier of the Bible and a panderer to godless Western philosophy. (If you're feeling masochistic, google "Rick Warren fundamentalist" for sources.)

So, while many of us consider the concept of Warren's religious grilling to be a sad abandonment of the principle of separation of church and state and an inappropriate intrusion into very private matters... the far right consider it to be a meaningless alliance with the Britney Spears of pop religion, with results and spiritual impact as trivial and wrongheaded as the latest reality tv show to hit the airwaves.


Leanright,  Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 2:36:00 PM EDT  

I attend and am a proud member of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and have been for quite some time.

Rick Warren is a passionate man whose mission has become bigger than he anticipated, but had always hoped for. Obviously he is going to be a target for nay-sayers, and non-believers. His certainly not a denier of the bible, and concentration on our services is based on a lot of scripture. I am always happy to share what God, Saddleback, and Rick have meant to me and my community

Eric Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 3:21:00 PM EDT  

Thanks for dropping by, Leanright. I appreciate your insightes into Rev. Warren's passion and commitment, but that's really not the issue. The issues are (1) that neither political candidate should have consented to any kind of interview with any religious leader in the country, and (2) the implicit pressure on both candidates to consent to such a meeting--created by our present cultural, media and political landscape--is an unfortunate and ugly departure from the ideals this nation was founded upon. The Constitution specifically disallows religious tests for office because the consensus of the nation's founders was that that religious prejudice poisons democracy. The Rev. Warren shindig effectively amounted to a religious test despite the fact it was essentially a private function--i.e. had a candidate declined to appear, it would have caused a media frenzy and been used for propaganda purposes by religious and political groups and pundits.

Indeed, let me even add that Jeri's assessment suggests that Rev. Warren might be one of those pastors that I'd have no serious beef with, one of those I'd get along with and kind of respect. Some of my best friends, as the old cliche goes, are Christians; a pastor who is reasonable and compassionate and ecumenical sounds likable and makes me think of religious leaders I've known and respected or read about and admired.

Rev. Warren might well be made of awesome. But politicians, if not religious leaders, ought to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, especially in a secular democracy founded on Enlightenment idealism.

Speaking personally, Senator McCain's and Senator Obama's religious views are only of interest to me to the extent they might guide policy; since neither seems fanatically religious, their religious beliefs are something that at best is none of my business and at worse something that is mildly distasteful when trotted out for public inspection and amusement that I have to set aside as a consideration for or against either candidate.

leanright,  Friday, August 22, 2008 at 1:32:00 PM EDT  

Actually, Pater Rick's forum was more of an opportunity for Obama, than is was for McCain. I believe without the forum, McCain would have taken the evangelical vote, regardless. Obama had nothing to lose by attending the forum. At first, me and those around our church community were a little put off by this event, but in the end, we believe there was value in it, and it gave both candidates equal footing.

What I don't believe is the heresay that McCain cheated and heard the questions first. One would assume, that knowing you would be speaking to a Christian Pastor, would give you a pretty good idea about which types of questions would be asked. To say McCain "cheated" is just ridiculous.

Back to Rick; he is an amazing man, but he is not delusional. He has become bigger than he anticipated, and so has our congregation. He doesn't let that get in the way of wanting what is truly best for the global community. He is often critisized for not taking care of America first, but that is not his job. As a servant of God, the global community is his venue. "Man" invented borders; God created the world. If it is your calling to serve God, then you do so in HIS community.

Eric Friday, August 22, 2008 at 8:09:00 PM EDT  

Leanright, I think you're still missing the point. It's not about politics. It's not about Pastor Warren. It doesn't matter who "won" or that Pastor Warren may be a very, very nice man and even a good man.

The point is that this country was founded on the principle that religion is an individual, private concern that has no place in government. The point is that no candidate for office should be expected to answer to a church leader--regardless of whether a candidate benefits and regardless of how wonderful and ecumenical the church leader happens to be. To paraphrase the third President Of The United States: how well or poorly McCain or Obama answered questions from a religious leader should be of no concern to me--it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

If McCain were, like me, an atheist, it would not convince me he was better qualified for the job of leading this country. The fact that Obama is a Christian is far less important to me than his stated positions on foreign policy, the Iraq war, and healthcare. And Pastor Warren's beliefs on any subject have (to the best of my knowledge) absolutely zero impact on me in any regard with the possible exception of how the Saddleback Church affair might affect the outcome of the Presidential election.

Pastor Warren, Senators McCain and Obama, and you yourself can believe whatever the heck you want to--in zero gods, one god, a dozen gods, a billion gods, a divine toaster--and as long as all of y'alls religious beliefs aren't intruding on my rights or anyone else's rights, or dictating the outcomes of decisions that impact the wallets, lives or healths of myself or anyone I'm close to, I really couldn't care less. Your belief system nurtures and sustains you--good for you. Senator McCain's faith got him through a POW camp, Senator Obama's gave him a stable foundation for his outlook on the world, Pastor Warren's beliefs lead him to do good things for the poor, hungry and troubled--good for all of them, I'm happy for them. Now can we get back to the business of choosing a secular leader for the millions of people of all creeds (and none) gathered in this great and enlightened nation founded on the principles of freedom and equality for all?

Jeri Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 8:09:00 PM EDT  

Eric, to that I submit an (ironic) Amen, brother. ;)

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