2.24.2005

A "liberal" Christian?

Some time ago, Ray posted regarding "progressive Christians." I'm not sure what makes people of this persuasion "progressive" except that they (common-sensically, it seems) believe that God has things to do on Earth now--including helping those that can't help themselves for one reason or another. And these things sometimes require small sacrifices on the part of His people. Well, I'm not sure how it's supposed to be defined. But I did come across a link to a person who does seem to have a more coherent idea of what it ("progressive" Christianity) is. I think he might say that progressive Christianity is just an attempt to adapt the economics of the Gospel--and by this I don't mean the prosperity gospel--as well as the ethics of the Gospel. But enough of my opinions. Read his words to Chuck Colson. _______________
On Monday, Feb. 21, Charles Colson, in his daily radio commentary, criticized what he perceived as my message. I'm sending my response in this "open letter." Dear Chuck, In your commentary, "Moral Equivalency: The Religious Left Gets It Wrong," you critiqued me as a "leader of the religious left," quoting The New York Times. And you particularly focus on abortion, saying that I consider "all moral issues to be equivalent," and that since I say the Bible talks much more about poverty than abortion, I believe "the religious left is more in tune with the Bible than are conservatives." As you may know, I'm currently traveling around the country speaking about my new book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. And in all my speaking and media appearances, I say no such thing. What I do say is that there is, in the words of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, a "seamless garment of life" in which all issues that infringe on human life are important. I challenge Democrats on abortion, and I challenge Republicans on war and poverty. In a recent interview with Christianity Today, I said: "It's important for the Democrats to change the way they talk about a moral issue like abortion, to respect pro-life Democrats, to welcome them in the party, and to talk first about how they are going to be committed to really dramatically reducing unwanted pregnancies - not just retaining the legal option of abortion, which Democrats are going to do, because that's part of their plank." But I also said, "My hope is that Republicans can broaden their conversation about moral values beyond just abortion and gay marriage to poverty and the environment and the ethics of war." I believe deeply that Christians must seriously be concerned about everything that threatens the lives of people created in the image of God. Abortion is important; war and economic justice are also important. You also ask your listeners, "Why help the poor if we don't believe all lives are equal in God's sight? If you support ending the life of a child because it will be born into poverty, how can you logically call yourself an advocate for the poor?" The reverse is also true. If you support protecting an unborn life but don't provide the necessary support to the mother and child in poverty after birth, how can you logically call yourself pro-life? As I told Christianity Today: "Christians can't say, 'All we care about is someone's stance on abortion. I don't care what they do to the economy, to the poor, I don't care what wars they fight, I don't care what they do on human rights.' It's almost like we care about children until they're born and then after that, they're on their own. We're cutting child health care, cutting child care for moms moving out of welfare. No, you can't just care about a child until they're born." My message to both parties - to both liberals and conservatives - is that protecting life is indeed a seamless garment. Protecting unborn life is important. Opposing unjust wars that take human life is important. And supporting anti-poverty programs that provide adequate support for mothers and children in poverty is important. Neither party gets it right; each has perhaps half of the answer. My message and my challenge are to bring them together. What I'm saying around the country is that there is a new option for American politics that follows from the prophetic religious tradition. It is "traditional" or "conservative" on issues of family values, sexual integrity, and personal responsibility while being very "progressive," "populist," or even "radical" on issues such as poverty and racial justice. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist - looking first to peacemaking and conflict-resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions. The people it appeals to (many religious, but others not) are very strong on issues such as marriage, raising kids, and individual ethics, but without being "right-wing," reactionary, or mean-spirited, or using any group of people - such as gays and lesbians - as scapegoats. It can be pro-life, pro-family, and pro-feminist all at the same time. It thinks issues of "moral character" are very important, both in a politician's personal life, and in his or her policy choices. Yet it is decidedly pro-poor, pro-racial reconciliation, pro-environment, and critical of purely military solutions. That's the message that is resonating around the country, Chuck. Not that all issues are "morally equivalent" but that, indeed, as you say, the "first one, the right to life, is non-negotiable." Perhaps the difference between us is that I believe that non-negotiable right continues after birth. Blessings, Jim

1 Comments:

Blogger yomama said...

i have been looking forward to reading his book!

love chuck. but for lack of a more eloquent way to say it- he's been getting on my nerves lately.
maureen

2/25/2005 8:52 AM  

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