Religion in politics: Bad for religion | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Religion in politics: Bad for religion

Posted By on Sat, Jun 9, 2012 at 6:23 AM

STOP BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE: A protest against Obama health care coverage for women yesterday in Little Rock, styled as a rally for religious freedom.
  • STOP BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE: A protest in Little Rock yesterday against Obama health care coverage for women. It was styled as a rally for 'religious freedom.'

Good timing yesterday on the convergence of a news event and an article of pertinent comment.

Religious groups ralled outside the state Capitol yesterday to protest the Obama administration's effort to insure that women have birth control coverage under health insurance plans. The rallying religionists want employers of any sort to be able to pick and choose what insurance coverage is available under their private health insurance — even though significant tax benefits are conferred by the government on these insurance plans and even though the coverage may come at no cost to the employer.

It was a political event. A Republican politician was a featured speaker. Republican political operatives were on hand and sent out photos, such as the one above. Republicans called the roll on which Republicans were in attendance and Democrats who were not. Obamacare and abortion were much on the minds of the attendees. Catholic Bishop Anthony Taylor got a noticeably cool response when he mentioned the government's ill treatment of immigrants. Taylor, whose advocacy for immigrants was once a foundational interest, has become more engaged in sexual politics of late, and not just the all-out fight against contraception. He also recently punished a vital Latino assistance group because of its tangential relationship to an out-of-state organization that believed help to immigrant families should include those headed by same-sex parents.

In short: Friday's rally was primarily about people who want to defeat President Obama's health care policies and defeat Obama in the fall. A non-existent attack on religion was the bloody shirt.

It's a continuation of the culture wars, with continuing cries of victimization, waged for decades now by religious conservatives. It is a war, says this commendable article by Jonathan Merritt in The Atlantic, that hasn't advanced the cause of religion. An excerpt:

As we look back on more than a quarter century of political engagement by the religious right, two things now appear obvious.

First, partisan religion is killing American Christianity. The American church is declining by nearly every data point. Christians are exerting less influence over the culture than even a few years ago, organized religion no longer garners the respect of the masses, and two in three young non-Christians claim they perceive the Christian church as "too political." Church attendance is declining, and the percentage of Americans claiming no religious affiliation is rising.

As sociologists Robert Putnam and David Campbell argue, the church's partisan political alignment is at least partly to blame. In a recent article in Foreign Affairs they write, "In effect, Americans (especially young Americans) who might otherwise attend religious services are saying, 'Well, if religion is just about conservative politics, then I'm outta here.'"

The question we must now answer is not, "Can we save this nation?" but "Can we save our faith?" And the only way it seems we will be able to do the latter is through abandoning the partisan, divisive strategies adopted by the Christian right and begin engaging the public again in more prudent ways.

Second, we learned that partisan Christianity cannot effectively change our culture. When the religious right formed, conservative Christians were energized around restricting abortion and same-sex marriage, reducing the size of government, and protecting religious freedom. More than a quarter-century later, these same debates innervate the movement. Little progress has been made despite their best efforts, and an increasing number of individuals now recognize the religious right strategy has largely been a failure. The irony of this turn of events is that Christians above all others know that true change must occur in hearts — not just the halls of power.

Religion IS just about conservative politics for a significant number of people. And vice versa. If it doesn't remind you of some Middle Eastern regimes, it should.

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (56)

Showing 1-50 of 56

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-50 of 56

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • City Board votes to table homeless feeding ordinance for 8 weeks, study with commission

    The Little Rock Board of Directors voted tonight to table for eight weeks an ordinance that homeless advocates say would severely limit the ability of charities to feed homeless people in city parks. Before the ordinance was punted, Vice Mayor Kathy Webb proposed a nine-member commission to study the issue and make recommendations to the board.
    • May 16, 2017
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Football is king, Bentonville edition

    • the plural of prius is the same as is the plural of starbucks. seattle. more…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • Gftra - I have a 98% Golden/2% Chow that goes practically everywhere I do. He…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • A new word for today--"Whatabouism" Yes, there is even a Wikipedia entry that describes it…

    • on July 23, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation