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

Speaking of...

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

Readers also liked…

  • FOI lawsuit filed for State Police firing records on ABC enforcement boss Boyce Hamlet

    Russell Racop has filed, as promised, his lawsuit over the State Police's refusal — under guidance from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge — to release records that provide information that led to the firing of current Alcoholic Beverage Control Enforcement Director Boyce Hamlet as a state trooper.
    • Sep 9, 2015
  • Lawyers plead for mercy in Fort Smith forum shopping case

    Twelve of the lawyers facing punishment by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith for moving a class action case against an insurance company out of his court to a state court where it was speedily settled have filed their argument against sanctions.
    • Jun 16, 2016
  • The plight of the refugees: Dark episodes in Arkansas

    Ernest Dumas reaches into history, some personal, for moments in Arkansas's view of refugees. It was brought to mind by the current crisis in Europe and the political divisions over whether the U.S. should respond to the needs of the displaced.
    • Sep 22, 2015

Most Shared

  • Former state board of education chair Sam Ledbetter weighs in on Little Rock millage vote

    Ledbetter, the former state Board of Education chair who cast the decisive vote in 2015 to take over the LRSD, writes that Education Commissioner Johnny Key "has shown time and again that he is out of touch with our community and the needs of the district." However, Ledbetter supports the May 9 vote as a positive for the district's students and staff.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • Griffen asks probe of Ark. Supreme Court and AG's office conduct

    At a press conference today at the Doubletree Hotel just across from the Pulaski County Courthouse, Pulaski County Fifth Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen and his attorneys announced that he has asked the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission to investigate the conduct of the entire Arkansas Supreme Court, and asked the director of the Arkansas Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate the conduct of Attorney General Leslie Rutledge and several others in the AG's office, related to what Griffen and his attorneys claim were forbidden ex parte conversations between the Supreme Court and the AG's office.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

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