Political power has a price

As soon as the presidential election returns came in, America began buzzing about the new political power of religion.

All the major news outlets have repeatedly claimed that the difference in the 2004 presidential election was provided by conservative evangelical Christians, and that the religious right has been quick to capitalize on this new-found influence by pushing moral issues such as abortion to the front of the republican legislative agenda.

Billy Graham and James Dobson are pushing their electoral clout against gay marriage and judicial activism. All of us should be forced to ask what it means to be a Christian and, perhaps more important, what it means to vote like one.

It is just infuriating that so many people sat back and allowed Christianity to become a political tool serving the pro-rich, pro-war, and only pro-American agenda of the far right. Why have so many social problems like poverty and racism been completely under the radar of the Christian establishment?

With the increasing influence of religion in politics, it is time to broaden the definition of "moral values," expanding from the myopic obsession with sex to get back to Christianity’s history of championing social reform. It is time for all believers to remember that the Bible has much more to say about caring for the poor than about eradicating sexual sins.

Focusing on real world problems is not an attempt to replace the message of salvation through Jesus’ divine grace with a message of salvation through good works. What we do individually is important, but we cannot and must not sit back and accept that our beliefs be determined for us by the political establishment.

I am a Christian, and I believe that the way our society treats its poor is far more important than whether we let homosexual couples get legally married. For every verse in the Bible about sexual immorality there are a dozen instructing us on how we should react to the less fortunate.

The religious right’s fixation on sex is an attempt to impose Christian virtues on a secular public.

It is a lot easier to try and force other people into changing their behavior than to actually try and make a difference in the world. Evangelical Christianity’s emphasis on abortion and gay marriage seem to have a lot more with the actions of non-Christians than with the problems that all of us share.

Believers are affected by many of the issues facing the world today like high divorce rates and America’s incredible materialism. However, rather than looking inside for the answers to these problems, groups like Focus on the Family are trying to blame the alleged deterioration of American society on external factors.

Christians carry more influence in the United States now than ever before. What we are going to stand for is up to us.

Personal morality is an important aspect of every person’s faith, but we should be looking at the bigger picture of all the teachings in the Bible. It is time for issues like poverty, racism and civil rights to be back in the forefront of what believers are fighting for.

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Title: Political power has a price | Author: Matt Weltner | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-06-01 | Internal ID: 4582