Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Religion and Politics...Media loves it

The Sunday Star Tribune front page lead story was "When campaign and cross unite." It dealt with the MFC's efforts to promote informed voting by churchmembers, among other things. Of course, this is viewed as such a novel, almost exotic idea that it invariably garners a lot of media attention every general election cycle.

I think the ongoing media fascination with church involvement stems from the faulty notion of the separation of church and state and the postmodern mindset that faith is a purely private matter which shouldn't be promoted publicly, especially when it comes to politics. This is a historically incorrect understand of the US Constitution's Establishment Clause which was intended to keep the institutions of church and state separate in order to protect religious liberties not muzzle the expression of religious based public views and positions.

One thing which has increased interest, at least at a low level, is the effort by the Alliance Defense Fund to challenge the IRS' 1954 gag rule prohibiting churches and pastors from speaking in support or opposition to particular candidates. The rule which is seldom enforced, and when done so inconsistently, has been used to intimidate churches and pastors to remain silent on on public issues and election involvement in general. The lawsuit will either strike down the rule or force the IRS to clarify exactly what pastors and churches can and can not say and do.

I recently read about the controversy in the 1984 elections when Reagan was very outspoken on the importance of faith in our public life and Mondale argued faith was a private matter which shouldn't be brought into the public arena. This controversy is nothing new.

The mix of religious and politics are as old as the Republic. In further blog posts I'll explore some of the differing opinions among evangelicals on the proper relationship between faith and politics.

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