Friday, February 15, 2008

Give Me a New Law

Have you ever had a song just stop you in your tracks? About two years ago I was listening to the radio and across came lyrics that perfectly depicted American Christianity (video in sidebar):
don’t teach me about politics and government , just tell me who to vote fordon’t teach me about truth and beauty, just label my music
don’t teach me how to live like a free man ,just give me a new lawi don’t wanna know if the answers aren’t easy, so just bring it down from the mountain to me
don’t teach me about moderation and liberty,i prefer a shot of grape juicedon’t teach me about loving my enemies,don’t teach me how to listen to the Spirit, just give me a new law
what’s the use in trading a law you can never keep, for one you can that cannot get you anything, do not be afraid ,do not be afraid do not be afraid.
I was searching the internet yesterday morning for any news out of the CPAC Conference when I saw Dr. James Dobson in the news. “Dr. James Dobson released a statement to The Laura Ingraham Show. He stated his “personal opinions “of this critical election:
“I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.“I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has sounded at times more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP caucus in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004. McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does NOT make the medicine go down. I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience. These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I am affiliated. They do reflect my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, about moral and spiritual beliefs, and about the welfare of our country.” “
Where do I start? James Dobson does not get on Laura Ingraham if it is not for his being recognized for his position as Focus on the Family leader any more than he would be put on ESPN for his personal predictions on the NFL draft. So, the premise is flawed from the gate .
Secondly, as an evangelical leader if he is to make a statement about someone it should be true. Kerry approached John Mc Cain and asked him to consider being his running mate. According to the Boston Globe;
“The union of a Democrat and a Republican “would make good on the president’s promise to be a uniter, not a divider,” said one Kerry aide, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity. Such a ticket could offer Americans the prospect of a reduction in the partisanship that has increasingly gripped Capitol Hill during the past decade, as well as a return to the national unity experienced in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.”
Some of Dr. Dobsons claims are just untrue and several judge and assign intent to the action in clear violation of biblical precepts. Bottom line, it is just partisan politics, using his position as a evangelical leader in a questionable manner. He should be well aware that walking a tightrope of personal and professional statements could endanger his 501 (c) (3) status; especially in light of the Oral Roberts crisis and Senator Grassley’s hearings. While I am well aware that the “little disclaimer” legally protects Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family organization, that is exactly what the Grassley hearings are about.
I believe Phil Gramm (Tex.), nailed it yesterday in the Washington Post when he said; “They say they have principles, but some of it is their ego and power, too. They’re well-known, and they’re used to having power.” Gramm acknowledges. “Some people, in their own minds, think they have exerted a strong influence over the party, and now they are seeing that influence passing,” he said. “There’s some bitterness on their part. They’re people who put their dogma in front of the interests of the country.”
But I have even greater concern for a trend we have discussed for years having a negative influence on the church, namely Americanized Christianity. It is a form of Christianity that has a different worldview than we have in the Bible. Perhaps this is why so many evangelical leaders could vocally endorse Romney, as his worldview may be closer to theirs than the Bibles.
Over at Political Punch Jake Tapper notes (Editor’s note — that’s not true. Kerry approached McCain, McCain said no.) and then brings up David Kuo’s response to Dr. Dobson:
And there, in a nutshell, is the Christian worldview as James Dobson pronounces it:
- cutting taxes- a Constitutional amendment “protecting” marriage- elimination of embryonic stem-cell research- a US Senate stripped of the very powers that the Founders gave it- not cursing.
Darn. Is there a more succinct and stunning summation of the reason why evangelical voters are throwing off self-appointed evangelical mullahs like James Dobson? And why, according to a new Barna study, 40% of evangelicals would vote for the Democratic candidate if the election were held today (versus 28% for the Republican candidate).
Evangelical voters are saying that they think a Christian worldview should include tackling issues like poverty and health care. They are saying that perhaps Jesus would oppose the wanton torture of other human beings. They are saying that perhaps obeying God’s first command - to care for His creation - matters. And they are saying that the idea of deporting 12 million illegal immigrants sounds cruel and frightening.
By putting himself out there so forcefully, Dr. Dobson risks playing the role of Dr. Kevorkian in ushering in the end of the old-line religious right.
After the passing of Dr. Falwell I did a post entitled When the truth becomes a liability on another site that stirred great response and emotion from people.
Just as the climate for spiritual abuse is set by biblical illiteracy; so is the climate in every other arena. Failing to hold our political leaders to account and first to be truthful, rather than parrot a line, then to assault truth and call it unwelcome, or term it unpatriotic is inexcusable.
The truth is an unsettling matter and tough to deal with. A song comes to mind from years back from Fleetwood Mac: Tell Me Lies. We should be very careful of who we lend our support to publicly when we don the title Christian and associate it with ourselves. Don’t be used as a stooge and parrot lines, it reflects on the body of Christ.
Do you feel like the republican party has been honest with the American public? Do you in any way equate someones political affiliations with their Christianity? Are you comfortable with political messages from the pulpit? Do Christians really have a public voice that represents them or are they just thrown a bone now and then to keep them in line and quiet?
The last time I checked the Canon was closed and the law was fulfilled in Christ. Is our hope in Christ or are we just humanists in a church putting our faith the state? As political as I am, my ultimate faith for my future is in Christ, not a political party.

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