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The Wars of Religion Return

Comment

Last week's clash between Dr. James Dobson and Barack Obama is but the latest skirmish in a war that dates back to the time of Christ. At issue: What is Christian truth? Does the true Christian put social peace ahead of his duty to make God's Law man's law?

In a speech in June 2006, Obama, citing the Book of Leviticus, which declares homosexuality an abomination, noted that Leviticus also says the eating of shellfish is an abomination and condones slavery.

Moreover, Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is "a passage so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."

"Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," said Obama.

"Even ... if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States ... whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's or with Al Sharpton's?"

Barack was saying that, since Christians disagree deeply over what is biblical truth, why fight? Let us "try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than have religion divide us."

In Catholicism, this is the heresy of indifferentism, which holds that one religion is just as good as another and all religions can be a path to salvation. The Pew poll out last week reveals that 82 percent of Protestants believe there are multiple paths to salvation, as do 79 percent of Catholics and 57 percent of evangelicals.

A striking development. For did not Christ say, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me"?

Dr. Dobson is having none of it. Tuesday, he accused Obama of "deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology."

"(H)e is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter," said Dobson. "Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the life of tiny babies?"

"What he (Obama) is saying here is that unless everyone agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."

Dobson has no small point. For in his litany of moral heroes, Barack himself selected no "can't-we-all-just-get-along?" Christians.

Indeed, Obama celebrates the Underground Railroad and the abolitionists who, to end slavery, took us over the brink into Civil War.

He invokes the defiant marchers of Selma Bridge and Dr. King, who chose confrontation and tore the nation asunder rather than see segregation endure.

Obama, however, is now preaching a kumbaya Christianity where leaders who believe abortion is the killing of the innocent unborn are to set their convictions and cause aside in the name of ecumenical amity.

It is Dobson who, in his intolerance of perceived evil, seems in the tradition of the abolitionists, and Barack who appears more like the milquetoast believers of whom Christ said he would spit them out of his mouth because they were neither hot nor cold and whom Dante consigned to the deepest reaches of hell.

Does social peace require the toleration of manifest evil?

In the Roman Empire before Constantine, Christians accepted martyrdom rather than burn incense to Caesar. Thomas More went to his death rather than assent to the divorce of the Henry VIII, declaring, "I am the King's good servant, but God's first."

A disciple of Gandhi, Dr. King is celebrated as a champion of civil disobedience against the injustice of segregation. What would Obama say to massive civil disobedience by those who believe the killing of 50 million unborn children since Roe v. Wade is a greater evil than segregating folks by race in public accommodations?

Would an Obama, who hails the abolitionists and Dr. King, condemn them as divisive? Was not that the charge thrown up at Dr. King?

The divide between Dobson and Barack is mirrored among many who profess the Christian faith. It split the Baptists. It is splitting the Episcopalians. A traditionalist minority has severed communion over female bishops and homosexual marriages.

Barack has a "fruitcake interpretation" of the Constitution if he thinks it requires us to give up fighting for justice because it may be divisive, says Dobson. Here, too, he has a point.

The unbridgeable divide between the two portends a troubled future. Can Americans ever come together if we are divided in our deepest beliefs about morality and truth, where one side believes gay marriage is moral progress, the other holds it a moral outrage; where one side views abortion to be a mighty advance for women's freedom, the other sees it as legalization of mass slaughter of unborn babies?

There can be no peaceful coexistence in a cultural war because it is at root a religious war. Far into the future, Americans seem fated to face each other again and again "at some disputed barricade."

To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
Not your most significant work Mr. Buchanan. Some cave men thought storms were punishment meted out by the gods. Others got beyond that, and here we are today. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Those who are willing to get beyond the cognitive trap of worshiping unborn fetuses are more concerned about how those would-be creatures get knocked around after they cross the starting line than before. Those who are not seem incapable of explaining how it is they are so passionately uninterested in taking the home the prize once they have stepped in to claim the object of their worship. .........................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Fifty million fetuses aborted since Roe v. Wade? What about the billions of fetuses actually born since then and sentenced to live out a life of poverty right under the noses of people who cared more about them when they were little blobs of cells than when they were human beings? How is it that the brigades of the righteous so easily ignore the plight of kids born in some crime-ridden ghetto somewhere without the benefit of having made the wise choice to be born in a well-to-do family? Must just be God's will, I guess. ........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
If you really care about reducing suffering in this world it should be easy to see where we need to fight the battle to save humanity. That's what comes to you if you are willing to accept the hard cold reality God has fated us to confront. But then again, who wants that when you can hide behind all that feel-good, bring-in-the-bucks rhetoric?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Tue Jul 1, 2008 9:05 AM
The historical trend in the relationship between politics and religion has long trended toward separation into completely distinct spheres. Periodically there are Great Awakenings, and we are in the midst of one now, where the nature of this relationship is re-examined, but ultimately those people who cannot accept being part of a society that respects differences in religion will create enclaves for themselves, such as those created by the Amish and the Hutterites, and withdraw from the world. Eventually, orthodox Catholics and all preachers of inflexible dogma will become nothing more than curiosities and even tourist attractions to those who are comfortable in a more pluralistic society.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Gastel
Tue Jul 1, 2008 10:23 AM
This in-fighting is not limited to Christianity. And since Religion is big business and big $$ and even bigger egos, you bet there's going to be a war! Why such fear of change w/in religion? If you ask me, it needs to change. Change is a constant, yet everyone fears or fights it in religion. Seems to me anyone who places their religion or their religious beliefs first is guilty of idolatry. How blind are the masses that will send $$ to their churches and pastors but not to the neighbor, or friend, or family member or an animal in need? There is a form of elitism in giving to the church or supporting a particular minister. All these minstry's claim to be doing the work of God and sending out the message, but then what? They've taught you what to say to save your soul for eternal life, then it's between you and God. Same w/the abortion issue. They save the unborn, once it's born, they're out of the picture because now it's you and God. Not you and them and God. No, you're on your own. Anyone can tell you, praying to God for food when you're hungry is like praying for healing when you're dying. Don't count on it! So many people, so many kids living nightmarish lives, but the preacher's, they're doing ok. It's easy enough to preach a gospel where you don't have to get your clothes soiled or your hands dirty. Food, clothing, shelter, safety, healthcare not their problem and oh by the way, send money so we can preach another feel good/guilty message. For these Talking Heads, their righteousness stops when the responsibility starts. As I said, it's big business and not for profit, no taxes and can't show they're profitable so they build bigger better churches not to honor God, but to disperse and keep their money within their own fiefdom.
Comment: #3
Posted by: liz
Tue Jul 1, 2008 10:16 PM
Sir;.... What your minister is saying: conform to his ideas to Mr. Obama's is a mistatement of the facts. Christian groups are all happy with us following laws of their making; but are unwilling to be bound by any law they do not like. Now, an idea of rights, and of mutual respect of rights is essential to a democracy, and in fact, any community. And while we would all like a higher authority to sanction our support of only those laws that suit us, in reality, if the rights of individuals are not supported there is no freedom to defend. Freedom is not experienced by denominations, and not by communities, churches, or sects. Freedom is an essential to the life of the individual, and it is through happy and free individuals that societies are made happy and free. Now, even if I accept that abortion is a sin, it is also the act of a slave, and no slave can be called happy, or free. Free people have always sought children and others to share and defend freedom with. We have nothing left to defend. We have less than nothing to defend if we defer our choice to self appointed authorities on morality when these people can offer nothing new, and only the old lust for power over others. Listen to me about this. I have read some, and figured out that whether we are talking about society, or government, or religion, or anything; we are in fact talking about a form of relationship. If the religions, as forms, are a happy relationship among their own, then they should govern themselves so they have no need of governance. Unless the larger society is demanding that they have abortions as well as allowing abortions then they have nothing to worry about. Nothing I have seen in religion disposes me to think that a Christian need save any soul but his own. And I am working on that. But, in the larger society, the larger form of relationship, there is always an opportunity to make the moral argument, but the making of laws and the use of coersion relieves the good of the need to set a moral example. There is nothing moral about any constraint of freedom unless required for general safety. It is, after all, through freedom that people accept religion. Religions should allow what they find they require. Thanks. Sweeney
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Jul 3, 2008 9:46 AM
Excellent comments, Pat.
Comment: #5
Posted by: sara darlene greene
Sun Jul 6, 2008 5:36 AM
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