Mr. Clarkson also mentions the free pass Pat Robertson always seems to get. (Remember when he wanted to blow up Foggy Bottom?) This past Sunday, on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopolis, Pat Robertson, founder of The Christian Coalition, claimed that the threat posed by the federal judiciary is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." Robertson gets a roll of the eyes from us, but if Rev. Al Sharpton said something like that, Sean Hannity would be talking about it for three solid hyperbolic weeks.
"Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must care for orphans and widows in their troubles, and refuse to let the world corrupt us."
Someone asks her a question about this passage and offers a declaratory statement at the end:
"If caring for the orphans and widows, etc. is the Christian responsibility and not the governmental responsibility (as I believe) then how is that supposed to work in a land offering welfare, Medicaid, and all manner of gov't assistance? I believe we're all called to go farther than we have already gone."
The person is missing the point. If we were to remove ourselves from politics and refuse to participate as citizens in our election process, we would be knowingly failing those for whom we are asked to be especially caring and responsible.
Individual people of faith who are charged, by their faith,to care about the widows, orphans, and those in poverty must be responsible for solemnly determining which politicians we select who would best carry that duty forward with what we believe is the most virtuous and effective public policy. The world can corrupt you by misleading you and allowing you to take your eye off the goal of James' Biblical prescription. If you were to closely examine how the elderly and those in poverty are suffering more because of the policies of the Bush administration, James just might remind you that you've allowed a false and misleading message to corrupt your honest aim to keep the promise necessary to hold pure faith and charity toward those in your communities who are in real need. Food banks are helpful, but look around you and understand that public policy can create better opportunity for the poor than tithing could ever do. James isn't asking you, in that Bible passage, to abandon, hate or distrust your American government. He's asking you not to lose your soul and to stay awake in your faith. His words find you where you are - in the society into which you were born. You are Americans! Be responsible ones. Be patriotic and Christian at the same time. Thanks to our Founding Fathers, you are allowed to be both and there is little conscientious reconciliation required.
Scrutiny Hooligans, Anonymoses, and Daily Kos have a story about a Baptist Church in Western North Carolina which has excommunicated Democrats for not supporting George W. Bush in the last election! See the story HERE.
East Waynesville Baptist Church asked nine of its members to leave when Pastor Chan Chandler gave them an ultimatum, saying if they didn't support George Bush, they should resign or repent. Now 40 more have left the church in protest. The minister has declined interviews, but he has said that "the actions were not politically motivated."
Following the report that nine members of the East Waynesville Baptist Church in western North Carolina were excommunicated because they did not support President Bush in the election, Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way Foundation, had the following statement:
“What have we come to when the doors of a church are closed to longtime members because of their political beliefs? When a pastor equates political support for the ‘wrong’ candidate with a sin before God?
“I would say to Senator Frist and Karl Rove that this is what comes of attempts to manipulate religion for political gain. Americans simply will not accept the claim that ‘unless you accept my political beliefs, you cannot be a good Christian.’
“This nation was founded on respect for religious belief, and tolerance for religious diversity. Men and women of faith have every right to advocate for their political beliefs. While churches, of course, can set their own membership standards, no one should punish people of faith for their political beliefs.
“This is terribly sad. I urge the President to express his opposition to all attempts to manipulate faith for political gain.”