The Cutting Edge
by Ed Knudson
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The Lost Iraq War  7/30/2014  (2)

It is Not Anti-Semitic to Question Israel's Right to Exist as an Ethnic State   7/24/2014  (20)

Republicans Elect Mark Walker: A Racist, Blasphemous, Baptist Pastor  7/23/2014  (25)

There is No Religious Left  7/22/2014  (22)

Crisis in Ukraine: A Bit of Background  7/18/2014  (37)

Teachers Turn Against Obama  7/12/2014  (46)

The Trouble With Brain Science  7/12/2014  (55)

The Roman Catholic Supreme Court Decides What is 'Sincere' Religious Belief   7/1/2014  (86)

Karl Polanyi and the Stark Utopianism of Market Fundamentalism  7/1/2014  (73)

Corporate Provided Health Care Has To Go  6/30/2014  (77)

Brookings Report on Economic Justice and the Future of Religious Progressives  4/25/2014  (253)

Coal Train Crisis Abates   4/16/2014  (234)

Gay Marriage Ban Ending in England and Wales on Saturday  3/29/2014  (266)

Obama Should Have Prosecuted the Bush Administration for War Crimes  3/28/2014  (306)

A False Gospel: Corporate Christianity  3/27/2014  (265)

Koch Brothers are Creating Their Own Political Party  1/26/2014  (366)

Social Justice in New York City  1/1/2014  (413)

God is a God of Freedom: Pope Francis and Liberation Theology  12/21/2013  (409)

America, America, the Country that Kills Its Prophets  11/23/2013  (481)

Thinking about a New Protestantism  11/21/2013  (475)

Hysterical Anti-Communism: Billy Graham Urged the Killing of a Million Vietnamese  11/21/2013  (646)

The Next President will be a Woman and a Methodist, but not Hillary  11/11/2013  (459)

Regular Republicans are Beginning to Reject Their Leaders  11/11/2013  (446)

Pastors: Help Your People Understand Obamacare  11/6/2013  (478)

Mothers and Grandmothers on Abortion  11/5/2013  (492)

Why Obamacare is a Political Con Job  10/30/2013  (501)

Very Disturbing Governance by Media Manipulation  10/4/2013  (582)

A Reformation Pope  10/2/2013  (575)

When the Big Money Mafia Rule  10/1/2013  (560)

Obama Wins Shutdown Battle  10/1/2013  (612)

Samantha Power: Protection of the Innocent  9/11/2013  (606)

Pope Francis to Meet with Gustavo Gutierrez, Founder of Liberation Theology  9/11/2013  (610)

Apocalypse: Life Beyond Empire and Environmental Destruction  9/9/2013  (610)

Joining Obama Against Himself?  9/5/2013  (656)

Arab Spring: Transfer of Power in Syria  9/4/2013  (637)

Religious Conflict in the History of Syria  9/3/2013  (654)

Hunger Games: The Divide and Conquer Marketing Strategy of Fox News  8/7/2013  (701)

The Terrible Mendacity of Stanley Kurtz  8/5/2013  (777)

Obama Speaks on Verdict in Trayvon Martin Case  7/19/2013  (712)

Summer Heat: Elders Called to Engage in Civil Disobedience  7/18/2013  (760)

Business Predators Must Be Forced to Stop Their Damaging Behavior  5/26/2013  (740)

Pastors Create Public Consciousness  5/26/2013  (758)

Kathyrn Tanner: The Social Trinity and Politics  5/26/2013  (848)

Obama Failed to Appoint Competent IRS Leaders  5/22/2013  (737)

Occupy Theology: Obama has Broken the Hearts of the Young  5/20/2013  (743)

Corporate Conspiracy Theories in Pastoral Consciousness  5/17/2013  (813)

The Gosnell Verdict and Abortion Politics  5/16/2013  (913)

False Equivalence, the IRS, and the Right's Persecution Complex  5/15/2013  (838)

The NRA: Southern Political Terrorism  5/14/2013  (821)

Public Violence  4/17/2013  (706)

A Teacher is Raised  4/8/2013  (705)

Stop Coal Exports  3/27/2013  (801)

Health Care Hogs Drive Up Costs  3/27/2013  (749)

Manufactured Landscapes  3/23/2013  (780)

About Death Camp Thinking  3/22/2013  (795)

Marriage Equality Goes Mainstream  3/21/2013  (841)

Hope for the New Pope  3/14/2013  (760)

The End of a Catholic Moment  3/12/2013  (809)

Wealth Inequality is Much Worse than Most People Believe   3/11/2013  (809)

The Government is Making Us Old  3/11/2013  (1035)

Fairness Now Means to Tax the Rich More  12/10/2012  (898)

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness:THE NEW JIM CROW  11/14/2012  (913)

A Victory for Life  11/7/2012  (736)

Romney is Not a Christian  11/5/2012  (921)

It's Not Theology that is Utopian Today, It's the Market Fundamentalists Like Romney  10/17/2012  (1133)

Why Does Romney Focus So Much On Apology?  9/12/2012  (865)

A Way of Speaking that Wins Elections  9/6/2012  (856)

Compared to Other Nations, America is Under-Taxed and More Unequal  8/31/2012  (895)

Obedience, Not Liberty, is Highest Value for Real Conservatives  8/28/2012  (943)

Romney Degrades Himself with Welfare Ad  8/28/2012  (874)

Prosperity Economics: Building an Economy for All  8/3/2012  (1000)

Michele Bachmann: Say Stupid Things, Make Lots of Money  8/1/2012  (914)

The Trees are Falling  7/14/2012  (1022)

President's Social Darwinism Comment Stirs Up Business Elite  4/16/2012  (1007)

Today is My Last Day at Goldman Sachs  3/14/2012  (1059)

Creation is Broken: Against Utopian Conservatives  3/9/2012  (1017)

Women have Spoken: The End of Rush Limbaugh  3/9/2012  (1000)

Nazism and Public Schools: Catholic Bishops Want Public Money for Their Own Schools  2/25/2012  (1263)

The Cynical Use of Religion by Economic Elites  2/23/2012  (1302)

The Continuing Attack by Religious Right against Mainline Christianity  2/22/2012  (1109)

A Phony Public Theology  2/22/2012  (1030)

Naming the Enemy: Biological Fundamentalism  2/17/2012  (1033)

Social Policy in Pastoral Consciousness: Who Should Serve the 'Poor'?  2/16/2012  (972)

Bishops Reject Obama Compromise, the Devil is Forcing Birth Control  2/14/2012  (1022)

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It  2/13/2012  (984)

Romney Believes Constitution is Divine  2/11/2012  (1003)

Santorum Reveals His Political Philosophy with Comment on French Revolution  2/10/2012  (2809)

Legal Aspects of the Contraception Debate  2/9/2012  (1038)

Catholic Bishops Want Freedom to Oppress Women  2/8/2012  (1301)

David Stockman on Crony Capitalism, A Very Helpful Discussion  1/26/2012  (2915)

Wall Street to be Investigated  1/25/2012  (1481)

Obama Tells Truth about Economy  12/7/2011  (1061)

God Demands Justice  11/17/2011  (991)

Understanding Protest Movements  11/15/2011  (985)

Chris Hedges: People Have Finally Woken Up  10/8/2011  (1096)

A New Economic Strategy for Wall Street Protests  10/5/2011  (1098)

Wall Street Occupation Protest - Live Video  9/26/2011  (1087)

Tens of Thousands Protest in Israel; Citizens of the USA Should Also Hit the Streets  8/7/2011  (1177)

A Day of Blasphemy: Governor Rick Perry's Prayer Festival  8/5/2011  (1260)

Wall Street Hates the Tea Party  8/4/2011  (1205)

The Instability of the American Political System  7/27/2011  (1206)

Fukuyama on The Origins of Political Order  4/15/2011  (1184)

Obama Punches Back  4/13/2011  (1187)

Punish the Poor  4/9/2011  (1255)

Facing the Reality of Conflict and the Problem with Liberal Neutrality  3/21/2011  (1148)

The Republican Attack on Poor Women  2/20/2011  (1323)

A Real Spirit of Peace  2/11/2011  (1196)

Public Lies about Tax Cuts  2/10/2011  (1217)

The People Own the Streets  2/2/2011  (1198)

Political Violence Works  1/13/2011  (1258)

Religion as a Matter of Political Calculation  12/24/2010  (1308)

Tea Party Leader Says Methodist Church is the Religious Arm of Socialism   12/20/2010  (1509)

Bottom-up History: The Commoners of Atwood  12/13/2010  (1238)

Patriotic Millionaires Support Increase in Their OwnTaxes  12/10/2010  (1371)

Democrats Elected a Republican President  12/9/2010  (1298)

Obama Agrees to Increase Obscene Levels of Inequality  12/9/2010  (1293)

The Unemployed are Actual, Real People  12/3/2010  (1435)

A Deep Sense of Bewilderment and Betrayal  12/2/2010  (1267)

Chalmers Johnson Dies, Military Writer Who Told the Truth  11/21/2010  (1334)

Should the Rich Rule?  11/3/2010  (1231)

The Liberation Theology of Abraham Lincoln  10/12/2010  (1365)

Mass Psychosis as a Pastoral Concern  9/24/2010  (1328)

Glenn Beck and Apostolic Authority  8/31/2010  (1270)

A Moving Event  7/19/2010  (1327)

Gay Marriage to Become Law of the Land  6/21/2010  (1412)

Facing Death at the Center of Life  6/14/2010  (1339)

Rand Paul Exposes Tea Party Racism in Libertarianism  5/20/2010  (1496)

Equal Freedom: The Obama Doctrine  5/7/2010  (1690)

The Last Protestant is Leaving  4/9/2010  (1450)

Economics in Pastoral Consciousness  3/14/2010  (1468)

The Strategic Consciousness of the Protestant Pastor  3/1/2010  (1478)

Memesis and the Culture of Personal Crisis  2/15/2010  (1661)

Watch Out for that Communist Folk Music  1/22/2010  (1579)

The Political Cross at Xmas  12/23/2009  (1529)

There are Socialists and Communists in the White House  10/15/2009  (1884)

Send Money to ACORN Now!  9/19/2009  (1882)

The Moral Blindness of Glenn Beck  8/11/2009  (1903)

The Media Creation of Whacko Conservatism  7/30/2009  (1875)

Seven Pentecostal Mountains and Sarah Palin  7/16/2009  (2001)

Major Media Unfairly Presents Anti-Abortion Rhetoric  6/3/2009  (2030)

You Can Get Killed in a Public Church  6/2/2009  (1970)

Historical Jesus Theories: Bringing on the Reign of God  5/20/2009  (2351)

It's Not Socialism, It's Insanity  5/20/2009  (1944)

When Life Begins is Not at all Clear  5/19/2009  (1994)

The Political Use of Torture  4/25/2009  (1930)

Jesus is Not Some Phony Spook  4/22/2009  (1893)

Poisoned Waters, Chicken Shit and Smart Growth  4/21/2009  (2023)

The Significance of the Killing of Robert F. Kennedy  4/13/2009  (2053)

The Last Book by Neuhaus: America is Babylon  4/10/2009  (2117)

About the New Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships  4/9/2009  (2020)

Seeing the Truth about God and Economy  4/2/2009  (2053)

Big Bankers as Terrorists  3/23/2009  (2159)

Without Trust, No Economy  3/19/2009  (2055)

Exposing the Dual Structure of American Governance  3/19/2009  (1971)

Another Big Book on Justice  3/17/2009  (1960)

Why Pastors Need to Understand Rush Limbaugh  3/16/2009  (2020)

The Freeman Affair and the Israel Lobby  3/16/2009  (2008)

Uncreative Destruction  3/16/2009  (2017)

Some Truth about Income Tax Rates  3/13/2009  (2363)

Cultural Redemption: The Jewish-Arab Peace Song  3/13/2009  (2337)

The Poor Reputation of Evangelicals around the World  3/13/2009  (2121)

They have Stolen Our Language  3/11/2009  (2049)

CNBC: Mouthpiece for Business Ideology  3/11/2009  (1955)

Why Habermas?  3/11/2009  (2040)

Sex in God's Family  3/8/2009  (2190)


Please let us know what you think of these blogs or if you see something inappropriate.
Religion as a Matter of Political Calculation
12/24/2010

For anyone for whom Christian faith is a primary and central concern it is a dangerous time. This is because religion has become a more and more important factor in political calculations. That is, politicians running for public office (which means power over the lives of others) are calculating how what they do and say will or will not appeal to various categories of what are believed to be religious persons. Such politicians cannot help, in the process, to themselves be defining what is or is not appropriate and necessary in the use of religious language. And this means that politicians are defining what is good and right about religion, and that is dangerous, especially for Christianity, which has a very long history of being substantially influenced by the interests of the state, ever since Constantine made it the state religon of the Roman world in the fourth century.

The New Republic magazine is now running an article by Tiffany Stanley, Things Fall Apart: How Democrats Gave Up on Religious Voters. After talking about how Obama was able to appeal to religious voters in the 2008 election she says:
But, in just two short years, the left has become sluggish in its courtship of religious voters, significantly scaling back its faith-outreach programs. While many factors—primarily the economy—doomed the Democrats this fall, the consequences of this abdication nevertheless seem to be severe. In the recent midterm elections, House Democrats lost white evangelical voters in greater numbers than they did in 2004, when “values voters” flocked to George W. Bush. Reversing their Democratic allegiance from the past two elections, Catholics—nearly a quarter of all voters—favored the GOP 54 to 44 percent. Compared to 2008, the drop-offs were steep: a 20-point decline with Catholics, a 14-point decline with white evangelicals, and a 10-point decline with white Protestants.
Stanley thinks that Democrats need to take religion seriously:
To defend his record and contend with the right-wing grassroots, Obama would do well to articulate the moral-religious values that permeate his policies and initially energized his supporters. And, if the Democrats want to avoid the impression that such values messaging is merely a presidential-election-year tactic, they should probably begin reinvigorating their faith outreach efforts sooner rather than later. “Ninety percent of people believe in some sort of God,” {Rebecca Sager, a sociologist who studied faith outreach during the last two elections] points out. “It’s mind-boggling why you would cede those voters to the Republican Party.”
Notice that phrase, "some sort of God". Democrats, in order to compete with Republicans, must be able to speak about "some sort of God" as if whatever way of such speaking which gets votes is necessary. But such speaking also means that definitions of God are being made by politicians, which means that God is up for majority vote. God's will is determined by who gets elected. Religion here becomes that which serves the interests of the state. Such thinking is dangerous for the integrity of Christian faith. The church determines how to speak about God, not the state.

It is interesting that Rush Limbaugh picked up on the Stanley article and talked about it on his radio show. Limbaugh thinks that it is preposterous that Democrats should be talking about God, since they are opposed to God. Limbaugh says that Democrats believe the government is God and this is all so obvious because of their views on abortion and gay rights. Notice that Limbaugh does not see his position as contradictory; conservatives, indeed, want that bad government to be intimately involved in the reproductive decisions of women. And his comments about gays actually are not clear at all, not the established position of the religious right. But, for Limbaugh, Republicans have a corner on God-talk in politics and Democrats should not try to claim otherwise.

Well, as for me, as for the primary tradition concerning faith and politics for Christians in this country, neither Republicans nor Democrats should be engaging in any God-talk at all. God is not up for majority vote. I advocate the position of John Rawls in his book Political Liberalism where he says the constitution is not set up to handle the ultimate questions of the universal meaning of life. I believe that the so-called religious right and the television preachers should be severely criticized for allowing themselves to be used and abused by conservative politicians since Ronald Reagan.

Now, I believe that we in the church can gather together and have a vigorous discussion about how we should be involved in politics, how we should support or oppose particular positions, but we should do that as the church not as a political party. Then we can be involved as individuals and in various organizational means to try to influence politics, but using concepts and language from within civil traditions, what Rawls calls "public reason". Both justice and peace are central values of Christian faith, but we cannot in a democracy bring our religious motivations to the table, we need to argue on the basis of what others in the political community can also appreciate and affirm. We cannot claim God is on our side, nor can anybody else.

So the church is not the state. And the state is not the church. That's why I oppose Christmas religious displays sponsored on government grounds, why I oppose state-sponsored school prayers, why I oppose placing religious language in the constitution, and why I am a vigorous opponent of the way the religious right has involved itself in the political process over the past decades. It has skewed American politics away from the proper matters of government.

Rush Limbaugh represents a Southern, racist view of government. The South absolutely hates the federal government for its role in forcing it to change its ways of segregation. The South hates the supreme court for its 1954 decision on integration of schools. Abortion and gay rights are handy emotional issues around which Southern religion has organized itself against the rest of the country and the federal government. The religious right leaders and current Republican leaders all come out of the South. The civil war isn't over, even with a black president, perhaps now especially because a black president has been elected. The South claims God is on their side, but they are wrong, and their views are actually an abomination, a heresy in the history of Christianity, and represent idolatry, the association of God with particular politicians and positions. It is a trivialization of God and religion to subsume them to the political process.

But this further means that the typical "liberal" response among Protestants is not enough today. It is not enough for a Protestant pastor to just stay away from politics, or claim that both sides today are equally to blame for the cultural wars and nasty politics. It is a fact that the Republican Party has chosen to try to appeal to religious voters for pure partisan gain. Protestant pastors must stand up and say this clearly. If a politician claims to be representing God or Christianity that is a reason not to vote for him or her. If a Democratic candidate tries to speak about "some sort of God" then that candidate should be rejected. The content of Christian faith is not determined by political calculation.










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