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Religious Right, or Religious Wrong?

Jesus the Republican.

by Barnabas
December 10, 2003

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Religious Right, or Religious Wrong?_Barnabas-Jesus the Republican
The Rev. Ted Haggard, a Colorado Springs, Colo., pastor and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, issued a statement saying that while evangelicals will continue to support Bush, they cannot agree that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
—Quotations from “Do All Religious Paths Lead to the Same God? Bush Remark Renews Old Debate”
By Mark O’Keefe, ©2003 Newhouse News Service
It’s a probability that the one who asked the President the question about the “same God” did not understand the question; from the swiftness of his answer, it’s a certainty that the President didn’t. The meaning of the question depends on the definition of “same God,” which, if undefined, makes the question impossible to answer in a few words. So I am not going to attempt it.

I do have something to say, though, about the response by Ted Haggard, presuming to speak for “the Evangelicals.” Put the two elements of it together, and we get this: “The President is heretical in his understanding of God, but we support him anyway.” Though the evangelical position is defined by its theology, apparently Pastor Haggard doesn’t want its theology to get in the way of its politics.

As defined by theology, which is the only legitimate definition, I am an evangelical. It’s likely that Ted Haggard and I would agree on 99 out of 100 theological points; but when he says “evangelicals will continue to support Bush” he loses me entirely. If he means that evangelicals who agree with Bush will continue to support him, that’s a tautology—just as true as that evangelicals who agree with Dean will continue to support him, and as that evangelicals who are Libertarians will continue to back their candidates. We could substitute “Unitarian” for Evangelical in each of those statements.

So it’s the a priori agreement with the candidate, not theology, that’s definitive for the Christian political right. We’ve known that ever since it rejected Carter, the evangelical Sunday School teacher. I don’t mind anyone being for Bush. Most of those dearest to me, by sheer head count, are likely for him. I don’t quiz them on it. What I mind very much are the cavalier and specious assertions like Haggard’s that evangelicalism is a reason for backing him.

As I’ve admitted before, I know the Bible pretty well. On that basis I assert with confidence the following:
  1. Jesus is no more a Republican today than he was a Democrat seventy years ago when Social Gospel advocates were claiming him as their own.
  2. Jesus is the King, and his followers belong to a Kingdom; by definition, a King is neither a Republican nor a Democrat.
  3. There is no political mandate in the Bible directly applicable to the workings of a quasi-democracy like ours.
  4. As Christians, the followers of Jesus are monarchists; as citizens we may be, and are, Republicans, Democrats, whatever.
  5. The Bible applies to the whole world, and God is at work to do his will in it, no matter who the President is.
There is a political right and a political left, fuzzy but distinguishable. If they become the “religious right” or the “the religious left” they are more likely to be the Religious Wrong.

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