Only days after Barack Obama resumed his presidential campaign wearing the label of “presumptive Democratic nominee,” the Illinois senator invited a number of evangelical leaders to a private meeting with him in Chicago. The off-the-record session grew to include mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics.
Although mainline Protestant denominations for decades have been closely linked to liberal causes—civil rights, women’s movements, abortion rights and antiwar protests—most of their members have been mainstays of the Republican Party.
Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. Mike Huckabee and his “Christian leader” ads. John McCain and John Hagee. Hillary Clinton and her “prayer warriors.” Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. The 2008 election has featured an extraordinary emphasis on religion.
It’s been an odd season for pastors and would-be presidents. The latter have been renouncing the former faster than you can say “damage control.” Barack Obama quit his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago after Catholic priest Michael Pfleger delivered a sermon there in which he mocked Hillary Clinton for her alleged racism.
Something Pope Benedict XVI said about immigration while he was in the U.S. sent CNN commentator Lou Dobbs into a rant that went something like, “We don’t need popes or preachers telling us what to think and how to vote. . . . Religion is about saving souls, isn’t it? . . . We have something called separation of church and state in this country, after all.”
Did Jesus Christ ever have an erection? John Marks poses that question to his Christian friend Craig Detweiler in the film Purple State of Mind, which is showing in limited release and available on DVD (see www.purplestateofmind.com). As the title suggests, the film is about what happens when red-state and blue-state types mix it up.
The Christian philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff has pursued a broad range of interests, including political philosophy, aesthetics, metaphysics and the philosophy of religion. He was recently professor of philosophical theology at Yale University and before that taught for many years at his alma mater, Calvin College.