This week, the State Department announced that Christian ethicist Shaun Casey will lead its new office for “religious engagement.” Within the network of the State Department’s various offices, this one stands out as potentially divisive and potentially useful. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department turned its attention to nontraditional diplomatic partners—and she intentionally engaged, among others, religious partners. That focus has continued under John Kerry, resulting in the official announcement of this office.
But the U.S. government continues to face the issue of how exactly to engage religion.
John Kerry, reticent about his religious beliefs during his losing 2004 presidential campaign against George W. Bush, poured out his testimony last month—not to fellow Catholics but to an evangelical audience in Malibu, California.
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry of Massachusetts capped a political convention that saw Democrats emphasizing faith and moral language. “In this campaign, we welcome people of faith,” Senator Kerry told a cheering crowd of about 20,000 delegates, guests and journalists in his acceptance speech at the late July convention in Boston.
After bandaging a stranger’s wounds, the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ famous parable instructs the innkeeper to provide whatever further care is needed—he will foot the bill. Such an action, Jesus tells us, defines what it is to be a neighbor.
Is there anything laypeople can do to get themselves kicked out of the United Methodist Church?” My question stumped the speaker, expert on Methodist church law though he was. He had just delivered a detailed list of offenses that could get Methodist ministers cast into outer darkness. Wanting to democratize the misery a bit, I wondered if the church disciplined anyone other than ministers.
On July 28, delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Boston will nominate John Kerry as their candidate for president. They will also approve the party’s national platform. Gay marriage will be finessed to satisfy Kerry’s cautious approach. Iraq? Bush’s efforts will be condemned; patriotism will be celebrated. God will reemerge as a Democrat. Health care? Democrats can do it better.
The Democrats have a religion problem, and it is not just that presidential candidate John Kerry has run afoul of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church because of his support of abortion rights and gay civil unions. According to a recent Time magazine poll, 59 percent of those who consider themselves “very religious” support President Bush, while only 35 percent of them support Kerry.
As presidential campaigns swung into their final five months, President Bush worked at cementing his strong support from evangelicals and shoring up ties to Catholics by visiting and honoring Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
Although a leading Vatican cardinal states that Catholic teaching is clear about denying communion to a politician who supports abortion rights, two key U.S. bishops say withholding the sacrament from a dissenting Catholic like Massachusetts Senator John Kerry is not a likely option.