How can we look beyond the next thirty days and focus on our whole lives?
On the surface, the June 4 Presidential Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty seemed a good thing. But in the long run, the forum was not a victory for the faith community but rather a sign that social-justice Christians are making the same mistakes that the Christian right has been making—with the nation and Christianity paying the long-term price.
A recent article in the New Yorker about the race for governor in Ohio declared that the November election would “test the power of the Christian right.” It was not the first article to examine the Republican candidate, Ken Blackwell, and his ties to the religious right. As Ohio’s secretary of state, Blackwell led the 2004 campaign against gay marriage in Ohio, helping put “Issue One,” as the gay marriage amendment was called, on the same ballot as presidential contenders George W. Bush and John Kerry. Voter turnout surged, and Ohio, that ever-wavering swing state, swung for Bush. (Some say Blackwell’s control of the election apparatus also played a part.)But an even more interesting religion story unfolding on Ohio’s campaign trail this fall involves Blackwell’s opponent, Ted Strickland, a United Methodist minister.
“Lo and behold there is a religious left,” declared an article in Slate. “The religious left is back,” announced the Washington Post. The evidence? An increase in blogging and organizing, as well as best-selling books by Jim Wallis, Michael Lerner and and Jimmy Carter.The rise of the religious left provides a natural journalistic lead because it plays against type. The persistent assumption, at least among mainstream media, is that Christians are politically active only on the conservative side.