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.
David Barton, a chief advocate for a Christian America, is a bad historian. When he thunders, "We have lost our understanding of the Founders' intent and teachings. . . . We have been robbed," he is partially right: the founders were at least loosely Christian. But it is historically absurd to dismiss the separation of church and state as a myth.
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.