Message From A Megachurch

Message From A Megachurch

American politics took an important turn last week: A significant group of theologically conservative Christians no longer wants to be treated as a cog in the Republican political machine.

For a quarter-century since the rise of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, white evangelical Christians have been widely seen as a Republican preserve. Many of the most politically active evangelical leaders have insisted that the morally freighted social issues — abortion, stem-cell research, same-sex marriage — took priority over all questions.

Enter Rick Warren, who speaks for a new generation of evangelicals who think that harnessing religious faith too closely to electoral politics is bad for religion, and who are broadening the evangelical public agenda to include a concern for global poverty and the scourge of AIDS.

When Warren called a conference at his church last Friday on World AIDS Day, among those he invited were two potential presidential candidates. It was unsurprising that one of them was Sen. Sam Brownback, the Kansas Republican and a loyal social conservative who has taken up the AIDS issue with passion and commitment.

But when the other invitee turned out to be Barack Obama, parts of the old evangelical political apparatus went after Warren as a heretic. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, declared that Obama’s views on abortion — Obama is pro-choice — represented “the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality” and insisted that Warren had no business inviting him to Saddleback.

Warren’s church issued a statement reaffirming its strong opposition to abortion, but Warren did not back down. Indeed, he seemed to revel in rejecting the old evangelical political model. “I’m a pastor, not a politician,” Warren told ABC News. “People always say, ‘Rick, are you right wing or left wing?’ I say ‘I’m for the whole bird.’ “

When it came his turn to speak, Obama took on the moral message of evangelical AIDS activists — and then challenged them by getting to what “may be the difficult part for some,” as he put it, that “abstinence and fidelity, although the ideal, may not always be the reality.”

“We’re dealing with flesh-and-blood men and women, and not abstractions,” Obama said, and “if condoms and potentially things like microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, then they should be made more widely available. . . . I don’t accept the notion that those who make mistakes in their lives should be given an effective death sentence.”

That Obama received a standing ovation suggests that Warren is right to sense that growing numbers of Christians are tired of narrowly partisan politics and share his interest in “the whole bird.” In their different spheres, Warren and Obama are both in the business of retailing hope.

BONUS POINT: If you read Obama’s speech, you’ll realize he demonstrates a much truer Christian spirit than the GOP masterminds who have recently tried to push people away from Obama by pointing out that his middle name is Hussein.

Brilliant!

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8 Responses to “Message From A Megachurch”

  1. JohnnyB Says:

    If Obama looks like he can beat Hillary for the Dem nomination, I’ll contribute to his campaign. For the love of Pete she must be stopped!

  2. Logipundit Says:

    Great speech and the paragraph immediately preceding the paragraph you quoted was equally interesting and equally true.

    He did manage to avoid (and rightly so) making the politically incorrect put logically quite correct statement that there is a difference between making condoms available to Jr High students in Topeka, and making it available to sexually active youth and adults in third world Africa.

    He also acknowledged President Bush’s putting our money where his mouth is. This administration has spent more on this issue than any previous, even though he is of course an evil Republican mastermind.

    Speaking of that, it was good to see Obama and Brownback working on this issue together. Brownback gets a bad rap for being so adamant on the border issue…too bad he’s right about it. Wonder if anyone has his speech?

    Last, but certainly not least, this is certainly a MUCH better example of a pastor taking the right stand on political issues in a non-partisan fashion than this example where a pastor decides that his church should not have any political positions and should remain “neutral” and “apolitical” because his poor congregation might be unduly influenced for lack of being able to think for themselves.

    Inviting policymakers that have something to contribute on a certain issue is much better than inviting them to stump for their party line and candidacy (e.g. Reverend Falwell’s church in Lynchburg) and there is a distinct difference between the two.

    And as far as Barak and Hillary, I’m just not sure Barak is dumb enough to take the chance in 2008. I would personally feel more comfortable with him in 2012 because we will all know more about him. Edwards made the mistake of running too early and he didn’t even pick up his home state.

    Barak is stronger, but apart from great speeches, I just don’t see it yet. It also depends on who the Republicans put up. I don’t see anyone to get excited about, except perhaps Newt, and I’m not convinced he can make it.

  3. Logipundit Says:

    OH and the tool that pulled out the Hussein thing is not a Republican mastermind…he’s a tool. And regardless of what Mr. Olberman is convinced of there is not a rash of evil Republicans using calling Obama with his middle name. It’s one guy on Hardball which noone with any sense watches anyway, because it’s hosted by a tool.

  4. JohnnyB Says:

    LP you think I really want him to win the presidency?

  5. Logipundit Says:

    Nope, but if he’s nominated and the Republicans don’t have anything formidable against him…he has a shot.

    Kennedy was a freshman Senator…the last Senator to win the Presidency. Just saying if you’re prepared to support his nomination campaign, be prepared to have him as President.

  6. Red Stater Says:

    “if condoms and potentially things like microbicides can prevent millions of deaths, then they should be made more widely available. . . . I don’t accept the notion that those who make mistakes in their lives should be given an effective death sentence”.

    Unless obama is willing to go and personally install each condom on men on the “downlow” before they have sex with each other, then again when they have sex with their wives, we can send all the money and condoms in the world and the problem won’t be fixed.
    money is not the cure for aids, education and responsiblity are.
    It’s not an airborne virus.
    -red

  7. DC Offline Says:

    I appreciate red-stater’s comments – as they reflect the mindset of those who proclaim the problem but remove every tool for combating the problem from our toolbelt.

    I agree – how in the world can we expect people to use condoms to protect themselves and others when we refuse to allow our educators to teach our children how diseases like this are spread and that they are in danger if they do not take steps to protect themselves?

    We have gotten over teaching people to wash their hands periodically to protect against contact viruses, but somehow our “family-values” crowd has convinced all of us that talking about sex and its ramifications in the public square is somehow immoral.

    “How dare the government have a conversation with my child about things that are the families responsibility?”

    Great question – what if most families don’t take that responsibility seriously? Do we condemn the responsible ones to shoulder the burden for the irresponsible?

    You can only live in an ivory tower for so long.

  8. Logipundit Says:

    DC, sorry for the delay on my response to this, but I just noticed it. I’d like to say that I can totally understand your perspective on this, but I just can’t get my head…

    …well nevermind.

    Let me just respond this way:

    “…what if most families don’t take that responsibility seriously? Do we condemn the responsible ones to shoulder the burden for the irresponsible? You can only live in an ivory tower for so long.”

    We’re talking about sexual responsibility. Barring date rape and plain out rape, it takes two people to have sex.

    We’re not talking about second hand smoke. If the parents that do take it seriously talk to their kids about sexual issues, the only people that are being “burdened” are the ones that don’t. Equating washing your hands with sexual activity is completely maniacal. Unless you believe there is a heavy emotional and spiritual component to washing your hands.

    You see this is a classic case of “Progressives” telling us when the Government should and should not interfere. If we’re preventing adults who supposedly are educated on sex from ending a life, then we should “get out of America’s bedrooms”, but if we believe that the principal arbiter of sexual education should be the parents and not the schools, we’re just sitting in an ivory tower and “burdening” responsible parents (which makes zero sense anyway).

    HOWEVER, I personally have no problem with sex education. I honestly don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Where I DO have a problem is public schools handing out condoms to kids instead of leaving THAT responsibility to the family (and if you don’t think that in the mind of a teenager that is an implicit endorsement of teenage sexual activity, then YOU, my dear friend have been hiding in an Ivory Tower for about 20 years).

    Now THAT being said, I agree with Obama, and MY point was that projecting our families’ values on a third world country is not smart, and making condoms and microbicides, etc., available is important. The difference is availability. Any teenager can go buy condoms for a couple of bucks at the grocery store. There’s not even an age limit. Not necessarily the case in a third-world country. But RedStater is right about the education being even more important.


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