was the political continuation of war by other means. It uniformed
and militarized its mass electoral following, while depriving
voters generally of their electoral rights, exciting their
lowest political instincts and marginalizing and menacing
all internal opposition.
Keegan, The First World War
I’m tired of people thinking that because I’m a Christian,
I must be a supporter of President Bush, or that because I
favor civil rights and gay rights I must not be a person of
faith. I’m tired of people saying that I can’t support the
troops but oppose the war.
This country is bankrupt. The war is morally bankrupt. The
claim of this administration to be Christian is bankrupt.
And the only people who can turn things around are people
like you—young people who are just beginning to wake up to
what is happening to them. It’s your country to take back.
It’s your faith to take back. It’s your future to take back.
Don’t be afraid to speak out. Don’t back down when your friends
begin to tell you that the cause is righteous and that the
flag should be wrapped around the cross, while the rest of
us keep our mouths shut.
Real Christians take chances for peace. So do real Jews, and
real Muslims, and real Hindus, and real Buddhists—so do all
the faith traditions of the world which at their heart believe
one thing: life is precious.
Rev. Dr. Robin Meyers*
Here’s the double standard that really gets to me:
It’s pretty much the norm now for conservative, evangelical
pastors to hawk their political convictions from their pulpits,
in their writings and on their Christian radio stations.
But let a progressive Christian pastor—such as Robin Meyers—speak
from the pulpit on some political issue or another and there’s
a good chance that he or she will hear that standard complaint:
Faith and politics do not—and should not—mix. It’s just not
But progressive people of all faith traditions just can’t
afford to make nice while the religious right makes policy.
And that’s what’s happening—precisely because faith and politics
actually do mix.
Take the last election—please. The religious right managed
to redefine “moral issues” as certain acceptable sets of behavior,
colonized both Hebrew and Christian scriptures to proof-text
its position on these “moral issues” and then made adherence
to them the litmus test of the faithful. Then it celebrated
President Bush’s victory as God’s proof-positive that moral
principle was once again ascendant in the White House.
Take the Terry Schiavo fiasco. Republicans and the religious
right have been able to exploit her shamelessly as what Hendrik
Hertzberg in this week’s New Yorker calls “a metaphor
in the religio-cultural struggle over abortion.”
If her death is termed, as Rep. Tom DeLay would have it, murder,
then the right gains a loaded word it can use in its campaign
to overturn Roe v. Wade. Strategy is everything.
Take the Ohio Restoration Project and its strategy for “moral”
This is a plan to recruit 2,000 so-called Patriot Pastors.
Their job will be to endorse conservative causes and register
half a million new voters. The project will help keep these
new converts energized with voter guides, rallies and “e-prayer”
The project’s initial goal is to elect Kenneth J. Blackwell,
Ohio’s current secretary of state, as governor. He will join
a host of high-profile Christian conservatives—the Rev. Franklin
Graham, Dr. James Dobson (of recent SpongeBob SquarePants
fame), Charles Colson—at the statewide Ohio For Jesus rally
The rationale for all this faith-based activity is that the
Republican Party in Ohio is out of touch with its core values;
now it’s up to the church militant to get it back on the right
If that sounds far-fetched, think again. This is a state where
religious conservatives managed a narrow win for President
Bush and pushed through the passage of a constitutional amendment
banning same-sex marriage.
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of the Americans United
for the Separation of Church and State, and not an easily
ruffled man, has some real concerns about the Ohio Restoration
represents a new wave in organizing on the part of conservative
evangelicals,” Lynn said. “From my standpoint, as someone
who doesn’t agree with their conclusions, this is a more dangerous
But the danger doesn’t simply lie with the project’s methods
and initiatives. In fact the danger is not simply the strength
and organization in the religious right.
The danger is also in the apparent reticence of political
and religious progressives to speak out—and mobilize against—the
strength and organization of the religious right.
Voices like Dr. Robin Meyers are few and far between. Progressive
pastors are too often ham-strung by the double standard that
says it’s okay for conservative pastors to be political, but
when progressives pastors do they are being subversive, un-American,
insensitive to their listeners.
Because of this double-standard, I’ve known committed and
strong-willed pastors who sometimes find it safer to tread
lightly around certain topics: sexuality for one, war for
another, the politicized religious right, for a third. But
in doing so, they weaken and betray their own religious convictions.
Albert Camus, who knew something about what it was like to
speak out against the prevailing regime, made the more sage
than simple comment, “There are no innocent bystanders.”
Progressive people in all faith traditions can’t afford to
wash their hands of politics. It never goes well for those
who wash their hands of things.
The more that progressives try to marginalize or laugh away
the religious right, the more they unwittingly give it space
The more progressive pastors are silent about what the Christian
right is doing, the more they endorse it as the only Christian
game in town.
And unless more progressive people of all faith traditions
get braver about taking more public and political stands,
it may well be the only politically-concerned Christian voice
that gets heard.
a copy of the full transcript of Dr. Meyer’s address, e-mail