21 June 2005

Danforth on Christianity and politics

Here is retired US Senator, and Episcopal priest, John Danforth writing in The New York Times: Onward, Moderate Christian Soldiers. Writes Danforth:

It is important for those of us who are sometimes called moderates to make the case that we, too, have strongly held Christian convictions, that we speak from the depths of our beliefs, and that our approach to politics is at least as faithful as that of those who are more conservative. Our difference concerns the extent to which government should, or even can, translate religious beliefs into the laws of the state.

Is that really the central difference between moderates and conservatives within the christian community? Does Danforth really manifest a "spirit of humility lacking in [his] conservative colleagues"? He freely and repeatedly appeals to the command to love God and neighbour. Yet this divinely-mandated love is not simply a matter of being indiscriminately nice to everyone and unthinkingly giving in to every claim on the commons. A love that refrains from rendering necessary judgements in the name of tolerance and compassion is not love at all; it is overt partiality towards those with whom we are able to feel compassion at the expense of those with whom we cannot. Nor is this justice, but only a facile imitation.

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