Wednesday, January 26, 2005

God's Politics

I've always chaffed at the mention of the religious right. Mostly because it invokes a distracting and misleading play on words. "Religious RIGHT???" How could a group labeled as "right" get it so WRONG? To me, what's referred to as the "religious right" represents more of a political body than anything driven by a moral ethic. I say this because the issues at the fore both for them and their adherents has more to do with power, especially political power, than ethics and morality.

I think this is why the recent interviews with Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and editor-in-chief of Sojourners Magazine, has struck such a deep chord in me. His recently released book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, discusses the co-opting of the language of faith in current national politics. And his discussion goes to the heart of the matter that I found so absent in the runup to our last election: morality, and Christian morality, has first and foremost been concerned with the condition of the poor, the disenfranchised, the helpless, and the needy. Left to the standards as reported leading up to the election, the test of your morality whatever your faith and especially of your worthiness as a Christian was whether you stood against Gay Marriage, and Roe vs. Wade, and whether you supported the Invasion of Iraq. In God's Politics, Rev. Wallis returns to the issues that, covered in 3000 verses of the bible, are central tenets to Christianity (and Judaism and Islam as well): poverty, charity, community responsibility.

I have yet to read Rev. Wallis' books but plan to very shortly. He's done several interviews from NPR to the Brookings Institue to The Daily Show on Comedy Central. What he's said in these interviews so far has spoken to me where I live. Our spirituality is our words and deeds. If there should be any shortcut or tip sheet to work from, don't let it be the voting guide given to you outside your local polling station. Let it instead be The Golden Rule: "As you do unto the least of these among you, so you do unto Me."