Nothing polarizes us like discussing politics, especially among people of faith.
Of course, this tension is nothing new in American history. The fierce emotions related to faith and governance have been present from the very beginning.
Recently, Steven Waldman made this statement in Slate, the online magazine:
"As you already know, one of America's two political parties is extremely religious. Sixty-one percent of this party's voters say they pray daily or more often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And there's a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 54 percent of them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus."
Surprisingly, to many I am sure, the group Waldman describes is the Democrats. The "hard-core" subgroup is African American Democrats.
When I was a much younger man, I remember reading everything Mark Hatfield said or wrote. Hatfield served as one of Oregon's two Senators for years. He happened to be a Republican. He was also a devout Christian who cared about poverty, justice and human liberation.
Things have narrowed a great deal since 1980.
I long for a new day when we can recognize and acknowledge the faith-inspired values of people whoever they are, no matter what their party affiliation.
No one political party has a monopoly on faith and the connection of faith to public policy formation.
The values of the various faith traditions at work in our country cover a broad spectrum of issues and concerns that, if taken seriously, could transform our culture without shutting anyone out or cutting anyone off.
No one party is "the party of faith."
Beyond values and faith, wouldn't it help us to acknowledge the fact that none of us and neither of our major political parties have the absolute truth on any issue?
Isn't it true that we might actually benefit from listening to each other? Might we not make more progress together if we gave each other a chance through honest, open dialogue?
Something to think about.
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