Politics, Religion, & The Christian Right

James Heflin is an angry, upset man. It seems to him that the far-right-extreme-ultra-hyper-conservative fundamentalists of the Christian right (wayward, diabolical, conservative Southern Baptists in particular) are the root of all evil in America. After reading this article [link via CT Weblog] that’s the feeling one gets. In it, Heflin delivers a tirade at the audacity of Christians wanting to participate in the electoral process:

The agenda of these Christians of the Far Right is brazen and clear. They have turned a zealous minority into a ruling class once, and they have learned from that success. This is not a wild-eyed conspiracy theory; their plans are preached in pulpits weekly, and have now taken shape as proposed legislation. Look no further than the recently introduced “Constitution Restoration Act.” If we do not pay attention to their manipulation of American democratic processes now that they have gained remarkable power among Republicans, the principles of our democracy will eventually be as distant a memory as the kinder, gentler Southern Baptist Convention of my childhood.

This “manipulation of American democratic processes” is called voting. Apparently Mr. Heflin, bitter about the conservative resurgence among Southern Baptists, thinks that it is unfair to liberal Christians such as himself that conservatives are voting. The nerve!

Heflin’s entire article is filled with so many ad hominem jabs that it’s difficult to tell exactly what his point is. Is he writing against the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004? If so, why devote so much animosity toward the Southern Baptists? I know it’s hard for Mr. Heflin to believe, but the Southern Baptist Convention did not introduce HR3799. Nope, we’re still letting congresspersons tend to those matters—for now…

I am by no means a theonomist, and I by no means think that a better political order will in the end save the world or even change hearts. I do, however, believe that is a Christian’s duty to live his or her life in the world with a Christian worldview. This means that everything in a Christian’s life must come beneath the purview of him who has the government upon his shoulders. Much to Mr. Heflin’s chagrin, this means that a Christian’s political life is affected as well.

Mr. Heflin thinks that Christians are out to establish an earthly kingdom by voting for such a person as George W. Bush. I’ll let him in on a little secret: the kingdom that is Christ’s makes the USA look like a third-world country. The jurisdiction of that kingdom, if realized in an individual, will cause more tumult than any vast right-wing conspiracy ever hoped.

3 thoughts on “Politics, Religion, & The Christian Right”

  1. What you quoted discusses “manipulation” of process, not the employing of process. Trying to make and end-run around the will of the majority and doing away with democracy in favor of another form of government is far from the same thing as mere voting. As a Christian, I will always, always vote, and vote for separation of church and state, so that I may be free to worship as I choose, and so will my fundamentalist brothers and sisters, with whom I happen to disagree theologically. I don’t impose my theology on them, and they should not impose theirs on me. Therefore I am in favor of the Constitution.

    An ad hominem attack would be saying that fundamentalists wear ugly clothes or have funny hair or something equally silly. I attacked behavior and policy, nothing else. I am a Baptist traditionalist, and therefore I oppose these quite untraditional views — that shouldn’t earn me the label “liberal.”

    Your response entirely miscontrues my point. Perhaps you could instead address whether you support Gary North’s call for doing away with the Constitution.

    The kingdom of God, Jesus made clear, is a kingdom of the heart, not an earthbound political kingdom. I prefer to live in a country that, through religious freedom, allows that kingdom of the heart to flourish unfettered.

  2. Mr. Heflin (I presume),

    I disagree that I’ve misconstrued your point. I simply believe that the logical outcomes of your thinking mean that persons with certain viewpoints should not be permitted in the governmental process. After all, the Constitution Restoration Act, which you mention is not being proposed via a military coup or a subversion of the democratic process. It is being proposed in Congress, where our ELECTED official VOTE on issues in a manner set forth in the Constitution. If the people do not want such an act, the act will not be passed. Your use of hyperbole here makes it seem as if the Constitution is held at gunpoint.

    Regarding my charge of “ad hominem” arguments, I took your use of pejorative language toward Southern Baptists as personal attacks. You used the word “ruthless” four times in your article with reference to the SBC, painting the leaders of the SBC as diabolical without citing any evidence.

    You also are very free with the term “fundamentalist,” which is known in many journalistic circles as a perjorative term. Especially since in the first paragraph you implicitly draw a paralell between Islamic fundamentalists and Christian fundamentalists. It’s sloppy journalism to focus on “fundamentalists” rather than the preceding adjective. There’s a world of difference between them.

    I am a conservative Baptist. Traditionally Baptists have been conservative, believing in the inerrancy of Scripture, and the reality of miracles, among other things. The chief debate that led to the conservative resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention was that of inerrancy of Scripture. The conservatives fought this theological battle and won. In fact, contrary to what you say, most Baptists have believed in the inerrancy of Scripture throughout Baptist history (they also have traditionally believed in the Old Testament, by the way–something you portray as horrid in your piece). If you want sources, I can provide them.

    Most of this is irrelevant. It had nothing to do with your article. It seems the article could have been titled, “Problems with the Constitution Restoration Act–And, by the way, I can’t stand the SBC.”

    What concerns me the most about your article is not your attack on the Constitution Restoration Act. (In fact, there are parts of the act that I’m a little wary of myself). My concern is that separation of church and state does not mean that a Christian checks his or her worldview at the door when he or she enters the world of politics. The problem is that a Christian simply cannot do that because the kingdom of the heart is so pervasive into a person’s soul.

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