A Role Model for Young Progressive Christians
One of our blogger friends, Chuck Currie
, recently did a blog interview discussing religion and politics
I have been reading Chuck since I began blogging a little over a year ago. In that time, I have come to see him as a role model for how young, progressive Christians can approach such matters as separation of church and state, and respectful relations with people of all religious and non-religious viewpoints. He is also a nationally known and tremendously effective advocate for the homeless, recent seminary graduate, and soon-to-be-ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.
He is a good man, and someone everyone here at Talk to Action
should get to know.
In addition to writing regularly on his own blog about a range of matters -- including some tough, smart takes on aspects of the religious right (see, for example his post on the Dover intelligent design decision) -- he is a front pager at Street Prophets, which is operated by one of the founders of Talk to Action, Pastordan (who should need no introduction around here, but I guess you never know.)
Here is part of Chuck's interview:
Simon Owens: Many conservatives try to make the words Liberal Christian an oxymoron. How well do you think they succeed at getting this view across to the public?
Chuck Currie: Bring up the term "Christian" and many Americans will associate the word with people such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. The Religious Right has been able to convince the media and many in the general public that their positions on social issues are the only legitimate Christian views to hold. However, Christianity has always been a diverse religion and for much of history the Christian voice has been one prophetically calling for social justice on behalf of those Jesus called "the least of these." Christians across the globe, for example, opposed the US invasion of Iraq and Christians in many nations have been at the forefront of movements for economic justice, opposition to the death penalty, and for environmental protection. Christianity is not liberal or conservative. Those are modern political terms. Sadly, some have tried to co-opt Christianity to advance their partisan political agendas. All Christians need to guard against that.
SO: Do you think that religion should be so prominent in political culture? At what point do you think politicians go too far?
CC: There is nothing wrong with religious people being involved with politics. My friends in the United Methodist Church have a great way of addressing this issue in their Social Principles:
"The United Methodist Church has for many years supported the separation of church and state. In some parts of the world this separation has guaranteed the diversity of religious expressions and the freedom to worship God according to each person's conscience. Separation of church and state means no organic union of the two, but it does permit interaction. The state should not use its authority to promote particular religious beliefs (including atheism), nor should it require prayer or worship in the public schools, but it should leave students free to practice their own religious convictions. We believe that the state should not attempt to control the church, nor should the church seek to dominate the state. The rightful and vital separation of church and state, which has served the cause of religious liberty, should not be misconstrued as the abolition of all religious expression from public life."
Politicians go too far when they claim that God wants them to be elected and / or when they suggest it is un-Christian to vote for anyone other than them.