An Embarrassing Silence
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Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 12:16:18 PM EST
Ken Connor was president of the Family Research Council and now leads an organization called Center for a Just Society. His recent article in the Baptist Press criticizes how the religious right has been silent over the recent Abramoff corruption scandal. It is good to see Christian Right figures like Connor beginning to express a little independence from the Republican party. It is also a nice surprise to see an article in the Southern Baptist press that is not uncritically praising president Bush and the policies of the Republican party.
Some excerpts from Ken Connor's article:

In the wake of the scandal created by "super lobbyist" Jack Abramoff, Democrats and Republicans alike are rushing to the fore with proposed ethics reforms in an attempt to restore sagging public confidence in Congress. [   ]

Public interest groups of all stripes have weighed in on the need for reform, but one voice has been strangely silent -- that of Christian conservatives. The so-called religious right (with which this writer has oft been identified) has not been hesitant in the last two decades to "speak truth to power." Evangelical and Catholic leaders have not been shy about speaking of "right and wrong" in the public square. Nor have they been hesitant to invoke Scripture where they felt it applied to the issue under consideration. But voices of religious conservatives have been largely AWOL in the current debate. One likely explanation for some of the silence is that two figures closely identified with the movement, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed, are neck deep in the scandal.

But the failure of Christian leaders to address the corrupting influence of money on the administration of justice in society should not be taken to mean that the Scriptures do not speak to the issue. As early as the eighth century B.C., the prophet Isaiah railed against bribery and corruption in the public square. [   ]

The Scripture leaves no doubt that the God of the Bible is deeply concerned about the importance of creating a just society, and that He imposes obligations on those who govern to dispense justice fairly without the corrupting influence of money. That is a truth that Christian leaders should not hesitate to speak to those in power.

Or - at the least - one honest and brave man.  One out of so many, yes.  But, it is wise to notice honesty in the camp of one's chosen foes - whoever they may be. That is the narrow edged way which avoids demonization.

There is an ancient tradition, mentioned in Islamic, Jewish and Persian writings, that the world is prevented from being submerged in its follies and wickedness by the presence in each generation of a small number of just men who, through their conduct and good deeds, ensure the safety and survival of the people. They operate inconspicuously: scarcely recognized by others or even themselves.

The legend is widespread in Jewish folklore, but accounts vary as to the quality or number of these 'Zaddikim'. Some are hidden, or take action to avoid being noticed; others are known and subject to public attention. Proverbs X praises the just man as the foundation of the world; early Talmudic writings give the number as thirty (from an interpretation of Genesis XVIII: 18 whereby God promised Abraham that the world would never lack so many such as he; and the Babylonian section refers to forty-five. The number was rounded-off to three dozen by a Babylonian teacher in the fourth century from a numerical interpretation in Isiah XXX: 18 of the word for 'Him'.

It is thought, however, that the idea of thirty-six is not specifically Semitic, being taken from an Egyptian/Hellenistic notion of 36 celestial decans, each of which rules ten days of the year, and personifies them into watchmen of the Universe....

Whatever the details and origin of the legend....The world is maintained by quite small numbers of ordinary people who, by their presence, with no special claim to merit or distinction, go about their affairs in times of upheaval to provide oases of sanity and continuity. Those who claim to be in control of events strut about in the limelight and manipulate the levers of power without considering that these are not necessarily connected to anything behind the panel and any that are connected may do considerable damage before being reversed...[ source ]

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 12:48:37 PM EST

It is embarrassing that religious leaders generally (left, right, and center) have not spoken out more about convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his ties with religious right leaders and gamblers. Ralph Reed, in campaigning for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia, likes to claim that those who criticize his 25-year friendship and strategic political alliance with Abramoff are promoting "guilt by association." It's fine for Reed to point out that he hasn't been charged with any crime (yet), and that he's cooperating in the federal investigation. However, Reed's political career is based largely on trading on the concept of "innocence by association" with religious right groups. So, it's fair to point out that he's a big hypocrite when he preaches against gambling while taking gamblers' money to advance their interests in limiting competition from other casinos.

by jhutson on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 11:31:51 PM EST

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