Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Saddleback Civic Forum

I finished watching the civil forum from last week at Saddleback Church. A few thoughts on the entire event.

First, this is exactly the kind of event that we need in an election year. A clear discussion with Presidential candidates on issues that matter to people of faith. I concur with Rick Warren when he said that we believe in a separation of church and state, but not with the division between faith and politics. Faith must influence politics, and it is my hope that people of faith will look at the issues facing our country and make the best decision possible when they head into the voting booth in November.

I thought Barack Obama was engaging in his discussion with Rick Warren. It felt like two old friends having a conversation. I loved his comments on the direction of America and Matthew 25: What you have done to the least of these you have done to me. That is the direction that I want to see America head in.

John McCain was also insightful in his comments. He was direct and to the point on issues that matter to Republicans, and particularly the religious right. His direct answers will calm the fears of many on the right who assume that he is a moderate in Republican clothes [which I think he really secretly is].

The issue of abortion always plays an important role in Presidential Elections. The right wants a President who will be stridently pro-life. At times this is the deciding issue for voters. All they want to know is who will be pro-life, and who will stand against gay marriage. I wonder if this will finally be the year when people start to look beyond a couple of issues when voting for President. As time goes on I am not so sure that the abortion issue can or will be solved by a conservative in the White House for another four years. The past eight years have not seen a significant drop in the abortion rate.

While we are distracted by the abortion issue, other issues that should be primary for Christian voters go unnoticed. Let me be clear, I am pro-life. I find abortion to be immoral. But my pro-life stance also requires me to be consistently pro-life. From the cradle to the grave. More people will die today from preventable diseases than died in the 9/11 attacks. Where is the Christian outrage over such a calamity?

I hope this will be the year that Christians across our great country begin to look at all the issues that face our country. I believe that a Christian can be fervently pro-life, and at the same time care about the poor, and support initiatives that will stop the crisis currently decimating our world. I hope for a candidate that can make the bold move forward to being both pro-life, and pro-poor. And I hope that all Christian voters will remember all the issues when casting their vote this November.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A New Option?

This morning I finished off God's Politics. In the last section of the book, Jim Wallis channels the spirit of Nostradomus to give some predictions for the new millennium. One in particular caught my eye:

15. A new option will emerge: conservative in personal values, radical for social justice. The number of spiritual progressives will grow.

This is what I have been looking for. A way forward between the bifurcation of values. The choice between abandoning either the poor, or abandoning the unborn. Can there not be a middle path in which those of us who bleed purple can navigate?

This sort of understanding is what draws me to the thoughts and writings of Emergent. Particularly the writings of Tony Jones, in his most recent book The New Christians. There is a groundswell of progressive Christians that are prophetically calling us out to care not only about the unborn, and family values, but to also spur us on to care for the environment, the poor, and peace in our fractured world.

I am looking forward to the political circus that will commence at the end of the month with both the Republican and Democratic Conventions. I anticipate spirited debate between the two worthy candidates. And I hope that Washington will soon learn that one can be conservative in personal values, and be stridently for social justice.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

McLaren and Obama

Brian McLaren has recently offered his support of Senator Obama for President.

I'm not sure that I have decided on who my vote will go to, and I'm not sure that it even matters all that much. My position as a pastor influences my decision not to share who I am supporting for political office, or to share with others who I vote for. I keep this information close to the vest, because of my position that a church, nor it's representatives should be in the business of overtly promoting political candidates. Rather I would like to see the church seriously engage in the political issues of our day, beyond the issues of abortion and gay-marriage.

I must say that I am drawn to Obama for several reasons. First he offers a breath of fresh air into the political scene. He's not a Washington insider, having served in the Senate for only 2 years. This may be seen by some as a weakness, his lack of political acumen being a hindrance to his electability, but I see it as someone with fresh eyes coming on the scene.

As a Christian I feel I must be anti-war. I have trouble being a full fledged pacifist, but I'm not on the side that supports the United States being the unilateral keeper of peace and capitalism in the world. I have a hard time supporting a presidential candidate who wants to keep the country in war, especially a war in which the reasons for going into war are spotty at best.

As a Christian I am also pro-poor. I believe that budgets are moral statements. The tax cuts that benefit the rich, while hindering the poor from receiving tax breaks are simply Un-Christian. It's time that Christians in America recognize this fact, and stand up and make their voice heard. We will not continue to support policies that leave the poor without the means to support themselves. Those who work a full time job should be able to support themselves.

Does Obama really represent a more holistic Christian world-view on some of the key issues? That remains to be seen. I am looking for a President who is willing to challenge the current administrations failings, and one that has a clear vision of the future.

This presidential election will be an interesting one, and I'm not sure who I will vote for. Sometimes I think I should just put an "undecided" sign in my yard. But I know this, I am one Christian in America who is calling for a candidate that will hold to policies that are moral across the board. I'm looking for a candidate who will protect the sanctity of life, from the cradle to the grave. I'm looking for a president who will only use war as a last resort. I'm looking for a president who cares about the environment, and our role as the stewards of God's creation. I'm looking for a president who will help the poor, and recognize that it's a sin for Americans to have millions of children starving in their cities. I'm looking for a president who will create a fair tax code that will not benefit the rich, while the poor starve. Is Obama that man? I'm not quite sure yet, and I'm not sure that either candidate will have all the answers, but what I am sure of is that we need a new direction in this country.