Thursday, June 29, 2006

Barack Obama at 'Call to Renewal'

Here is an excerpt from the keynote speech Senator Barak Obama gave at Jim Wallis' 'Call to Renewal' conference. I have added the link to the Call to Renewal website to the causes™ section of my left side menu. The rest of the speech can be read here or you can go to iTunes Podcasts and search for Barak Obama. It's an amazing speech by my favorite politician right now, so I highly recommend reading or listening to it. I do think I take more of a hard stance on using my biblical beliefs to direct my political ideology then he makes it sound like in the speech. For me it is the very reason I have a feel strongly about social justice, peace, moral budgets, even the first amendment and making others of different faiths feel comfortable in the same country as me, all of that stems from my desire to be Christ-like. I do agree with what he is getting at though.

While I've already laid out some of the work that progressive leaders need to do, I want to talk a little bit about what conservative leaders need to do -- some truths they need to acknowledge.

For one, they need to understand the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy, but the robustness of our religious practice. Folks tend to forget that during our founding, it wasn't the atheists or the civil libertarians who were the most effective champions of the First Amendment. It was the persecuted minorities, it was Baptists like John Leland who didn't want the established churches to impose their views on folks who were getting happy out in the fields and teaching the scripture to slaves. It was the forbearers of the evangelicals who were the most adamant about not mingling government with religious, because they did not want state-sponsored religion hindering their ability to practice their faith as they understood it.

Moreover, given the increasing diversity of America's population, the dangers of sectarianism have never been greater. Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.

And even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's, or Al Sharpton's? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles.