June 14, 2006

This Post is Old!

The post you are reading is years old and may not represent my current views. I started blogging around the time I first began to study philosophy, age 17. In my view, the point of philosophy is to expose our beliefs to rational scrutiny so we can revise them and get better beliefs that are more likely to be true. That's what I've been up to all these years, and this blog has been part of that process. For my latest thoughts, please see the front page.

Equating Christianity With Politics

Jeremy Pierce at Parableman is responding to an obviously utterly false misinformed, rhetorical, and manipulative rant about Campus Crusade for Christ International at The Huffington Post. As Jeremy points out, the author seems utterly unable to distinguish Christian missionary activity from neo-conservative 'democratization' campaigns. Unfortunately, some 'Christians' (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell,* and friends) seem to have the same problem. However, let me assure you that Campus Crusade is emphatically not such a group. Campus Crusade generally does a superb job of separating theology from politics. While serving as a leader in CCC at Penn, I have had to respond to several contacts asking for comment on political issues. Penn ACLU once contacted us saying that we belong to a group that "may oppose the death penalty" and wanted to know if we would like a table at their anti-death penalty group fair to explain why we opposed the death penalty. I was also once called on the phone by a reporter from The Daily Pennsylvanian who wanted to know if CCC had any comment on a "Justice Sunday" rally taking place in Philadelphia in support of Samuel Alito and against abortion (apparently the two go together?). In every case we have given the same response: the members of our group represent a wide variety of political views, and CCC does not take positions on political issues. Of course, CCC does take a stance on the moral status of issues like homosexuality and abortion, but we are very careful to distinguish our claims that these things are immoral from the claim that they ought to be illegal. As Jeremy says, and as everyone who actually reads any official CCC documents should notice immediately, CCC is an almost entirely apolitical organization. (I say almost because CCC certainly does take an official stance the governments ought to be tolerant of Christianity in general, and of missions work, and of organizations such as itself, and I suppose that counts as an official political view, but promoting that view is not part of CCC's mission.) Unfortunately, a quick look at the comments on the Huffington Post article seem to indicate that none of its readers have actually bothered to look at the authors source material...

* My apologies for the sarcastic reference to President Bush which previously occurred at this point. There are enough real points to criticize him on without me exaggerating or making things up. While I think that the Bush cabinet and the staffs of his two campaigns often tried to use Christianity in politically manipulative ways, it is not true that President Bush "seems utterly unable to distinguish Christian missionary activity from neo-conservative 'democratization' campaigns."

Posted by Kenny at June 14, 2006 5:00 PM
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A good deal of the author's source material says the same thing he says, so I'm not sure that they didn't look at it. The book he cited is a fairly crackpot argument that evangelicals are all just Republical political operatives in disguise, and they seem to see the language of taking this country back for Christ in the sense of arguing rationally and convincing people with our lives as if it's about political action to make Christianity the only legal way to live your life. It's a pretty awful inference, but I guess they just know so little about what evangelicals mean by certain phrases that their heremeneutic of suspicion and desire to find people to hate take over, and they lose all sense of the interpretive principle of charity.

The CCC director at Syracuse was once contacted for a statement about the cartoon page of the student paper. One cartoonist had come under a lot of fire for comic strips that had (it was argued) portrayed offensive stereotypes, mostly about race but also about gender and religion. Some of them made fun of Jesus in particular. The feminists were outraged, and the identity politicians were up in arms. The CCC director just said he never read the funnies, not because they were offensive but because they weren't funny. Everyone I've told that story to who was familiar with that paper said it was the perfect response.

I'm not seeing why you're putting President Bush with Falwell and Robertson. He's nothing like them. They think our society would be best if we start writing Christian ethics into the law. He doesn't think that at all. His argument for maintaining marriage as it is has nothing to do with religion. It's about maintaining the traditions of western society. He upsets them all the time for saying that Islam is a good religion, that Christians can cooperate with Muslims, and so on. He bases his support for Israel on the fact that they're angels compared with their enemies, a purely political reason, not on dispensationalism, as they do. He has never given religious reasons for his pro-life view. He doesn't say that we need to do things because God said so. Comparing him to them isn't as bad as saying CCC is an operative of the Republican party, but it seems to me to be a much lesser version of the same mistake.

Posted by: Jeremy Pierce at June 14, 2006 7:52 PM

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