3 Responses to “The case for viewing churches as political agents”

  1. 1 JSC5 November 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    The tradition of people commenting over email/chat/facebook/etc continues. Let me take this opportunity to encourage everyone to participate inthe debate by leaving comments here. That way everyone can look back and see how smart your comments are!

    A friend just sent me a short rebuttal, saying “Of course churches are political. The point is that they shouldn’t be”.

    And I gotta disagree. The point is that any true church can’t help BUT be political. I mean, if you believe you really have the one and only way to heaven, it’s pretty much your moral duty to show other people the way. Especially if God told you to evangelize. To spread the word, you have to be concerned with things like growing membership, making sure people like you, etc. A rational church’s goal under those guidelines should be to turn sinners into persuadables. And you do that not by hounding them on day one about how they’re going to hell and laying down a strict list of absolute moral precepts of do’s and don’t’s, but by creating a list of priorities that lots of people can get behind. Like life, truth, beauty, grace, salvation, etc. Then use the relationships you build up with people to persuade them. It’s a very political process. A holier-than-thou church is a church that has no power. That’s why all the big churches make compromises on their priorities in how they spread the message.

    My main point is that all churches are *inherently* political. But it seems like the Catholic Church has jumped the shark and forgotten its political role and is instead risking alienating a lot of Americans in the future by cleaving to a rigid ideological line.

  2. 2 JSC5 November 10, 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Another email response: “They clearly think that aborting or participating in gay marriage is a one way ticket to hell, therefore it is their moral obligation to stop both of those things.”

    Right, but they have a choice about how to oppose it. The knee-jerk ideologically-pure reaction would be to proclaim loudly to anyone who will listen that those things will lead you straight to hell. The other option would be to oppose those things, but moderate the tone, retain as many moderates within the persuadable camp as possible, and try not to alienate too many voters. Maintain your power to influence the debate and go for the long-term win.

    Seems to me that option 2 is the smarter choice if your goal is to persuade people to your side and influence public policy. Option 1 is what you do if you’ve totally forgotten your political agency in the matter.

  1. 1 Catholic strategy, take 3 « Joint Stock Company Trackback on November 13, 2009 at 11:48 am

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This is a group blog. JSC5 currently writes from the US. JSC7 writes from behind the Great Firewall of China.

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