January 22, 2008
Why Do We Care About Mixing Religion and Politics?
Here is another interesting article about line-drawing when it comes to religion and politics. We previously blogged an article about Huckabee walking a fine line between religion and politics in his political campaign for President of the United States. The take in this January 21, 2008, Newsday article is different, though, because the writer looks beyond the current Presidential campaign and focuses on the broader concern of keeping religion and politics separate. The essence of the article is that the concern is not so much that religion could corrupt politics, but that politics has the potential to corrupt religion by diverting religion from its core religious mission. Here is an excerpt:
Politics and assorted kinds of social activism create the temptation of diverting Christianity from its central mission. That is, as noted in Matthew 28, Jesus told his disciples, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." This is the Great Commission.
Individual Christians obviously should engage fully in the political process. Just like everyone else, they can and should be guided by their values and consciences - formed and informed by their faith - as voters, candidates, activists and lawmakers. The presidential campaign by Mike Huckabee, who is a Baptist minister, provides one illustration. But the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s fight for civil rights in the 1960s may be an even better one.
From the standpoint of teachers and scholars in the nonprofit and philanthropy law area, this could explain why religion and churches are given special treatment under federal tax exemption laws.
For the entire article, see "Trouble lurks when politics intrudes on faith" in the January 21, 2008, issue of Newsday.
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If the "special treatment" mentioned in the last sentence of the post includes the ban on campaign intervention by 501(c)(3) organizations (including churches and religious organizations), then it is probably worth noting that enacting laws designed to combat "the temptation to divert Christianity from its central mission" is probably beyond the power of Congress under the Constitution. The Establishment Clause probably makes it the responsibility of Christians themselves to avoid that temptation (if they so choose) without the federal government intervening.
Posted by: Ben Leff | Jan 23, 2008 2:31:18 AM