Slate is hosting a back’n’forth exchange between David Kuo who wrote Tempting Faith (a book I keep meaning to read) and Hanna Rosin who wrote God’s Harvard (a book I’m afraid to read for fear I’ll see evangelicals hiding under my bed.)
Kuo’s personal story is very interesting. He worked in the White House, had a brain tumor and came out disillusioned by the combination of faith, cynicism and sheer flim-flammery he saw in the Republican Party. (Unfortunately he still absolves Bush of all possible sins…it’s always Bush’s circle that causes the problems…never the fact that Bush allows things to happen exactly as he means them too.)
I’m always fascinated to read stories of people’s personal political transformations, especially those that lead them to a new understand of religion. (David Brock’s Blinded by the Right and Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus are two such books).
But Kuo finally hits the nail on the head about politics for the spiritually possessed:
Spiritually, evangelicals need to make it clear (and understand, in some cases) that they can have passionate public-policy opinions without presenting them as holy writ. Why? Because in doing so, they give to the world a Jesus known not by his love and sacrifice but by his political stridency. Believe it or not, Jesus never said, "Blessed are the tax cutters for they shall keep more of their money."Exactly. It’s perfectly fine for religious-minded to engage in politics. But they have to engage in debate, argument and persuasion like everyone else. And their arguments against sex-education, abortion, and whatever should be grounded in something other than “well Jesus says it should be so, and you have to follow what (I think) Jesus says.”
Now it happens I think once you remove the crutch of using “just because Jesus says it should be so” I think they’ll lose their public policy debates. But maybe it will also cause them to ask themselves why are they arguing for whatever policy they are favoring?
The point I think Kuo was making is that policy debates shouldn’t be by-proxy religious wars despite what some people want to make them out to be.