Thursday, October 9, 2008

Christianity vs. Christianism

Christianity is the belief in the Bible, salvation through Christ, heaven and hell, and so forth. Christianism is the belief that your Christian beliefs alone are sufficient to justify your public policy positions. In some cases, Christianists believe that God can speak directly to them to dictate those policies.

Christianism is theocracy. And the McCain/Palin campaign is increasingly relying on it. Christianism is when Douglas Kmiec, a conservative pro-life Catholic, gets denied the Eucharist for endorsing Obama. Christianism is when the candidates get prayed for -- that "God will lead them to victory" and "protect them from witchcraft."

I have nothing against Christians. Barack Obama is a Christian (really!). In fact, he made the clearest distinction between Christianity and Christianism in a terrific speech at a "Call to Renewal" conference in 2006. It's really worth a read. A key passage:
"Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square.... [But] democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God's will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice."
Amen to that.

That's why, if this story is true, I'm encouraged by developments in Colorado Springs. If Pastor Boyd is taking a Christian, rather than a Christianist approach to politics, then more power to him. And he should call out that Christianist Dobson for what he is, while he's at it.


Acrobat said...

look, boyd is merely riding the political tide. See his first & last quotes-he's setting aside values voting merely because the economic noise is too loud. This is a meaningful shift in neither theology or politics. Let's see what happens in the aftermath of McCain's loss & the ensuing struggle for GOP soul.

Loved the Obama quote. And as values become universal, their basis becomes less sectarian. Wow. Secular democracy as a threat to religion. Consider that Mr. Bush.

Dan Chong said...

I hear you -- but I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. If Boyd interprets his Christian values broadly, and doesn't use them as a litmus test for politics, then more power to him.

Acrobat said...

ok, but these people have already spent their benefit of a doubt.