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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fred Thompson Not Christian Enough

It turns out you are supposed to pray in the public square. James Dobson says that Fred Thompson is not a good enough Christian for the Christian Right because he doesn't talk about it enough.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/03/29/dobson.thompson/index.html

I know that Jesus said not to be boastful about your faith. I know that Jesus said it was the son who worked in the field and not the one who said he would work in the field that was the better son. These kind of suggest that faith is about how you act and not what you say. I wonder what James Dobson knows that I don't.

UPDATE: “In his conversation with Mr. Gilgoff, Dr. Dobson was attempting to highlight that to the best of his knowledge, Sen. Thompson hadn’t clearly communicated his religious faith, and many evangelical Christians might find this a barrier to supporting him. Dr. Dobson told Mr. Gilgoff he had never met Sen. Thompson and wasn’t certain that his understanding of the former senator’s religious convictions was accurate. Unfortunately, these qualifiers weren’t reported by Mr. Gilgoff. We were, however, pleased to learn from his spokesperson that Sen. Thompson professes to be a believer."

http://www.focusaction.org/press/A000000236.cfm

Fred Thompson paid James Dobson the respect he was due, and now James Dobson will sign off on Fred Thompson for the time being.

Remember that one time when Jesus picked out which of the Romans should serve in the Senate? Oh you don't? Me neither.

9 comments:

Luke said...

Oh I'm butchering this but I sure wish I could remember the quote correctly and who said it. I'm a bit fried this morning. So, Jim, help me out here. Something like...

Make your faith known always, and if you have to, talk about it.

JimII said...

I'll look it up when I have a little more time, but it is a pretty fantastic quote as written.

Lin said...

I think it was St. Francis who said, "Preach the gospel always, and when you must, use words." But I must say I like Luke's version.

Lin said...

Here's another observation -- it doesn't look like anyone is Christian enough to suit Mr. Dobson. Maybe the problem is not with the candidates.

Matt Dick said...

Isn't it true however, that from a certain logical stance, a Christian must be pretty judgemental in terms of who he has to vote for or endorse? Jesus as he is presented set a pretty strong example for how to behave, and was pretty exacting about his admonitions.

JimII said...

Matt,

This is a really important point for goal of this blog, which is to discuss the need for Christianity to reassert its role as social commentator, a/k/a prophet.

Jesus was a champion of social justice. Providing for those who were poor, or disabled, or otherwise on the outside. Indeed, the role that Jesus was playing was not unlike that of Isaiah in advocating for these. Jesus also advocated leading a moral life, although those passages are more sparse.

Jesus was against empty statements of religious alegiance. Jesus was against putting adherence to the law ahead of justice.

James Dobson is a modern day pharisee. People like him, are the only people that made Jesus angry. Clearing the temple was clearing away people who were profiting and achieving power through the exploitation of the faith.

As a Christian, I am compelled to advocate for social justice. It is what Jesus said to do. I cannot say, "Well, you know there will always be poor people," or even "Well, that's politics and it doesn't relate to relgion."

Bullshit. How we treat people crossing in the desert, how we treat people without healthcare, how we treat disabled soldiers: That is exactly what religion is about.

What is unacceptable, (to me, but more importantly to Jesus) is to use religion as a tool to acheive political power. That's what Dobson and his ilk have tried to do. (Although, as I pointed out in an earlier post, many evangelicals are now rethinking this tactic.)

To the extent the Church has been true to these values is the topic of FGAC (http://www.fgac.blogspot.com/). But here, I'm talking about what the church needs to do, not what it has done.

Matt Dick said...

Jim, perhaps I'm just ignorant of James Dobson, but aren't you using this blog to do the exact same thing -- to advocate for your view of what Christianity is and how that vision can be used to make informed political choices?

That he is more successful in reaching a mass audience, and he happens to disagree with your position is irrelevant to the morality of his choice to get involved politically (just as you are doing), isn't it?

JimII said...

"Jim, perhaps I'm just ignorant of James Dobson, but aren't you using this blog to do the exact same thing -- to advocate for your view of what Christianity is and how that vision can be used to make informed political choices?"

No on two levels. First, what Dobson is doing to Fred Thompson is saying that he is not a legitimate Christian because he doesn't talk about it enough. He doesn't identify himself as Christian enough. So, a narrow reason to distinquish me from Dobson is that Dobson is condemning Thompson for not announcing his religion. I am not proposing that people make a political football out of the fact that they are Christian.

Second, and more generally, Dobson works to acheive political clout for his organization by exploiting faith. That is what the pharisees in Jesus time did. They became rich, they became king makers, etc. because of their position in the church. That is what Dobson wants to do.

I don't want to see the liberal church be king makers. I want to see the liberal church be a voice for Christian values. I want the church to say, "the war is wrong; take care of the poor; take care of the planet," rather than "Elect X Candidate who makes public proclamations that he or she agrees with us."

This is a distinction I should post more about. It is very important.

Luke said...

Thank you, lin. I was absolutely thinking of the St. Francis quote. Perhaps I'll remember next time.

I knew I was butchering it.

"James Dobson is a modern day pharisee". Ouch. No pulling punches. I've always loved that about you, Jim. Even when I hated it. I don't disagree with you on this. I'm no Dobson fan. It is a powerful statement and a comparison worthy of exploration.

I live six or seven miles from the headquarters of Focus on the Family. It took me awhile to warm to it, but I take my kids to their indoor play area sometimes on the weekends. Its nice. And a fun place to be active on a cold, winter day. Total tangent. Sorry.

And in the words of a bumper sticker seen around town sometimes, "Focus on your own damn family".