The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, February 20, 2006

Bullying the pulpit

While it isn't noteworthy that the GOP is actively courting fundamentalists by promising them religious legislation, it's important to remember that religious leaders using their sermons to support partisan politics means that their church shouldn't be tax exempt-- because it isn't a house of worship at that point, but a political recruiting station.

The North Carolina Republican Party asked its members this week to send their church directories to the party, drawing furious protests from local and national religious leaders.

"Such a request is completely beyond the pale of what is acceptable," said the Rev. Richard Land, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

During the 2004 presidential race, the Bush-Cheney campaign sent a similar request to Republican activists across the country. It asked churchgoers not only to furnish church directories to the campaign, but also to use their churches as a base for political organizing.

The tactic was roundly condemned by religious leaders across the political spectrum, including conservative evangelical Christians. Ten professors of ethics at major seminaries and universities wrote a letter to President Bush in August 2004 asking him to "repudiate the actions of your re-election campaign," and calling on both parties to "respect the integrity of all houses of worship."

Fortunately, there are religious leaders of conscience out there who recognize the dangers of undermining freedom of religion in this country. And it's always good to hear them remind the nation that religious does not equal conservative-- crazy and religious equals conservative.