David Sehat has a great opinion piece up at the Christian Science Monitor where he argues that the current Tea Party has more in common with the antifederalists that opposed the Constitution than they do with the Constitution’s federalist framers.
This argument is instructive, but not quite in the way that tea partiers imagine. Though the tea party’s philosophy is clear enough, it obscures a telling irony: Even though tea partiers appeal to the Constitution to support their position, they often sound more like Antifederalist opponents of the Constitution than the Constitution’s supporters.
This is because the original vision of the Constitution did not seek to keep the national government small and in its place, as the tea partiers claim. The Constitution sought, instead, to strengthen the national government in order to solve the problem of federal taxation.
After producing a truly epic book advertisement, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty sat down for an interview with Christianity Today. Two of his answers early in the interview jumped out at me:
Your book encourages Christians to be involved in public issues. At what point might Christians rely too much on political solutions to current problems?
I started with the perspective of someone who says that faith is separate from public law and public service; it really isn’t. We have, as a country, a founding perspective that we’re founded under God; our founding documents reference and acknowledge God, and acknowledge that our rights and privileges come from our Creator.
For those who have an interest in or passion about an issue, being involved in the political process is important. It isn’t for everybody; there are other ways to serve, including the family, neighborhood, faith-based organizations, charitable organizations, and also reaching out and helping somebody on a one-on-one basis.
Recently, Alabama governor Robert Bentley spoke at a Baptist church about accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior, and then said, “I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister and I want to be your brother.” How does someone balance being evangelistic while also having the obligation of a governor representing a religiously diverse state?
I’m not familiar with the Alabama situation, so I can’t comment on it. Beyond that, when I go into the public square and speak about faith matters, first of all, I try to not inject my own personal editorial comments. If I make a faith-related comment, I usually quote from the Bible, often from the Old Testament. I remind people that our country is founded under God, and the founders thought that was an important perspective. I watch my tone so I don’t get judgmental or angry about issues. I try to express myself in ways that are measured and appropriate and hopefully civil and positive. Lastly, I try not to say that God is on my side, but I strive to be on God’s side.
There is a parallelism in Pawlenty’s logic here. First, he argues that our founders and our founding documents show that our country was “founded under God,” though he never explains what that phrase means or what its repercussions are; nor does he even discuss who this God we’re founded under is. But that’s beside the point. He also incorrectly implies that God or a Creator is mentioned in our Constitution when only “Nature’s God” is mentioned, and then only in the Declaration of Independence. Yet that’s also beside the point.
The point is that, for Pawlenty, there is evidential proof of America’s founding “under God” in the Founders and their documents. Then, he makes the point that when he speaks in public about matters of faith he tries “not to inject my own personal editorial comments.” Rather, he quotes from the Bible. Pawlenty’s use of scripture and his use of the Founders share a similar precision. In both cases he believes he is not injecting his own editorial comments, but instead, that he is relating what is plainly obvious. Just read the founders. Just read the documents. Just read the Bible. It’s all there, clear as day.
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Things Sacred & Profane: Sacred Constitution, Jerry Brown, Mormon politics, and an atheist Bible readerPosted: January 5, 2011
The recitation of the Constitution in the House renews the debate over Founders’ intentions.
Peter Berger on “Conservative Christians and the Sexual Revolution”
Romney and Reid: Does Mormonism matter in politics?
An atheist who is spending a year reading through the King James Bible.
California’s new (but not completely new) governor, Jerry Brown, trained with Jesuits, studied with Zen Masters, and hung out on the streets with Mother Theresa. He also inspired this great Dead Kennedy’s song.