Charlotte Allen offered this thoughtful commentary in today's LA Times, about the dangers of mixing religion and politics (particularly on the campaign trail, particularly at this time of year).
I'm no fan of Huckabee (okay, actually I think the word "asshole" might have escaped my lips this morning). This is not because of his brand of Christianity, which I'm fine with him having if he wants, and I'd rather he be real about it than not; nor is it because of his dragging Christ and Christmas into his campaign ads, although I find that quite inappropriate (see Allen's column for good reasons why). No the main reason I really dislike the man is that he bragged about killing people. Romney called him soft on crime (like that's such a bad thing for a minister??) and he responded with some jackass comment about telling that to the 16 people whose executions he oversaw.
Real nice, Mike. Boy do you make Pilate - I mean, Jesus - look good.
It is entirely wrong for a Christian to brag on killing people. Period. In a war, in self-defense, in a death chamber. Maybe some of us feel we have to do this, that "justice" requires it (tho I always wonder how we deal with "Vengeance is mine" and "do not judge"). But even if we feel it's entirely warranted, a killing is never cause for celebration, it is never political fodder, it is never something to be proud of. No matter how necessary, it's a tragedy, it's solemn, and it's to be grieved.
Because even if the person is the most heinous criminal on earth, we've still taken away their chance for redemption and reconciliation. And that's a terrible thing to do. How many people throughout history (starting right with Peter) have betrayed God only to come to their senses and later be more effective for God than most, because they know what they've been saved from?
I'm not trying to say all criminals are saveable or will change their heart. But the fact is, we don't know which ones might. We don't know who God is working with. God sees the heart. And at least, we can take comfort knowing that ultimate decisions about justice (and mercy, which triumphs over it) lie with God, not us.
So Huckabee is officially on my bad list. Entirely because of the execution comment (it reminds me of when Bush made fun of Karla Faye-Tucker, rubbing his eyes and saying "Boo hoo, I'm scared" - that's when we pretty much labeled him evil, and it was real early on). But it's between him and God, all I can do is make people aware that this is part of him as much as the Jesus he holds as a banner. And Jesus doesn't mix with the pride in killing. Just doesn't.
It got me and the hubs talking about "winter pageants" and all manner of political correctness about holidays (I've been a happy holidays person for ages, not only b/c my friends are all manner of religions, but mostly selfishly b/c I like to save "merry Christmas" for Dec. 24 and after). And I realized, I don't think I ever want a public school teaching my kid about my religion. They'd totally muck it up! I mean, Christmas pageants may touch on the nativity, but they'll inevitably include Santa too, and that's just confusing. I'd much rather have the schools focus on the secular part of the holiday and leave the "real meaning" to the church. Our church will do a pageant for the kiddo, I'm sure, and I don't mind the kid also doing something secular at public school (we plan to teach him/her the two meanings of Christmas anyway, making a clear distinction between what they mean, and associating presents - if we do them at all - only with the secular Christmas). But yeah, I think I'm going to be one of those parents who fights hard to keep religion out of school, because I just don't think anybody there is qualified to teach religion! I've been studying it for four years, and it's really complicated!! And then, if we start teaching religion - if we teach religious science or even have prayers in school - we're gonna fight over doctrine, or liturgy, or something. The Christians can't even go to the same churches because we can't agree how it should be done. Who's version would be in the school? Ugh. Just keep it out, that's what I say. Then we're all a lot more free.
So, there's my rant for this Sunday morning. OK, I gotta pack for Vegas. Merry merry.
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It was lovely to stumble across your blog today (got here from Velveteen Rabbi) and find what seems to be a kindred spirit.
This post reminds me of the passage in Lord of the Rings in which Gandalf and Frodo are talking about Gollum:
"'I am sorry,' said Frodo. 'But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum.'
"'You have not seen him,' Gandalf broke in.
"'No, and I don't want to,' said Frodo. 'I can't understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.'
"'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.'"
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