From the Dallas Morning News of Saturday, March 10, 2007:
"If you consider the rancor within the worldwide Anglican Communion as only being about church politics or gay rights, you'll miss the larger point. Like nearly all mainline Protestant denominations, Episcopalians in Texas and their Anglican colleagues abroad are indeed facing extreme tensions over homosexuality. But the broader question is why this debate is occurring — and what the why means for global politics.
"Penn State historian Philip Jenkins has written widely about the why. As he recently told Dallas audiences, Christianity is experiencing explosive and historically consequential growth in Latin America, Asia and Africa — the so-called Global South. Brazilian Christians, for example, are among the world's largest buyers of Bibles. Africa is home to half the world's Anglicans, and Nigeria alone will soon have more Anglicans than England. There is power in numbers, and Third World Christians are starting to exercise it.
"Westerners usually err in seeing global Christianity through the lens of our own culture war. But the religious beliefs of Global South Christians, while prescribing a conservative sexual morality, also can lead them into taking economically liberal stances — including radical demands for better health care, schools and jobs. Being largely poor themselves, they take seriously Jesus' admonitions about treating the poor fairly.
"That's why leftist Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has strong support among Brazilian Pentecostals. And that's why leaders like him can draw on an army of the Christian faithful to affect economic policies like trade deals and debt reduction.
"On foreign policy, booming African Christianity is facing potentially violent conflict with resurgent African Islam, complicating the war on terror for America.
"Politicians, policy-makers and other elites sometimes see religion as a hobby for believers.
"For the devout, though, it's not a garnish to life; it is life. If the candidates prepping for the White House miss how the new Christianity is fundamentally changing the Third World, they could get blindsided on the global stage. So could we all."
This is great news --to hear that the world is being won to Jesus Christ and the Word of God.
Social justice starts with freedom of speech and religion and equal opportunities for all--starting with education and/or job training for all.
Socially conservative Christians in the U.S. will agree with this. That's why Geo. Bush has spent our money on AIDS in Africa and why he wants to see some kind of remedy for Mexican labor in the U.S. and for those who are illegal here but have their children and grandchildren here by birth --thus, citizens making a contribution and speaking English very well. Compassionate conservatism.
Liberal Democrat of Politics in Mudville website persists in seeing social conservatives as unsympathic to the poor, unconcerned for social justice for the needy and for environmental concerns.
The liberal talking heads think the Democrats can pull some of the evangelicals on board with religious talk about issues they have in common with the liberal Christians like Jim Wallis --but as the editorial says, Christianity is a way of life and not a hobby or a garnish for the devout.
And that means that the new Christians in the world, eagerly devouring scripture as the "very words of God," will also notice that homosexual acts and abortion don't sync with The Good Book --any more than does systemic, gov't-forced tyranny, poverty, corruption, slavery, porn, prostitution, abuse of the body by drugs and alcohol, or proven harm to the environment.
Talking heads in media are trying to say that evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians have finally seen the light --and are possibly abandoning their concern for abortion and gay rights to focus on the environment and social justice for the poor. No, if there is any change, we are learning to merely broaden our political emphases to include the concerns of liberals when they are legitimate concerns. The liberal response will be to embrace the language of Christianity, use the bully pulpit, to attack the GOP as being unsympathetic to the poor and the environment.
Global warming seems to still be controversial --but if proven, the Christians would certainly not oppose a remedy. Evangelicals have always been concerned about poverty, tyranny, and AIDS. But they have MORE concerns than the liberals --because they see the relationship between sin and disease, sin and poverty.
Evangelicals have also always supported healthcare --not via socialism, but through education, charity, and missions. Insurance programs are a kind of inclusive welfare when everybody contributes and benefits as needed. Government healthcare institutions, however, tend to be inefficient and limited in quality because they protect ineptitude.
Why do we think Pastor Rick Warren of the famous mega church, Saddleback Church, hosted Obama on the subject of AIDS missions in Africa? Because the Evangelicals support a compassionate government and healthcare. And, more importantly, I suspect he wanted to expose Obama to evangelicals and the Gospel itself and Warren's very effective and Biblical view on the purpose for our lives.
Fact is: the evangelicals who vote GOP have been way ahead of Dems for years on social issues INCLUDING the poor here and abroad --they are the ones running the missions sponsoring most of the private (not gov't) relief agencies. Granted some more socially liberal churches also have missions. An evangelical Mega church locally is Cedar Creek which has days where they invite widows and single moms to bring in their cars for repairs and oil changes, etc. and the church men with these skills work on them. That church also has a huge winter coat and gloves mission for children. Our church has ladies who knit baby items for the needy.
It's the evangelicals like my church who take a team to the Katrina damage in Miss. and help build a sturdy house on stilts for an elderly lady --who cleaned out a moldy, soggy Head Start school and were able to salvage it. who are going again in the fall. who support a mission boarding school for troubled or needy youth --who sponsor food pantries and benevolence funds for the needy. My denomination has started hospitals in Africa and India and has schools in various countries.
In the U.S., churches of all kinds minister to loads of people on welfare, single moms, needy children, etc., helping them with practical needs. Their youth rake leaves for the poor elderly and do other helps on their properties. They minister to the poor, the ill and dying and the bereaved with food. they provide transportation, help with resumes, tutor, etc.
The PERSONAL touch and relationship with the poor is done most effectively by believers --who do know their Bible and thus know what Christ said we should do for the poor. And they know they are no better than the poor --because we are all equal at the foot of the cross.
Not that we ALL couldn't be doing more for the needy....
I personally wouldn't know where to start to advocate for the needy through gov't bureaucracy--but I know what to do for a few people personally. The problem is that gov't DOES seem to be so big and unweildy as to not be all that effective in how they spend the monies for disaster relief, etc. I hear that the south is still a mess. Maybe they should take the old chain gangs out from the prisons to do some work down there because they haven't anything better to do.
I gather that Democrats hope to take up the poverty cause with RELIGIOUS LANGUAGE AND MOTIVATION--and try to persuade us that the GOP is lagging in this area compared to the democratic party --that Dems are more Christian in charity than the conservative Christians who ALSO care about those "narrow agenda" moral issues.
But it was Jesus Himself who said that "a man should leave his parents and cleave to a wife." Hetero marriage is the biblical standard-- "male and female created He them" because it is "not good for man to be alone." God tells us to "be fruitful and multiply."
Jesus also said that "whoever harms these little ones, were better a millstone were hung about his neck and he be cast into the sea." (Abortion certainly harms the little ones.) The Bible also says "thou shalt not murder."
Greed and the grass is greener syndrome affect everyone --both parties, but democrat solutions tend to just drive the whole economy downward because their agenda is to foment a class warfare between the unworking poor and those who do work and chafe under the ever-higher taxes at all levels. When they tax higher, the working people and retired tighten their purse strings trying to hang on through retirement. They downsize their businesses and don't hire if the gov't taxes them into oblivion. They raise prices trying to keep ahead of the gov't imposed higher wages and taxes.
Democratic economic solutions are just counter-productive. In their drive to make the rich poorer, they make everyone poorer. The GOP believes that jobs will be more available for more people if we don't tax small businesses or sue big businesses out of the market.
If the Dems think they can win the Christian vote by calling themselves more religiously charitable --while championing (or being quiet about) the causes of gay marriage and abortion --they misunderstand the evangelicals.
Christian values are not either/or --either charity and environment OR pro-life and traditional marriage. All four are important and evangelicals already know this and consistently try to do something about them. My Christian alma mater, e.g., has a degree or a major in environmental science.
However, while the liberals continue to focus on the environment (however hypocritically as in Hollywood)and their Robin Hood view of economics; we'll continue to focus on preserving fetal life and hetero marriage while they oppose us on these issues. Because strong families are basic to our national and spiritual health.
And because, God has spoken. All righteousness is to be defended.