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What Is the Rightful Role of Faith in Politics?

“Golden Rule Politics” is a documentary-styled DVD released in the fullness of time. The Christian Right is reeling from yet another sexual scandal. Many across the nation are still buzzing about the CNN special “God’s Warriors,” especially the segment on God’s Christian warriors.

Our new 36-minute DVD asks the question of the hour: What is the rightful role of faith in politics?

The rightful role of faith in politics is not the wrongful road of the Christian Right, which has constructed and promulgated over a 25-year period the myth that the GOP is God’s Only Party.

“Golden Rule Politics” begins with a crystal-clear challenge to the corrosive political myth that claims the Republicans have God’s favor and that voting for Democrats is voting against God.

Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority first foisted that myth, campaigning against one of the few presidents who actually attended church and read the Bible. But President Carter’s moral integrity was dismissed by the Moral Majority, which mobilized churches to pursue a political agenda of fear that prioritized opposition to nuclear arms control, rejection of equal rights for women and paranoia about the Panama Canal Treaty.

When the Moral Majority faltered, Pat Robertson stepped into the breach with his presidential campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination and then the creation of the Christian Coalition that trained candidates and worked to elect “pro-family” Christians, often by stealth means.

When the Christian Coalition ran into tax problems and donations fell, James Dobson and his organization, Focus on the Family, continued the myth’s construction with the eager agreement of the fundamentalist-controlled Southern Baptist Convention.

That myth has power despite the unending sex scandals–Senator Larry Craig, Senator David Vitter, former Congressman Mark Foley, Florida state representative Bob Allen and former North Carolina state representative Coy Privette, to name only a few disgraced, so-called pro-family politicians.

Add to these problems the controversial three marriages of Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, the gambling scandals of Ralph Reed and William Bennett, the criminal and drug-addiction scandal of Rush Limbaugh and the hate talk of Ann Coulter.

Yet the myth has retained its power, albeit bruised and battered, for many reasons, a subject that will be addressed later.

In order to replace this wrongful storyline in our culture, we need a corrective story. That’s why “Golden Rule Politics” is so needed.

Through Christian representatives from a number of Christian faith traditions, “Golden Rule Politics” explores what is the rightful role of faith in politics. Democratic politicians share their Christian witness, without ever making an exclusive claim to the politics of providence. Clergy caution that political parties are neither thoroughly moral nor completely immoral, that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, that sin is a universal reality and that God transcends human finitude.

“Golden Rule Politics” challenges a myth, offers a corrective story and outlines three answers to the question–what is the rightful role of faith in politics?

If this well-entrenched political myth is to be de-mythologized, then the place to begin is within the faith community.

Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.