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Campolo Says Church Will Suffer for Partisan Politics

The church in America is going to suffer for allowing secular political divisions to enter religion, author and activist Tony Campolo said on a Sunday talk show.

“When the church gets aligned with a political party–left or right–it’s like mixing ice cream and horse manure. It won’t hurt the manure, but it ruins the ice cream,” Campolo said on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopolous.

While polls indicated that “moral values” rated high in the last election, Campolo said “What Karl Rove did was make certain issues religious while ignoring others.”

Campolo said whenever morality is reduced to abortion and homosexuality, the Republicans are going to do well.

“Jesus never mentioned homosexuality,” Campolo said. “Paul does. Jesus doesn’t.” Yet there are 2,000 Bible passages mentioning the poor, he added, while the United States ranks at the bottom of 22 industrial nations in per capita spending for the poor.

Campolo said he believes minorities fear that evangelicals are going to take away their rights.”In a democracy, you do not have the rule of majority,” he said. “What makes a democracy is when it is safe to be a minority.”

Also on the program, Gary Bauer of American Values said he thinks a bigger phenomenon in the election than mobilization of religious voters is the “increasing militant secularism of the cultural elites.”

“They want to put religion back in the closet,” Bauer said, just as most Americans are wanting to take it out.

Campolo said evangelical voters helped elect President Bush to a first term four years ago expecting him to overturn Roe vs. Wade, something “he did not make the slightest effort” to do.

“That left me suspicious that the religious right was more concerned about a Republican president than the unborn,” Campolo said.

Bauer said the president cannot overturn Roe vs. Wade; it is up to the Supreme Court. Asked why Bush has said he would not make abortion a litmus test for prospective justices, Bauer said evangelicals believe the president’s desire to appoint “strict constructionist” judges means they will rule against a constitutional right to abortion.

“As a Christian I know the difference between Jesus Christ and President Bush,” Bauer said.”I don’t think either party has a monopoly on virtue or vice.”

Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.