Friday, April 22, 2005

Senator Pryor Sees Rash Use of Religion by Evangelicals

Sen. Mark Pryor lashed out Wednesday at the Christian evangelicals who have joined the attack on Democratic filibusters of President Bush’s judicial nominees. Their tactics threaten "to make the followers of Jesus Christ just another special-interest group," Pryor said in a conference call with Arkansas reporters. "It is presumptuous of them to think that they represent all Christians in America, even to say they represent all evangelical Christians," added Pryor, 42, a first-term Democrat who has considered himself an evangelical Christian for 25 years.

Pryor said he was "very disappointed" that some of the movement’s leaders "have entered into this fray." A number of conservative Christian organizations, which want more right-leaning appointments to the federal bench, have been calling for an end to judicial filibusters. Many joined the National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, which sent a letter to key Republican senators April 4 urging immediate action. Among the dozens listed as part of the coalition were Dr. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family; Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition.

What especially caught Pryor’s attention were recent remarks made by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the ACLU, have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms," Perkins says in a message posted on the group’s Web site.

I caught this article today in my surfing. While I consider myself a “right-winger” and have a visceral response to the words of Tony Perkins, I also have some sympathy for Senator’s Pryor’s position. I wonder if, perhaps, we are overstepping our bounds as evangelicals, especially our leadership, who seems to have forgotten what happened when the Moral Majority thought too highly of themselves. I believe that Christians should be involved in the political process, but we must remember that our primary influence should be to change human hearts and not judgeships. We cannot ultimately legislate morality. When Jesus engaged the political structures of his day, he counseled respect and pointed to the greater reality of the kingdom of God. Are we perhaps in danger of trying too hard to create “a heaven on earth”? Paul warns us that the weapons of our warfare are not the same as those of the world. (2 Cor 10:3–5) Rather than constantly signing petitions and calling our elected officials, perhaps our time would be better spent on our knees asking God to send revival. Not even the Senate can filibuster that!

No comments: