Framing Christianity

It must be difficult for conservatives who thought they had a lock on churchgoing Christians. In “Media apply God-talk double standard” (July 17), Colleen Carroll Campbell tries to reserve expressions of faith for conservatives and attempts to limit the issues important to churchgoers to “abortion, gay marriage and the banishment of God from public life.” She calls Democrats “secular liberals.”

Many Democrats are Christian; many liberals go to church every week. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, is not trying to attract “conservative churchgoing voters.” His “socially liberal policies” are Christian values, period. Among liberal Christians like me, the concern has not been “the banishment of God from public life” but the co-option of our faith by right-wingers who would frame Christianity on their limited, exclusionary terms. I respect their love of the gospel; I do not respect their insistence that they alone are able to interpret the gospel for society.

In comparing theocratic leanings, it should be noted whose “theo” and whose “cracy.” Mr. Obama’s Christian conversion and baptism occurred in the United Church of Christ, whose roots go back to the first churches founded in New England and the Midwest, including St. Louis. Mr. Obama’s social policies are rooted in Christian interpretation of commands found in Matthew 25 and Leviticus 25.

I agree with Ms. Campbell on one point: A politician’s past action is what matters most. I’ll take the record of Mr. Obama, former community organizer, over President George W. Bush’s.

Published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 23, 2008

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