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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Peeved for Jesus

Too much religious rhetoric proceeds not from faith but from fear

The dust kicked up by "Justice Sunday" has settled. But I breathed in too much of it, leaving a bad taste in my mouth and a sinking sensation in my heart.

Justice Sunday, if you missed it, was a national satellite broadcast, April 24, by the Family Research Council, a Washington, D.C., conservative public policy organization. Staged in a Louisville, Ky., church, the event rallied the religious right to support President Bush's judicial nominees. Event organizers say the conservative nominees are being discriminated against because of their faith by Senate Democrats, who are considering "a filibuster against people of faith."

Progressive Christian leaders fired back, calling this claim divisive and damaging since it implies that opposing the nominees is anti-Christian. They claimed Justice Sunday threatens American democracy by wrapping a narrow political agenda in religious garb.

I leave it to others to sort out how Justice Sunday differs from the advocacy of more progressive church bodies — like the ELCA — on such issues as discrimination against racial and sexual groups, or for increased funding to combat hunger and AIDS.

More distressing is the peevish tone of too many Christian voices, left and right, in public discourse and within the church. Strident voices, claiming a corner on divine truth, fan passions against identified enemies — often other Christians — whom they accuse of unfaithfulness or of persecuting them for their views. Justice Sunday organizers fanned flames of aggrievement by suggesting that Christians are slighted and silenced in our society — just months after claiming credit for electing a president.


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