Saturday, February 18, 2006

Is this News to Anyone Else?

I ask this seriously. In today's Washington Post there is an article about the North Carolina Republican Party requesting church directories from party members. Included in the article is a reference to a similar practice employed by Bush-Cheney in August 2004. According to the article, religious leaders- both then and now- object to the practice. This is the first I am hearing of this.

Actually, that's not true. I am aware of the Bush-Cheney practice. So aware, in fact, that I now understand churches to be the Republican Party's Union Hall. What does count as news are the protestations from religious leaders. While welcome news- you've seen how politicizing churches sickens me- how had I not heard about this?

After searching through my archives for a little context and support, I would like to amend the above paragraph. It turns out I had heard about the religious leaders' complaints (in passing), I had simply not bothered to remember their complaints. Probably because, much like Inspector Renault, they were shocked to learn of such goings on ("I heard nothing further about it, so my assumption was that it stopped").

Finally, I am encouraged by the Republican Party's assertion that, "the tactic did not violate federal tax laws." It's nice to know that legal- not moral or some higher standard- is the threshold to consider when dealing with God and church. Sadly, however, that attitude is not limited to the political party. While religious leaders posture as appalled at Republican "outreach" they also brag that "scores of clergy members attended legal sessions explaining how they could talk about the election from the pulpit."

Very seriously, it is time to ask- is the church a legal, political, or moral institution? Does it boast, much like a businessman in a New Yorker cartoon, "Oh, I think I can be principled when necessary."


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