America: From a truth-based, to a faith-based nation

...Censure the president? Are we nuts? The ones needing censure are us who are watching the nation burn to the ground. and don't seem to give a damn...

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A leap of faith

Crossposted at the very new Faithful Ohio blog.


About three years ago, troubled that the public face of Christianity often seemed to be  pro-war and anti-compassion, I started a web site called The Religious Left. Now that the voices of groups like Ohio Restoration Project and Reformation Ohio are growing louder and more strident, and seeking to use their numbers and influence to promote an agenda that is harmful to "the least of these", it is vital that other voices of faith speak out.


As you can see from the posts here, some have already begun to do so. Another group has started to meet, focusing not on fighting Rod Parsley and Russell Johnson, but by offering an alternative message.

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The Reinforcement of Conservative Church and Politics

The latest news is that President Bush has directed at least more than a quarter of the 15-billion federal AIDS campaign money to religious groups such as the one that is headed by Billy Graham's son, and most of these religious groups/churches are extremely conservative in their methodology and ideology. For example, they advocate abstinence rather than the use of condoms in prevention of AIDS. I realize it is hard to argue the fact that many religious organizations and churches have positive influences on social goods and contribute to the general welfare of society. We also have to realize that a vast majority of Americans do claim that Faith/Religion play an integral part of their lives. However, there is something disturbing about the reinforcing nature between conservative churches and conservative President, especially when there is public fund involved. It is true that religious Conservatives have always been a solid basis of GOP. But since the Presidency of George W. Bush, the conservative churches have been actively involved in politics and lobbying activities, which a religious, non-profit organization should not do under U.S. tax law. And now we may have the first hint of the conservative President giving the economic benefit back to these churches. While none of this is happening in large scale to cause a total public outrage yet, it is certainly very disturbing.

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Video Asks GOP: "Ayn Rand or Jesus?"

Ayn Rand has been actively cited in recent months as an inspiration for many leading conservatives with politicians such as Sen. Ron Johnson proudly endorsing Atlas Shrugged as his “foundational book.” Most famously, perhaps, Rep. Paul Ryan, author of the GOP Budget, extolled Rand, proclaiming that she “more than anyone else did a fantastic job of explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism.” It is surprising, however, that Rand’s vehement opposition to conservative values (e.g. she was ardently pro-choice) and Judeo-Christian morality has not even been addressed by the media or religious leaders across America.

The American Values Network (AVN) recently released a video debunking the innocuousness of Rand’s philosophy (Objectivism). It drives home the point that one cannot be a Christian and be partial to Rand. For one, Rand was not merely advocating specific political actions, but rewiring the human conscience so that pure and unrepentant selfishness that leaves no room for altruism is foundational to human existence. In an interview with Mike Wallace, she went so far as to assert that altruism is “evil.” No helping the poor, the sick, the voiceless. It is all about the holy trinity of me, myself, and moi.

 

Rand’s philosophy goes well beyond simply rejecting faith (which many do) to directly challenging the morality taught by Scripture of loving ones neighbor and promoting the common good. Rand made the choice clear, you can follow her or Jesus, not both. For years Republicans have been cloaking their policies in the mantle of faith and values. But the priorities laid out in the GOP budget – ending Medicare as we know it, attacks on the middle and working class, gutting programs for the most vulnerable – reflect Rand’s philosophy, not Jesus’. This inherent contradiction needs to be forced to a head because it could drive a massive wedge within the ranks of the right. The GOP must be forced to explain to its Christian base whose values it really stands for. They must be forced to choose Ayn Rand or Jesus. Because at its heart this debate is about our values.

AVN’s video begs us to ask ourselves what we envision America to be. Do we want a self-obsessed America who leaves the disadvantaged by the wayside, who passes by the downtrodden on the other side of the road? Or do we want an America who, as John F. Kennedy has declared “… shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty?” Indeed, AVN’s video makes clear that these two visions of America are entirely incompatible with each other.

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