Civil religion is thick in America. “God” is on our money, and in the Pledge of Allegiance, not to mention in the Declaration of Independence. We regularly ask him to bless America at ball games. And every session of the U.S. House and Senate opens with a prayer.
Dr. Brian Lee | All Articles
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Dr. Brian Lee
Dr. Brian Lee is the pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Washington, D.C. (www.ChristReformedDC.org). He formerly worked as a Communications Director both on Capitol Hill and at the National Endowment for the Humanities.
To date, all U.S. presidents have labeled themselves Christians of some sort, and it is speculative and uncharitable to question their claims or sincerity.
Ten days ago the U.S. Embassy in Cairo — under siege from riotous mobs — issued a despicable statement vitiating the freedom of religion. It could fairly be chalked up as a loss of nerve under fire, and the statement was quickly abandoned by the Obama administration, condemned by the Romney campaign, and removed from the Embassy website.
Does religious freedom include the freedom to give offense? Does our Constitution protect the offensive exercise of religion?
My first thought as I listened to Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan’s prayer last week in Tampa was — “Holy Benediction, Batman! That’s a long prayer!” Many of the sentiments in the prayer were good and commendable, though it wasn’t altogether clear whether it was a prayer --- that is, an utterance intended to be heard by God --- or something simply intended to be heard by the delegates on the floor or the people watching in TV-land. But even before he invoked Divine Providence, his appearance caused something of a stir.
On Sunday night, 41,000 fans packed Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., to hear a message of hope, inspiration, and encouragement from Joel Osteen. Most paid about $20 (including fees) for the privilege.
“Is God answering Tim Tebow’s Prayers?” is one popular line of inquiry driving the Tebow mania. Tebow must be praying for success on the field. The Broncos are winning. Is there causation behind this correlation?
What if “the most extreme in a field of extreme anti-abortion measures” wasn’t an anti-abortion measure at all? Here it is:
“Does anyone have a grip on the G.O.P.?” Matt Bai explores that question in today’s New York Times, and his answer is: it’s complicated. A fragile coalition exists between Republican establishment types and tea party upstarts, each a little suspicious of the other. What he finds uncomplicated, however, is that evangelicals have become part of the G.O.P. establishment, even calling them “movement conservatives.”
It looks like the lack of sound religion reporting is going to be a real liability this campaign season. Recent weeks have shown that writers on the left are almost wholly ignorant of religion, and writers on the right are unwilling to dismantle the toxic confusion of God and politics lest they suppress the all-important faith vote.
Twenty-five presidential elections ago, a New York Times reporter wondered aloud whether a major nominating convention was a political event or “an assemblage of religious enthusiasts.” This was a fair assessment, as the delegates sang “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and closed the convention by singing "The Doxology.”
Rob Bell is one of the hottest Christian preachers in the nation today, but does he say anything that's uniquely Christian? In his new book, "Love Wins," Bell paints a picture of a God who loves, but doesn't ground it in God's defining act of love towards men: the atoning death of Jesus Christ. Instead, what he says could easily be embraced by Mormons, Muslims, and Jews alike. As such, Bell robs the Christian message of its power to save.
The course of my life roughly coincides with the post-Roe v. Wade abortion debate in America. The Supreme Court decision was issued on January 22, 1973, a few days after my first birthday. On January 24th thousands of marchers will rally in Washington, D.C. for the 38th annual March for Life, joining the many millions who have marked this gruesome anniversary in American political life over the course of the last four decades.