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  • Morning Bell: Faith and Liberty

    The Olympic Games got off to a solemn start last Saturday after a member of the U.S. men’s volleyball team lost a relative who was fatally stabbed while  touring Beijing. Compounding the tragedy, the U.S. team had to scramble to obtain official Chinese permission to bring an English-fluent chaplain to Olympic Village to console athletes in their grief.

    In Athens in 2004, more than 100 religious leaders speaking several dozen languages were stationed in Olympic Village. But China’s authoritarian government sees any cause that could compete with its authority, including organized religion, as a threat. It has banned foreign chaplains from residing with the athletes. This episode should weigh heavily on the minds of all Americans as Barack Obama and John McCain make back-to-back appearances at Pastor Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church this Saturday.

    “I never endorse, nor campaign for, political candidates,” Warren insists, but the parade of world leaders streaming through the evangelical leader’s church in California’s Orange County shows he intends to have an impact on public policy. Warren has called for mobilization of 1 billion Christians to attack what he calls “five global giants”: spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy.

    Elements of his goals are rooted firmly in evangelical Christians’ commitment to social justice — and their commitment has a long history in the United States, including fighting to abolish slavery, reform prisons and found hospitals and schools. But Warren’s activism also poses a serious question for evangelicals and all Americans: What is the proper role of government in addressing social justice?

    The contrast between the conservative and leftist approaches to this question could not be more stark. Ronald Reagan understood: “Government ,” he said, “must step in when one’s liberties impinge on one’s neighbor’s. Government must protect constitutional rights, deal with other governments, protect citizens from aggressors, assure equal opportunity, and be compassionate in caring for those citizens who are unable to care for themselves.”

    But Reagan also said: “Americans, often acting through voluntary organizations, should have the opportunity to solve many of the social problems of their communities. This spirit of freely helping others is uniquely American and should be encouraged in every way by government.”

    Barack Obama, on the other hand, believes Christians should be mobilizing “against budget cuts to social programs.” And his wife, Michelle, has promised: “Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone. … Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual — uninvolved, uninformed.”

    Heritage fellow Ryan Messmore explains why the conservative vision of government and its relationship with faith is by far the better protector of liberty:

    It is dangerous to view government as the single institution responsible for actually bringing about just relationships or fulfilling our moral obligations. Those tasks lie with us all. Rather, a well-ordered government publicly expresses society’s understanding of justice and judges actions that harm or threaten it. …

    In America, we should promote “justice for all” without reducing that idea to what individuals receive from government. We should also promote justice as a calling and responsibility for all institutions that make up the fabric of American life, each in their own appropriate way — justice from all, you might say.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Morning Bell: Faith and Liberty

    1. Don Castella, Lincol says:

      We must recognize that the term Social Justice has vastly different definitions for liberals and conservatives. When I see the term used, as Senator Obama often does, a flag goes up and I seek his latest definition, usually a call for greater government intervention into activities best left to private organizations.

      My own experience was in coastal Mississipi right after Katrina. As a member of an ad hoc volunteer organization, I worked seven days/week to install equipment that provided immediate public access to wireless broadband Internet and telephone service to areas where the conventional infrastructure was destroyed. We worked with many church-based relief organizations to provide computers, Internet Accesss, and phones to their food-service and shelter facilities. A federal government program funded by pork-barrel spending showed up and quite literally locked us out of our own network facilities. Within days, thousands of people were without access to Internet service and weeks went by before they regained reliable access.

    2. Amy Anderson, German says:

      While I am still undecided in this year's election goals, and am a registered democrat (I'm southern, it's what we used to do…) Michelle Obama's statement strikes terror into my heart. Isn't this a socialist view?

      We have a separation of Church and State – that means that we also have a choice in what we believe, how we practice and what charities we support – IF we want to do so. It's a free country, yet under Obama, we may lose our freedom to choose – "we'll have to work" what does that mean? Most of us have to work – at a job so that we can provide for our families, support our need for shelter, food, etc.

      Here's where I enjoy McCain's approach – especially to the Georgian situation – he understands what will make Putin think – in regard to repercussions. Meeting and the ability to dialogue doesn't always solve the world's problems – as Obama seems to think. McCain's experience and ability to stand on his own are winning in my pros/cons list…

      It should be interesting to see who things evolve – or devolve – as time goes by…

    3. Larry Sayler, Yosemi says:

      We must give a lot of thought on The Georgia-Russia confrontation. While time does not allow that in many cases. It is my belief that Putin is testing us and talk is going to get us nowhere. The only thing Putin(KGB) understands is Military might. We cannot allow Putin to just walk in to a country plunder and kill while ignoring the Free World. He is bound to take his Country back in time 30 years. If needed we must provide strong UN support and maybe US Military support. This is not going to go away.

      While they are staunch enemies, they would love to have China supporting them against the USA.

      The longer we wait the more difficult it is going to be in maintaining our position.

    4. Pingback: China vs. Chaplains — ETC: Everyday Thoughts Collected

    5. Bo Picklesimer, Gran says:

      I heard a recent comment on one of our good liberal talk radio stations (fortunately, there are only a few…there just isn't enough money out there to support too many idiots)where a somewhat known celebrity (Cheech Martin…the renowned intelectual who helped us all get through the 60's with his hip drug-laden humor…not a bad guy, but someone who may not have put it all together yet)noted that he was supportive of Obama because we need to restore the world's opinion of our country. Who in this whole wide world has a better handle on maintaining the democratic processes amongst its people and the foundation of the appropropriate ideals that should be held up as a light to others…America. Let's not allow any of our citizens feel the need to apologize for our great country…and let us not elect a President who has little understanding of our great heritage and the position we should take in world affairs (leader)…and would tour the globe trying to appease tyrants.

    6. Eileen, Mobile, Al says:

      For a religious leader who claims to never have endorsed a candidate is so obviously false when I could easily find information that counters those statements. There are numerous photographs of him with Barack Obama and none of him with John McCain. Now, try telling your story again. I don’t believe you. It smells like a setup for John McCain. There is no previous history available on the internet of John McCain and Rick Warren. But, there is plenty of information regarding Barack Obama and Rick Warren. I smell a rat and a setup.

      One of the issues I have with John McCain is his aversion of Christians leaders who have come out to endorse him, then be told by McCain’s or his camp, thanks but no thanks. I know he is not a true conservative, but the fact that almost all conservatives believe in Christ and are generally Christians. For me, that’s an issue I have with John McCain. But, I still believe he is the better candidate and respect his military service to our Country and the price that it cost him as well as his family. This is something I know Barack Obama would EVER do, he’s just too self-absorbed and reads too many of his press releases!

      In 2006, Warren invited Barack Obama to speak to the congregation on Dec 1, 2006. But in doing so, the illusion of being uninvolved or unbiased is false. Why Obama? There are tons of other speakers who would be more knowledgeable regarding HIV/AIDS issues in Africa. Just because Barack Obama is black does not make him an expert on the issue. As it appears by traveling and vacationing in Europe and other locations makes him an expert on Foreign Policy. If that’s the case, then I would be entitled to say I have Foreign Policy Experience. By vacating in Mexico, does that make me an expert in Immigration?

      The idea that this well known evangelical leader would even associate himself with Senator Obama based on the issues and beliefs most Christian deem important are counter those of Barack Obama. Well, this Roman Catholic doesn’t believe you. Their contradictions in these two men’s belief systems would even remotely match, is ludicrous. Their spiritual and religious ideology on issues such as abortion, including live birth, partial-birth abortions, when Barack Obama’s liberal views include those of the anti-religious/anti-God secular-progressives who generally represent the Liberal, Democratic viewpoints.

      When there are many in the Faith Community who are concerned about Pastor Rick Warren's refuses to discuss violence against women and children, as well as abortion has many in the religion community scratching their heads. The fact that I can find issues that he was against in 2005, but cannot find anything since Barack Obama’s visit to his church. In 2005, Rick Warren was against, abortion. There is an article about this issue available at BRUCEGOURLEY.COM

      Where he states, “Like many (if not most) Christians, I am not pro-abortion. But seemingly unlike many Christians, when it comes to the subject of abortion I am at least honest enough with the written Word of God to realize that the only reference that approximates abortion in the entire Bible is found in Exodus 21: 22-25, a passage referring to miscarriage in which the life of a fetus is clearly not considered the equal of the life of a living, breathing human being. That’s it. This sole reference is not consistent with what many Christians believe about abortion today.”

      And, his statement that he has never endorsed or campaigned for a political candidate, is very false, when I was able to find a in 2004, he told his worshipers: “at which time he called upon Christians to vote for Bush because of Bush's godly agenda, an agenda which Warren labeled as non-negotiable: “for those of us who accept the Bible as God's Word and know that God has a unique, sovereign purpose for every life, I believe there are five issues that are non-negotiable. To me, they’re not even debatable because God's Word is clear on these issues.”

      Tell us again about the thing of not endorsing a political candidate? Is this man even religious? He’s preaching to 22,000 church members at his Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest, California.

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