A worldview is a set of claims that purport to be based on ultimate reality.

Jack Danforth and Conservative Christians

Posted by ssbg on February 16, 2006

Pot, Meet Kettle


February 16, 2006 00chuck.jpg  By: Charles Colson

A recent Washington Post profile on Jack Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri and an Episcopal priest, doesn’t pull any punches. “Jack Danforth,” it begins, “wishes the Republican right would step down from its pulpit. Instead, he sees a constant flow of religion into national politics. And not just any religion, either, but the us-versus-them, my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God, velvet-fist variety of Christian evangelism. . . . Danforth [says he] worships a humbler God and [he] considers the [religious] right’s certainty a sin.”

This judgmental tone is all too common these days. And it’s unfortunate that Jack Danforth is going along with it. According to Danforth, our work on issues like embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex “marriage” inspires “nausea.” And he was offended by what he saw as the GOP’s “effort to appease the Christian right” in the Terri Schiavo case. If not for us, Danforth told the Post, the Republicans wouldn’t be involved. Well, that’s true, but when a woman’s life is at stake, I don’t see anything honorable about refusing to get involved.

It’s a good thing that Danforth wasn’t around during the campaign against slavery. Then, abolitionists were chastised for being religious zealots. Abraham Lincoln’s opponents said that he would “impose” his moral views on the nation. Well, thank God that Lincoln had the courage to press for an end to the abomination of slavery.

Half a century earlier William Wilberforce led the campaign against the slave trade in the British Parliament. Moved by his Christian convictions, he took on one of the British Empire’s biggest sources of revenue, and in the process, lost any chance of becoming Prime Minister. He and his companions were derided for their Christian beliefs. As one opponent, Lord Melbourne, said, “Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed to invade public life.” Thank God it did—then and now.

Danforth’s crusade against the religious right is filled with ironies. When George Bush was elected president, I went to the White House with Bill Bennett and others to urge the administration to fight human trafficking and slavery in Sudan. President Bush, moved by his Christian convictions, became the first president to speak out on these issues. And when the administration was considering appointing an ambassador to Sudan to deal with the abuse of Christians, we recommended John Danforth. And he did a great job in part because he had the support of the Christian right that he now thinks is such a terrible thing.

And during the fight to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, Danforth worked side-by-side with Christian conservatives; he had no problem then mixing religion and politics.

Now I don’t want to be critical of Sen. Danforth. He is a fine gentleman with a distinguished record of public service who ably represented our government’s interests in Sudan and at the UN.

And the Christian right surely is not above criticism, and we need to curb our excesses too. But Danforth has gone beyond a reasonable critique to launch into the same tired old diatribe against those who contend for Christian truth in public life—as if you could score points with the liberal media by beating up on Christians, even when you’re one yourself. I think it’s time for the senator to go back and to read his history books, where he will discover that the greatest defenders of human rights in history had been his fellow Christians.


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