Bitter America

I saw a flyer for Church Folks for a Better America at school today. The web site doesn’t say how many people belong to the organization. From its name to the omni-present plural in its statements, it suggests but never says that there are more than just its leader. I have some familiarity with him and with others who (judging from the flyer) are affiliated with him. To be honest, it looks to me like some kind of interlocking directorate:

A project of the Peace Action Education Fund, educational arm of the Coalition for Peace Action

Anyway, from their purpose statement, I surmise that a better America is one that works for peace. Or at least ends its military involvement in Iraq. Which is to say, this is just one more anti-war group pretending to have a broad agenda of betterment for America. It also suggests that their vision for a better America is theologically informed, these being Church folks. But note the articles linked from the front page, and, especially, the “Analysts We Like” page. How many of them advance theological positions against the war? Several appear to be generic left-wingers (Molly Ivins, WaPo editorials, …) opposed to the war on ideological grounds?

Note that a letter by religious leaders begins with a theological argument but quickly transitions to more worldly concerns:

disregard for international laws against torture, for the legal rights of suspected “enemy combatants,” and for the adverse consequences your decisions have had at home and abroad

What specific expertise do religious leaders bring to a discussion of international laws, legal rights, and adverse consequences? Don’t get me wrong: many of the names on the list belong to people I know and respect. But while their motivations for signing this letter may be theologically informed (and I would note, looking at the diversity of faith traditions the signatories represent, it would be a very generic theology) the argument advanced by the letter is not. Certainly church folks should be concerned with these issues. But their contribution to the discussion ought to be theological rather than an echo of what worldly leftists think.

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