Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strategy Disagreements

Some recent events have really had me thinking deeply about the church's role in politics. I've been in some discussions that have gotten very emotional from many different viewpoints. One of the primary discussions has centered around what role should a church play in influencing elections, legislation and public policy. I'm still rather conflicted on the issue.
As I was making one of my many trips out to Lawrenceville to push a wheel around I was listening to NPR. They were doing a long segment on a Catholic Priest who said he would deny a certain politician communion if he came into his church just because his political position is different than the Catholic Church. This priest certainly has the right to do this. It just strikes me that this may not be the best position for a church to take. NPR then interviewed another priest who suggested that churches need to start acting "more like churches and less like political action committees". He then went on to say things like "rather than trying to make abortion illegal they should focus on making it unthinkable." You could put most other moral issues in the same sentence and the same logic would also apply. Rather than trying to make gay marriage illegal they should focus on making it unthinkable. Rather than trying to make drinking illegal they should focus on making it unthinkable. Churches should focus on winning hearts and not creating legislation.
From that my mind began to wander a little bit. It occurred to me that just because you allow somebody to make a choice for themselves does not necessarily mean that agree with all possible outcomes of their choice. For instance, I can agree that cigarettes are destructive and dangerous, but also feel that people should be allowed to choose them if they wish. Rather than a church campaigning to get cigarettes made illegal they should "act like a church", preach the dangers of any addition and then reach out to help those who are afflicted. I picked cigarettes for the mere point that is less controversial than some of the other issues currently in play. It is also an issue where the legality of allowing the choice is not really in question. Apply this same logic to several to hot button issues of the day I tend to lean in a similar direction.

On a little bit of a side note I believe it is possible to fully support a position, but still have strategic differences with other people or groups who support the same position. For instance: philosophically, I fully agree with the Libertarian party's stance on decriminalizing recreational drug use. However, I have serious concerns with how they market this plank of their platform. By focusing ad money on MTV they turn what I think is a serious civil liberties position into and appeal to get the "pot-head" vote. Philosophically I agree, but strategically I disagree. I have similar strategic differences with groups whose philosophy, theology and politics I wholeheartedly support. While I agree with their position I just may have some concerns about whether the strategy they have chosen is the best considering their role and their situation.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the camp with the second priest(shhh...don't tell anyone). I much prefer the idea that you shouldn't because they are unthinkable as opposed to it being wrong as defined by legislation. I respect more the things that people do because they truly love their fellow man, then because they were told to do something.

    I also am finding I have to pay more attention to quotes being used by people trying to affirm their positions. Most seem to be taken out of context, which I'm sure I have been guily of far too many times. I'm sure I would frustrate people who see the world in stark contrasts of black and white. I'm one of those mixer types and have to take each idea on its own merits.
    Thanks for your post!