John Danforth's Message on Faith and Politics

John Danforth, Episcopal priest, former UN Ambassador, and former Senator from Missouri, presided over Ronald Reagan's state funeral. He has also written a book entitled Faith and Politics: How the "Moral Values" Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together. Although I've not read the book, from what I've read the book suggests that the alignment of the Republican Party with the Religious Right is bad for the Republican Party and bad for the country. That he is both clergy and politician makes his point more pointed!

In an interview published in US News, Danforth responds to some of the recent entanglements, such as the Terri Schiavo case. He sees this as an embarrasment for the party and contrary to traditional GOP principles of small government and local control. It is this case that led him to write his book. On Sciavo he states:

I think two things got to me. One, that it was such an extraordinary government intervention into a particular individual's life-and-death issues. It horrified me. A lot of people are concerned that they or people that they love are going to be in positions where they linger for long periods of time on the brink of death, and the notion of being kept going artificially, I think, is abhorrent to a lot of people. Then the second thing that caught my attention was this was such an abandonment of what I thought were basic Republican principles. I did not think the Republican Party stood for the federal government and Congress getting into the business of taking matters beyond the state level and deciding them in Washington. I certainly didn't think the Republican Party stood for expanding the jurisdiction of the federal courts. So I thought that it was the throwing overboard of a number of basics at the bidding of religious activists.

He also deals with the recent schism within the Episcopal Church, which he considers the work of a small minority that is uncomfortable with the traditional Episcopal broadness.

Thanks to Melissa Rogers' blog for the heads up. It's an interesting interview in which he also suggests a new direction for the party. He'd like to see more of a centrist, someone that moves beyond the current rancor. He mentions more broadly the appeal of Barak Obama (my favorite) but within the party likes Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. I guess I'll have to read the book -- maybe the publisher will read this and send me a copy!!!


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