Saturday, October 7


Tony Campolo.

Do those on the Religious Right understand their duplicity?

For years they have argued against situational ethics. They have stood for absolutes and contended that those absolutes should never be compromised. With conviction they have declared, loud and clear, that the end never justifies the means. Now, with the war on terrorism on our hands, they support torture when interrogating suspects.

A prominent scholar recently polled a dozen top leaders of America’s Religious Right, who were unanimously in favor of using torture “given the situation at hand." When it suits them, it turns out, the end does indeed justify the means.

If they have changed their minds and are ready to refute the golden rule, then it is time for them to say plainly, “For the most part we agree with Jesus, but there are special circumstances when we must ignore His teachings.”

Of course, these leaders ought to recognize the implications of their decision to support what they might call “necessary evils” in special circumstances. For instance, can they still tell a teenage girl who is pregnant by rape or incest that abortion is always wrong?

I’m not ready to answer such questions, except to say that the Religious Right can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that righteousness must never be compromised, and then add “except in certain situations—like torturing our enemies in times of war.”

Tony Campolo is a prominent Christian pastor and educator (essentially Baptist) who I heard speak some years ago at Lake Arlington [Texas] Baptist Church when The Sage [for those who don't regularly follow this blog, my husband] was enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Tony is, and has been a powerful advocate of the "red-letter" Christian teachings, and was once influential and popular among Baptists, until their political alignment with Republican policy trumped their zeal for Jesus' teachings. Though I have some small disagreements with his public policy positions, he is one of my earthly heroes.


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