Here are some highlights from his article:
Analysis: Religion used divide, mock in ‘08
With a few exceptions, whatever seemed odd or fringe trumped serious discussion about how candidates’ religious beliefs shape their approach to governance.
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As the race nears its end, scholars and religious leaders are using terms like “new low” and “embarrassing” to describe how religious beliefs were distorted and picked over, while candidates were asked to mount theological defenses for their respective faiths or be held accountable for the views of others. . . . “This year we invaded churches with cell phones and started putting sermons up on YouTube,” said Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown political science professor. “That’s been troubling, because you would like to think a candidate would have a little privacy in church.” David Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Georgia, said that more so than in past elections, religion became “a marker of identity” for candidates this year.
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But Martin Marty, one of the nation’s pre-eminent religion scholars, already has reached one conclusion: the rancorous campaign has been bad for religion. The retired University of Chicago professor wrote in a commentary this week that the exploitation and exhibition of religion in the race is “bad for the name of religion itself, for religious institutions, for a fair reading of sacred texts, for sundered religious communities, for swaggering religious communities which are too sure of themselves, for the pursuit of virtue, for extending the reach of religion too far.”
When religion --- any religion --- allows itself to be a political tool, it is nothing more than prostitution. Religious leaders have allowed their followers to become a voting bloc instead of focusing on the sacred mission to change lives. We don't change lives by compelling people via laws & the ballot, but by the Power of the Spirit to voluntarily worship. In exchange for political prestige, religious leaders have sold their prophetic voice & led the sheep to the cliff of despair. The Hope of Christians is replaced with the earthly promise of political power, but the end thereof has always been corruption, persecution & cold, dead orthodoxy.
The GOP is driving away people by claiming themselves to be "God's Party" of "family values." They have effectively said that non-Christians (& even Christians who aren't of a particular theological bent) are not welcomed in the GOP. The Religious Right wants the GOP to be their PAC: but Caesar is much better at the political game than religious leaders. The result is the Religious Right gets played.
The DEMs are driving away people by effectively saying they don't want to hear the "values" of Right-leaning-to-moderate Christians. That forces many Christians into a political vacuum where they feel they have no voice at all on moral issues.
We've been down this road many times in history. Each time religion & politics meld, the result is that both become unbearable. It is time we kept that road walled up, lest we miss the sign that says the bridge is out.