I'm tired of liberalish Christians telling me it's my job to reach out to Christian moderates who feel that "the Left" is hostile to them. Screw that. It's time for liberalish Christians to tell their slightly more right-leaning brethren that those of us who fight to maintain the separation between Church and State do it to protect freedom of religion - not destroy it.
Lots of discussion seems to have ensued; check out the coverage at The Village Gate (what used to be The Right Christians). It's good, albeit heated stuff.
I'll just throw in a few of my own thoughts:
My politics are derived from my faith, not the other way around. When I was younger, and a secular liberal, my politics were the only faith I had! Since coming to Christ (and yes, I do call myself "born again" without embarrassment), I have had to rebuild my politics from the ground up. When I consider political questions, I am forced to ask myself what position I believe Christ calls me to. This isn't easy, for any number of obvious reasons, starting with the fact that the New Testament is not a modern political manual. This is why I can't merely allow myself to hunt and peck through Scripture, finding passages that support my already-in-place suppositions about justice. (Many liberal and conservative Christians alike do this; it's an understandable habit, but a bad one). Rather, I have to be open to what the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and my church community are telling me about right, wrong, peace and war and so forth.
I belong to a church that embraces pacifism as the fullest understanding of the Gospel. I belong to a church that opposes the death penalty and abortion, seeing them both as fundamental evils even while recognizing that the latter takes far more lives than the former in this country. Some Mennonites are Republicans, largely because (while pacifist by doctrine) they see abortion as the number one social evil of our age. Most Mennonites lean to the left, building coalitions with pro-choice secular liberals on issues ranging from capital punishment to Iraq to immigration to poverty, all the while willing to gently but firmly diverge from our non-believing friends on issues like abortion and therapeutic cloning.
I have to say that most secular liberals whom I meet impose a double standard on me. When I quote Scripture on the subject of war and justice, ala Martin Luther King, they applaud. When I quote Scripture to explain my position on abortion, they are enraged at my effort to "impose my personal beliefs on them." Obviously, I am as guilty of "proof-texting" as the next person, but I am tired of the double standard.
I've often recommended this First Things article by Stephen Carter, Liberalism's Religion Problem. It's a brilliant piece, I agree with virtually every word, and I love his summation:
Liberal theory continues to be unwilling to accommodate itself to the systems of meaning preferred by the most religiously committed citizens of the nation. Instead, liberalism has grown ever more muscular, pressing theories about education and the public square that few religious citizens will ever support. That is a flaw in liberal theory, not a flaw in religion. For serious religion understands that the life lived without attention to the basic question is life not worth living. In traditional Christianity, discerning God’s will and doing it is prior to everything else. If God’s will is that we suffer, the Christian must suffer. If God’s will is that we change, the Christian must change. If God’s will is that we fight, the Christian must fight. Even when, in secular terms, the battle the Christian is fighting seems to be an appealing one, the Christian’s motive for the struggle must always be to glorify God—and the Christian must never be afraid to say so.
There will be times when this leads us into coalition with liberals. But there will be times when we are far, far apart. The Christian left must be faithful to Christ first, not secular dogma. Where our agendas and our understandings coincide, so much the better. But at times, we will stand with our Christian brethren on the right of the political spectrum, not out of sectarian loyalty but out of a sense that, as Carter said, "discerning God's will and doing it is prior to everything else."
It is no easy thing to claim to have discerned God's will. No wise Christian tries to do it alone. We do it in the light of (thanks Wesley) Scripture, Reason, Tradition, and Experience; above all we do it prayerfully, humbly, and together.