Fire-Breathing Christians?

Congressman Vic Fazio of California recently convened a "Radical Right Task Force" to study the "problem" of Christian activism in politics. Fazio's own view of the "problem" is clear. He denounced conservative Christians as "fire-breathing" enemies of democracy. Congressman James Moran of Virginia concurred, saying that task force members believe "religion should not be involved in politics." All this sounds hauntingly similar to what Lord Melbourne said two centuries ago in a debate in the English Parliament over the slave trade: "Things have come to a pretty pass when religion is allowed in public life." Fortunately, Christians back then paid no attention to Lord Melbourne and continued working to end the slave trade. And you and I should pay no attention to the same kind of rhetoric today. People of faith are taking part in politics as never before to stem the moral relativism that has taken over government and spilled over into our public institutions. Most religious conservatives are tired of schools that dispense condoms but don't teach our young. They're tired of deficit spending that could saddle our grandchildren with mountains of debt. So they're acting on their right and responsibility as citizens, taking part in the political process. What's curious about Fazio's "task force" is that he targets only conservative Christians. Has anybody in Congress ever convened a "Radical Left Task Force" to denounce liberal Christian activism? Of course not. The Radical Right Task Force reveals the deepening hostility on Capitol Hill to conservative and religious values. Much of our government today is in the hands of a sixties-generation that has adopted materialism and hedonism as its guiding philosophy of life and politics. Their agenda is to restructure our families, communities, schools, and government at every level—secularizing them from top to bottom. And religious values stand in their way. Ironically, just a few weeks after Fazio's broadside, a great world leader turned his argument upside down. Vaclev Havel, president of the Czech Republic, argued that the threat to democracy doesn't come from religious people but rather from politicians who ignore religious values. Havel warned that "respect for [the] non-material order" is "the only possible source for secular authority." In other words, spiritual values are the foundation of government. Remember that Havel survived brutal Communist oppression—which means he cherishes the free institutions of the West perhaps even more than we, who take them for granted. And he knows that free institutions will collapse if our leaders jettison public respect for the religious roots of political freedom. So, the next time somebody like Vic Fazio tries to paint conservative Christians into a "Radical Right" corner, don't stand for it. Vic Fazio is wrong; Vaclev Havel is right. And in the global perspective, it's the die-hard secularists like Fazio who are the endangered species, as people in all cultures rediscover the crucial role played by spiritual values. Recognizing the need for a transcendent source of government isn't just radically "right." It's fundamentally true.


Chuck Colson


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