I read Katha Pollitt’s memoir, Learning to Drive, at the beginning of last year and that inspired me to move on to one of her “regular” books. Virginity or Death!: and Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time is a collection of Pollitt’s articles from The Nation between 2001 and 2006. I enjoyed it. Smart, progressive, funny, feminist articles all about 3 pages long? Sign me up!
There was one essay in particular however that really struck me when I read it today, so I wanted to mention it here. You can read the full essay, Jesus to the Rescue? on The Nation’s site, but a small taste is below:
Wallis’s God calls on Christians to fight racism, poverty, war and violence–what’s wrong with mustering support for these worthy goals by presenting them in the language spoken by so many Americans? The trouble is, the other side does that too. You can find anything you want in the Bible–well, almost anything. Thus, the more insistently people bring Christianity into politics, the more political argument becomes a matter of Christian hermeneutics. Does God say gays should be executed or married? “Spare the rod” or “suffer the little children”? I don’t see how we benefit as a society from translating politics into theology. We are left with the same debates, and a diminished range of ways in which to think about them. And, of course, a diminished number of voices–because if you’re not a believer, you’re out of the discussion. In this sense, Wallis’s evangelicalism is as much a power play as Pat Robertson’s.
I think this summed up so well exactly what concerns me about the mix of religion in politics, but have never felt expressed as well. I don’t think that religion and liberal politics are at all incompatible, and I understand that of course your personal beliefs color your political actions, but there is a reason we are a secular society, why despite being a country founded by Christian men, we have a separation of church and state. And Pollitt said this better than I could have. (Really, read the whole essay!)