Some would say the title of this post is oxymoronic. Perhaps not always, but I think it might be in the situation I am about to discuss.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it seems that former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are partnering to help form a new Baptist convention. In fact, that is the name of it, New Baptist Convention.
The stated intention of the new entity is to counter concerns that “Baptists have been ‘negative’ and ‘exclusionary’ .” Their target recruiting base is the bloc of liberal Baptists who have distanced themselves from mainstream Baptists in areas such as abortion and homosexual rights.
I find it ironic that two men who have so staunchly cried out for the doctrine of “separation of church and state” would now try to use their political muscle to mobilize a Christian constituency. Say what they will, this is nothing more than a poorly disguised attempt to carry out the Democratic agenda to reach out to disgruntled conservative voters.
I find it disgusting and appalling that a man with the morals of Bill Clinton and the values that both of them promote would see themselves as being suited to lead a denomination.
By the same token, conservative, Christian voters have themselves often been manipulated by Republican politicians. Playing to the moral fears and concerns of the large number of evangelicals has long been a tactic of the right. Sadly, very few of those politicians have even attempted to follow through on their lofty campaign promises.
Allow me to be idealistic for a moment. Wouldn’t it be great if politicians would stay out of the church? I am not speaking of church attendance (Lord knows, they need that). But wouldn’t it be nice not to see “conservative” politicians surfacing in evangelical churches in the months leading up to election, only to disappear afterwards? And if I never see another pasty-white Senator from up north trying vainly to clap in rhythm with a black, gospel choir in downtown Atlanta it will be too soon for me.
Perhaps “political hypocrisy” isn’t an oxymoron all the time, but in this case I believe the shoe fits.
What do you think?