Sam Brownback's worldview

BrownbackTwo cheers for Nicholas Kristof and his realization that Christian conservatives like Sen. Sam Brownback are the “new internationalists.” Kristof assures his readers that he considers Brownback “to the right of Atilla the Hun,” and he sees the prolife aspect of new internationalism as causing more suffering than it prevents. Nevertheless, Kristof expresses a more than grudging respect for Brownback:

So, all in all, I find Mr. Brownback perhaps the most intriguing man in Washington — so wrong on so much, and yet such a leader on humanitarian issues. He is also working with liberals like Ted Kennedy to press for immigration reform, prison reform, increased funds for AIDS and malaria, construction of an African-American history museum and even an apology to American Indians.

The other day, Mr. Brownback told me enthusiastically about his trip to northern Uganda and urged me to write about brutalities there. I was disoriented — I thought I was the one who tried to get people to pay attention to remote places.

So why is a conservative Kansas senator traveling to the wilds of Uganda?

“I had a health issue a few years back, and it really made my faith real,” he said, referring to a bout with cancer. “It made me think, the things that the Lord would want done, let’s do. His heart is with the downtrodden, so let’s help them.”

Holiday blessings on Kristof for connecting the faith dots with that remark. If he spends enough energy unlocking the foreign mind of prolifers, he may also someday connect the philosophical/theological dots: It has to do with the notion that each human being is made in the image of God.

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  • Charlie

    “Liberals traditionally were the bleeding hearts, while conservatives regarded foreign aid, in the words of Jesse Helms, as “money down a rat hole.” That’s changing. “One cannot understand international relations today without comprehending the new faith-based movement,” Allen Hertzke writes in “Freeing God’s Children,” a book about evangelicals leaping into human rights causes.”

    Great post and a fascinating op-ed. Kristoff has been isolated, of course, and just last year woke up to the evangelical missions movement that has been building hospitals, teaching literacy, improving sanitation and agriculture — and planting churches — since the late-1800′s. Liberals joined the Peace Corps, conservative Christians joined the African Inland Mission and a host of similar organizations.

    I think Jesse Helm’s comment (as a native North Carolinian, I met him once and grew up listening to his speeches) shows one of the ways Christian conservatives have influenced the Republican party for good. They have taken their long commitment to spreading God’s love to the remotest corners of the earth into the party itself, and Sam Brownback and others like him have begun institutionalizing the missionary movement.

    Think Dr. King’s civil rights movement, which began as series of sermons to bring hope to black Christians and ultimately resulted in a revolution in government policy, and social awareness.