By Jacques Berlinerblau
A couple of years ago, Ms. Paris and other like-minded people of faith found themselves appalled by the way religion was being used in politics. Being pious folks themselves they probably declaimed something to the effect that they were as mad as heck and weren't going to take it anymore. And then -- note this secular Americans -- they went out and did something about it. Something that actually worked.
It is my opinion that FPL was instrumental in wrestling control of faith issues out of the hands of the Religious Right in the 2008 election. They achieved that goal in a variety of ways, but none more spectacular than the Compassion Forum they hosted during primary season last year.
And, oh, how un-Religious Right The Compassion Forum was. Issues other than abortion and gays were discussed. The candidates were asked questions by a robustly ecumenical assortment of religious figures. Obama and Clinton were encouraged to speak about faith not in sound-bites, but in drawn out and thoughtful paragraphs. (In fact, Clinton's near disquisition on grace that night was one of the most remarkable and under-reported moments of the campaign.)
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Jacques Berlinerblau is associate Professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He is the author of several books including, Thumpin' It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today's Presidential Politics" (Westminster John Knox).
9/1/2009 4:00:00 AM