Taking God's Name in Vain


There were seventeen op-ed pieces listed for Wednesday morning, September 28. Of those seventeen, at least eleven of the entries for that morning (and, arguably, perhaps more) are devoted to the election.

Now (comparing apples to apples) take a look at the leads in the politics section of The New York Times for the same date:


There are four "news" stories here. (The Times throws in the story about the governor of New Jersey "reveling" and we all know how significant "reveling" is.) Three of them deal with the election.

Bottom line? You would be hard pressed to get an education in statecraft from our news correspondents, the candidates, or the incumbent—never mind guidance in making morally responsible decisions.

That is why it saddens me to listen to my Christian friends talk about politics. It's rare to find anything that is distinctively Christian, mindful of the complexities, and rooted in anything more than the campaign speeches of their political favorites. The tiresome, sad thing about our political discourse is that we are the ideal targets of a political campaign: We join the bandwagons left and right, we parrot the wisdom of our politicians, and then we offer up our God as a bonus. Talk about taking the name of God in vain.

It is time for Christians to begin looking for moral grounding. But we won't find it out there in the speeches we are all hearing. The exercise of reason in the Christian tradition is reasoning with the resources of our faith. When we begin to do that, our moral grounding will cut across the comfortable divides, advocate for something larger, and make all of the politicians uncomfortable.

10/2/2011 4:00:00 AM
  • Progressive Christian
  • The Spiritual Landscape
  • Ethics
  • Election
  • Media
  • politics
  • Christianity
  • Frederick Schmidt
    About Frederick Schmidt
    Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/
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