Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Church of Middle-Class American Virtue

Rick Santorum, the 2011 iteration of Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson, is the "social conservative" of the day. He is supposed to support the readily identifiable Christian values of being anti-abortion and anti-"gay marriage". In the eyes of many evangelicals, he is the champion of social conservative values, even making the list of the top 25 most influential evangelicals although he is a Roman Catholic. It has made me wonder, not so much about Santorum but the idea of one political philosophy being considered the "Christian" philosophy. Are the values of "social conservatives" Christian values or are they middle-class America virtues (and if you don't understand that there is a difference between the two, we have a bigger issue)

According to his campaign website, Rick is pro-life:

Rick Santorum not only believes but cherishes the ideal of a culture of life.

Amen to that. Of course on his page he also seems not only willing but rather eager to attack Iran for developing weapons that we have possessed for over 65 years and have used twice on a civilian population...

Would work with Israel to eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat immediately; and developing a potential plan for military action if needed

Would work with Israel to determine the proper military response needed to stabilize the region, protect our allies and protect this country – including the authorization of targeted airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities

Eliminate the threat "immediately". Military action. Military response. Targeted airstrikes.

I guess a "culture of life" only applies to Americans and Israelis.

I understand the geo-political situation in the Middle East, probably more so now than at any other time in my life. I certainly don't draw an equivalence between the democratically elected representative government of the United States and the nutjobs running Iran. I am merely suggesting that eagerness to bomb yet another Middle Eastern country because of the perceived threat of possibly developing a nuclear weapon is not only the same rationale that led to the invasion of Iraq and the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, it is in no way a Christian value. A middle class, "America (and Israel) first" value? Yes. The values one would develop from following Christ? No.

In the same way, while I think that lower taxes and generally less regulation is healthier for the economy and less government is better than more, those are not "Christian" values. A lot of people believe in those ideals and are not believers in any sense of the word including many Republicans politicians (Mitt Romney for example). Conversely a fair number of believers are of the opinion, incorrectly in my mind, that more government is best and that higher taxes on the "rich" is "fair". While we would disagree on the specifics the reality is that our comprehensive political positions are not uniquely "Christian values".

This is not just to pick on Rick Santorum. He is just the latest iteration of the political social conservative that  supposedly espouse and epitomize "Christian" values, a values system that is nothing more than religiously based economic and moral conservatism dressed up in churchy language. Supporting the "right" of a woman to kill her unborn child is clearly antithetical to the Gospel and the Biblical belief of imago dei, that all humans are created in the image of God. So is the idea of killing for country, for national "security", to defend Israel, etc. With the new found fervor over Rick Santorum, especially among social conservatives who believe he is "our guy", lets be cautious and remember that neither political party has a corner of "Christian values".

1 comment:

Jim said...

It's encouraging to read this discernment, expressed as clearly as it is. Much of the church functions by so many unexamined assumptions borrowed from the larger culture. We need His help!