Part of the trouble with op-eding is the failure to distinguish “analysis” from “advocacy.” This is even worse when the analyzer has a strongly ideological bent, such as, for instance, another of liberal NPR’s underrpresented conservative think-tankers, Joseph Loconte. In today’s *New York Times* Loconte argues that the Democrats are mistaken to adopt the Republican strategy of reaching out to Christians.
What stands for argument here, however, are some cherry-picked newsy tidbits that try to establish an equivalence between the Republicans’ taliban-style theocrats (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, among others) and the Democrats’ “progressive” or “liberal” Christians, such as James Wallis. Here is the crux of the argument for equivalence:
>”We affirm God’s vision of a good society offered to us by the prophet Isaiah,” he writes. Yet Isaiah, an agent of divine judgment living in a theocratic state, conveniently affirms every spending scheme of the Democratic Party. This is no different than the fundamentalist impulse to cite the book of Leviticus to justify laws against homosexuality.
No different! Loconte offers no argument for this other than the flimsy claim that because Isaiah lived in a theocratic state, this must mean that Wallis wants to as well. Much more indeed would be needed in any case to establish the logical equivalence of Wallis’s view with that of the Republican party. For the sake of brevity, I’ll mention two obvious ones. The reader can certainly add many more.
First, Wallis would have to make the foundational claim that Christianity grounds the American state in an exclusive way (e.g., this is a Christian country and a Christian party). One might remember a leading Republican once called Jesus his favorite *political philosopher*.
Second, Wallis should not be willing or able to support non-Christian arguments for his position. The position he affirms, or so one can even gather from Loconte’s thinly sourced piece, is that Wallis thinks people of Christian faith should not consider themselves *ipso facto* Republicans. The Democratic position, according to Wallis, is *also* Christian, perhaps even very Christian (and by the way, we gather Wallis has a more serious argument than Loconte’s uncharitable portrayal suggests), but it’s not exclusively Christian.
So just because one group of ideologically fundamentalist Christians pollutes our democracy with their theocratic intolerance, it doesn’t follow that any religiously motivated partisan politics shares the same narrow vision simply by virtue of being religious.