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Reading from a big Bible

Excerpts from an editorial by Robert Parham, who is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics:

"Fundamentalist leader James Dobson reads from a small Bible, having shrunken the Christian moral agenda to the anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality issues.

Puffed up from President Bush’s election, Dobson now threatens to put six Democratic senators in “red states” in his “bull’s-eye” for defeat if they filibuster against conservative judicial nominees.

Both mainstream clergy and Democrats of faith need to push back against Dobson’s intimidation, albeit for different reasons.

For clergy, the driving reason to oppose Dobson is theological integrity. Dobson corrupts authentic Christian faith when he cuts down the Bible’s moral agenda to a few issues and then prioritizes those issues as the only ones by which to judge a public servant.

For Democrats of faith, the motivating reason to challenge Dobson is political credibility. Dobson disrespects Democrats with bullying tactics that he thinks will cause them to retreat from their moral obligation to counterbalance power.

If Democrats of faith want to build a larger constituency, they must stand up to Dobson and the religious right, refusing to be pushed around. They must show strength and self-definition, as well as frame their agenda in terms of moral values.

If mainstream clergy want to restore theological integrity, they must challenge Dobson’s reading of the small Bible with their reading from the big Bible with its full moral agenda. They must show that moral values can be articulated in the public square without the idolatrous affiliation of authentic faith with a single political party."

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