Last week, the cover story of Time magazine featured the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. I always enjoy reading articles of this type, succinct information packaged into short intervals. It was a fascinating read.
To Time's credit, they avoided the people who have used religion to create media and corporate empires. Men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell do not make the list. They are more entrepreneurs than evangelists.
The list is predominantly white, and it is prominently Republican.
For some reason, Republicans seem to have cornered the market on God. It's nothing but a strategy and as soon as the leader of their party is someone other than George W. Bush it will be difficult for them to keep this advantage. The Democrats know this, and from now until the 2008 election, we can forget about the separation of Church and State. Any Democrat with serious aspirations of high elected office will make sure to have many photo ops going in and out of their place of worship.
As we have become a nation divided into red states and blue states it strikes me that the only difference between the two is what we allow our politicians to make us believe. The red among us are convinced that they are morally superior to the blue, because they inject religion into the issues of abortion, stem cell research, and even war. I feel a chill in my spine every time I hear someone say that "God has chosen George W. Bush to lead the nation" at a time when he has decided to take us into war.
I wonder if the people who say this truly understand the First of the Ten Commandments. At times, I believe that underneath everything, the President is really a Golden Calf.
If John Kerry had been elected President, do you think he would have told the nation that God had chose him to be the one to defeat George W. Bush?
As someone who is a Democrat and believes in God, I keep my inner feelings in regards to spirituality to myself. I believe that religion is an intensely personal issue, and I don't feel it is my place to tell others how they should live their lives based upon what I believe. As such, it drives me to the brink of insanity how the Republicans have allowed themselves to convince a great deal of the country that they are truly the party of God.
Somewhere in the Bible it says "Judge not, lest ye be judged." If it were up to me, I'd have this replace the national motto "E pluribus unim."
All we do is judge. In politics, we turn every issue into a litmus test for morality. Red is better than blue, or blue better than red, when in reality all should be black and white.
The simplest colors there are.
Where am I going with this? I'm not really sure. I started this discussion because I was fascinated by a list of people who have been deemed to have "influence" in this country based upon their religious conviction. I know none of these 25 people, yet after reading this piece, I find myself judging them. I think they are all shrewd, intelligent people who have realized that religion is a big business in this country.
If you don't think so, do a little extra research on any of the 25 mentioned in the article, as I did. You will find that they all have a few things in common. One of them is that they have a lot of money.
Money breeds influence. Influence bleeds into power. Power spills into politics, because who ever has the most power, has the most control.
It's a transitive equation: money equals control.
Any of these 25 sees themselves as able to influential national opinions on a bevy of issues. That they do so does not make them corrupt, nor does it make them evil.
But does it make them guilty, even by association?
Why is it that most of the highly influential evangelicals seem to be in the hip pocket of the GOP? And why is it that the Democrats are ripping their collective scalp out trying to figure out what they have to do to get them leaning their way?
The answer really has nothing to do with God or even morality.
It's the money, pure and simple, and the influence, the control, and, most importantly, the votes that it brings.
You can read the list of the 25 most influential evangelicals and judge for yourself which are "red" and which are "blue."
But you'll miss the point. The only color that matters, and the only color you should see, is green.