from the East Valley/Scottsdale Tribune, Jan. 31, 2004
(Copyright 2004, East Valley Tribune. Permission to post on the Internet granted by the Tribune papers)

Clergy Corner, by David Felten

Those of us who value our religious freedom do so risking the ire of those claiming to be the keepers of the sole and orthodox truth. They use the methods they have always used: stirring up fear, waving the flag, and pounding firmly on the Bible (selected passages only, thank you very much). The Center for Arizona Policy is but one of the pseudo-religious political lobbying groups that seeks, not, as they claim, to defend religious liberty, but to establish a dogmatic heterodoxy of beliefs dictated by the likes of James Dobson and Pat Robertson. No matter how much success they have in convincing the public that there is but one Christianity (and that they are it, of course) - there has never been, nor will there ever be a Christian consensus on anything. Christianity has always been dynamic and fluid. Beginning with the apostle Paul in the first century, Christianity has been transformed by every culture it has encountered. It was religious non-conformists that we now venerate as the "pilgrims", for goodness sake!

As Harry Emerson Fosdick said of theology over 80 years ago, "change is not the enemy of Christianity, stagnation is." The same Christians that rush to utilize pop-culture and the latest media and technology in the superficial service of the gospel are also those most dead-set against using the minds God gave them to see where the gospel can be interpreted in new ways. They find it incomprehensible that there are faithful Christians who are homosexuals, that don't believe the virgin birth is literal (or important), or that the earth isn't flat.

Rail as they might against the reminder, it was the CAP's cultural equivalents who in previous generations used the Bible to defend slavery, deny women the right to vote, and rallied support against Civil Rights. They were wrong then and they're wrong now. I refuse to let my religious liberty be compromised by either the cult of Christian conformity or those who use fear to enforce their particular brand of faith. Unfortunately, there's not a lot one can do against the money and organization of conservative political groups cloaking themselves in religion. If they want to noisily claim the moral and religious high ground, let them. It's what Pharisees have always done.