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God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat; Christian Leaders Refute Religious Right's Claim that Bush is God's Candidate

US Newswire | August 30 2004

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- More than 40 Christian leaders and 40,000 faithful citizens signed a petition declaring that "God is not a Republican...or a Democrat" and that the Religious Right does not speak for them. The petition refutes claims by Jerry Falwell that "Evangelical Christians...need to get serious about re-electing President Bush" and by Pat Robertson that "George Bush is going to win in walk...the Lord's just blessing him." The petition calls for all Christians to take back their faith and appears as a full-page ad in Monday's The New York Times, paid for by nearly 3,500 supporters of Sojourners, the national Christian magazine and organization that initiated the petition.

The petition, found at http://www.takebackourfaith.org, further declares that Christians acting on personal conviction can choose to vote for any candidate, and that they should consider a range of moral issues in this election, rejecting single-issue voting. It notes that: "We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values."

Rev. Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, explained: "When poverty has risen each of the past three years -- that's a religious issue. The war in Iraq -- that's a religious issue. Taking care of the environment -- that's a religious issue." Rev. Wallis added, "This behavior by the Religious Right -- ordaining George W. Bush as 'God's candidate' -- is theologically outrageous. How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro- rich and pro-war? They've tried to hijack our faith -- it's time to take it back."

In the two weeks since the campaign's launch, more than 40,000 people have signed the online petition. The ad includes 45 prominent signers, including heads of denominations, presidents and professors of Christian seminaries and colleges, pastors, and authors. The diverse signatories include prominent Christians from across the theological spectrum, including best-selling evangelical author Philip Yancey, Yale theologian Miroslav Volf, Fuller Theological Seminary ethicist Glen Stassen, Evangelical Covenant Church president Rev. Glen Palmberg, Candler School of Theology professor of social ethics Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr., Baptist minister and evangelical speaker Tony Campolo, Reformed Church in America general secretary Rev. Wes Granberg- Michaelson, Benedictine author Joan Chittister, Duke theological ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas, and Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM.

Due to an outpouring of responses from people across the nation, the petition is also appearing as a full-page ad this morning in The News & Advance (Rev. Falwell's local newspaper in Lynchburg, Va.) and The Virginian-Pilot (Mr. Robertson's local newspaper in Hampton Roads, Va.). In response to thousands of individual donations, Sojourners is also establishing a fund to help people of faith place the ad in their hometown newspapers.

Rev. Brian McLaren, popular Christian author and pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church in Maryland, described the petition's purpose this way: "The Religious Right has a powerful hold on many individuals and churches in our country. Many of them have never even heard a responsible counterpoint expressed by thoughtful, biblically rooted Christian thinkers and leaders."

Placement of full-page ads on the first day of the Republican National Convention follows the delivery of a similar message by Rev. Wallis to the Democratic National Convention in an address to a luncheon on faith and politics in Boston that week and in a Boston Globe op-ed in which Rev. Wallis declared that "the best public contribution of religion is precisely not to be ideologically predictable or a loyal partisan."

About Sojourners Web: http://www.sojo.net

Sojourners is a voice and vision for social change and publisher of award-winning Sojourners magazine, SojoMail e-zine, and Sojo.net web site. Founded in 1971 as a faith-based organization, Sojourners provides an alternative perspective on faith, politics, and culture through its monthly magazine, e-mail services, Web site, media commentaries, and public events. Ecumenical and progressive, Sojourners lifts up the biblical connection between social justice and spiritual renewal and nurtures community by bringing together people from the various traditions and streams of the church. Sojourners also hosts an annual program of voluntary service now in its twenty-first year.

Text of Petition Follows:

God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat.

"It is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush." -- Jerry Falwell, The New York Times, July 16, 2004

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. The Lord has just blessed him...It doesn't make any difference what he does, good or bad..." -- Pat Robertson, AP/Fox News, January 2, 2004

These leaders of the Religious Right mistakenly claim that God has taken a side in this election, and that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush.

We believe that claims of divine appointment for the President, uncritical affirmation of his policies, and assertions that all Christians must vote for his re-election constitute bad theology and dangerous religion.

We believe that sincere Christians and other people of faith can choose to vote for President Bush or Senator Kerry-for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values.

We will measure the candidates by whether they enhance human life, human dignity, and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children; whether they promote racial reconciliation and support gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice; and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual, national, and special interests.

We believe that poverty-caring for the poor and vulnerable-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families? Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matthew 25:35-40, Isaiah 10:1-2)

We believe that the environment-caring for God's earth-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

We believe that war-and our call to be peacemakers-is a religious issue. Do the candidates' policies pursue "wars of choice" or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats? (Matthew 5:9)

We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue. Do the candidates tell the truth in justifying war and in other foreign and domestic policies? (John 8:32)

We believe that human rights-respecting the image of God in every person-is a religious issue. How do the candidates propose to change the attitudes and policies that led to the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners? (Genesis 1:27)

We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue. Do the candidates adopt the dangerous language of righteous empire in the war on terrorism and confuse the roles of God, church, and nation? Do the candidates see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8:12-13)

We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue. Do the candidates' positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mass destruction, HIV/AIDS-and other pandemics-and genocide around the world obey the biblical injunction to choose life? (Deuteronomy 30:19)

We also admonish both parties and candidates to avoid the exploitation of religion or our congregations for partisan political purposes.

By signing this statement, we call Christians and other people of faith to a more thoughtful involvement in this election, rather than claiming God's endorsement of any candidate.

This is the meaning of responsible Christian citizenship.

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