The last few days I have found myself in a number of very interesting church/state conversations. While I have not had a conversation with a liberal I have spoken with many shades of conservatives and found a huge variety of viewpoints on church/state relationship and issues. While all I have talked to have pointed out how historically church and state have been far more intertwined than they are currently and most long for “the old days,” I was struck by one place where they can seemingly never meet.
American democracy is, by definition, a system of compromise. Religion is all about absolutes upon which compromise is not allowed. For example, the founding documents of our democracy have nothing to say about homosexuality or homosexual practice. Therefore, it allows lots of room for discussion and compromise. The Bible, on the other hand is pretty explicit – “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads” – which does not leave much room for discussion. It is the contrast of democracy’s flexibility and religions inflexibility where so much of the conflict between the two arises. Frankly, it is amazing they mange to get along at all.
And yet, an Arthur C. Brooks piece from the NYTimes this past weekend does so much to bridge this gap. The title is simply “We Need Optimists.” Continue Reading