Sunday, August 24, 2008

Politics and Faith: Biden's a Good Choice

The widely reviewed Saddleback presidential forum, held at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in conservative Orange County, CA, resulted in many approaches to the oil and water mixture of politics and religion expressed on blogs, on e-news, blog news, and on television and print news. The takes were all over the map, politically and in terms of faith. Mine are here.

My greatest concern, the ugly face of theocracy stamped on American politics, has been growing for years as the uber-right has stolen the podium of religious belief and called it their own. Rick Warren, a literalist (reads the Bible literally) and a fundamentalist (ascribes all actions as accountable to the literal reading of the Bible) is particularly tricky even fooling some journalists who, apparently, do less research on their writing subjects than sixth grade kids.

I found the recent presidential forum at Saddleback alarming. Not only was attendance unaffordable for all but the extremely wealthy, or linked to membership in Warren's Baptist-driven fundamentalist church, the fact is that paying to attend any kind of two-candidate forum spins the concept of democracy on its head. Consider these costs:

DRAWING A: For FREE seats in Video Venues (Refinery, Tent 2, and Tent 3)

DRAWING B: Charter members who joined between 1980-84, Small Group Hosts, and Volunteers who serve in children’s or student ministries may apply for the drawing of FREE seats in the worship center.

DRAWING C: To buy a $500 Bleacher seat in the Worship Center.

DRAWING D: To buy a $1,000 Angled Floor seat in the Worship Center.

DRAWING E: To buy a $2,000 Front Center seat in the Worship Center.

For well over two decades, the uber religious right and the GOP have called "family values" their own. The mistaken Dems, on the other hand, ignored the problem believing it an anomaly and are directly responsible for letting the problem get so out of hand while liberal and progressive activists were rightfully slapping stickers on their cars and bikes reading, "Hate is not a family value."

The result is that anyone not uber-right, in terms of beliefs, doesn't even make it onto the laugh chart of family values. Enter soft-pedaling, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Rick Warren, clearly an uber-conservative, evangelical fundamentalist that doesn't like gays, believes Jews are going to hell, and states, clearly, at least the five key things the uber-right will not budge on.

As an Episcopalian, thus a Catholic, and a liberal in every sense of the word, I have been critical of the democratic party and remain incensed. I do have a window of hope, however, in Joe Biden.

As we all know, Joe Biden was chosen yesterday by Obama as his vice presidential running mate. While there are things I disagree with Biden on, on the whole, I can definitely get behind this choice. He is experienced and can fire off some whoppers when called upon to do it, like this one:

Biden said that if he runs for president, he intends to aggressively defend his own values as well as those of the Democratic Party.

"If I'm the nominee, Republicans will be sorry," he said. "The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.

"I am so sick and tired of this pontificating about us not being the party of faith," said Biden, a Roman Catholic who has served in the Senate since the Nixon administration.