"I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favor of the land." Ezekiel 22:30

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Republicans Should Listen to Pope Francis

Most people don't like talking about religion or politics, much less thinking about the two. For me, I can't help but combining the two. In my mind both are fundamentally about principles.

So, it should be no surprise that as I was contemplating "The Interview" of Pope Francis, I came up with what I think is an interesting perspective.

The Republican Party should listen to Pope Francis.

That's right. If you didn't think the GOP could be any more attached to the "religious right" here I am advocating that they take marching orders from the Pope himself.

Take this quote from "The Interview", which has gotten so much attention:
"The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
Replace "church" with "Republican Party", "pastoral ministry" with "grassroots mission" or "messaging", and "doctrines" with "policies" and you'll get where I'm going.

Here's how it would read:
The Republican Party's messaging cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of policies to be imposed insistently.
Hmmm...

The Holy Father went on to say:
"Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow."
 As far as I see it, this is the same when it comes to politics. Think about it.

Replace any biblical or religious references in the quote above with fitting political terms and it applies just as readily. The basic point remains the same: to be effective, focus less on the specific issues and explain the fundamental basis of your principles first, and the rest will follow.

In blunt terms, this means the GOP should focus less on abortion, marriage, and other divisive moral issues. Instead, conservatives and Republicans need to constantly preach about the totality of their belief system, because unlike liberal progressive Democrats, the totality of our belief system is consistent and makes total sense.

Honestly, I'm a little surprised to be writing that conservatives should focus less on abortion. I mean, I do pro-life work for a living. But winning elections is not a single-issue endeavor. Politicians deal with an enormous range of problems in government, just like pastors, missionaries, and ministers of the Gospel do on a daily basis. To extrapolate what the Holy Father said, people will slam the door on you immediately if the first thing you say is "abortion is bad." And it doesn't matter if you're talking politics or religion.

Now, I'm not the first person to say these issues should be less prominent. A report that came out after the November 2012 elections said similar things. But while I'm not convinced the authors of the report were 100% pro-life, I do support their conclusion that in order to bring people to "our side" we need to be less divisive in our initial outreach.

I also take issue with the terminology commonly used to differentiate between some of the important issues of our time. Whereas most people who would agree with me up to this point would say "Yes, we should focus more on economic issues and less on social issues", I would have to disagree vehemently.

See, if you really understand what it means to be a conservative, there are no "social" or "economic" issues. We have a unified vision of the world, and that means economics, society, religion, pop culture, etc., etc. are all interconnected. "Economic issues" do not exist in a vacuum. I need only remind you that 55 million American children have been murdered by abortion since Roe v. Wade. What if those millions were now paying taxes, creating jobs, and contributing to the solvency of Social Security?

Say what you will, the truth is that most people who aren't pro-life already will not listen to whatever else you have to say if the first words out of your mouth offend them or frustrate them. Instead, start with mercy, preach the truth, and the rest will follow.

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