Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clinton on Jeremiah Wright - dangerous territory

Hillary finally gives us her opinion on Jeremiah Wright:

"He would not have been my pastor," Clinton said. "You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend."

That's a not-so-subtle slam against Obama. Yes, you do choose what church you want to attend. For me, however, this raises questions of church and state. Not constitutional issues, but personal ones. A person's relationship with their church and their pastor is deeply personal. It is also one of the most sacred relationships - in some respects, the most sacred relationship - a person has. I am extremely reluctant to criticize another person's relationship with their pastor or their church, because to do so is to question their faith, their relationship with the divine, the sacred, the transcendent. There's a fine line here. Obama did make a decision to attend this church. But he has also made it clear to what extent he disagrees with Jeremiah Wright. Beyond that, I think he deserves a certain amount of respect for the privacy of the space in which he has chosen to worship. I think we go down a dangerous road if we open up a person's faith for too much critique.

A church or synagogue or mosque or any other religious place is where someone goes to come to terms with things that we cannot deal with in an earthly medium - the nature of mortality, questions of sin and redemption, eternity. In America, we very carefully proscribe politics from interfering in those realms, because it is important for people to have the greatest possible freedom to address those issues as they see wish to. To question too deeply a person's relationship with their pastor, their church, or their religion, is to intrude on that sacred space that we have worked so hard, literally for centuries, to protect.

hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

1 comment:

Laryssa said...

Right on, John. Eight years of Catholic school taught me many things, not the least of which was that there is a time and place for religion, and that place is NOT the political arena. Jesus taught us that prayer and the practice of one's religion is a private matter, between the worshiper and his/her god, and is never for public consumption. In my eyes Obama clearly demonstrates for me that he learned one of the key lessons of Christianity...TOLERANCE! Can someone please define that word for the Evangelicals the next time they ask "WWJD"?