Is the church distracted from its mission by seeking to influence politics? Or has it not been engaged enough? Three leaders, from three generations, debate the role church leaders should play.

Homespun wisdom says that neither religion nor politics should be discussed in polite company. But what about religion and politics? This incendiary mix was the focus of a three-way discussion at the most recent National Pastors Convention in San Diego. While the conversation was polite, the panelist's divergent perspectives made for an at times tense engagement.

Seeing Charles Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne together (p. 21) illustrates their differing positions on faith and politics. Colson, in coat and tie, is a model of establishment propriety. Boyd, in blue jeans and a blazer, is informally relevant. Claiborne, in frayed dungarees and dreadlocks, places himself on the social margins.

Here are excerpts from their conversation, moderated by Krista Tippett, host of "Speaking of Faith," a ...

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