Within recent memory, conservative-evangelical-fundamentalist (choose your modifier) Christians used Scripture to justify their opposition to political activism. No less an authority than Jerry Falwell, godfather of the "Religious Right," argued in a previous incarnation, "We have a message of redeeeming grace through a crucified and risen Lord. Nowhere are we told to reform the externals. We are not told to wage a war against bootleggers, liquor stores, gamblers, murderers, prostitutes, racketeers, prejudiced persons or institutions, or any other exisiting evil as such. The Gospel does not clean up the outside but rather regenerates the inside."

For the past 20 years, Falwell and others who once regarded politics with the same antipathy they held for movies, liquor, and dancing have been singing a different tune. They use the same "inerrant, infallible" Bible, but reach different conclusions in order to justify their claim that the laity and preachers must be involved in politics. Either they were wrong then or they are wrong now.

Should Christians involve themselves in politics? To paraphrase the President, that depends on what the meaning of involve involves.

Should we vote after informing ourselves about issues and candidates? Absolutely! The things that are Caesar's are not only our tax dollars, but our citizenship. Laypeople can organize, peacefully demonstrate, boycott, pray for those in authority (that includes Democrats as well as Republicans), participate in pregnancy-help centers, and lobby elected officials.

But they should do so without illusions. Real change comes heart by heart, not election by election, because our primary problems are not economic and political but moral and spiritual.

Should those who are set ...

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