Religion in America & Meet the Press

Religion in America & Meet the Press

On December 24, 2006 Tim Russert had Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek and Pastor Richard Warren, author of  A Purpose Driven Life on Meet the Russert Press. It was an interesting broadcast. Two areas of discussion were significant in my view. During the interview Warren made the point that the problem with China is that they want to have the economic freedom of the West without a moral underpinning. He argued that China could not have the success of the West unless China allowed freedom of religion, freedom of press and freedom of the market place. He said China wanted a free market, but without the other two freedoms and it wasn’t going to happen because capitalism without moral principles is "pure greed." In Russia, capitalism without a moral basis results in oligarchies, and thugs who rip off the country with pure greed, he said. Both men maintained it was essential to have a moral and ethical foundation to America’s culture to avoid the same thing happening here. Meacham said that this nation was founded as a religious nation in the sense that the founders were looking for both economic opportunity and religious freedom. But both men saw America as a pluralistic country with freedom of religious belief. They pointed out that a state religion is in total conflict with the reason people came here from England. Warren quoted Madison as saying if you have one religion you have tyranny. If you have two, you have religious conflict, but if you have many religions you have civil peace.

These views are in opposition to the goal of a large segment of the religious right who actually want religion in our schools and government. As to capitalisim, I think we have witnessed under this administration what happens if there are not legal or moral restraints on capitalism. With the regulatory agencies restrained from enforcing the rules and laws passed favoring profit making, the environment as well as the consumer is victimized. The greed of the oil industry, unrestrained, by any rules or moral or ethical restrictions, is a classic example of capitalism run amok.

Meacham pointed out that school prayer, right to life and gay marriage have dominated politics and the conservative religious. This has created an atmosphere of extremism causing people to lash out in irrational ways. Warren argued in favor of civility and respect even when people or religions disagree. He suggested that issues have become so polarized and rude that it was important to begin to treat people we totally disagree with, with understanding and respect. He called for compassionate conservatism. He also argued for religious concern beyond the issues of abortion, gay marriage and school prayer. Poverty, Disease, illiteracy and especially Aids should be a priority concern of religion as well in his view. I couldn’t agree more with the need of so called Christians to see the message of Christ as considerably more then merely an obsession over issues of sex and separation of church and state.

It was an educational and interesting broadcast.

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