Playing With Fire: Politics, Religion And Holy War

Tom Ehrich is fed up with the Religious Right's assault on American freedom. Ehrich, an Episcopal priest and columnist for the Religion News Service, tackled that topic in a July 6 RNS essay.

"In the 150 years preceding America's independence," writes Ehrich, "the religious did their best to carry on Europe's faith wars. Tensions within Protestantism and between Protestants and Roman Catholics did much to undermine American Colonial life.

"Our founding fathers," he continued, "were determined to keep holy wars from enslaving this continent. This was to be a land of freedom, not religious turf wars. The rights of citizens were to be kept separate from religion's self-serving claims of certainty and sanctity. Now it is our time to take up their noble cause.

"Christian demagogues have declared a holy war that they claim to be for the soul of America, the sanctity of life and the future of Christian faith. They badger us into fixation on two issues -- Scripture and sex -- as if those two issues would determine the future of civilization, not to mention true faith. It is nothing but a power grab. It is a violation of the Gospel. As politicians exploit this holy war for campaign funds, membership lists and votes, it is playing with the fire that nearly destroyed Europe."

Ehrich urges believers "to stop going along with religious demagogues."

Most American religious leaders don't agree with the Religious Right's self-righteous agenda, and it's refreshing to see an Episcopol priest lay out the case so forthrightly.