Friday, June 25, 2004

I hate it when they make a good point

Friday, June 25, 2004
Really, i do. I was watching Anderson Cooper 360 last night and there was an interview segment with Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton, which is quite an interesting pair to have on together (probably the point). The point of the segment had to do with religion and politics and there were some charts and polls showing that more people who think religion has an important role in politics are supporting Bush while the folks who believe religion has no place in politics are supporting Kerry. Questions were asked about that and i guess i was surprised at how both men answered the questions because i know of them only by reputation and not by personal investigation of their opinions and behavior. What struck me was how logical and frank both men were, and how their positions made sense even as they are in opposition. Here is a brief segment from the transcript of the interview. There is one section that i would like to highlight.

COLLINS: All right, Reverend Falwell I want to get to you. In the same "Time" magazine poll, I should share some more numbers, 69 percent of nonreligious people favor Kerry while just 22 percent support Bush. Now the GOP have done a pretty good job of appealing to conservatives, but do you think that the party needs to move beyond that in including more people?

FALWELL: Well, I don't think there's any question Mr. Bush would welcome any vote by anybody, atheist, believer, whatever. And Reverend Al Sharpton there is a friend of mine, and Al's an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ so he certainly does not object to any mixture of religion and politics.

He, at the same time, would, I think agree with me that one's faith, if that faith is genuine, will certainly impact our behavior, both in private and public life. Mr. Bush does not attempt to use religion, but he's a man of faith who has had a born-again experience with faith in Christ as Al Sharpton would, I think, testify to the same. And therefore, he's not ashamed to talk about it, let it govern his views and values and as a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life, born and unborn, he happens to be pro-life as millions of Americans are, as I am. I don't think it is bad for him to use that White House as a bully pulpit, as all presidents have.

COLLINS: Reverend Sharpton, let me ask you generally the same question. As long as mainstream Democrats seem to agree with pro- choice, supporting stem cell research, civil unions, do you believe they can actually attract church-going Americans? Do they have to modify their positions as well?

SHARPTON: No, I think they have to clarify. I think that there's a difference between, say, one believes in something or saying one believes people have the right to choose for themselves what they want to believe. And I think that once that's clarified, that's a big difference in me saying what I believe, and what my family believes. And then that I believe I have the right to impose that on you.

I feel I'm a good enough preacher to convert you. I don't have to use the law to force you to do what I believe in. I think that's where we part ways when many of the right wing Christian, in my judgment, ideologues that are trying to push this.

What struck me was that, in a sense, both men are correct in what they are saying and that it just comes down to perception. Falwell's position here makes sense in that President Bush would use his office to support those causes that he believes in, and his faith in Christ is a factor in this. This is a part of the man who was elected.

At the same time, Al Sharpton's position make sense. I would say that i fall on the side of Sharpton on this one, in that what i personally think is right for me and my family may not necesarrily be right for another family. At some point there has to be a moral absolute, but in many of the controversial issues i think it is a personal decision and should be left up the individual.

Like abortion. I'm not going to get too deep into this issue here because i don't think this is the place for it and i think i'm getting off the topic, but i am pro-choice. This is not to be confused with being pro-abortion. I do not agree with the idea of abortion (in most cases), but i do not feel that i have the right to impose my will upon another and say "you can't do this because I feel it is wrong". I can tell you why i feel it is wrong, if it comes up in conversation, but not to issue a blanket statement. Like Al Sharpton, in the above quote, there is a difference between what i feel is right, and what i feel is right to impose upon someone else.

I don't know where Falwell and Sharpton stand on many issues, though i can probably guess with a fair degree of accuracy. I do know that i was impressed by how they came off during this interview segment and how respectful they were in stating their views. Granted a brief interview on CNN is not the forum to go spouting off raving mad, but both men came off very well. Bravo.


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