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Friday, June 16, 2006

 

John Danforth - In the Babble, A Sane Voice


Episcopalians * Southern Baptists

How refreshing to read in the Post about former Senator John Danforth's call to Episcopalians to retreat from the increasingly militant position being adopted by church leaders on issues that mean nothing except in the minds of bigots. "COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Danforth, an Episcopal priest and former U.S. senator, warned Thursday that the church risked irrelevancy by focusing on divisive issues such as gay clergy and same-gender couples. Instead, Danforth said the denomination should turn away from the "inside baseball" of church politics and put its energy behind reconciling a world increasingly polarized by politics and religion."
  • "For 99 percent-plus of people, they really couldn't care less who the bishop of diocese `X' or `Z' is," Danforth said, during the church's national legislative meeting. "Nor could they care less whether a liturgy for blessing same-sex unions is available in a prayer book or over the Internet."
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A Mellowing Among Southern Baptists ?

Stranger things have happened but I am not going to bet on Southern Baptists becoming compassionate Christians. That would be like the compassionate conservative G.W. Bush talked about during his campaign in 2000. Op-ed column by E.J. Dionne in the Post covers the recent election of Rev. Frank Page as the group's president and the possibility of a "shift". "Sometimes very important elections receive very little attention.When the Southern Baptist Convention elected the Rev. Frank Page as the group's president at its meeting this week in Greensboro, N.C., the news appeared on the back pages of most secular newspapers -- or it didn't appear at all.
  • But Page's upset victory could be very significant, both to the nation's religious life and to politics. He defeated candidates supported by the convention's staunchly conservative establishment, which has dominated the organization since the mid-1980s. His triumph is one of many signs that new breezes are blowing through the broader evangelical Christian world.
  • No, this is not some liberal victory. Indeed, the Baptist Press reported that Page went out of his way to tell reporters that he was not elected "to somehow undo the conservative resurgence" in the convention. But he also signaled that the spirit he hopes to embody is quite different from that of the angry, right-wing, politicized preacher who has been a stock figure in American life for more than two decades.
  • "I believe in the word of God," Page said. "I'm just not mad about it."

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