How religious right, left can work together
Acton Institute Powerblog

How religious right, left can work together

The Detroit News included a statement from me, along with two of their Faith and Policy columnists, reacting to a Washington Post story by Alan Cooperman about cooperation between religious leaders from the political left and right. Here’s my bit:

The Washington Post’s article about the prospects for rapprochement between religious conservatives and liberals gets to the heart of the “cold war” that has existed between these groups for so long. The historic intractability of both sides has led to gridlock, polemic and communication breakdown.

On any number of issues, partisan politicking and loyalty has trumped theological and ecclesiastical unity. And with the increasing politicization of churches, oftentimes prudential policy issues become a new “shibboleth.” Demonization of the religious opposition obscures the agreement of intent that often exists, overemphasizing the discord over how that good intention is to be actualized.

What both sides need to realize is that the political process inherently involves dialogue, debate, give-and-take and compromise. A religious perspective that views the perfect society only as an end-time reality ought to understand and embrace this. For conservatives and liberals, this means recognizing that in politics the perfect is the enemy of the good.

The common ground between religious liberals and conservatives is just that: religion. Religious and theological commitments must remain more important than politics if there is to ever be a measure of accord. This will also ensure religious dialogue in the public square is authentic, prophetic and relevant.

Jordan J. Ballor

Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is director of research at the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy, an initiative of the First Liberty Institute. He has previously held research positions at the Acton Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and has authored multiple books, including a forthcoming introduction to the public theology of Abraham Kuyper. Working with Lexham Press, he served as a general editor for the 12 volume Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology series, and his research can be found in publications including Journal of Markets & Morality, Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Faith & Economics, and Calvin Theological Journal. He is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary and the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity & Politics at Calvin University.