By Leigh Greenhaw, Board President of Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls
Senator Danforth gave a terrific speech tonight.
It was one of the Danforth-Eagleton Lectures, sponsored by the Metropolitan Bar Association of St. Louis and the Judicial Education Center. But it wasn’t stuffy and seemed to come from the heart.
His topic was Government and Religion. He took awhile to get there, beginning with ruminations on the good relationship he, a Republican, had with Thomas Eagleton, the other Senator from Missouri and a Democrat. Quite a few these days are rueful about the loss of bipartisan good will and the biting, ideologically polarized character of relations and discourse in the political sphere. Senator Danforth’s remarks were similar, but specific and with the ring of long experience. They were not optimistic. He sees a decline and is worried for the nation.
What I found unusual and compelling was the second part of his remarks, when he got to the part about religion. He used biblical stories skillfully to make his point. He started with Moses, who he called God’s chosen political operator. Moses was cautioned to stay in his place and take off his shoes, as he was on holy ground, and he was not permitted to have the name, or handle in trucker CB radio lingo, of his boss. “I am who I am, “said God. Senator Danforth went on to quote the prophet Isaiah on how God’s ways are not our ways.
Politics, Danforth said, is not religion. We make a big mistake when we try to equate the two or argue politically as if religious truth were at stake. Politics are important – this professional would not diminish that truth – but it is not religion. If we can keep the two separate, we will be better able to make the compromises necessary to hold our country together – together, under God.