Sunday, October 12, 2003


Today's Observer newspaper contains a brief report on the activities of Howard F. Ahmanson Jr, a Californian millionaire (see, it's not just Arnie who's got a screw loose) long involved in funding right-wing religious causes. At the moment he is helping to bankroll the anti-gay backlash against Bishop Gene Robinson and others in ECUSA. But his network also operates through The Claremont Institute, and his other 'concerns' include anti-evolutionism and odd 'pro-caucasian' statements from friends such as NRA-ally Charlton Heston.

Back in the 1980s I was involved in some investigations into the Christian Right, especially when it was tied up with unsavoury pro-apartheid initiatives. Sadly many CR protagonists seem well beyond the reach of reasonable discourse, and though people such as Christian Aid's former research Derrick Knight did a good job of exposing their political ploys (which included smears against Christian NGOs), it is all too easy to get caught up in an unhelpful world of conspiracy and counter-conspiracy. This, after all, is the currency of paranoia that the religious right trades in. Better, I think to promote healthy, reasoning faith than to be too caught up in contending decay and defamation, which has its own damaging ecology...

Still, it is good that there are people out there willing to respond creatively, trenchantly and positively to the flow of ideas from the CR quarter. One such is the author of The Right Christians, a weblog on issues involving Christianity and politics which is updated around five times a week. The Rev Allen H. Brill is an ordained Lutheran minister educated at Concordia Seminary in St Louis, MO. He is also a member of the South Carolina Bar with a degree in Government from Harvard College and a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School.

Brill has some good guest contributors and a fine set of links. And he writes additionally for Open Source Politics. I found his link on Religious Liberal blog. See RL's fecund articles page, too. My own vision of an open, engaged and radical Christianity would find far more roots and routes in the tradition than the likes of John Dewey (say). But at a time when the scope for debate in church circles is getting narrower and meaner, alternative voices are vital: and the liberal tradition is a necessary and honourable one, even if (as will be clear elsewhere in FaithInSociety) I would want to argue with some of its premises, prognoses and procedures.

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