Engaging Culture

A Strategy for Engaging the Culture

Over the years, there have been many ideas about how Christians should be engaging the culture.  Recently, writer Peggy Noonan responded to  President Obama’s policy toward faith driven institutions in respect to his recent birth control initiative.  In responding to that policy, I found an interesting strategy for engaging the culture on a number of issues from a spiritual perspective.  Read her strategy suggestions and let me know what you think:

The church must be resolute and press harder. Now is the time to keep pounding—from the pulpit, in all Catholic publications and media, in statements and meetings. For how long? As long as it takes. The president and the more radical part of his base clearly thought the church was a paper tiger, a hollow shell, an entity demoralized and finished by the scandals of the past 20 years.

Now is the time for the church to show it’s alive. How?

Educate. Unconfuse the issues. Take a different aspect of the ruling and its deeper meanings every week, and pound away.

Reach out. This is bigger than the Catholic Church. Go to the mainline Protestant churches, evangelicals, synagogues and mosques. Plead for vocal, public and immediate support: “If the church is forced to go against its conscience, religious liberty in America is not safe. If religious liberty is not safe, you are not safe.”

Know your people. Mr. Obama carried secular Catholics overwhelmingly in 2008. But churchgoing Catholics were evenly split, 51% to 49% for John McCain. These are the voters the president could lose by huge margins over the ruling. And he will, if they fully understand it. Such a loss could determine the 2012 outcome. He knows it, you know it. Have faith in the people in the pews. Give it to them straight, week after week, and they’ll back the church overwhelmingly. The White House is watching. Pound away.

Call for Democratic support. Religious liberty should not be a partisan issue. Republicans have come to the fore, but it’s better for the church if Democrats do too. They’re starting to come over. Make clear from the pulpit that members of both parties are absolutely essential in this fight. “All hands on deck.”

You can win. Keep the faith. Literally: Keep it.


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  1. My thoughts? If the church exists to promote a political agenda, these are great tactics for playing the game of high-pressure politics.

    If the church exists to make disciples and worship God and teach people how to follow Jesus, then the political tactics employed by the world might not be the way to go.

    1. Noble idea certainly Rich.  But where do you draw the line as a believer standing up for religious freedom, social causes, and other culture driven issues?  How should we as Christians engage today’s culture?

      1. Some random thoughts:

        Tony Compollo said, “Mixing politics and religion is like mixing manure and ice cream. The manure isn’t changed and the ice cream’s ruined.”

        There’s a story about a pastor who conducted an experiment. On one particular Sunday morning he removed the cross from the front of the sanctuary. Not one person commented. The next Sunday he returned the cross to its customary location and removed the American flag. Several people noticed immediately and objected loudly.

        When we talk about the church standing up for national or political principles, I’m reminded of those who wanted Jesus to oppose Rome’s tyranny. He declined, built a kingdom of a much different sort, and said, “Follow me.”

        I suspect we’d do better to emulate Mother Teresa, MLK, or Ghandi. We claim to believe in the ultimate power of love to change the world. Then we fight to get our way.

        What if it’s not about American political values? What if an archbishop said, “I respectfully decline to do what violates my conscience and I’m willing to go to prison if necessary”?

  2. Too many people presume that all followers of Christ have come to the same conclusions on social issues – and we haven’t. I agree that we should live out our faith openly – but when we decide to play-the-game in the name of politics, we are missing out on what is essential about following Christ. 

    I LEFT the Republican Party (after years of very vocal commitment to it),  because I was hearing more Jesus-like voices from the Democrats . . . as in feed the hungry, house the homeless, visit the prisoners (and btw, don’t judge how they got that way) . . . 

    Obama is left of me on some issues, right of me on others . . . but I’m not a one-issue voter.

    And I’m not playing a political game – I’m voting my conscience. 

    I’ll stay out of the “strategery” . . . and continue to look at Christ, not politicians, as my savior . . . 

  3. We are to be culturally engaged with the world God has put us in.  The appoach to influencing our culture must be a direct connection to the giftings God has placed in us.

    For some who don’t wish to offend the egos of others, keep quiet and take your seat.  But for others, who have been given an oratory gift – use it.

    Let those unwilling or ungifted or ashamed at least try to utter an “Amen” above a whisper.

    I have lived in Socialist countries and Communist countries and I suggest SPEAK UP even if it is socially unacceptable. SPEAK UP even if it is too politically incorrect for highbrow society. SPEAK UP before it becomes illegal.

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