Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A theological link between the Democrats

I just finished reading The Preacher and the Presidents, a new book about the interaction of evangelist Billy Graham with twelve presidential administrations. Reflecting on this and some other reading, I realized there was a connection between the Carter and Clinton administrations -- both Jimmy Carter and Hillary Clinton have read and sought to apply the teachings of Reinhold Niebuhr, a modern liberal theologian who was quite critical of Billy Graham over the years. I also ran across Barack Obama's claim of Niebuhr as his favorite philosopher.

However, I wasn't the first to connect the dots. Benedicta Cipolla's September '07 article for the Religious News Service, posted here at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, explains that "Reinhold Niebuhr is [the] unseen force in 2008 elections."

Good or bad? I haven't read Niebuhr, but from what I do hear of him, it doesn't advance any Democrats in my estimation. Tillich is in there, too. On the other hand, I have read Bonhoeffer and saw both some encouragement and some trouble spots. All three have been mentioned by or in connection with Carter and Clinton (Ms).

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