In This Review

Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together
Faith and Politics: How the Moral Values Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together
By Senator John Danforth
Viking, 2006, 224 pp

Few Americans bring more experience in both religion and politics to the table than Danforth, an Episcopalian priest and a former senator, ambassador to the United Nations, and special envoy to Sudan, where he helped broker the accord ending a long civil war that had taken on overtones of a Christian-Muslim religious conflict. His current book is both a plea and a warning. Danforth wants American Christians to define their role in the world as supporters of a "ministry of reconciliation": building peace by overcoming differences and healing old wounds. With, as Danforth points out, a significant minority of Muslims embracing calls for a holy war against non-Muslims, this ministry is urgently needed. Turning to domestic politics, Danforth warns that an increasingly strident and intolerant Christian activism on the political right threatens the comity and tolerance that a ministry of reconciliation requires. That Danforth, whose political success was based in part on his reputation as a pro-life voice in the Senate, now warns about the undue strength of the religious right is a significant event in the politics of American religion. Clearly, as they look around the world for opportunities to launch a ministry of reconciliation, American Protestants should consider the possibility of addressing the splits in their own ranks that have so bitterly divided evangelical and liberal Protestants in recent decades. Having helped broker peace in southern Sudan, perhaps Danforth can now help Southern Baptists and Congregationalists learn to get along.