The favorite targets of lampoon and derision from progressive Christians are the icons of the Religious Right: the late Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, and the like. A standard characterization of their flaws highlights their overemphasis on political power as a means toward the alignment of society with the Christian vision. But if this critique of the politicization of the faith applies to the Religious Right, then it applies equally as well to the Religious Left.

What is shared in what we might call the “legalistic impulse” of much of both conservative and progressive political Christianity is the priority of the role of the government in determining the course of our social life. Both versions of political Christianity, to one extent or another, subsume the Church under the State as a kind of activist lobby (albeit of a special religious character). In this brand of legalism, fidelity to the Christian faith is defined in political terms.

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