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God's Politics

When I first went out on the book tour for God’s Politics, I often got asked the standard media question, “Why did you write this book?” I answered, “Because the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn’t get it!” It worked. Now reporters tell me it’s “the book that changed the conversation.” The new essay in the paperback edition of God’s Politics talks about all the ways the conversation has changed.

But now that God’s Politics is out in paperback and the publisher has me on another book tour, there is a new question I’m getting asked—both by the media and by people who come out to the events and talk to me at the book signing tables. The new question is, “What gives you the most satisfaction about the success of God’s Politics?” Or, “What makes you feel best about having written this book?” I’ve thought a lot about this and here are the top ten things that give me the most encouragement from the impact that God’s Politics has had.

  1. Young people are streaming out to the God’s Politics events and, invariably, one of them says to me, “I came to faith because of this book; what’s next?” I now realize how much the church’s lack of commitment to social justice has been an obstacle to faith, and am thrilled by so many young people now coming to faith—it must be the evangelical in me.
  1. Parents tell me they are giving the book to their children—some of whom have lost their faith, or are seeking to make the connections between personal faith and social justice.
  1. Many pastors tell me their church is studying God’s Politics, and that it is bringing together people from all sides of the political spectrum. (To help them do that, we’ve now published a new companion study volume designed for small groups called Living God’s Politics.)
  1. Young evangelical pastors and students tell me they are searching for “new options” beyond the Religious Right and Secular Left. And the hold of just one political party (the GOP) on the religious community has dropped significantly even since the 2004 elections. Why? Because more and more Christians are demonstrating their concern for more than just two “moral values” issues.
  1. Jon Stewart was interested in what Jesus’ words would mean to politics, and his millions of fans now know that Jesus’ top priorities might not have been a capital gains tax cut or the occupation of Iraq.
  1. Many progressive and Democratic political leaders are coming out of the closet with their faith, and opening up to faith communities and the role of faith in movements for social change; and Sen. Barack Obama is speaking so clearly about faith and Sen. John Edwards so passionately about poverty.
  1. There are Republicans now who want to take back their party from the Religious right, and are voting against cutting effective programs for low-income families.
  1. The American people can now hear Katie Couric, Tim Russert, and many of their media colleagues fairly profiling the diverse views of faith leaders across the spectrum, and not just from the Relgious Right.
  1. The bestseller tables and shelves at the book stores across America don’t only feature Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reily, and Sean Hannity anymore; now they display progressive religious voices too. I was especially pleased that two books on progressive faith (God’s Politics and Jimmy Carter’s Our Endangered Values) both made The New York Times best-seller list for four months each during the same year!
  1. The release of God’s Politics simply revealed what was already there—a large and growing constituency of faith-inspired people who had felt unrepresented by a small group of narrow, vitriolic, and partisan religious voices. That they feel their voice is now being heard is one of the greatest satisfactions for me. The best thing I hear after God’s Politics events from so many people is, “I don’t feel alone anymore.” As I say at almost every stop, “The monologue of the Religious Right is finally over, and a new dialogue has just begun.” Now all our voices are changing the conversation. Amen.
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