Friday, March 19, 2004

Politicized religiosity

There's much not to like about the campaigning of both parties in recent weeks, but a paid ad taken out on Tuesday in La Prensa Gráfica (sorry, no link available) by the "Comunidades Cristianas Fe y Vida" really got my dander up. Entitled "Parable: The Star of Hope," this half-page ad seeks to draw a parallel between the star of Bethlehem and the star of hope represented by the FMLN. I quote:

"God has promised change and new life with hope, just as he did in Bethlehem with the birth of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in the same way he has done today in El Salvador by naming our brothers, friends and also children of God, Schafik Handal and Guillermo Mata Benet, who will govern and will guide the Salvadoran people.

The star of hope is before us, just as the star of Bethlehem was before the wise men of the East; let's follow the star to victory by marking it on the 21st of March."

Is disgusting too polite a word to describe this?

From what I hear (I wasn't there), similar words used by Baptist and Lutheran authorities at last Saturday's closing rally for the FMLN, when they "annointed" Schafik and Mata in front of the thousands of party faithful gathered in the main plaza in downtown San Salvador. LPG didn't quite cover this, but they did make a similar reference to this ceremony in their reporting.

By way of comparison, a few traditional churches and individuals (for example, Elim, World Vision, and Jorge Martínez Meléndez, who was a vice-minister of interior for a while in the Cristiani administration and then tried to launch an evangelical based political party), took out a nearly full-page ad on Wednesday that noted, in part:

"It is important to recognize that the Absolute is God, and not authorize such a quality to any party, ideology or political party, and therefore we should maintain a critical attitude towards all human power."

Maybe it's the latent Southern Baptist in me (a reference to my childhood, when pluralistic thinking and tolerance were still permitted in the denomination), but I go with the thoughts of the latter.

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