CNN's Theology Forum

Posted: Apr 14, 2008 12:04 PM
Obviously, it's refreshing to see religion treated seriously in public life, and so I've hesitated to criticize CNN for its "Compassion Forum" -- which was really a theology forum.

But I'm going to do it anyway.  Some of the questions about policies informed by religious beliefs -- things like abortion and suicide questions -- struck me as entirely fair.  These issues need to be addressed and voters deserve to know where their politicians stand.

But other questions went over the line, in my view, and began probing candidates' theologies -- "do you believe the world was created in six days?" is a prime example.

For reasons I laid out here during the Romney and Huckabee campaigns, I think there is a real danger when political discourse moves into the realm of theology (as opposed to religion generally).  As I noted at the time, "there’s a risk that such religious inquiries will begin to unravel an unspoken consensus that has served the United States well: Namely, that the profession of specific sectarian religious beliefs won’t become an explicit, though unofficial, qualification for holding high office."

Again, it's nice to see religion treated as something more than an ugly stepchild hidden away in the attic.  But it strikes me that we walk down the road of probing candidates' theologies only at great risk.