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Red, white & blue religion books

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\ There’s Tony Campolo’s “Red Letter Christians: A Citizen’s Guide to Faith & Politics,” with an attractive design showing a church in blue hues on an American flag background. “Red Letter Christians,” a concept introduced at the National Press Club more than a year ago, refers to those who say their main guide is Jesus’ own words — outlined in red in some editions of the Bible. \ \ \ The church, say the RLC’ers, has lost its focus on Christ’s direct commands and teachings. Atop this book is an endorsement from Bill Clinton; not a surprise in that Campolo was one of three ministerial counselors called in when Clinton was in his moral and ethical free-fall 10 years ago. Remember those days?\ \ \ Not to be outdone is Jim Wallis‘ “The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America.” He has an endorsement from Jimmy Carter atop his front cover. I’ve been following Wallis since before 1976 when, as a college student, I interviewed him for The Washington Star. He had just relocated his evangelical activist group from Chicago to the District and had founded a community of Christian households, at the time a radical innovation. Sojourners, which is what Wallis renamed his group, has been a staple of the evangelical left since then in the District but only came into its own about four years ago when Democrats discovered that religious faith was important in national politics. jimwallisgreatawakening10%25.jpg\ \ \ After Sen. John Kerry’s defeat, Wallis, who was immensely sympathetic to Democratic ideals, was brought in to advise them on how to make them less tone-deaf to religion. A quick skim reveals the book is pretty much an update of an earlier book, “God’s Politics.” \ \ \ Then there’s Joel Hunter’s “A New Kind of Conservative,” again with a white background with red and blue figurines on the cover. This is more a teaching book, as Hunter is a pastor. The subject is, again, faith and politics. My goodness, we’re still in primary season and I’m already weary of this topic. The theme of this book — and to some extent the two others — is that there’s a “new” kind of evangelical Christian out there who wants to move beyond abortion and homosexuality issues to the environment, AIDS, poverty and justice. The era of the Christian Coalition is long gone, there’s a new wave coming and so on.\ \ \ Maybe I am just out of touch, but the kind of folks I bump into at church and other religious gatherings aren’t spending a lot of time worrying about any of these topics. I can’t say I spend a lot of time discussing the immorality of U.S. policy on torture with anyone I know, mainly because none of my friends or neighbors really care about the matter. Or the war in Iraq, for that matter. Of course they should, but they don’t. joelhunter.jpg\ \ \ The only people I see protesting in front of the local abortion clinic is a handful from a nearby Catholic parish, although I will say several friends of mine take part in the annual March for Life on Jan. 22. But that’s it. \ \ \ So, who is reading these red, white and blue books? Kids on college campuses? \ It turns out the most interesting book in the pile has a blue and black color scheme: Amy Sullivan’s “The Faithful Party: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap.” She’s got the juicy behind-the-scenes gossip on how the Dems have made every mistake in the book as to appealing to people of faith plus she’s the best writer of the four. And what’s on her cover?\ \ \ A donkey.\
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\ \ Julia Duin, assistant national editor/religion, The Washington Times\

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