You know that religion is way into politics when Tim Rock is prooftexting.
I am intensely interested in the intersection between religion and politics and public life. I believe that the latter must inform the former, but that the impact it will have is always mediated by individual conscience and empirical judgments. Faith will tend to identify the values to serve, but not the particular policies that will serve them.
In connection with some scholarship that I am working on, I have been dipping into theological writings on worship. Here is what a scholar named Gordon Lathrop, writing in a book called Holy Ground, has to say regarding the implications of the Christian Eucharist:
"Participants in the eucharist ought to be seen as fiercely questioning any easy cultural assumptions: that what we are is equal to what we own; that we may have all the energy we want, that what vehicle we drive is nobody's business but our own but our own; that we should have a great variety of foodstuffs and clothing, building materials and consumer goods,drawn from all over the wood at very low prices; that other people's salaries or poverty are not connected to our habits of consumption."
I actually agree with this, although I would add that Dr. Lathrop (and every one) should also fiercely question the easy (and erroneous) assumptions about economics that seem to lie behind this passage.
But holding up the underlying value of interconnectedness and regard for others is just good Christianity. (Yes, I agree that other faith traditions may do the same thing.) Just what it means in the world is for us to work out.
But, as we work it out, there should be a presumption against culture and the imposition of any one solution by the state. Look at the breadth of the Lathrop quote. Placing in the hands of the government - even a democratically chosen one - such power over life is a prescription for tyranny.
There is a difference between hearing an admonition to care for the poor and any particular anti-poverty policy or, for that matter, voting to compel your neighbor to care for the poor. Easy prooftexting is dangerous on the left as well as on the right.