Tuesday, June 14, 2005

How Not to Write an Opinion Column: the Alliance Between Roman Catholics and Evangelicals

Prof. Kenneeth A. Briggs, of Lafayette College, gives us a perfect example of how not to write an opinion piece.
Much attention is being paid to the teaming up of conservative Roman Catholics and conservative Protestant evangelicals to press for causes such as ending abortion and fighting homosexuality. Although the two groups have a history of shared morality, they have only recently begun to march together, as when they joined forces to try to keep Terri Schiavo alive.

What has divided them in the past, often at sword points, are basic beliefs, none more fiercely than their conflicting views of the pope.

Ok, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals believe different things about the pope and the nature of the church. This is the basic lever from which he will try to move everything in this column. Unfortunately, this is not new information for almost anyone.
But traditional obstacles have been set aside in the interests of building a political coalition. How long can such a truce last, given the underlying convictions on both sides? Pope Benedict XVI's imperious view of other Christians provides a clue that could strike a blow at the heart of that alliance.

Here is the contention that will continue to go unsupported in the article. The political coalition will fall apart because Pope Benedict believes evangelicals are deficient in their religion. I don't think that will be news to anyone because one would expect the pope to think like a Catholic. Call me silly.

Prof. Briggs doesn't offer much beyond wish projection.
Evangelicals and Catholics have a lot to resolve, as people who do care about theology. They can picket a stem-cell clinic together, but half cannot take Holy Communion in a Catholic church. The other half may attend Mass every day but will not be considered "born again" by fellow protesters.

Among them are those who criticized the liberal church activism 40 years ago as reducing religion to a few matters of ethics. Now, a similar social activism is growing among evangelicals and Catholics, based on ethical issues that unite them. Yet, the thinking that could lead to a closer bond at deeper levels has hardly begun.

Why does the Philadelphia Inquirer print articles which say so little? And this one was the lead article for the Sunday opinion section.

Roman Catholics and evangelicals have common moral beliefs and common goals. Wow. But they disagree on soteriology. But I'm never going to explain how that will interupt a coalition over moral values. Please put me above the fold.

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