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18 May 2005

Widespread evangelical dissent from the Bush agenda

President Bush will speak at the commencement of Calvin College this weekend.  Apparently, about one third of the faculty are unhappy (requires a subscription unfortunately, but this “temporary URL” will get you there until Monday):

More than 100 professors at Calvin College, in Michigan, have signed a
letter criticizing the policies of President Bush, who is scheduled to
speak at the evangelical Christian institution’s spring commencement on

The letter, which will be published as an advertisement in The Grand Rapids Press
on Saturday, says that the professors “see conflicts between our
understanding of what Christians are called to do and many of the
policies of your administration.” It calls the war in Iraq “unjust and
unjustified” and argues that President Bush’s policies “favor the
wealthy of our society and burden the poor.”

Among those who conceived and circulated the letter was David Crump, a
professor of religion at Calvin. “We wanted to object to some specific
policies but also to object to the way that the language of orthodox
evangelical Christianity has been hijacked by the religious right and
its close association with this administration,” he said.

An Open Letter to the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush

On May 21, 2005, you will give the commencement address at Calvin
College. We, the undersigned, respect your office, and we join the
college in welcoming you to our campus. Like you, we recognize the
importance of religious commitment in American political life. We seek
open and honest dialogue about the Christian faith and how it is best
expressed in the political sphere. While recognizing God as sovereign
over individuals and institutions alike, we understand that no single
political position should be identified with God’s will, and we are
conscious that this applies to our own views as well as those of
others. At the same time we see conflicts between our understanding of
what Christians are called to do and many of the policies of your

As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and to initiate
war only as a last resort. We believe your administration has launched
an unjust and unjustified war in Iraq.

As Christians we are called to lift up the hungry and
impoverished. We believe your administration has taken actions that
favor the wealthy of our society and burden the poor.

As Christians we are called to actions characterized by love,
gentleness, and concern for the most vulnerable among us. We believe
your administration has fostered intolerance and divisiveness and has
often failed to listen to those with whom it disagrees.

As Christians we are called to be caretakers of God’s good
creation. We believe your environmental policies have harmed creation
and have not promoted long-term stewardship of our natural environment.

Our passion for these matters arises out of the Christian faith
that we share with you. We ask you, Mr. President, to re-examine your
policies in light of our God-given duty to pursue justice with mercy,
and we pray for wisdom for you and all world leaders.

Concerned faculty, staff, and emeriti of Calvin College

Calvin is no hot-bed of liberalism.  (I’d guess that 90 percent
of these people voted for the president.)  I went to secondary
with a number of kids who went on to Calvin in some form or another,
and about half of my teachers were graduates; it’s a college associated
with the conservative Christian Reformed Church in America
and from what I know, you must sign a profession of faith to teach
there.  The CRC members are Dutch Calvinists and their
descendants, and in my experience, it can be a fairly strict
denomination that prefers its change slow or not at all.  So the
fact that a bunch of CRC intellectuals (Calvin doesn’t slide too much
on that factor either) dissent so openly is perhaps a canary in the

Posted in Politicks on 18 May 2005 at 2:01 pm by Nate