Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Maine's "Divisive Institution"

Note:  Following is the October 16, 2010 Bangor Daily News editorial about the ministry I worked for, and led, up until last year.  After the editorial I've published a letter to the editor penned by a staff member at the Illinois Family Institute and submitted to the Bangor Daily News.

The Christian Civic League of Maine has been one of the more divisive institutions in state policy debates over the last 20 years. The league - which has re-branded itself the Maine Family Policy Council - has seen its role as drawing the line between right and wrong, between moral and immoral, between traditional and permissive. Drawing that line, by definition, divides people. And people on opposite sides of a line are more inclined to shout at each other than they are if gathered around a table.

The organization has done more than change its name. Its new executive director, Carroll Conley, who succeeded the controversial Michael Heath, wants the league to be less focused on attaching scarlet letters to some and more interested in sustaining Christians as they engage with civic life. That's a laudable goal, though not without its pitfalls.

There is an inherent conflict for faith-based groups that want to influence public policy. They believe the world would be a better place if more people lived the way Christians are called to live. That's a persuasive argument. But at the same time, the New Testament does not record instances of the early Christian church seeking to impose its precepts on the secular world.The league could be a beacon for those seeking a better way to live, both publicly and privately. It also could define its mission more in terms of what it favors, rather than what it opposes.