Here are two articles worth reading, one from the NYT the other in this weekend's Post. I'll be back in a later post to discuss.
Update: MSNBC has an item about former Republican Senator Jack Danforth and his forthcoming book on faith and politics.
This sentence is particularly important:
"Real faith is about searching for answers, not presuming to know them, he says, and "an assumption that ... I am God's chosen messenger to deliver a certain political message is divisive." "
This is the real dividing issue I think. Does a church presume to possess the truth and the obligation of spreading that truth, or is the church mainly a vehicle for community and spiritual exploration? The former has the benefit of offering a defining sense of mission and purpose. Its downside is its inflexibility and illusion of infallibility. It also suffers from a lack of meaningful participation and feedback. The latter form of church suffers from a lack of a compelling identity or purpose. It's benefit is its openness, tolerance and potential for intellectual and spiritual growth. The latter encourages community while the former tends to encourage separation and exclusivity.