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The Gospel According to Q

Summary:
According to Lord Acton, religious leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. Future historians should bear that advice in mind when assessing America’s religious right and its current leaders. MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton wrote in a letter to an Anglican bishop in 1887. Acton was considering how religious historians should handle past crimes committed by the church’s leaders. In his view, religious (and political) leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. When historical accounts fail to do that, they “serve the worst better than the purest.” A Big Step Forward

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According to Lord Acton, religious leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. Future historians should bear that advice in mind when assessing America’s religious right and its current leaders.

MARYLAND EASTERN SHORE – “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord Acton wrote in a letter to an Anglican bishop in 1887. Acton was considering how religious historians should handle past crimes committed by the church’s leaders. In his view, religious (and political) leaders should be held to a higher moral standard than ordinary people. When historical accounts fail to do that, they “serve the worst better than the purest.”

Future historians should bear Acton’s guidance in mind when assessing America’s religious right and its current leaders.

I know from my experience in the Soviet Union that clerics should not be exempt from moral judgment. Aleksey II, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church during my youth, was long suspected of KGB membership and happily worked hand in glove with the Soviet and then Russian state. Today, Alexey’s successor, Patriarch Kirill, has not hesitated to do the bidding of a former KGB operative, President Vladimir Putin, whether justifying Crimea’s annexation or stoking fear and loathing of homosexuals.

America, of course, keeps religion and politics constitutionally separate. But for many conservative Christians in the United States today, the First Amendment’s prohibition of any “law respecting an establishment of religion” means little. Moreover, what they hope to set up in US law is not the moral code established in the Christian Bible. According to the historian Kristin Kobes Du Mez, modern white evangelicals have remade their faith over the last 75 years, replacing the loving Jesus of the Gospels with an “idol of rugged...

Nina L. Khrushcheva
Nina L. Khrushcheva is a Professor of International Affairs and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at The New School and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. Khrushcheva received a degree from Moscow State University with a major in Russian in 1987 and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Princeton University in 1998.

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