You know I'm not a fan of Bill Clinton,** but this exchange made me happy. Mostly because it disproves stereotypes about Democrats/people on the left generally and because I would like to hear, say, Pat Robertson*** respond to this.
Yeltsin leaned over to him and asked, "You're a Christian, aren't you?"*Obviously, I am not trying to bash on Baptists. I love Baptists. I am Baptist. I love the principles inherent in the Baptist tradition. Sadly, I fear that the SBC has gotten away from. See, e.g., The Baptist Faith and Message, which they argue is not a creed (the Baptist tradition is deeply non-creedal; in fact, that's kind of one of it's defining features), but which SBC appointees, professors, and missionaries have to agree to in order to serve. Sounds like a creed to me.
"Yes," President Clinton answered. "My faith is the most important thing in my life."
"Well, I have to do something about all these Christians coming to Russia. They are ruining our country. Everyone is becoming a new Christian, a born-again Christian, and they are being rebaptized and putting crosses around their necks. It is ruining our country's culture."
President Clinton told me he looked at Yeltsin and said, "Democracy doesn't work that way. Either you're free or you're not. You can't have it both ways. You need to allow Christians the freedom to come into your country and preach and teach, and you have to allow the Russian people the freedom to choose their faith."
**I hate having to always harp on this, but I hate to be thought of as conservative: I'm not a fan of BC because he is too moderate tor me. Not because he was too liberal or because he got a blowjob from Monica Lewinsky. Increasingly, however, I am noticing how smart he is, even if I don't always agree with him policy-wise. He is kind of brilliant, at least politically. My point: I am liberal to radical, politically.****
***Pat Robertson is one of my favorite people. Batshit crazy, but I love him. He, however, as head of the ACLJ and CBN and the Christian Coalition constantly links his faith to his politics (which I believe is a good thing in principle!), and does it in narrow ways in which Republicans-who-do-what-he-wants-them-to = God's chosen leaders and Any-Democrat-no-matter-what-but-especially-Bill-Clinton-and-those-related-to-him = Tools of Satan.
****I feel like I am becoming more moderate. That, of course, is relative. I am considerably more liberal than most of the population and probably always will be. But since coming to grad school my politics have mellowed out. It could be driven by current events, e.g., regular ol' Democrats don't seem so bad by comparison to what we've got, and I'm thinking more pragmatically than idealistically about how to change the situation. Or it may be that I have fewer classes dealing with inequality and other politically loaded issues, so politics simply isn't is salient in my everyday life as it has been for the past four years. It's probably some combination of both.