Time to put down the prophet’s mantle?

On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Mark Silk suggests that it is time for religious leaders to put down the mantle of prophets. He writes:

But with King as prophet-leader, the March on Washington established a new and exciting role for religion in postwar America — one that in due course seized the imaginations of even those who most bitterly opposed it. For after spending much of the civil rights era attacking activist clergy for destroying “the spirituality of the church,” conservative pastors led by Jerry Falwell decided to take up the prophetic role from the other side, and the religious right was born. For over a generation, the public face of religion has been subsumed in culture wars.

As Ecclesiastes teaches, there is a time for everything, and we may finally have reached a time for the prophetic voice to quiet down. If the young papacy of Francis has shown anything, it is that this does not mean that religion has to abandon a public role. It does mean that what we now may need from religious leaders is teaching by humble example as well as by word, gentle persuasion and understanding of human weakness, and a dialing back of millenialist dreams.

Fifty years after the March on Washington, it’s time.

What do you think about this argument?

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