Comments reveal my first troll. Don't miss it.
The "Christian Left" is getting more publicity these days.
I'm a Christian. I'm a leftie. But more and more I see that the separation of Church and State has to apply to my own heart, as well. I absolutely had to laugh at the fact that 1200 delegates to the "Network of Spiritual Progressives" conference had difficulty coming up with a cohesive and united policy statement. Liberal Baptist minister (and there are plenty, believe it or not) Tony Campolo complained, "The thing about the left is that they want everybody to feel good." So those delegates who have a "problem" with Biblical text but not "spirituality" clashed, albeit gently, with their more churchy brethren.
The Democrats have been issuing bland unifying meaningless platforms my whole life. The idea that a group of progressives could not make a statement about honesty in government, respect for the environment, an end to this horribly unjust war, and a commitment to help the poor, without getting uppity about whether or if "God" or "The Bible" is part of the equation, is just silly.
The righteous blog Uncommon Sense summarizes the Christian Left perspective rather nicely in this post:
I suspect that Jesus is getting a bit tired of hearing that the only things he cares about are stopping abortion and keeping the gays down. If he cared all that much about either one, I suspect he would have mentioned them at some point. He didn't. He did have quite a lot to say about demonstrating compassion for the poor. I haven't heard Bros. Falwell, Robertson, Perkins or Dobson say much about that lately. Or, ever.
The religious left's failure to come up with some practical solutions and instead to dwell in the land of feel-good 'spiritual' masturbation is completely embarrassing, but probably just as well. We really don't need to get an endorsement from Jesus in order to do the right thing, and more importantly, as Gary Wills and Andrew Sullivan [both subscription, dammit] have recently pointed out, if we really believe what Jesus supposedly says in Scripture, we are terribly unlikely to get one. Blue Gal is not the only Christian who thinks, as Sullivan points out, "that Christianity should not get too close to the corrupting allure of government power." Render unto Caesar, and all that shit.
We can't become the left-wing equivalent of this guy, and why would we want to?
The biggest sin of the religious right is their theologically incorrect insistence that God is on their side. God forbid the left should begin to make the same mistake. And don't get me started on the whole "the founding fathers wanted America to be a Christian nation." That is not only theologically incorrect, it is historically incorrect. Not mincing words, it's bullshit. [See a great write-up on this here.]
And intelligent design is neither. Look, I "created" my children with Mr. Blue Gal, and yet they're still evolving every other minute. Stop limiting God's creation to what happened a gobzillion years ago and get over it.
On the topic of faith and democracy, I love what Hendrik Hertzberg said over at the New Yorker, commenting on that letter to Bush from Iran's leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (emphasis mine):
Much of Ahmadinejad's letter is devoted to religious hectoring, culminating in an appeal to Bush's faith. The Iranian President writes that he has "been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth." One can imagine an American President responding that he believes in the rule of the people, righteous and unrighteous alike, exercised through democratic institutions. It's a little harder to imagine that response from this particular American President. But one can dream.
The good news: Last I heard Roy Moore, Alabama's Ten Commandments candidate for governor, is down 44 points. Baptists down here finally see through him, and they don't appreciate being used. I think we'll all be surprised at the CHRISTIAN backlash, particularly the Abramoff/Christian Coalition/casino money/Republican lovefest. There are some rather pissed off Christians in this state (bless their hearts.)
Now, if both sides could just see a little more gray rather than black and white on the abortion thing...but more on that in another post. I'm sorry, you devoted pro-choice, anti-Christian lefties, if you want the White House, we have to at least take Tennessee. You're not gonna do that by spitting on the Bible and arguing for abortion on demand for minors. We can and we must separate Church and State. That does not mean people of faith can't vote that faith if they choose, and that we should not solicit their support and contribution of their religious views to the discussion.
Some of us may just have to hold our noses and love Jesus, or at least find a way to court his followers.
Other excellent, non-subscription resources (Thanks, Mike):
Michelle Goldberg on Christian Nationalism
Goldberg's book is also the current read at the TPM Cafe book club.
Tristero on Christianism, Islamism, etc.
Side note: They've always been on the tip of my tongue (in cheek), but now they're back on the blog: Conservatives for American Values is back, thank the Lord! (In the wonderful world of CFAV, I'm not supposed to thank God but let a man do it for me, you know, because of Eve.)