Thursday, November 4
Be Careful What You Wish For...
As my friend Jurgen said yesterday, the post-mortems are coming in fast and furious. Coming from the Bible Belt, where Bush carried over 60% of the vote, I'm amused by the "values" analysis of so many pundits. As if somehow the Democrats could nominate a "real" Christian, that would win back the White House.
From my perspective sitting here in Alabama, it's all about people liking people like themselves. George Bush is simple minded, simple speaking, and claims a simple faith. Most of all, he paints the world in very simple good and evil terms. Lots of people in Alabama look just like him.
When I moved from the Boston area to Birmingham, Alabama, I had really no conception of how pervasive a certain brand of Christianity is here. The South is another country, make no mistake. When you cash a check at the bank and need to know the date, no problem, the teller may have a "Bible verse of the day" calendar facing outward at her desk. Yellow pages advertisements for everything from plumbers to psychologists will have the Christian fish symbol and a Bible reference in the corner. If you call the weather service provided by a local TV affiliate the meteorologist ends his forecast with "God bless." A great many Alabamians are dead serious about setting their candle on a candlestick.
And because accepting Christ as your personal savior is such a wonderful thing, there is really no problem or violation in presenting you, the non-saved, with this option on a daily, hourly, basis. They truly believe they are doing you a kindness, indeed, that they are loving you by offering you Jesus.
You can't fight love. But you can offer an alternative, a sense of fairness. The Alabamians I've talked to about this respond positively when the alternative is phrased as everyone has a right to their "own relationship with God." And if you don't want a relationship with God, thank you very much, you can at least be grateful that the proslytizer's motives are loving.
Where does this leave the Democrats? They've got to be more loving, I'm afraid. I've linked to sojo.net more than once now, but here it is again. We Christian Democrats have got to let our light shine. And we've got to start understanding rather than condemning the role religion plays in public life.
I also observe that absolutely nothing motivates the Alabama Christian like the abortion issue. Christians will get out the vote over gay marriage and other values, but they get out their checkbooks to save babies. Which gets me to "be careful what you wish for." If this President nominates Supreme Court justices who somehow tinker with Roe v. Wade, success will be the religious right's worst enemy. Groups who focus on pro-life (and pro-choice, for that matter) make SO MUCH MONEY off this issue, that they have a vested interest in keeping this issue in limbo for ever and ever.
The GOP website should have a new banner, by the way. "Thanks for your support. Whatever happens now, it's our fault." Be careful what you wish for.
Jill R., you were an inspiration for a lot of this post. Thank you.
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