Monday, July 31, 2006

Religious Left organizes for Political Influence

Read the whole thing.

At a church in Washington, hundreds of committed Christians met recently and tried to map out a strategy to get their values into the political debate.

But these are not the conservative Christian values which have been so influential lately. This is the religious left.

"Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that's really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go," Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

The National Council of Churches represents about 50 million Christians in America — the majority of them mainline Protestants.

"Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion," Edgar said. He calls this movement the "center-left" — and it's seeking the same political muscle as the conservative Christians, a group with a strong power base in the huge Evangelical churches of the South.

I've said before that the church has a responsibility to be political, and that's true. The goals of this group of religious leftists even make sense to me, as far as they are an expression of Christian goals for a just society. Where I disagree is in the silence, the "Jesus never said one word about. . . " bit. But that's a theological difference, and to be expected.

No, what's most troubling to me about this is the assumption of a view of history that says the left ran things from the beginning of time until the 70's (as is only proper), when the rabid, zombie-like conservatives revolted and turned the world upside down (there's a new twist to 'blame it on the 60's'). Now leftists must unite to remind the upstarts of the proper order of things. Ok, I'm reading a little into it here, but you get the idea. The point is that the religio-political landscape in America has been constantly changing as long as there have been people on the continent. That kind of over-simplified view of our history is what produces fear in the left, be it religious or political or both; and fear, in my experience, is a major motivator of leftists both in America and in TEC. Leftists are generally quite afraid of what would happen if rightists controlled things.

This oversimplified history is not helpful. It only fuels fear, whereas "perfect love driveth out all fear." If we could all realize that today's religio-political situation is just a blip on the radar screen of history, that will pass, will change, will ultimately be wiped away in the glorious reign of Christ, perhaps our fear would be undercut, and we could love each other better. Conservatives with their 'literalist' eschatologies may be better prepared to do that, I think, than someone who doesn't believe in Christ's second coming as an actual event culminating human history.

2 comments:

J-Tron said...

and fear, in my experience, is a major motivator of leftists both in America and in TEC.

It's funny that you say that, because this has consistently been my experience of the far right in both the Church and in the secular political world.

If we could all realize that today's religio-political situation is just a blip on the radar screen of history, that will pass, will change, will ultimately be wiped away in the glorious reign of Christ, perhaps our fear would be undercut, and we could love each other better.

Amen to that.

Mike the Geek said...

The religious right tends to fracture along rather picayune lines of doctrine, but is generally capable of coming together on the big "mere christianity" issues. Though most commonly associated with US Republicanism, they are also capable of reading the riot act to both political parties.

I will be surprised if the "religious left" (so-called quotes, not scare quotes)can ever fashion a coherent political movement. The underlying philosophy of the religious left is that reality is what one chooses it to be. Such a worldview has no foundational basis for unity, since it has no shared belief beyond "whatever." Groups of people can come together and make pronouncements, but they constitute nothing more than secular liberals (in the USA, the Left Wing of the Democratic Party) with their collars on backwards.