Is there a Religious Left in America?


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❝ The religious left is the Sasquatch of American politics. It leaves footprints in the snow but recent sightings of the creature itself are rare, and not always credible.

Progressive politics is dominated by secular ideals and, increasingly, secular voters. In recent decades, the words “Christian” and “evangelical” have been commandeered as synonyms for “white conservative.” Religious liberals never achieved the power of their conservative opposites…The once-explosive growth of conservative evangelicals has stalled. Yet the religious left doesn’t appear to be benefiting much.

Instead, the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated are growing. A 2016 report by the Public Religion Research Institute stated: “Today, one-quarter (25 percent) of Americans claim no formal religious identity, making this group the single largest ‘religious group’ in the U.S.”

❝ Yet if ever there were a moment for the left to seize the mantle of religion from conservatives, surely it arrives Jan. 20 at noon. Donald Trump received the votes of four in five white evangelical or born-again Christians. Hypocrisy is as old as humanity, but even hypocrisy has a gross weight limit.

Christian conservatives are now inextricably tied to an incoming president with a long, public history of exploiting the weak, and no documented history of charity, faith or Christian communion or witness. They have endorsed a First Lady whose modeling career included a pornographic photo shoot described by the Trump-friendly New York Post as “girl on girl.” Even among the plaster saints of the religious right, Trump is a heavy burden to bear.

❝ Sojourners is one of the groups seeking to rally the religious left. “Our Constitution’s protection of religious freedom empowers faith institutions to oppose state-sanctioned bigotry and violence and creates strong sanctuaries for those Jesus called the ‘least of these’ in Matthew 25,” said Lisa Sharon Harper…

A coalition of groups has launched the “Matthew 25” initiative to fight an expected barrage of federal policies targeting the most vulnerable — including the poor, immigrants and Muslims. “These people are organizing under the banner of Jesus,” Harper said.

❝ In North Carolina, the liberal “Moral Mondays” movement has been partially credited with the election in November of Democrat Roy Cooper as governor. The success of the movement — named for weekly public demonstrations against the conservative legislature and incumbent governor — is a powerful precedent. It gained momentum not only because of charismatic religious leadership, but because of unusually aggressive Republican efforts to undermine voting rights and cut funding for education and services…

❝ Trump’s regular shocks to decency, along with an expected Republican assault on funding for the poor, will outrage both secular liberals and the religious left. But will that be enough to bring the left’s religious Sasquatch out of hiding?

I have no idea. Being an old cranky geek, I’m less likely to find myself marching than blogging, nowadays.

There was a time when I could count on cellmates who were priests, partners canvassing door-to-door who were nuns, family and friends who learned childhood ethics in Protestant Yankee denominations who dedicated time and effort to the betterment of life on earth – instead of preaching faith in Wall Street dollar$ over old-timey Christian values.

I wish Sojourners well. Same to the brave folks leading the activism of Moral Monday in Confederate and other Republican states. I respect your courage and integrity. As I always have. But, I surely wish you had more friends.

One thought on “Is there a Religious Left in America?

  1. angrymanspeaks says:

    It’s been awhile but I saw this post and had to stop to make a point that I don’t often get to discuss. I will do so briefly.
    I doubt that the entire “Religious Left” is the same or feels exactly the same as I do but I consider myself just that.
    Religious but left wing politically.
    It seems to me that this category is most rightfully claimed by those who have truly succeeded in separating “Church” and “State”.
    What makes most religious people right wing is the inability to do that. They have come to believe that what they believe is not just correct for everyone but; because they are aligned with the right wing party they also believe in their right to force their beliefs on other people.
    It seems to me that a true “Religious Left” person is one who understands that his beliefs are for him and not to be forced on others.
    For example: I personally find conflict many times between what I believe my god expects of me and what the law allows me to do.
    Legally, if I were a woman, I have the legal right to chose to have an abortion.
    Religiously I would probably never agree to an abortion but my belief that abortion is wrong doesn’t allow me to make that choice for anyone else; through legal or other means.
    As a man I also recognize that even though I believe God disapproves of abortion and considers it murder and that life begins at conception, it is possible; indeed likely that I would choose abortion if the choice was over the life of my wife or companion.
    I know it’s wrong but I also know man is weak and few men could allow their wife to die rather than abort a child.
    I agree with a woman’s right to chose even though I personally believe abortion is wrong.
    Left wing religiosity is recognizing that each person must have a personal relationship with his god; make decisions based on that relationship; and pay the penalty with God, not man if he fails to live up to the expectations that he has for himself based on that relationship.
    The conditions created by the true separation of church and state are almost a perfect description or even definition of a “Religiously Left” person.
    No one who wishes to force their religious beliefs on others can even attempt to claim a belief in that separation; ergo; no “Religiously Right’ person truly believes in one of the most basic tenants of our governmental system and they make a mockery of the notion of freedom of speech, choice and religion by any such claim.
    This is one of the first and main reasons I left the Republican Party behind. The lies and misrepresentations of their own beliefs.
    “Religious Right” equates to “Authoritarian, Self-righteous, Oppressors”

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