Monday, July 24, 2006

What's the Matter With Kansas? Flaming, anti-religious rhetoric is part of it.

I have been out of town a lot lately. Since I likely won’t be able to go home for Thanksgiving, we have been taking time to get some family visits out of the way this summer. We went to see my grandfather in Selmer, my mother and grandmother in Cosby, and my wife’s massive extended family in Rose Creek. Some of the conversations there turned to politics. Most of our family has lived in the rural South for generations. They are mostly hard-working, religious, and of modest means. They’re the people who used to be the backbone of the Democratic Party. In recent decades, they have become the backbone of the Republican Party. A lot of my liberal friends are of the opinion that we’re better off without the “redneck vote.” They dismiss such voters as rather bigoted and uneducated people who will vote for whoever their pastors tell them to. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When the talk turned to politics, over and over again they expressed dismay at the cost of the war. We have many relatives over there in Iraq and Afghanistan. They think the war was a wrong-headed mistake caused by an incompetent administration. They think that Bush is only concerned with enriching the large corporations and could care less about regular people. They think global warming is real and is a threat to society. They think tax-cut-and-spend is the worst fiscal policy imaginable.

Some of them still vote Republican. More will not next time. But they will do it holding their nose. They will have to hold their nose, because they feel that the Democratic Party does not respect them. It may well be a small number, but a loud segment of the left is as evangelical about being anti-religion, as a fundamentalist is about his own. I have had God only knows how many conversations where I listened to an otherwise tolerant liberal lambaste organized religion as a fool’s crutch and merely another method of oppression. Would you vote for a party that you feared did not respect you?

I am not asking you to be religious, or to hide the fact that you’re not. I have no problem with whatever religion or lack thereof you have. What I have a problem with is attacking those of us who are. Religion is NOT the enemy. Martin Luther King Jr. was religious. Mahatmas Gandhi was religious. The abolitionists were religious. Throughout this country’s history (and in much of the world as well) it has often been religious leaders who have led the progressive movements into mainstream acceptance and real social change. We still have many real progressive leaders who are religious such as Jimmy Carter and Jim Wallis. We still have progressive churches all across the country who refuse to let their religion be hijacked by one political ideology or another. We do not need to fight these people. We also do not need to fight moderate Christians, those who are deeply troubled by issues such as gay marriage and abortion, but are also deeply troubled by war, poverty, and AIDS. Such people cannot be won over by calling the “Christo-fascists” as one local blogger who I otherwise deeply respect did recently.

The bible (or you can replace bible with most holy books) is not an inherently conservative book. In the New Testament, Jesus calls for sweeping social change. He railed against prejudice, inequality, hypocrisy, poverty, disease, etc. He calls for love above all else. These are Christian values. These are progressive values. And it is high time that some liberals stopped thinking of themselves as superior to those who are religious. Disagreement is fine. Disdain is not.

4 Comments:

Blogger LeftWingCracker said...

Sorry, dear brother, but I can't go there with you just yet. The moderate, reasonable Christians have almost been as silent as the moderate, reasonable Muslims with regard to the despicable behavior of their fundamentalist brethren.

Perhaps they have been afraid of losing members to the fire-breathers, I don't know. What they fail to realize, this is WAR, and the moderates are just as likely to be thrown into the dungeons as the non-believers. Perhaps they are even more hated by the fundies, because they believe, but not strongly enough.

Monday, July 24, 2006 1:37:00 PM  
Blogger David Holt said...

I'm not sure I entirely agree that moderate Christians have been mute. Many have, but not all. My point wasn't that they have done enough. They haven't! My point is that, the left isn't innocent in driving them away.

Monday, July 24, 2006 2:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

It may well be a small number, but a loud segment of the left is as evangelical about being anti-religion, as a fundamentalist is about his own.

Um...can we have some names, please? Some specific examples? I'mn tired of hearing this story from Amy Sullivan and Obama and others without clear evidence that important names - not lunatic fringe - are dissing religion.

Monday, July 24, 2006 4:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

It may well be a small number, but a loud segment of the left is as evangelical about being anti-religion, as a fundamentalist is about his own.

Um...can we have some names, please? Some specific examples? I'mn tired of hearing this story from Amy Sullivan and Obama and others without clear evidence that important names - not lunatic fringe - are dissing religion.

Monday, July 24, 2006 4:10:00 PM  

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