Thursday, April 28, 2005

Faith Vision

The Moose concedes a point to the right and makes one about the left.

In the cultural war, the right has made a valid argument about the role of religion in politics - the left is hypocritical when it asserts that religion should have no role in politics. In truth, there is a long and proud progressive faith tradition.

From the abolitionist to the civil rights to the anti war movements, religion has played a vital and vibrant role in lefty politics. The Moose attended more church services when he worked for the United Farm Workers than he did when he was employed by the Christian Coalition.

There is a clear political imperative that the donkey gets in touch with his inner spiritual self. This is from Sunday's Washington Post,

"The former Vermont governor, in one of his first actions as DNC chairman, commissioned pollster Cornell Belcher to survey voters in eight states won by President Bush last November: Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico and Nevada.

"What Belcher found that worries the Democrats is that a significant percentage -- 47 percent of voters and 51 percent of white women in the eight states -- said their voting decisions are influenced as much or more by their religious faith as by traditional political issues. Not surprisingly, they went heavily for Bush over Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), with 66 percent backing the president."

"But Belcher's survey also persuaded Dean and other DNC officials that these voters may not be beyond their reach. "These so-called values or faith voters are some of the most economically anxious voters in the electorate," Belcher said. "They're tremendously cross-pressured between their pocketbook concerns and their moral values concerns."

Once progressives were not shy about expressing their faith. On the Moose's desk is a framed flyer from his boyhood hero Ralph Yarborough's 1958 campaign for the Senate in Texas. For those Mooseketeers who are not familiar with Lone Star political lore, Yarborough was perhaps the South's most progressive Senator. In any event, on that 1958 campaign flyer, Yarborough included his favorite prayer, "a prayer of Christian courage and devotion adapted from the prayer spoken daily by the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy."

Come to think of it, what would be so wrong with Democrats championing the display of the Ten Commandments in public venues? It might do Delayicans some good.

Ultimately, the fundamental question is not one of faith, but the type of faith vision. Unfortunately, too many on the left are blinded by their secularism to recognize this reality. The debate should not center on the separation of church and state, but rather a justice-based faith vision versus a power-based faith vision.

Consider the compassion and ecumenicism of the civil rights movement in contrast to the intolerance and the sectarianism of the contemporary religious right. It is no accident that many of the so-called pro-life judges endorsed by the religious right support gutting environmental and worker protection regulations of the past seventy years. Rabbi Jack Abramoff and Reverend Ralph Reed are the poster boys for the Judeo-Christian values that animate the G.O.P.

The objective role of the religious right is to provide a moral cover for the plutocrats that control the Republican Party. That is not to say, however, that the religious conservatives are without genuine and legitimate grievances.

A revived progressive religious movement should therefore not limit its concerns to the cause of economic justice. It must also address the issues related to the coarsening of the culture. In many ways progressives of faith are better positioned than the religious right to challenge economic interests that contribute to the corruption of our moral environment. The religious left however has largely surrendered this territory to the right.

The Moose prays that progressives reclaim that ground.
-- Posted at 8:24 AM | Link to this post | Email this post