Special section on the discussion among bloggers about the role of faith in progressive public life.
Although the discussion existed before, due to the controversy over the language and politicization of former Edwards’ bloggers, the debate about the role of faith in progressive politics flared up this week.
Last week, kos wrote a long piece on religion, values and politics essentially pointing out that the best candidates and progressive policies come from values, both from the bible and from life experiences independent from faith. But that “talking about faith” hurts the cause.
How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith — and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do).
So Mr. Wallis, let’s make our own deal. How about if you realize that there are other people in the religious grassroots working carefully and productively to make common cause with secular progressives.
There are few people anywhere in our mainstream discourse who are anything close to being anti-religion, and I’m not aware of any of them having prominent ties to the Democratic party or any prominent organization associated with The Left, let alone speaking for them. . .As I said before I don’t really care if progressive or any other beliefs come from faith, but who has denied that they can?
Mik Moore of JSpot, notes the Jewish angle: “jspot is a progressive faith blog and thus part of the somewhat amorphous ‘religious left,’ (as is JFSJ). And the liberal Jewish community has always struggled with tensions between our observant, non-observant, secular, and anti-religious constituencies. My hope is that the lessons liberal Jews have learned and continue to learn can be instructive to the larger conservation [sic] surrounding Wallis’ post.”
Faithful Democrats‘ Jesse Lava wonders what the secular left even is. But he sticks up for Wallis, stating: I’m a fan of Jim Wallis. He has done an awful lot to draw attention in this country to a progressive Christian vision. Many Americans know the message of Matthew 25 (and the like) because of him. But Lava adds:
As these secular-religious discussions progress, I hope we can eventually come to a point where we don’t have to keep talking about our attitude toward each other — like one of those relationships where all you talk about is the relationship itself. Soon, I hope, we’ll understand each other and march on.
Noting that “Wallis, Street Prophets, Kos and Atrios are All My Brothers” Faithful Progressive weighs in on Mr. God’s Politics himself:
Yes, Wallis sometimes seems to attack straw men, he’s a little wobbily on keeping abortion non-criminal, and he seems on occasion to randomly lash out at Kos or the secular left for reasons known only to him. But this has to be put in the context of 30 years of work organizing on behalf of the poor. To me, that balance is overwhelmingly positive.
But you walk away from discussions about religion on blogs like Daily Kos with the strong feeling that the secular left is happy to tolerate religious people as long as we use DNC talking points in place of the Beatitudes. We’re a tool to them (Wallis became the ultimate tool himself when he gave the Democratic response to a recent weekly radio address by the president). When the Christian faith simply becomes a tool for one or another of the political parties we fail in our primary obligation as disciples: to make other disciples so that we build up in the Kingdom.
Hat-tip to Erik Kleefeld over at TPMCafe for this clip of Gov. Romney and a faith-based heckler at a recent event. Romney’s Mormonism is already generating pages of press coverage. I don’t have a good sense yet of how influential folks like the heckler are. Sure the crowd turns against the heckler (and Romney handles it all gracefully), but when citizens step into the booth to vote in primaries, will these doubts come back into play? Also worth noting that Mitt’s response is that ‘we need a person of faith to lead the country.’ Paging President Eisenhower…
“In spring 2006, OCCV officially registered as a non-profit in the state of Oregon. We have since been faithfully working to engage local Christians in both action and dialogue around important issues in their communities. OCCV played an active role in promoting Christian support for the Payday Reform bill that recently passed the Oregon legislature, calling for an end to predatory lending practices that are morally unjust. We have also formed partnerships with a number of local organizations who are working to help broaden Christian moral leadership in public life, to include issues like caring for creation, supporting economic fairness, and working for the common good.”
OCCV has two community organizers who work with local religious leaders to train congregations on witnessing activities like the recent Interfaith Advocacy Days. They are especially interested in broadening the moral values debate to include issues such as:
* Economic Fairness
* Health Care
* Creation Care
* Human Rights
* Global Justice
* Arts and Culture
Coming up “on April 14, 2007 the Oregon Center for Christian Values and Oak Hills Christian Reformed Church are presenting a summit on faith and the environment. A key purpose of this event is to restore Christian leadership in caring for God’s creation by reframing Earth Day as a Christian event called ‘Creation Day,’ to be celebrated on Sunday, April 22.”
They note that “this is a day for Christians to meditate on our call to environmental stewardship, yet it is also an opportunity for us to uplift God as Creator through our example.”
Faithful Democrats and Atrios links to Faith in Public Life’s post noting the declining support for the Iraq war even among Bush’s traditionally most loyal base, those who attend church weekly. Atrios‘ is puzzled “why some religious people seem to get upset by more outspoken atheists.”
Noting a recently up tick in bloggers discussion religion at Street Prophets, Pastor Dan notes a problem, yes, “they’re talking about the religious left, rather than, you know, talking to the religious left.”
Commenting on Atrios, Xpatriated Texan is havin’ none of it and in light of the Edwards blogger critique: “Isn’t it possible that there’s something in between 100% pro-life and 100% pro-choice?” Adventus weighs in as well and finds both sides wanting.
“If a candidate sincerely gets his or her values from religion, then that’s fine. The Bible is a wonderfully liberal text. And when it’s sincere it doesn’t come across so grating, so imposing. Compare Obama’s talking about religion to Bush’s “favorite philosopher” b.s.
But religious values are no more superior than the values I learned from my abuelita (and most Latinos will get a good sense of what my value system looks like just by referencing the word “abuelita”). They are no more superior than the values Tester learned on the farm from his farmer father and grandfather. Or the values that Webb learned while proudly wearing his uniform. Or the values someone might learn by contemplating the great philosophers. Or whatever.
Values are important, and Democrats must be comfortable talking about them. Voters will respond to those better than any laundry list of issues.
But that doesn’t equal “talking about religion”. We have Democrats who proved their ability to win in tough districts based on values-heavy campaigns. So stop looking at Ford’s losing campaign as a model for the future.”
In the Street Prophets diaries section, M. Scott Lee has a two parter on why secular politics must take religion seriously: one and two.
Over at DailyKos, Frederick Clarkson posts on John McCain’s personal Christian nationalist.
On the Iraq debate, the Rev. Chuck Currie shares his wish: “ideal resolution would have involved sending the president and vice-president to Iraq where they could take personal charge of the chaotic situation they themselves created. But we rarely live in the ideal world.” Amazing Grace Sunday is comin’ up, and his church will be participatin’ in remembering the abolition work and the 27 million slaves around the world these days.
JSpot notes the growing cooperation between Jews and Sen. Obama’s campaign.
Jesse takes on Tim Russert’s repetition of the meme that Republicans talk about religion best.
Jim Wallis is excited that Christian Churches Together finally has happened and that they are talking about poverty.