A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Karl Rove did it. He was able to coble together a slight majority in this country by appeals to the base and in this particular election one of the most important components of that base was the evangelical protestant community. I don't have any criticism of Kerry and the moblization of the left in this country was the most impressive I've ever seen. That's probably why I had some level of optimism going into this election. But the problem is that evangelical protestants are so large a voting block that surmounting it in a national election is going to be an a daunting task for democrats in many states.

An example was in Ohio, whose anti-gay marriage amendment won by a lopsided margin. According to NBC news 25% of Ohio voters were evangelicals, the top issue in this and other midwest states was "moral values". Even though these regions, including Ohio had been economically devastated, the "values" issues put Bush over the top in Ohio and I'm assuming these dynamics were at work in places like Missouri and West Virginia. Using the anti-gay issue in a number of states was a calculation that paid dividends for the Bush campaign and that's a sad statement of where we are at this time in our country's history.

As Max Blumenthal noted: the focus needs to be in addressing the rise of the evangelical right. The need he says is "to strengthen coalitions with mainline Catholic and Protestant churches as well as liberal faith-based groups." I agree but this needs to be a long term process and sometimes odd issues like the fight over the mainline has political ramifications that I don't think most in the Democratic Party is aware of. So new thinking is needed. In finding ways to strengthen a liberal religious voice. And there must be a way to expand our moral language so that the war, poverty, and other issues are seen as moral ones.

Blumenthall continues "And the religious Left, if there is one, must work to build a political apparatus to match the muscle of their adversaries" Of course one of the problems which GetReligion has noted, is that we don't have the numbers. Or the resources. I was impressed by the moblization and the hard work of the religious left in this election cycle but we can't at this moment deliver the votes. Or even shape the debate in a substantive way. That needs to change. I think the decline in the mainline denominations has made this job much harder. Some look to picking off evangelical voters, but I think this election will show that they were overwhelmingly behind Bush.

I think that if we look to Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and other voters you'll see support for Kerry. A religious left needs to find a way to network, work with, incorporate a number of religious communities that are on the outs in Bush's America. The religious left organizationally is a movement of primarily mainline christian folks on the left. But I don't think that's going to be enough if there's going to be a different religious voice which affects the public discussion. This sort of work is a long term project, not something which pays off immediately in this next election.But we need to be thinking with an eye to the long term.


At 5:39 AM , Blogger Marcus said...

The religious masses do not have a problem with diversity of opinion in the pews, and so have no special problem with theological liberalism. Most of them also have no problem with women clergy, much less with married clergy.

They have a problem with moral liberalism and, within that, they have an all but insuperable problem with abortion. Drop that and the alienation of the masses will begin to heal. And a good many of them will choose to reject doctrinal and institutional homophobia to met liberals half way, too.

A lesson religious liberals, like political liberals, generally refuse to learn. So commited are they to a Mom's right to kill the baby within her.

At 4:44 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


The problem is the gospel is being perverted.

Read the Gospel. Jesus was concerned about fairness, a stress free life, the poor, the sinner, the underdog. The high and mighty people of his day were the ones who killed him.

Jesus was involved in one election- and he lost it in a landslide to Barabas- the people aren't always right.

Progressives need to either return to churches and take them over or start our own.

At 9:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The religious right's obsession with abortion is a basic public relations problem. Of course it is because they use it to narrow the focus of the "moral" issue to one of - you're for us or against us.

I believe in the teachings of Jesus that as you just noted are much more inclussive.

But as to the abortion issue, I strongly believe the wider view needs to be considered. When I was a young man, my Dad pulled me aside to say that the most important commitment in life is to raise any children you choose to bring into this world with love. My question to "do or die" pro-lifers is: if you are so opposed to a woman's freedom to consider the lifetime of her child's happiness - are you offering to adopt the child?

At 2:11 AM , Blogger urbanist.typepad.com said...

Part of the strength of the religious right is that there are many large Protestant sects that are almost entirely committed to it. Within these sects, ordinary believers inhale Republican politics as a normal, unquestioned aspect of their community of faith.

There's no corresponding large denomination on the left within Christianity. Most liberal Christians belong to denominations that are themselves divided on these values-in-politics issues. The Anglican near-schism over Bishop Robinson is the most well-known recently, but don't most mainline denominations have divisive battles over gay rights, and similar issues, every few years? Even Catholicism, whose doctrine on these matters is clear, is divided on the extent to which doctrine should influence your vote.

Is the lack of large, distinctively leftward denominations a problem? If so, what's the solution? Would a full Anglican schism actually liberate the left, by creating one such institution?

Cheers, Jarrett (http://urbanist.typepad.com)

At 9:23 AM , Blogger Kate Flaherty said...

I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?


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