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...the emancipation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from bigotry disguised as religious truth ...
June 28, 2006 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Faith In America asks a simple question: Is using religious teachings to deny equal rights to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people any less wrong than using religious teaching to discriminate against people of color, against equality for women or against people of different cultures wanting to marry? (check their ad campaign too--some great ones) Meanwhile, clueless elected officials like Barack Obama continue to buy into the GOP lies that all people with faith are conservatives/Republicans, and that Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs.
posted by amberglow (116 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
> that Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs.

Where on earth did he pick that up? Been reading mefi, has he?
posted by jfuller at 3:47 PM on June 28, 2006


In the article you link to, isn't Obama saying that Democrats shouldn't buy into the lie that all people of faith are Republicans?
posted by washburn at 3:49 PM on June 28, 2006


more here at Correntewire (and the full text of his speech is in the comments there--unfortunately, it bounces wildly between protecting rights and validating other's beliefs even when it jeopardizes those very rights--and it presumes that the Republicans are right)
posted by amberglow at 3:50 PM on June 28, 2006


Fortunately, we have James Dobson offering the view that religious bigotry is a-ok in a commentary linked from the front of CNN right now or my mind might have opened up for a second.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:51 PM on June 28, 2006


On a related note, seeing this on CNN and the comments therein made me really angry today.

On preview. Dammit Joey.
posted by drpynchon at 3:53 PM on June 28, 2006


In the article you link to, isn't Obama saying that Democrats shouldn't buy into the lie that all people of faith are Republicans?

This: Sen. Barack Obama chastised fellow Democrats on Wednesday for failing to "acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people," and said the party must compete for the support of evangelicals and other churchgoing Americans.

and this: Obama said millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews have traveled similar religious paths, and that is why "we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. ... In other words, if we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons will continue to hold sway."

Obama coupled his advice with a warning. "Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith:


and this: "I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy."

are not saying that Democrats shouldn't buy into the lie--they're affirming that lie, in the face of evidence all over the place proving otherwise--in words and deeds. And why doesn't Obama just do what he says Democrats should do, instead of just talking about how Democrats aren't doing something?
posted by amberglow at 3:55 PM on June 28, 2006


Obama says:

“Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me,” he said of his walk down the aisle of the Trinity United Church of Christ. “I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.”

Stepping back from this kind of comment a little bit, do we really want someone who hears voices--even pseudo-metaphorical voices-- to be involved in fundamental policy decisions for our country? Do we really want leaders who spout metaphysical bullshit as a smokescreen for political positions that have little to do (for us or for them) with religion? Obama is just like the rest of the members of the the two ruling parties--It seems so obvious to me that religion is a facade, a decoy away from the machinations of power. It allows the rationalization of decisions that have nothing to do with religion. It's all a lie.
posted by Dogmilk at 3:56 PM on June 28, 2006


It's about time people of faith who are not fundamentalists speak out. It was faith which helped end slavery. I would like to hear those voices louder.

nice post
posted by caddis at 3:58 PM on June 28, 2006


what? amberglow, I gotta chime in here and say it's unfair that you are claiming Obama is perpetuating a lie by the simple fact he's saying something should be done.

And why doesn't Obama just do what he says Democrats should do, instead of just talking about how Democrats aren't doing something?

You can't do anything in Washington without consensus, so he has to start by rallying the troops to back anything he does. He's also trying to be a good leader here and refute the GOP lie. I think he's part of the solution, not part of the problem as you've presented him here.
posted by mathowie at 3:59 PM on June 28, 2006


Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs

Well, I know that's just not true -- I know plenty of churched folks back home who voted Kerry. An awful lot of MeFites, on the other hand, seem full of scorn and ridicule toward religious beliefs -- but considering how those beliefs get twisted and co-opted, it's little wonder.
posted by pax digita at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2006


Rallying the troops by insulting and chastizing them as being insufficiently nice/respectful/appeasing to values and religious voters? That's not how you do it--inside Congress or out.
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on June 28, 2006


I don't get the same sense of Obama that you do, amberglow. From a speech he gave today:
Conservative leaders, from Falwell and Robertson to Karl Rove and Ralph Reed, have been all too happy to exploit this gap, consistently reminding evangelical Christians that Democrats disrespect their values and dislike their Church, while suggesting to the rest of the country that religious Americans care only about issues like abortion and gay marriage; school prayer and intelligent design.

Democrats, for the most part, have taken the bait. At best, we may try to avoid the conversation about religious values altogether, fearful of offending anyone and claiming that – regardless of our personal beliefs – constitutional principles tie our hands. At worst, some liberals dismiss religion in the public square as inherently irrational or intolerant, insisting on a caricature of religious Americans that paints them as fanatical, or thinking that the very word “Christian” describes one’s political opponents, not people of faith.
[...]

In other words, if we don’t reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, Jerry Falwell’s and Pat Robertson’s will continue to hold sway.
I emphasize here because I think Obama's bringing a realist's perspective to the issue. Evangelist Christians do hold many traditionally Democratic values, but they've been conditioned to believe that a single wedge issue (abortion) composes the sum of the debate. If Obama (and other compassionate Christian Democrats) can remind these voters that there exists a wider spectrum of issues, then perhaps these "GOP lies" can finally be banished permanently.
posted by boo_radley at 4:05 PM on June 28, 2006


I'm not hostile toward people who are religious.

I'm disdainful of people who can't or won't think for themselves.

But I'm not a Democrat either, so what do I know?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 4:09 PM on June 28, 2006


Well, I know that's just not true -- I know plenty of churched folks back home who voted Kerry. An awful lot of MeFites, on the other hand, seem full of scorn and ridicule toward religious beliefs.
I remember chatting with a friend a few days after the 2004 election. His words, I believe, were "Fuck the stupid fucking religious fuckers. We don't need their fucking votes, and they can go fuck themselves."
Obviously, he was a little emotional. But now, a few years later, he complains that they don't vote for 'progressive' candidates. There are lots of reasons, of course, but one can hardly expect religious folks to respond to abuse.
One of the biggest problems, in my opinion, is that very very few Democrats credibly speak the language of faith. Obama's comment about white politicians attending black churches a week before eahc election and happily clapping out of time was right on. This does not mean that they even have to be religious people themselves. But knowing how to speak to a group of people in their own language, explaining how one's ideas intersect with the principles that are important to them, and demonstrating an understanding of those ideas rather than an ability to quote quotes, is essential.
Of course, one can simply say screw 'em and write the votes off. But when one does that, it's a little stupid and hypocritical to keep complaining that they vote for 'the other guy' who puts the work into it.
posted by verb at 4:13 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Constitutional principles are at stake here--those very evangelical voters Obama wants the Democratic party to court already have a comfortable home and massive power in the GOP.

Him or every single Democrat (which is what he's advocating) changing their values and approaches to try to court those evangelicals (who overwhelmingly want this country to be a "Christian nation" but only according to their set of beliefs) is a fool's game and immensely damaging to our rights and principles. It's bad enough that the GOP bends over backwards to accomodate them and inserts their demands into our laws and policies.
posted by amberglow at 4:14 PM on June 28, 2006


It was faith which helped end slavery.

Excuse me?
posted by odinsdream at 4:15 PM on June 28, 2006


odinsdream: it's true!
posted by boo_radley at 4:16 PM on June 28, 2006


Dogmilk, why didn't you quote the second part of what he said?

Obama coupled his advice with a warning. "Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith: the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps — off rhythm — to the gospel choir."

You'd be hard-pressed to name a Democrat who hasn't pandered to the black community during the campaign season, which -- and some people don't seem to realize this at all -- is the black religious community.

Not everyone is a MeFite who lives in Williamsburg, blogs about iPods, and considers religion irrelevant. And this open hostility to religion is hurting the Democrats more than you'd like to think.

Posting here and saying "We're right and these wingnuts are wrong and worthless, just because" is not the way to address the issue.

Like it or not, the majority of this country is religious.

So I would suggest you guys come up with a better strategy than saying "fuck the religious nutjobs" and start thinking about how you can find a middle ground, because America is not going to change for you, and continuing the way you've been doing things only makes you look like the angry extremists.
posted by Alexandros at 4:16 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Why does no one preach against poly cotton blends?
posted by MrLint at 4:18 PM on June 28, 2006


amberglow, I think you're paying too much attention to the medias' attempt to spin for dramatic effect. Look at how little of what you quoted were actually Obama's words. At first I thought he had jumped the shark too, but then I read what he actually wrote, and he didn't actually say anything untrue.
posted by scottreynen at 4:19 PM on June 28, 2006


odinsdream: Excuse me?

Actually, the Quakers in particular were tireless anti-Slavery crusaders. While there were, obviously, a number of social, economic, political and (ultimately) military factors involved in slavery ending in the United States, it is accurate to state that religious faith also played a large part in changing the hearts and minds of many people.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:21 PM on June 28, 2006


These ads are most excellent. They should be plastered everywhere in the US.

However, there are still an appreciable number of people who would be happy if they could burn crosses and lynch black people. One of them was my stepdad for a while, and he had plenty of friends who felt the same way.

Those people you won't reach.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:25 PM on June 28, 2006


Rallying the troops by insulting and chastizing them

Where does he do that? He simply says democrats have been ignoring evangelical christians for too long and something should be done. The "evangelical" part is important, since that is actually a group long forgotten by dems as being too far gone to conservative social values.

And if you are saying that all Democrats should be in lock-step agreement, I think you have the wrong party in mind for who is good at that.
posted by mathowie at 4:27 PM on June 28, 2006


MrLint: Serious answer: Jesus said those restrictions from Leviticus don't count anymore. That's why Christians can eat pork to their hearts' content. Christian anti-GLBT sentiment is mostly rooted in Paul, not Leviticus.

MrLint: Silly answer: Someone with the name "Lint" would care about clothing-related issues. How predictable.
posted by jiawen at 4:32 PM on June 28, 2006


Actually, the Quakers in particular were tireless anti-Slavery crusaders.

Not to mention that a lot of Non-Quaker Christians were abolitionists as well. The same thing was true in the civil rights crusade. In case some have forgotten the Reverend Martin Luther King.
posted by unreason at 4:34 PM on June 28, 2006


I'm not hostile toward people who are religious, either. I just don't find those who claim to hear the voice of god to be stable enough to run a complex political and economic system like the US-- but what I was really saying was, despite Obama's protestations to real belief, I don't think it's compatible with real governance anymore. He's lying.
posted by Dogmilk at 4:37 PM on June 28, 2006


Obama is absolutely right about the direction Democrats should go if they want to stop losing the votes of the religiously observant. (And, with the possible exception of Unitarians and Muslims, Democrats are losing the votes of observers of all religions, not just evangelicals.)

However, I think that actually gaining votes back is going to require Democrats really coming through on the new "big tent" approach to abortion. The current Harry Reid - Bob Casey move looks pretty darn cynical to most pro-life people: let one or two self-identified pro-lifers hold office, but use them mainly to get committee majorities which will suffocate all pro-life legislation and nominations. Republicans, by contrast, are a heck of lot better in big tent terms: pro-choice Republicans, minority though they may be, get to be pro-choice in ways that conspicuously impact policy.
posted by MattD at 4:42 PM on June 28, 2006


The only religious people I'm hostile to are the ones who try to turn their religious beliefs into federal law, Amendments to the Constitution, and other such legal instruments - those who would try to force everyone to adhere to the teachings of their faith "for our own good." Believe whatever you want and act accordingly (except of course where your beliefs would result in harm to other people), but keep it out of our legislation, please.

The Constitution separates church and state for reasons which are abundantly clear these days.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:45 PM on June 28, 2006


Not all of us who ARE hostile toward religion are Democrats.
posted by mischief at 4:48 PM on June 28, 2006


Like it or not, the majority of this country is religious.

As are the majority of Democrats (and they provide evidence of it with mostly every bill proposed). The question is whether someone's religion should be the law of this country, and how to treat those who vote solely on the basis of restricting the rights and freedoms of others--whether it's women or us gays or blacks or hispanics or immigrants or muslims, etc. Courting people whose aims are entirely unAmerican is not the way to go, and insulting all Democrats isn't either.

If the religiously observant want to impose their religion on all of us, then there's not much to discuss or even to court with--either you agree with them or you don't.
posted by amberglow at 4:55 PM on June 28, 2006


While it's true that many religious people were against slavery and held that conviction due to religious values, it's also true that many religious people were pro-slavery. They even had religious arguments in favor of it. For instance:
"It (slavery) was established by decree of Almighty God and is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments from Genesis to Revelation." (Jefferson Davis) [via]

America is a religious country, and religious people have been on virtually every side of every issue. It's ridiculous to give religion credit for ending slavery.

Also, atheists make up a minority of democrats, and as far as I can tell, lack any representation in Congress. So, sorry, I don't buy the whole argument that there's some sort of pervasive democratic hostility towards religion. Quite the contrary, national leaders compete to out-do each other with speeches detailing how religion is the only way to lead a good life and/or have wise policy. If you really live in a world where religious americans are the abused whipping-boys of angry atheists, I suggest that you look for the nearest portal out of bizzarro-world.
posted by Humanzee at 4:57 PM on June 28, 2006


I don't believe people are hostile towards religion. Nonbelief is actually a belief. It's almost a religion. Just as people have faith in their holy books, other people have faith that those books are merely fairy tales. Why are religious people allowed to preach their beliefs loud and clear while the rest of us remain silent? Labelling my views as being hostile just may say more about your views and level of tolerance than mine.

I'm sick of the posturing that somehow Christianity is being marginalized in this country (see: war on Christmas). I don't remember the last time a stranger got in my face on the street trying to tell me how Jesus Christ isn't my personal lord and savior.
posted by giantfist at 5:00 PM on June 28, 2006


The only religious people I'm hostile to are the ones who try to turn their religious beliefs into federal law, Amendments to the Constitution, and other such legal instruments - those who would try to force everyone to adhere to the teachings of their faith "for our own good."

Damn Jews and Christians with their "do not murder" commandment! How can they impose their beliefs on us? Next they'll be trying to ban theft!

I emphasize here because I think Obama's bringing a realist's perspective to the issue. Evangelist Christians do hold many traditionally Democratic values, but they've been conditioned to believe that a single wedge issue (abortion) composes the sum of the debate. If Obama (and other compassionate Christian Democrats) can remind these voters that there exists a wider spectrum of issues, then perhaps these "GOP lies" can finally be banished permanently.

boo_radley hits the nail on the head. Abortion is what it comes down to. If the Democratic party took abortion off the table, i.e. admitted that people have differing views and that the party supported open and friendly dialogue and debate, I think you'd see a couple million Christians cross over and vote for Dems. It wouldn't have saved us from 2004, but it certainly would flip a bunch of House races.

The problem is that such a change would piss off people in both the pro-life and pro-choice camps, because it would probably lead to abortion on demand remaining legal, but with parental notification also becoming a requirement. You have militants on both sides who won't compromise. You'd probably lose a couple million true liberals just to pick up a couple million evangelicals.

Oh, and for the record, I am one of those EEVL FILTHY HORRIBLE BRAINLESS MINDLESS ZOMBIE CRETIN RELIGIOUS NUTJOB -- have I left anything out? oh --- METAPHYSICAL BULLSHIT SPOUTING evangelical Christian WHO IS NOT STABLE ENOUGH TO RUN A COMPLEX POLITICAL SYSTEM LIKE THE UNITED STATES.

Yes, I'm an card-carrying evangelical. And I voted for Gore and Kerry and Clinton. Way to go with the hostile religious bigotry and stereotyping. I appreciate knowing how you feel about me. Thanks. Please keep it up.
posted by dw at 5:08 PM on June 28, 2006


Where on earth did he pick that up?


I don't know. who would Jesus torture, reverend jfuller?

pro-choice Republicans, minority though they may be, get to be pro-choice in ways that conspicuously impact policy.

like, all those pro-choice Justices Bush sent to the Supreme Court! that's brilliant!
posted by matteo at 5:12 PM on June 28, 2006


conspicuously brilliant, even
posted by matteo at 5:12 PM on June 28, 2006


Ya know being non religious, it seems to me that xtians would be much better off if they jettisoned the old testament, and left if to the Jews.

The Jews have a long documented history of not only reading, but critiquing the Torah. It seems that some (a growing number?) of xtians, seem to just take it as fixed stone not to be analyzed. Is this a recent phenomenon? Is this strictly american? Of course not being a follower, i don't know.
posted by MrLint at 5:13 PM on June 28, 2006


"Nonbelief is actually a belief."

No, actually, it isn't. Any more than a lack of courage is courageous, or a lack of wisdom is wise.
posted by adamrice at 5:17 PM on June 28, 2006


Wouldn't it be nice if an atheist could run for a major office in the states and have a ghost of a chance at winning?
posted by washburn at 5:19 PM on June 28, 2006


If the Democratic party took abortion off the table, i.e. admitted that people have differing views and that the party supported open and friendly dialogue and debate, I think you'd see a couple million Christians cross over and vote for Dems.

What about same-sex marriage? If that were not off the table, I doubt that a couple million or even a couple thousand Christian evangelicals would cross over.

The problem is that such a change would piss off people in both the pro-life and pro-choice camps, because it would probably lead to abortion on demand remaining legal, but with parental notification also becoming a requirement. You have militants on both sides who won't compromise. You'd probably lose a couple million true liberals just to pick up a couple million evangelicals.

You're right. And the same exact scenario would occur if same-sex marriage were actively opposed by the Democrats.

At least actively opposing it would be preferable to their current spineless, nauseating namby-pambyism about it.
posted by blucevalo at 5:22 PM on June 28, 2006


WTF? Amberglow 1:

clueless elected officials like Barack Obama continue to buy into the GOP lies that all people with faith are conservatives/Republicans, and that Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs.

Amberglow 2, espousing the very view A1 attacked "clueless elected officials" for:

those very evangelical voters Obama wants the Democratic party to court already have a comfortable home and massive power in the GOP.

For Pete's sake, Obama is one of the very few elected Democrats who even tries to sound like a human being and seems to have some sense of what real life is like. It's completely nuts to attack him for views he doesn't even hold. But then too much of the left is nuts in this country; that's why so few people listen to them.
posted by languagehat at 5:25 PM on June 28, 2006


"Damn Jews and Christians with their "do not murder" commandment! How can they impose their beliefs on us? Next they'll be trying to ban theft!"

Oh for cryin' out loud, you know that's not what I mean. Laws against murder and theft have been around a lot longer than the Commandments (and in every human culture, to boot), they're well-established common law (as well as plain good sense).

I didn't happen to read any Commandments against gayness, or ordaining slavery, or saying it's okay to persecute people for any reason.

"If the Democratic party took abortion off the table, i.e. admitted that people have differing views and that the party supported open and friendly dialogue and debate, I think you'd see a couple million Christians cross over and vote for Dems."

I really don't think so. Christian voters who actually care about abortion care about it because they want it abolished, they're against giving people the right to choose. People like that are not going to flip unless Democrats also condemn abortion. What dialogue and debate are you envisioning?

Why is it so hard to understand "pro-choice?" Pro-choice means that people who don't agree about abortion can exercise their beliefs without hindrance. Pro-choice doesn't mean forced abortions, dammit! It just means it should remain legal and available to people who decide they should have one.

I don't see anyone not admitting that people have different views, dw. I'm 100% respectful of your belief that abortion is wrong, that contraception is wrong, and that people shouldn't have sex until they're married in the sight of God. That's great, nobody's stopping you from living that way! Go for it! Stop trying to make everyone conform to that belief, will ya?

I'm glad you're open-minded enough to consider both parties and choose to vote Democrat, when so many evangelicals seem to believe it's counter to their beliefs.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:26 PM on June 28, 2006


I should say that I don't support parental notification for minors who want an abortion. It puts too many girls in actual danger from their parents. So I'm not really willing to compromise on that one either. That's why I support proper and effective sex and birth control education.
posted by zoogleplex at 5:31 PM on June 28, 2006


"Nonbelief is actually a belief."

No, actually, it isn't. Any more than a lack of courage is courageous, or a lack of wisdom is wise.



My belief is that if you think about it reeeeaaaaallly hard, your examples aren't really parallel. At all.
posted by giantfist at 5:40 PM on June 28, 2006


Like it or not, the majority of this country is religious.

The majority of this country claims to have religious convictions but doesn't go to church and only feels those convictions when it's time to vote. So they're religious only when it's convenient to justify their xenophobia.

clueless elected officials like Barack Obama continue to buy into the GOP lies ... that Democrats are hostile to people with religious beliefs.

I'm a registered democrat, and I would like all people under 70 who are religious to die. I'd say that's pretty hostile. I'm just one person. But, I reiterate, my voter registration card clearly says "democrat."
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:48 PM on June 28, 2006


Mind you, this is 100% doable. Of course abortion will be illegal and the punishment will be the death penalty within one election cycle. I'm not sure if these people left the democrats or if the democrats left them but the terms of reunion are pretty harsh.

Also, I doubt the evangelicals want only a Christian nation. They want a white Christian english speaking nation, which makes Obama the most ironic person to defend them.

Err, the democrats do court and consist of people of faith. The US is at least 75% Christian. I believe Obama's "faith will win me the senate and perhaps the white house" card is transparent. It does get votes and attention. How he's any different from anyone who wears religion on their sleeve to win power and influece in beyond me.
posted by skallas at 6:00 PM on June 28, 2006


I'm so fucking tired of Christians and now you've taken over metafilter as well. (Except you, Mayor Curley, I still love you.)
posted by jmgorman at 6:02 PM on June 28, 2006


Most Christians are good people, jmgorman, especially on an individual or small group (single congregation) basis. Let's be fair here. They're not all evangelicals, and most of the Protestant denominations are much more progressive and liberal than the more rigid types.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:07 PM on June 28, 2006


interesting related thing about the Dobson column mentioned above: ... William Wilberforce was white (unlike some prominent American abolitionists one might name, like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass), and he was also an Evangelical Christian who managed to successfully convince the House of Commons to require missionary work a condition of the British East India Company's 1813 renewed charter. In other words, to do business, they had to agree to “introduc[e] Christian light into India.”
To you or me, mentioning this rather obscure British patrician in passing might just seem weird. To Dobson’s devotees, however, it becomes a message that white evangelicals must continue their struggle to blur the line separating church and state—and, more nefariously, a message to politicians that if they want to stay in business, they’d better play by Dobson’s rules.
Impassionately urging his congregants to “vote their consciences,” because, if they do, “there could be some new faces in the Congress soon,” and invoking the name of a man who successfully made policy and commerce contingent upon religious indoctrination, Dobson has made his point very clearly to those whose ears are trained to hear his dog-whistle..

posted by amberglow at 6:16 PM on June 28, 2006


Nonbelief is actually a belief. It's almost a religion.

This just in:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

film at 11
posted by Sparx at 6:19 PM on June 28, 2006


i wonder if senator obama -- and some of you -- realize that the some of the black churches he mentions have significant numbers of people in their congregations and clergy who are quite strongly against the idea of gay marriage and gay rights.

some of the most homophobic people in this nation are religious black people (although i noted quite a few gay men in the choirs of various churches when i was growing up.)

for example:

Black clergy rejection stirs gay marriage backers
how do black churches view gay marriage debate
"If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them," Reverend Gregory Daniels, a black minister from Chicago, announced from the pulpit....

of course, there are also many black church leaders with actual brains in their heads and hearts in their chests who support gay civil rights, but those who do oppose it fill me with great wrath.
posted by lord_wolf at 6:21 PM on June 28, 2006


zoogleplex, I'm not sure you can say that evangelicals aren't Protestants. Are you just trying to say that 'most Christians are far more liberal than the rigid fringes' ?
posted by jacalata at 6:26 PM on June 28, 2006


interesting related thing about the Dobson column mentioned above: ... William Wilberforce was white

I feel we should forgive him for that and credit his central role in ending slavery in the UK 30 years before the American Civil War.

In case anyone missed it last time.
posted by scheptech at 6:37 PM on June 28, 2006


"If the Democratic party took abortion off the table, i.e. admitted that people have differing views and that the party supported open and friendly dialogue and debate, I think you'd see a couple million Christians cross over and vote for Dems."

What is there to debate here? If you dont want one dont have one.
posted by MrLint at 6:46 PM on June 28, 2006


"If the KKK opposes gay marriage, I would ride with them," Reverend Gregory Daniels, a black minister from Chicago, announced from the pulpit....

But how does he stand on lynching gays and lesbians?

What a fucking ignorant asshole.
posted by ColdChef at 6:51 PM on June 28, 2006


...In a national environment where both parties must focus their electoral strategy on courting the most conservative and pro-Republican voter in the country, we end up with a Congress that is only responsive to the most conservative, pro-Republican voters in the country. In the electoral strategy Obama reifies with his comments, progressive don't matter. Moderates don't matter. Swing voters don't matter. Independents and Democrats don't matter. Many Republicans don't even matter. The only people who matter are the most conservative people in the country. A Congress that is only responsive and responsible to those voters will, no matter who is in charge of Congress, end up producing the most right-wing legislation imaginable. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:09 PM on June 28, 2006


Here's another question: is teaching obviously deranged bullshit justifiable, you know, at all, for any reason whatsoever?

I fear my response to this question differs from those who are responsible for school syllabuses. Lawks, misery me, fuck the pope.
posted by Decani at 7:10 PM on June 28, 2006


"Yes, I'm an card-carrying evangelical. And I voted for Gore and Kerry and Clinton. Way to go with the hostile religious bigotry and stereotyping. I appreciate knowing how you feel about me. Thanks. Please keep it up."

Amberglow relentlessly stereotypes Christians, particularly evangelicals. He knows almost nothing about them except his stereotypes, and he refuses to abandon those stereotypes even though threads like these have given him numerous counterexamples.

His criticism of Obama, which is claiming that Obama is saying essentially "Let's capitulate to the evangelicals and their America-hating agenda" is exactly equivalent to, and as ignorant as, a conservative willfully misinterpreting a gay-rights friendly politician as saying "Let's capitulate to the gays and their America-hating agenda". It's a willful mischaracterization of a group of people in such a way as to deliberately attempt to incite paranoia and hatred.

While amberglow's stereotypes aren't true even with regard to conservative evangelicals, it's also the case that there's a very strong tradition in the US of leftist evangelism which is concerned with social justice in very leftist terms. Evangelism is not equivalent to social conservatism. Pretty much every major faith has followers who are social progressives and use their faith as a means to that end, and followers who are social conservatives and who use their faith as a means to that end. Evangelism is no exception.

Furthermore, polling has shown that, for example, support among evangelicals for Bush's Iraq war is weakening more quickly than is the support from traditional conservatives. This is also true with regard to a number of Bush economic policies, specifically those which are (cough) friendly to the interests of big-business.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:11 PM on June 28, 2006


amberglow sez: changing their values and approaches to try to court those evangelicals

You realize, don't you, that changing one's values and changing one's approach are two very different things? Right?
posted by verb at 7:15 PM on June 28, 2006


Amberglow relentlessly stereotypes Christians, particularly evangelicals. He knows almost nothing about them except his stereotypes, and he refuses to abandon those stereotypes even though threads like these have given him numerous counterexamples.

Bullshit, and flagged. My first 2 links in this very post are to a progressive religious organization (and i have plenty of similar examples in my posting history). Go elsewhere if you have nothing but insults to add.
posted by amberglow at 7:25 PM on June 28, 2006


...In a national environment where both parties must focus their electoral strategy on courting the most conservative and pro-Republican voter in the country

I dunno, this seems to be a complaint about the American system not working, a general dislike of the tyranny of the majority. Both parties have to figure out what set of demographic groupings they can cobble together to form a majority and in doing that some smaller groups are inevitably going to be either better or worse off at any given time. It's just basic, flawed by as-yet unsurpassed, democracy no?

So I'm not sure what should or could be done other than what Obama is suggesting, work with it, form a majority - then go ahead and run the country for a few years.

It's either that or devise a new form of government.
posted by scheptech at 7:26 PM on June 28, 2006


Compromise on abortion is about as realistic as compromise on slavery.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:27 PM on June 28, 2006


Compromise on abortion is about as realistic as compromise on slavery.

Like, say...only black people can get abortions? Now THAT'S a campaign to run on!
posted by ColdChef at 7:29 PM on June 28, 2006


Amberglow relentlessly stereotypes Christians

Mmm, mmm, but nevertheless, I feel driven to ask again, is teaching obviously deranged bullshit justifiable, you know, at all, for any reason whatsoever?
posted by Decani at 7:33 PM on June 28, 2006



So I'm not sure what should or could be done other than what Obama is suggesting,


Swing Ideas, not Swing Voters (with Obama quote) ...What Democrats cannot rely on are the explanations that have cropped up in the wake of the loss of the Senate in 2002 and the failure to win back the Presidency in 2004.
...
4) All we need to do is figure out "how to talk to" evangelical, gun-owning, Hispanic, exurban married couples in red states as if voters simply had merely not understood what we were saying. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:34 PM on June 28, 2006


This is hilarious and right on the money. And amberglow, I really don't think you want to invite people to peruse your posting history for examples of knee-jerk hostility towards people with religious beliefs.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:47 PM on June 28, 2006


Nonbelief is actually a belief. It's almost a religion.

Wrong.

I've met and talked with a lot of devout fundamentalists and know quite a few hard core atheists, and the 'brights' often exhibit levels of fanaticism, militancy, and dogmatism that makes the Bible Bangingest folks I know look like lapsed Catholics on a Tuesday morning.

Religion, while it sure as heck has no place in the classroom or the doctor's office, ain't going anywhere any time soon. Quit being a bunch of crybabies; the Constitution whose desecration you've been wailing about for the past six years protects it, or is changing/altering/abusing that thing a "Do as I say, not as I do" kinda thing?

Oh, and props to Obama for being realistic and acting like a leader. Granted, that move hasn't been in the Dems' playbook for over half a decade, but by George, it's so crazy it just might work.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:47 PM on June 28, 2006


“Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt I heard God’s spirit beckoning me,” he said of his walk down the aisle of the Trinity United Church of Christ. “I submitted myself to his will and dedicated myself to discovering his truth.”

Dude is gearing up for 2012, and he borrowed this tactic straight from Dubya. The Democrats might not have a plan, but Obama does-- it's the new fusionism, and it's fucking brilliant.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:58 PM on June 28, 2006


I don't remember the last time a stranger got in my face on the street trying to tell me how Jesus Christ isn't my personal lord and savior.

On the street? Well, no, maybe not, but here in the blue, in threads like this? All the time, baby. All the time.
posted by pax digita at 8:06 PM on June 28, 2006


I'll go ahead and beat this dead horse--the framing of the FPP sucks, and frankly it's straight out of KOS. Other dem/liberal blogs were actually pretty happy with Obama for reaching out.

As an atheist, no doubt I'm concerned by the amount of mythological fervor in my country, but I'm not an idiot--getting elected means getting votes means appealing to as broad a piece of the spectrum as possible. Frankly, I'd rather have Obama talk about religion than many other Dems who frankly can't do it. They sound fake. I'm not questioning the fact that they're religious, just that they can't appeal to the masses by playing it up.

I just hope Hillary isn't whispering to closely into Obama's ear, because he'd make a great candidate in 2012, and an even better one in 2016 if the Dems win the POTUS in 2008. I'm afraid he might suffer John Edwards syndrome if he goes for it now. Not that he couldn't win, but he is young and he is a senator.
posted by bardic at 8:15 PM on June 28, 2006


*too closely
posted by bardic at 8:16 PM on June 28, 2006


There's an old article by Rabbi Michael Lerner that is quite relevant to this thread: The Democrats Need a Spiritual Left. From the article:
Yet liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the Right, have been unable to engage these voters in a serious dialogue. Rightly angry at the way that some religious communities have been mired in authoritarianism, racism, sexism and homophobia, the liberal world has developed such a knee-jerk hostility to religion that it has both marginalized those many people on the Left who actually do have spiritual yearnings and simultaneously refused to acknowledge that many who move to the Right have legitimate complaints about the ethos of selfishness in American life.
posted by BinGregory at 9:02 PM on June 28, 2006


Christian is the new black gayness.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:26 PM on June 28, 2006


Amberglow relentlessly stereotypes Christians.

Maybe amerbglow is sick of relentlessly being treated like a second-class citizen, dude.

Or, you know, you could get all defensive and just project your own insecurities about your faith into his post(s). Get off the cross, you're embarassing your spiritual leader.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2006


Amberglow relentlessly stereotypes Christians.

Maybe amerbglow is sick of relentlessly being treated like a second-class citizen, dude.

Or, you know, you could get all defensive and just project your own insecurities about your faith into his post(s). Get off the cross, you're embarassing your spiritual leader.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2006


Once more...

With feeling!
posted by joe lisboa at 9:29 PM on June 28, 2006


There's a front page article on Slate that reflects on this thread too.
A portion of the evangelical movement is also broadening the traditional political agenda beyond abortion, gays, and school prayer. Richard Cizik, in charge of governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents churches with 30 million members, has been a leader in making environmental stewardship a central element of the Christian political mission. His efforts have won him an epistolary spat over political priorities with James Dobson. "The gospel has priority over our politics," he told Speaking of Faith's Krista Tippett. "Sometimes that means to be Biblically consistent you have to be politically inconsistent. You can't simply become a wholly owned subsidiary of the GOP."
The point being, religious people are not monolithic politically or unswerving in their priorities, and speaking to them in a language they can appreciate is not pandering; it is a sign of being in touch with your electorate. I have no reason to doubt Obama's sincerity, and even if you did, it would not make him clueless, but very very savvy. I'd vote for him in an instant.
posted by BinGregory at 9:49 PM on June 28, 2006


Seems to me like this book and its NPR story are relevant to this thread.
posted by luminous phenomena at 10:32 PM on June 28, 2006


As an atheist, no doubt I'm concerned by the amount of mythological fervor in my country, but I'm not an idiot--getting elected means getting votes means appealing to as broad a piece of the spectrum as possible.

And there you have it.

Despite appearances, the Republican pandering to the religious right is a sell-out of core conservative principles upon which the party was founded. The get-the-government-off-my-backs crowd are not natural supporters of a government telling them what to do, dictating their morality, banning freedoms, and restricting rights. Conservatives don't trust government to build schools, educate their children, or provide anything but the most basic and essential infrastructure.

Conservatives discovered that simply opposing government was not enough; they needed to BE THE GOVERNMENT. In America, that means getting more votes (or engaging in fraud, but that's another matter.)

As many political conservatives are also personally conservative, they had some common ground with evangelical christians. So they courted their vote. They sold out some core principles in order to pursue others. Gay marriage? Small government conservatives cringe at the thought of a constitutional amendment to BAN liberties. But their calculus came to the conclusion that lower property taxes are more important (and 85% would not personally be restricted by this expansion of government) so the quid pro quo is acceptable.

By way of lagniappe, appealing to evangelical christians also siphoned off votes from liberal democrats who believe in "christian" things like welfare and health care and who want the government to provide these things.

The result: Republicans have control of all three branches of government and Democrats are on the outside looking in.

Senator Obama has his nose pressed hard enough against the glass to realize that unless the calculus changes, he's never gonna get in.

It's about real politik people. Democrats have to get off their morally superior high horse, put their boots on the ground, and do as the Republicans did: trade some core values to pursue others. Or remain forever in the opposition, marginalized, with no significant influence in the policy of government.
posted by three blind mice at 10:35 PM on June 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


three blind mice shoots, and scores.
posted by verb at 10:47 PM on June 28, 2006


What about same-sex marriage? If that were not off the table, I doubt that a couple million or even a couple thousand Christian evangelicals would cross over.

The difference is that the Democratic Party has never actually endorsed gay marriage, and they do so at the peril of losing the African-American vote.

Abortion in the 2004 Democratic platform:
We will defend the dignity of all Americans against those who would undermine it. Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.
Gay marriage:
In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a "Federal Marriage Amendment." Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart.
Why is it so hard to understand "pro-choice?" Pro-choice means that people who don't agree about abortion can exercise their beliefs without hindrance. Pro-choice doesn't mean forced abortions, dammit! It just means it should remain legal and available to people who decide they should have one.

I'm pro-life. I'm in the medical necessity zone and mushy on rape and incest. However, I don't think flipping Roe would do the country any good. Clearly, a majority of this country wants it safe, legal, and rare. And if that's what they want, then pressuring SCOTUS to ban abortions goes against the will of the people.

And I think there are bigger life issue fish to fry (euthanasia, ending the death penalty, human trafficking, this idiotic bloodbath of a war). Too many people are stuck on abortion. It's like there's this Cult Of The Fetus, that children are Perfect Little Angels and doctors are Nazi Death Camp Doctors. There's no holistic approach to life issues, except in the Catholic Church. Even then, they're really hung up on contraception. Speaking of which...

I'm 100% respectful of your belief that abortion is wrong, that contraception is wrong, and that people shouldn't have sex until they're married in the sight of God.

Uh, I don't think contraception is wrong. I don't think all abortion is wrong. And that last part is really kinda silly. But thanks for stereotyping me! Let me go put on my headdress and get drunk so you can stereotype my Native Americanness too!

Stop trying to make everyone conform to that belief, will ya?
In other words, get in, sit down, and shut up? If my faith tells me that we need to fix our health care system to alleviate health disparities and provide basic health care to everyone in America, I should just shut up, because that doesn't count? Or that the Catholic priests and Quakers who lobbied for arms control and changed themselves to missile silos during the 80s were delusional freaks who should have just shut up?

... William Wilberforce was white (unlike some prominent American abolitionists one might name, like Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglass), and he was also an Evangelical Christian who managed to successfully convince the House of Commons to require missionary work a condition of the British East India Company's 1813 renewed charter. In other words, to do business, they had to agree to “introduc[e] Christian light into India.... To Dobson’s devotees, however, it becomes a message that white evangelicals must continue their struggle to blur the line separating church and state....

Someone doesn't know how to pronounce shibboleth.

Wilberforce isn't a code word for the Secret Dobson-Rove Plot To Put Women In Chastity Belts. It's the code word for political determination for the pro-life crowd. Wilberforce's campaign in the Commons to end slavery ran from 1791 to 1807. Every year he'd introduce a bill to ban the slave trade in the British Empire. Every year, it was shot down, but it kept picking up more support until it finally passed in 1807. The moral is that if the Religious Right keeps pushing their agenda, eventually God will change the hearts of people and have them follow along, even as they're humiliated in vote after vote.

Here's another code word you may not know: Dred Scott. It's code for "activist judges." In fact, Dubya used it in the 2004 St. Louis debate.

some of the most homophobic people in this nation are religious black people

Keep in mind that it's not all about religion -- a lot of these black leaders despise the GLBT movement for co-opting their movement despite starting from a position of greater privilege (i.e. majority white). There's some serious bitterness here.

This is way too long. But one more thing:

Evangelical != Fundamentalist

Not all evangelicals are fundamentalists, and not all fundamentalists are evangelicals. Tony Campolo is not Jim Dobson. Understand the difference between the two. They are not interchangable.
posted by dw at 10:49 PM on June 28, 2006


As many political conservatives are also personally conservative, they had some common ground with evangelical christians. So they courted their vote. They sold out some core principles in order to pursue others. Gay marriage? Small government conservatives cringe at the thought of a constitutional amendment to BAN liberties. But their calculus came to the conclusion that lower property taxes are more important (and 85% would not personally be restricted by this expansion of government) so the quid pro quo is acceptable.

three blind mice gets it.

The Religious Right is nothing but a political pawn for the GOP. They'll never give them everything they want, because if they did they'd lose their support. You're already seeing the splintering in the polls for evangelicals running away from Dubya. But they don't feel like they have an alternative but to keep punching the elephant.

It's about real politik people. Democrats have to get off their morally superior high horse, put their boots on the ground, and do as the Republicans did: trade some core values to pursue others.

Exactly. Howard Dean understands this, somewhat. That's why he's pushing candidates in every state. Obama gets it, too. And Hillary's tack to the right also shows that she's starting to get it.
posted by dw at 10:55 PM on June 28, 2006


Tony Campolo is not Jim Dobson. Understand the difference between the two.
Heh. One of my favorite Tony Campolo moments was the time he stood in front of a relatively affluent congregation and rattled off some dire statistics about third-world poverty, the amount of money being put into military spending by our nation, and topped it off by saying, 'Shit.'
Long pause.
"And the worst part is, most of you sitting here are more concerned that I just said 'shit.'" He was right. For many years it summed up the differences between a 'religious aesthetic' and actual motivating belief in important principles.
posted by verb at 11:00 PM on June 28, 2006


Democrats have to get off their morally superior high horse

All the Dems need to do is move a little toward center and they win next time around. Simple concept really.
posted by scheptech at 11:17 PM on June 28, 2006


First time I've ever done this but here we go:

Metafilter: Jesus Christ isn't my personal lord and savior.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:27 PM on June 28, 2006


All the Dems need to do is move a little toward center and they win next time around. Simple concept really.
Wrong.

'Moving towards the center' accomplishes nothing but progressive but endless ideological creep to the right.

What they need to do is learn to talk about the principles and ideas they already have in language that connects with another voting bloc.
posted by verb at 11:56 PM on June 28, 2006


Addendum: Of course, that assumes they're in posession of core principles and ideas, as opposed to a random collection of policy bullet points.

I have faith.
posted by verb at 11:57 PM on June 28, 2006


You know, I actually sort of agree with what I think Obama's point is, but I'm finding the conclusions of most of his defenders in this thread to be pretty depressing.

three blind mice: It's about real politik people. Democrats have to get off their morally superior high horse, put their boots on the ground, and do as the Republicans did: trade some core values to pursue others.

scheptech: All the Dems need to do is move a little toward center and they win next time around. Simple concept really.

To me, it looks like the Democrats have been doing just that at least since the Clinton administration, and the results of it have been alienating the left, failing to win the center, and strengthening the right. Where exactly does it end? When will they have moved enough to the right? Is the left ever actually supposed to get some things they want at some point in the future because of this, or are we all supposed to just shut up and go away while the entire American political spectrum travels ever further rightwards?

languagehat: But then too much of the left is nuts in this country; that's why so few people listen to them.

I hear this a lot, usually from sneering right-wingers. (I know that you are anything but one of those, which is why this, or at least the way you phrased it, came as a bit of a surprise.) I'll even concede that there's some truth to it. But the question this always brings to mind, and which I've never seen a satisfactory answer to, is this: why, then, do people listen to the right? I mean, from where I'm standing, most of the right(certainly the faction in charge now) looks substantially crazier and nastier than the left in general ever thought of being, and it has seemingly brought them only success. Why is this?
posted by a louis wain cat at 11:59 PM on June 28, 2006


I say fuck it: coup d'état. Fight fire with fire.

Remember, Hitler was a christian too.

THREAD'S OVER, G'NIGHT FOLKS!
posted by mullingitover at 12:26 AM on June 29, 2006


'Moving towards the center' accomplishes nothing but progressive but endless ideological creep to the right.

The majority mood of the electorate alternates between left and right, it doesn't stay one way forever. Otherwise the US would be all one way or the other by now.

Political parties who want to get elected need to track these moves. The really good ones manage to strike a balance between doing what they themselves think is right and doing whatever they promised the people who elected them they would. They need to both lead and learn from people at the same time.

As in all healthy democracies the US won't stick with either party or remain headed in either direction forever, it'll switch back and forth as always. As for next time, it's essentially it's the Dems to lose and Obama's helping them understand one important way of avoiding exactly that.

the results of it have been alienating the left, failing to win the center,


The center is more than ready for change, give 'em something they find 'reasonable' and they'll go for it.
posted by scheptech at 1:01 AM on June 29, 2006


"do we really want someone who hears voices--even pseudo-metaphorical voices-- to be involved in fundamental policy decisions for our country?" -posted by Dogmilk

Plenty of Athenians would have agreed with that statement.
Socrates alludes to and which has often been personified under the name "Socrates' daemon" (which would be daimôn in Greek, a word which is not the one used by Socrates to refer to what he is talking about here), is the "internal", the "spiritual" principle of Socrates' life, not heard by anybody else, invisible and immaterial, and he provides the "true" logos of his behavior, especially in his "public" life."

I get the anti-religious angst. Even engaged in some of that hyperbole myself. But I don't want anyone to have to die or be marginalized simply because their method of deriving an answer to something is different than mine.

I think amberglow is on to something, but only has the Dem half of the picture.
Politically courting religious folks is as bad as Boss Tweed courting the gangs (which were a social force, before the cops were invented) - and for the same social reasons.

Not to run too far afield with this concept but the Republicans have (IMHO to the great detriment of conservative thought) taken ownership and brought unity to their position. Democrats have not taken ownership of liberal thinking - much of which is derived from the philosophies of men from religious backgrounds.

It certainly seems to have made the Republicans a stronger social force in government, but that cohesiveness comes at great cost.

In much the same way, atheists and some secular folks seem to enjoy quoting from Jefferson's letter to the Virginia Baptists about the "wall of separation between church and state."

This ownership of that concept is (again IMHO) to their detriment.
It is plainly obvious that the need for unity within the Republican party will at some point override the interests of religion. It's either that or at some point there be a split.

Additionally - (as observed upthread) state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption and division within religion itself.

"Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put (their congregation) off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science." --Thomas Jefferson

While I take Dogmilk's meaning and only mildly disagree with the premise, I would argue that the sliver between us, though small, is quite solid.
We cannot exclude someone from political policy making simply because of the nature of the mechanism of their conscience. Only if they press it's method upon us - as the above Jefferson quote reads - do we have the right to stop it.

"Our Constitution... has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the consciences of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose." --Thomas Jefferson

And I would agree that stop it we should, both for the sake of the government and for religion. I think it's the latter part of that argument Dems should focus on - remembering (Heresy I know) Ford's statement that a government large enough to give you what you want is large enough to take away what you have.

I'm a conservative, but I'm an American conservative. Jefferson might have been a radical for his time, but that was over 200 years ago.
Long enough to set.
And no man of any conscience wants to halt all social progress and rely soley on the wisdom of the past as many clergy do.

Everyone likes the:"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" quote. Here's the whole thing:

"The clergy...believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion." --Thomas Jefferson
posted by Smedleyman at 1:40 AM on June 29, 2006


a louis wain cat, it's my opinion that the right has more consistently stayed on message than the left. Using the same script has gotten them very far, unfortunately, the left can't seem to agree to use the same scripts.

dw: I'm pro-life. I'm in the medical necessity zone and mushy on rape and incest
I don't understand how you can be pro-life and mushy on abortion in cases of rape or incest. I mean it's either murder or it's not murder, right? I think it's not, but if I thought it was I don't see room for 'justifiable homicide' except where medically necessary.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:43 AM on June 29, 2006


There are good ideas and bad ideas in the world. Religion is almost always on the side of bad ideas today. Ergo religion is dying. It may not go quickly or quietly, but it'lll go, and goood riddance.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:12 AM on June 29, 2006


Religion is almost always on the side of bad ideas today. Ergo religion is dying.

Can I take this and apply it to the GOP?


As per the thread, the nation's majority has been in the middle and just to the right in the political spectrum for the last twenty years and divided almost nearly equally between Democrats and Republicans. The deciding factor in nation wide elections has been the more extreme of both sides, the far more liberal and the far more conservatives. For the last two elections, the latter has proved itself more adept at controlling the sway of the election. Thus, if Obama can force the dividing line between Democrats and Republicans to the right, he can offset the advantage of the more extreme conservatives. Bill Clinton did this in '92 and '96. Its nothing new.
posted by Atreides at 4:37 AM on June 29, 2006


When preachers preach politics, they are serving man. That is not what they are supposed to do. But who put them up to that? Huge numbers of Christians have been tricked (not that it is difficult to trick many of these simple folk) into following men, and serving material interests that run counter to their own doctrines.

I am a Christian. I believe also in freedom. My sins are between myself and God. In as much as they do not interfere with the freedom of other people, they are no business of government. Government will not save my soul, or anyone else's.

Freedom means I am free to sin, or free to worship the god of my choice. I am free to repent. Freedom is to be free of men determining what I must do, so that I may make my own choice, to deliver myself for salvation of utter damnation. Hallelujah, amen.

Mayor Curly: wishing all religious folks dead is the exact same idiocy as attacking Iraq because of what a band of criminals did to the WTC. The problem isn't religious folk, even though you like to think it is, because that serves your prejudices well. The problem is those making themselves rich by twisting the religious into mockeries of Christianity, babbling insanity from the airwaves.
posted by Goofyy at 5:33 AM on June 29, 2006


I've found that people of faith frequently tend to be among the most outspoken and committed activists when it comes to progressive politics. Which is a serious disconnect that I always experience when I read these discussions.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:46 AM on June 29, 2006


I hear this ["too much of the left is nuts in this country; that's why so few people listen to them"] a lot, usually from sneering right-wingers. (I know that you are anything but one of those, which is why this, or at least the way you phrased it, came as a bit of a surprise.) I'll even concede that there's some truth to it. But the question this always brings to mind, and which I've never seen a satisfactory answer to, is this: why, then, do people listen to the right?

First off, thank you for not assuming I'm a right-wing asshole for making the point; I seriously appreciate that. And I respect your being able to concede that "there's some truth to it"; I don't see how anyone who's spent much time around the left in America could fail to notice it, but a lot of people have blinders on. As to why people listen to the right, it's because they're very good at propaganda, and I suspect the reason they're so good is that they know perfectly well their policies are to the detriment of the average person, so they have to get good at developing manipulative distortions to sell them. The left is under the delusion that its policies are so clearly superior all they need to do is stand up and make a speech (or publish an ill-written, badly designed pamphlet) and people will flock to support them. When that doesn't happen, they go nuts, and their rants about conspiracies and dumb voters and stupid religious assholes drive even more people away. It's sort of like the US, actually (and I'm enjoying in advance the wrath caused by my comparing the good, holy, progressive left to US foreign policy); we're so convinced we're a light among nations, conceived in liberty and dedicated to all that is good and holy, that when other nations demur and prefer to follow their own self-interest (which we by definition don't have, our interests being the interests of all humanity), we get pissed and bomb the shit out of them. (Which is pretty much the direction part of the left took in the late '60s; see Weathermen.)

As to "the way you phrased it," what can I say? I've been dealing with lefty nonsense for almost 40 years now, and it's starting to piss me off. Say what you will about the Old Left, but a lot of them were actual workers who knew how to talk to real people. These kids with their sophomore-grade atheism and contempt for anyone who doesn't toe the party line get my goldarned goat.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Gee, wouldn't it be nice to have a leader who represents ALL of The People, rather than just their voting base?

I've long thought that was the primary failure of the Presidency of George W. Bush, the flaw from which all other flaws follow...and the reaction to it on the left should not be to emulate the same.

I fear that the political poles have become so ossified from the scripted divisiveness of the Bush years that they can hardly recognize leadership which unites anymore (and some don't want to.) The bitterness and division of the last six years -- which is quite deliberate as a political strategy -- can be overcome by inspiring unity, by slaking America's deep, unacknowledged thirst for unifying leadership.

Amberglow...Republicans win when America is divided. Get it? Don't strain yourself pushing the pendulum. Pull it instead, and let gravity do the work. Obama has got it right. Speak to the better angels of human nature.

Obama's position is good policy and good politics, and consistent with his worldview about not chopping up the people into conservatives and liberals, religious and non-religious, red states and blue states....speak instead to the United States of America. We are all of these things.
posted by edverb at 7:52 AM on June 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


The left is under the delusion that its policies are so clearly superior all they need to do is stand up and make a speech (or publish an ill-written, badly designed pamphlet) and people will flock to support them. When that doesn't happen, they go nuts, and their rants about conspiracies and dumb voters and stupid religious assholes drive even more people away

+1, insightful.

i'm proud to describe myself as a liberal, and i know that i am most certainly guilty of acting this way sometimes, though i'd never actually thought about it in the way languagehat expressed it. (Note: i've never published an ill-written, badly designed pamphlet. one or the other, but not both at once. ;-) )
posted by lord_wolf at 8:07 AM on June 29, 2006


They'll never give them everything they want, because if they did they'd lose their support.

YES YES YES YES. What could Republicans conceivably use to differentiate themselves from the Democrats if gay marriage and abortion were no longer open-ended issues?

For many years it summed up the differences between a 'religious aesthetic' and actual motivating belief in important principles.

The same distinction applies to nearly every traditionally "conservative" issue today. The Republicans still act like Democrats are going to... omg, raise your taxes! That's much worse than record debt! It's laughable.

n.b. christian posting, lock up your impressionable friends...
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:31 AM on June 29, 2006


As to why people listen to the right, it's because they're very good at propaganda, and I suspect the reason they're so good is that they know perfectly well their policies are to the detriment of the average person, so they have to get good at developing manipulative distortions to sell them. The left is under the delusion that its policies are so clearly superior all they need to do is stand up and make a speech (or publish an ill-written, badly designed pamphlet) and people will flock to support them. When that doesn't happen, they go nuts, and their rants about conspiracies and dumb voters and stupid religious assholes drive even more people away.

So the right's policies are detrimental, but the left is delusional? Yup, you're not biased at all either--nope, not one bit. If this is solely about explaining current policies better and in a more relatable way you'd be right, but that's not what this is. This is running to the right, which has to do with policy, not just how you speak. This has to do with courting certain voting blocs, and denigrating the base to do so. There are many ways to say that Democrats need to speak in a more relatable way, and many Democrats are saying them daily. Obama did not do that. He raised a strawman and used the denigration of the millions of Democrats who are deeply uncomfortable with the insertion of one part of one religion's rules into our common laws and policy to make that point. There are much larger voting blocs (like single women, hispanics, working class families, etc) that should be catered to, since their values--and needs--already are in line with existing Democratic values. There are segments of the Democratic base that need to be brought back as well. Going after the Republican base is a fool's game and a dangerous one. You can go after other groups without denigrating your own groups, but since i'm responding to someone who uses "nuts" and "delusion" and "nonsense" etc when speaking of the left, i guess it's futile.

Also, most Democratic values, policies, and programs enjoy majority support in this country. People want health care, and they want job security and they want a living wage. Those values do not belong to one religion or another, and those values are not Christian, but American. Dividing and painting Democrats as "hostile to religion" is supposed to be some sort of way to woo Evangelicals to become Democrats? Not. It's actually one of the worst possible ways to woo a voting bloc. Who in their right mind would want to join a party that's depicted that way? It's the promise of changing our laws and policies to fit their desires that has made many Evangelicals into Republicans and those that don't want to do that are voting Democratic already.
posted by amberglow at 8:56 AM on June 29, 2006


There are much larger voting blocs (like single women, hispanics, working class families, etc) that should be catered to

The church I go to includes a lot of different kinds of people. Half are men, and logically enough, the other half are women. Some are hispanic, white, asian, black, and persian. A few of these people are rather well-off, most are middle class, and some require help with groceries every week. Some of are old, some young. Some single, some not. Now, everybody there is a member of each these groupings simultaneously...

Maybe what Obama is noticing is that some voters are now thinking of themselves as Christian first whereas in the past they may have thought of themselves as belonging to one or another victimhood group first.

Christianity is a demographic grouping that is able to include a very broad cross-section of society and if voters become primarily concerned about things that seem contrary to their faith, they could start voting in that way. Perhaps this is something the Dems need to get a handle on.
posted by scheptech at 10:02 AM on June 29, 2006


"Obama is one of the very few elected Democrats who even tries to sound like a human being and seems to have some sense of what real life is like. It's completely nuts to attack him for views he doesn't even hold." . . . agreed
posted by ahimsakid at 12:27 PM on June 29, 2006


I think part of the bad rap democrats get on religion is that the ones who come from the northeast rather than the south appreciate religion on a more personal level. One doesn't constantly talk God, but rather embraces God on a personal basis without witnessing or self-aggrandizing their relationship with God. Meanwhile on the right we've got people like Bush, who constantly talks the talk, but has no connection at all to a religious community (he doesn't go to church). I'm not sure why conservative evangelicals appear to appreciate lip service more than actions, but maybe they are really wrapped up in litmus test issues like abortion, prayer in school, and homosexuality to the exclusion of other christian values such as peace, charity, fidelity, and piety.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:15 PM on June 29, 2006


Obama: “It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase `under God,’”

Jewish organizations are also at loggerheads with conservatives over the Pledge Protection Act, a bill that would ban federal courts from hearing challenges to the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
The bill's sponsors, citing several past First Amendment challenges to the pledge, say they are concerned that the court may decide someday that the inclusion of the phrase "under God" is unconstitutional. But opponents of the legislation say that congressional action to strip all federal courts of jurisdiction over a particular class of cases threatens the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches by undermining the federal courts' ability to interpret constitutional law.
Several Jewish organizations, including the AJCommittee, the Anti-Defamation League, the JCPA, NCJW, the URJ and the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring, joined civil rights groups in sending a letter to all House members, urging them to oppose the Pledge Protection Act.
In the letter, the bill's opponents argue that the measure would "undermine the longstanding constitutional rights of religious minorities to seek redress in the federal courts in cases involving mandatory recitation of the Pledge." ...

posted by amberglow at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2006


If my faith tells me that we need to fix our health care system to alleviate health disparities and provide basic health care to everyone in America, I should just shut up?

Yes.

Just because a stopped clock is right twice a day doesn't make it useful to catch a bus.
posted by Sparx at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2006


I'm not sure why conservative evangelicals appear to appreciate lip service more than actions

How about these actions: Banning abortion. The amendment to gay marriage.

They don't care about living as Christians and finding meaning through Christ as much as they want everybody else to be like them. It is only through the existense of us unbelievers that the believers see themselves honestly. They don't want that. It's ugly.

These people are hypocrites. Most of the faithful around the world are.
posted by tkchrist at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2006



Susan Jacoby, via Digby: Call me crazy, but I have a feeling that a great many Americans, including religious Americans, are sick of hypocritical politicians who pretend that their policies deserve support because they are the work of a Higher Being. The question is whether there are any political leaders left with the courage to appeal to voters as reasoning adults, with arguments based not on the promise of heaven but on the moral obligation of human beings to treat one another decently here on earth.
posted by amberglow at 3:57 PM on June 29, 2006


"They don't care about living as Christians and finding meaning through Christ as much as they want everybody else to be like them."

The whole paternalistic "we know what's best for you, so we're going to force you to do it" is pretty annoying, too.

What's often sort of puzzling to me is how they interpret the determination to not restrict people's rights or allow discrimination against people for reasons of sexual orientation or any other "distinguishing" factor in the same way.

They're saying, "It's wrong to let people be who they are and have equal rights. We know how they should be, and we're going to force people to be that way."

We're saying, "We're not going to let anyone force people to be something they don't want to be, or force people to not be who they are." Kind of a big difference there - but it's interpreted as us saying "you can't practice your religion the way you want to."

Hm, well... if your religion says you are obligated and charged to forcibly restrict other people's rights and lives, then I don't really have a problem saying that, I guess.

BTW, dw, I'm pretty surprised to see that you don't hold the rigid views which I assumed you did - so I guess I'm an "ass," there. You don't sound like any evangelical I've ever met. I hope you'll forgive my confusion at how your views square with the (to my understanding) evangelical position that the Bible is literal and inerrant, but hey if you're more liberal than that, that's cool.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:30 PM on June 29, 2006


Almost all systems of morality require the restriction of people's actions. The ones I prefer are those that only restrict people when they are causing harm to another. Unfortunately, even then, you have semantic issues such as does a fetus count as other.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:00 PM on June 29, 2006


... Sen. Obama, by agreeing the way he did with the core conventional wisdom, saying yes liberals DO that, advances that narrative and provides cover for them to continue it. He didn't need to do that to make his point, and doing that undermined his point. Though the speech sounds like it is trying to bring people together, by reinforcing the core idea that Democrats and liberals hate Christians, he is actually helping advance the right's campaign to set Americans against each other. ...
posted by amberglow at 5:35 PM on June 29, 2006


Obama is calling it like it is, I mean, who are we really kidding here? Guess what? Some liberals DO that, unfortunately they tend to be some of the most vocal ones. That shit stings, but what can I say, he's right.

What good does it do to pretend it doesn't happen? Seems to me that it serves us better to address the (tolerance) problem and fix it. God knows ;) that it's never fun having your dirty laundry aired, but I don't see the tide really turning until we acknowledge the problem, open the discussion and do something about it.

We have to figure out a way to make a place for everybody at the table and everybody should feel welcome and not ridiculed. We shouldn't be a party of exclusion, neither by words nor deeds.

"Keep in mind that it's not all about religion -- a lot of these black leaders despise the GLBT movement for co-opting their movement despite starting from a position of greater privilege (i.e. majority white). There's some serious bitterness here."

Props to dw for pointing this out. You don't hear that talked about very often...but I guess that's another discussion for another day....
posted by SoulOnIce at 6:26 PM on June 29, 2006


"Or, you know, you could get all defensive and just project your own insecurities about your faith into his post(s). Get off the cross, you're embarassing your spiritual leader."

Well, as a lifelong atheist, I'm not sure which spiritual leader you think I'm embarassing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:56 PM on June 29, 2006


That shit stings, but what can I say, he's right.

Nah, feels like more of a piss on me and tell me it's raining kinda sting. If there's anything to be learned from, say, our last 5 presidents, it's that learning how to sound sincere about religion (think Reagan, Clinton and Dubya vs. Bush the Elder) is a huge political advantage, while actually believing any of that crap (think Carter) is an invitation to disaster. So, do you figure Obama chose the Pledge issue because, from a careful reading of the Bible, he realized that God likes to hear schoolchildren say his name, or because he likes the sound of President Obama*? I can't say I blame him; if I were to ever run for president, I'd definitely 'experience' a religious conversion and start name-dropping God left and right. Nothing like a little mention of God to make pandering sound noble. It's like that old actor's joke about sincerity, 'if you can fake that, you can fake anything.'

As for the techinical merits of his argument, well, let's just say if the point was in Beijing, Obama would be sniffing around Boise. Religious people want 'Under God' in the pledge for the exact same reason Coke wants its logo on our TV and movie screens. It's not brainwashing or oppression; it's advertising, pure and simple. Personally, I think we should charge churches for pledge placement: 'One Nation, Under God, ... brought to you by Mission Baptist Church, where a little prayer goes a long way, ... indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.' Solves our schools' budget problems and pledge battles in one go.

* For a personal anecdote, at my high school when I was growing up, they sometimes had students lead the pledge over the PA system in the morning. In the final week of my senior year, one particular student, who tangentially was ranked 3rd in the class and headed to Yale, purposely left out the words 'Under God' when she read it over the PA. Several students and teachers complained, and the principal, who, in his defense, was a complete ass, threatened to not let her graduate with the class. Of course, the principal relented after her parents threatened to sue the school into non-existence, and no one mentioned it again. And this wasn't in Georgia or Nebraska; this was in bluer-than-blue Connecticut. Thank ${DEITY} we have a Constitution that protects separation of church and state or it could've sucked to be her. Oh wait...
posted by boaz at 9:16 PM on June 29, 2006


Thank ${DEITY} we have a Constitution that protects separation of church and state or it could've sucked to be her. Oh wait...

Speaking of that: The Public Expression of Religion Act
--HR 2679 would apply to any lawsuit regarding the estabishment of religion by state or local government, in violation of the Constitution--from forced school prayer to the public funding of religion. The law, now in committee, would keep plaintiffs in such cases from seeking damages or attorney's fees if they win. ...

(in committee now and sure to hit the House floor before the session ends)
posted by amberglow at 7:49 AM on June 30, 2006


ColdChef writes "Like, say...only black people can get abortions? Now THAT'S a campaign to run on!"

"Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!"
posted by krinklyfig at 5:04 PM on June 30, 2006


SoulOnIce writes "We have to figure out a way to make a place for everybody at the table and everybody should feel welcome and not ridiculed."

Except for those who really deserve it. Like Rob Schneider. He can sit at the table, but I'm going to throw food at him.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:10 PM on June 30, 2006


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