The Religious Left
I started writing earlier about this – the Washington Post article on the 'return' the religious left, but despite numerous re-writes, I had a hard time finding the right tone to express my thoughts. So, I hope you'll forgive me if this doesn't come out just right.
I am not 'religious'. I consider myself spiritual, and I think my beliefs are as important and deserve the same respect as those of Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, pagans, and every other form of belief out there.
I know I come across as just another 'god-hating liberal', but what I hate isn't God. It's those who wrap themselves in the cloak of Christianity while simultaneously violating its every tenet. It's those who believe that their religion gives them the right to tell everyone else what to do. It's those who will step over a homeless person on their way into their expensive mega-church, who will ignore the poor, who will discriminate against someone who isn't just like them.
It's those who proclaim their faith at the top of their lungs while pointing to the sins of everyone else around them. Jesus had parable about folks like that – the Pharisee and the Publican, which is worth reading.
I rant and rave on this a lot: if you're going to call yourself a Christian, you have an obligation to act in a way that imitates the life of Christ. Christ himself called upon his followers to care for the 'least of these'. You cannot call yourself a Christian if you continue to do nothing to alleviate poverty, hunger, homelessness, disease, environmental destruction, to name a few.
Christy at FireDogLake has a very thought-provoking post here on how the liberal churches have always been with us, toiling quietly in the background, believing 'Jesus didn't need a PR campaign' and were – among other things – the places were the Civil Rights movement started, and I don't disagree with that, but…
At the same time, I'm not willing to give religion – any religion – a free pass just because they have a liberal side as well.
The devoutly religious have used the name and word of their God to persecute anyone who didn't believe as they did, or pray as they did, or interpret the Bible as they did, or eat what they did. And they still do so. (Iraq, Northern Ireland to name a couple.) Practically the entire history of the Catholic church is a textbook of oppression and persecution in the name of faith.
And each sect, as it gained power, used that power to persecute and torment its own enemies – all in the name of God, of course.
That is why the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is so important. For the first time in history, a government said there shall be no state-sponsored religion. The government would not pick one over the other, nor would citizens be required to belong to the government church in order to do business or hold office.
Christy's post seems to say that only religion can bring about sweeping changes that make the world better, but I believe one doesn't have to be religious to say that slavery is wrong, apartheid is wrong, that poverty in the world's wealthiest country is wrong, to believe that everyone deserves the same respect, regardless of their gender, their orientation, their color, their religion.
You also don't have to be religious to do something about it.