Leftward Christian Soldiers
American Prospect Online - ViewWeb
Founded by Jacksonville, Florida, businessman Patrick Mrotek, the Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) says its purpose is the “reclaim” the Christian faith from the extreme religious right...CAP’s core principles include commitments to economic justice, environmental stewardship, equality for homosexuals, effective prevention -- but not criminalization -- of abortion, peaceful solutions to international disputes, and universal health care for all Americans...
“One of the great problems of the Democratic Party,” [CAP Director of Religious Affairs Timothy Simpson] said, “is that the 5 percent or so [of its members] who don’t want any religious rhetoric at all, and who do not represent the mainstream of American political or religious life, have been allowed to call the cadence in the [party]. And when that happens, Democrats get their butts kicked. Because people in this country are believers.”
I hit the link and joined. I am, after all, a Christian and one who supports their "core principles."
I'm not terribly optimistic. I've been involved in a number of these liberal religious groups that do minor good works on the political front at the margins. Even during the heyday of liberal Christian activism they weren't a major force and nowadays, with liberal/mainline churches on the way out, these well-meaning liberal Christian operations are even less likely to succeed.
What bothers me about a lot of liberal Christianity is not that it is inimical to "traditional values"--with which I have no sympathy--but that it's often associated with metaphysical reductionism and dismissive of religious devotion. I believe what's in the Creed--nothing in there about abortion, homosexuality or sex roles much less the "ownership society" or the war in Iraq. I am a religious person: I believe that the most important things the Church can do are having daily services and keeping church buildings open so that people can visit. And, I'm a member of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament--please hit this site, contact the Secretary General for info and if you are so moved join!
That seems to be a problem with the Religious Right as well as the Religious Left: the whole debate has become one about "values"--and religion has dropped out of the picture. The "Religious" Right supported Ronald Reagan, a Hollywood celebrity with no religious affiliation, over Jimmy Carter, a devout Baptist Sunday School teacher who made "born again" respectable. Nobody, least of all conservatives, seems to take religion seriously. They "church shop" for churches that support their "values," or have convenient parking lots, or active youth groups, and do not give a damn about theology, liturgy or religious devotion. Conservative evangelical Protestants make common cause with conservative Catholics and conservative Orthodox Jews who agree with their notions of how society should be organized and have formed an unholy alliance with secular Libertarians. They've bought into the idea that religion cashes out as a code of conduct--they simply disagree with liberals about what the correct code of conduct is.
So I'm pessimistic on two counts. First, I don't believe that any liberal Christian movement will succeed in influencing politics: even if, per impossible, conservative Christians could be convinced that Jesus (who enjoyed his followers to leave their families and follow him) didn't support "family values" or that "Christianity is the religion of which socialism is the practice" it would make no difference. They would give up Christianity. Secondly, for all the brouhaha about religion and politics, debates about teaching evolution in the public schools (which should be about as controversial as teaching the quadratic formula) and the supposed rise of the "Religious" Right, Christianity as such is close to dead. Right or left, the majority of people who, according to the polls, say that religion is "important or very important in their lives" are interested in supporting "family values" or promoting social justice, acquiring skills for "successful living" or exploring "spirituality." And very few people are interested in the doctrine of the Trinity, or care about the Church's tradition of liturgy and devotion, or believe that God is present in holy things and holy places, or love the Church.