Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

March 6, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

WHEN WOULD JESUS BOLT?....I have to confess that I've always been skeptical of the notion that liberals should spend much time trying to get the Christian evangelical community on our side. When push comes to shove, they just care way more about sex and "moral degeneracy" than they do about helping the poor or taking care of the environment, and that means that outreach efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.

Still, Amy Sullivan's cover article in the latest issue of the Monthly, "When Would Jesus Bolt?" makes a pretty compelling argument that I'm wrong. As she points out, it's not a matter of persuading every evangelical in the country to switch sides, it's just a matter of persuading enough of them to make a difference at election time. And the story she tells about Randy Brinson, a conservative evangelical who became increasingly disenchanted with other conservative evangelicals the more he hung out with them, is enough to make you sit up and notice:

The newly converted are the most zealous, sharing the good news with gusto to any and all comers. Every few days, Randy Brinson calls me with another revelation. Republicans? The power structure in the Republican Party is too entrenched with big business. It's not with evangelicalsthey're a means to an end. The Christian Right? They just want to keep the culture war going because it raises a lot of money for them. Abramoff? Evangelicals were being used as pawns to promote a big money agenda. His fellow evangelicals? Can't they see that Republicans are just pandering to them?? He once was blind, but now he sees.

Now, Brinson has not suddenly become a bleeding heart liberal, but he's not working on behalf of the Republican Party anymore either. And he's not a small time player: the organization he started in 2003, Redeem the Vote, "registered more voters than all of the efforts of the Christian Right heavyweights Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention, American Family Association, and the Family Research Council combined."

Religion has been a big topic in liberal circles for a while now, and I have to admit that I always feel a bit like a bystander when the subject comes up. It's not like I can fake being religious, after all. Still, no one is really asking people like me to do much of anything except stay quiet, refrain from insulting religion qua religion in ways that would make people like Brinson unwilling to work with us, and let other people do the heavy lifting when it comes to persuading moderate Christians to support liberal causes and liberal candidates. That's not much to ask, and Amy makes a pretty good case that it would make a difference.

The full article is here. It's worth reading.

Kevin Drum 1:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (193)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

I'm always willing to refrain from insulting religion, but they have to refrain from insulting me for not being religious.

See how that works? Something about the Golden Rule, I think...

Posted by: craigie on March 6, 2006 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus would have bolted long before all this Bushit began. Or, as Max von Sydow famously said in 'Hannah and Her Sisters', "If Jesus were alive today, he'd never stop throwing up".

Posted by: Kenji on March 6, 2006 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, it's an interesting, hopeful article. I like the part about religious people relating to the GOP like an abusive boyfriend. Maybe they'll come around to seeing who the GOP really works for.

Posted by: craigie on March 6, 2006 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Craigie: You're misinterpreting the Golden Rule. You're supposed to follow it even if the other guy doesn't. That's the whole point.

But in any case, what's the value of returning insult for insult? Turn the other cheek and let's win some elections instead.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on March 6, 2006 at 1:37 AM | PERMALINK

Religion ?

hmmm...

"...Churches have given us great treasures. Whether that pays for the harm they have done is another matter." - Daniel C. Dennett

Posted by: daCascadian on March 6, 2006 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree essentially- check out this piece:

http://www.voicesofreason.info/2006/02/should-left-get-religion-spirituality.html

Posted by: j.s. on March 6, 2006 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

You can call me close minded, I guess, but, frankly, I have no need to read anything by one note Amy Sullivan, Hew views are about as helpful to the Democrats, and as relevant, as other nominal Democrats Marshall Wittman or Mickey Kaus. No thanks on theocracy light.

Posted by: Marlowe on March 6, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

When would Jesus molt?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 6, 2006 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Although I'm not religous and find the concept rather primative, but it seems that us Dems could do well to include the William Jennings Bryan type evangelicals under our tent. The realistic, economically liberal, but moderately socially conservative evangelicals are people that we can work with on many important issues like the environment, labor, poverty and foreign policy. The end times, sexually obsessed, racist hypocrites not so much. We should stop well short of courting that group.

Posted by: Adventuregeek on March 6, 2006 at 2:13 AM | PERMALINK

When push comes to shove, they just care way more about sex and "moral degeneracy" than they do about helping the poor or taking care of the environment, and that means that outreach efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.

It's good to see you finally understand Kevin. Christianity is about two things - gay marriage and abortion. The Republican Party is on the right side of those issues and that's why Christians votes for them. The Democratic Party is on the wrong side of those issues and that's why Christians don't vote for them. Christians will only vote for Democrats when they change their positions to be supporting the ban of gay marriage and abortion.

Posted by: Al on March 6, 2006 at 2:22 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe we'll go back pre-1980, or pre-1976 when many voted Carter, and evangelicals will simply stop voting as much.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on March 6, 2006 at 2:23 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not even sure if it makes sense to write this here, but in the article, it has Tom DeLay listed as "(D-TX)."

Talk about a nightmare...

Posted by: David on March 6, 2006 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

Most of the great progressive victories from the first third of the 20th century were done with the involvement of a wide variety of religious organizations. A lot of the seemingly secular culture in the Northeast, liberal academic culture, evolves pretty directly from these groups --it's where leftists get 'spirituality' and carrying on about peasant life in third world countries as if it were some kind nun-like rapture of austerity.

Posted by: cld on March 6, 2006 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

As someone who leans more libertarian, I see no major conflict between evangelicals and the Democratic Party that can't be overcome. At least from my viewpoint, I think Democrats care a lot more about activist government than they do about social issues, although obviously that isn't true of all Democrats. I could see a devil's bargain where evangelicals throw in with the Democrats, agreeing to support them on economic issues and the role of government in exchange for Democrats agreeing to turn their Big Government on "evildoers" who peddle sex and abortion.

There's always been some tension in the GOP between the more libertarian business friendly Republicans and the evangelicals, because one side wants less government and the other side wants more. This tension would disappear if the evangelicals joined the Democrats, because both like to regulate our lives and "protect" us from what they see as evil. The only difference to be overcome, or compromised on, is what exactly this "evil" is. Big Business? Or Pornographers? Why not both?

Personally, I'd love to see the evangelicals leave the GOP and throw in with the Democrats to create the Big Party That Wants to Regulate Everything. The choices for Americans would be much more clear then.

Posted by: Adam Herman on March 6, 2006 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

"helping the poor or taking care of the environment"

Liberals? You gotta be kidding.

Now I know that Libertarians are for happiness, the maximum welfare and the minimal use of reources. So, hey, facts in front of you, you gotta believe me.

Posted by: Matt on March 6, 2006 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

I think Amy is absolutely right. We can start by nominating good candidates who don't squirm when they discuss religion. Bill Clinton won almost every county in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Middle and Western Tennessee - Kerry won none of these areas. A big difference was that Clinton could talk about God and mean it.

Posted by: Elrod on March 6, 2006 at 2:44 AM | PERMALINK

cld makes a very good point about the history of civil rights and other issues in this country since its founding. Religious groups and leaders were instrumental in making progress in these areas. After all, Martin Luther King was a minister, not a college professor.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 6, 2006 at 2:58 AM | PERMALINK

Elrod:

A big difference was that Clinton could talk about God and mean it.

Or at least convince people he meant it.

Posted by: tbrosz on March 6, 2006 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

As a corporate libertarian pornographer/abortionist I have to full heartedly agree with Adam. It's time for the Randites to get behind a spotted owl eating, wetland developing free marketeer.

Posted by: !3 on March 6, 2006 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

Elrod -- the difference is that Clinton could sign DOMA and mean it. There's a difference.

We will never get a significant number of evangelicals. That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep the lines of communications open with our friends and family; it just means that we shouldn't bank on changing much of the tide.

Best we can do is convince them to stay home. Keep hammering the Republicans on the fact that the Repub elites view the Christian groups as useful dupes, but don't pretend that we have anything to offer them. We believe in freedom of religion and privacy in the bedroom -- and they don't.

Posted by: Kimmitt on March 6, 2006 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

Woody Allen: Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.

I think that's the root of the evangelical/liberal divide.

Posted by: Royko on March 6, 2006 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

As I've written here before, the big ideological battle of the 21st century will not be conservatives vs. liberals, but libertarians vs. communitarians. Liberals and the religious are the two biggest groups that respect community values, and as others have observed, there are many areas where the two can work together, such as on many economic and enviromental issues.

The big problem why these two groups can't work together remains the Mexican standoff on abortion. A lot of Americans actually feel the way the Albot does - that abortion and gays are ruining the country. But if there's any way possible that a satisfactory compromise can be reached on the abortion issue, a religious/liberal coalition could make a lot of progress in areas like universal health care, for example. Stranger things than that have happened in American politics - after all, the GOP somehow convinced the hedonists to switch sides. Not to mention that the libertarians face their own obstacles on the way to political power - one such problem being that a libertarian political party is a contradiction in terms.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on March 6, 2006 at 3:50 AM | PERMALINK

When one of my more reasonable Evangelical Christian clients in Orange Co. told me in '92 he would vote against clinton, I asked why.

His response: "He kills babies."

I tried logic: poverty, Iraq I, everything I could think of. It all came down to:

"He kills babies."

Idiots.

Posted by: SteveAudio on March 6, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

How do you keep people like RTV on side when the ACLU comes by and sues the program to ribbons?

--------

"He kills babies."

Idiots.

Posted by: SteveAudio on March 6, 2006 at 4:11 AM | PERMALINK

He kills babies 6 inches from birth by sucking out their brains. He appointed Ginsburgm didn't he?

Posted by: McA on March 6, 2006 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

Martin Luther King was a minister, not a college professor.

He also had a Ph.D.

Posted by: Constantine on March 6, 2006 at 5:37 AM | PERMALINK

[B]As I've written here before, the big ideological battle of the 21st century will not be conservatives vs. liberals, but libertarians vs. communitarians. [/B]

I agree with this, but I reach a different conclusion. History has shown that liberty tends to advance fairly consistently against attempts to curtail it. Once the battle over gay rights, abortion, etc. are won by liberals, the next battleground will be economic rights and gun rights.

And as always, those opposed to those freedoms will be fighting a losing battle.

Posted by: Adam Herman on March 6, 2006 at 6:35 AM | PERMALINK

Frankly, I'm shocked at the way some of the supposed "liberals" on here attack religion. While I have little, if any, respect for people like James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, religion is a large part of many (most?) Americans lives.

I'm troubled by the fact that some elements of the Democratic Party want to totally divorce the party from religion. Not only have some of the great Democrats been openly religious, its a losing strategy if I've ever seen one. We shouldn't sell out on what we believe (like equal rights for all groups) but there is no need to anatagonize a group of people simply because they have the "Christian" label attached.

Posted by: Georgia Hoo on March 6, 2006 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

You can't come to any kind of accommodation with fundamentalist evangelicals without selling your own liberal soul - or the secular equivalent thereof. But, appearances to the contrary, fundamentalist evangelicals are a minority in Christian America. The recent open letter to the World Council of Churches (an umbrella organisation representing most of the Christian heavyweights apart from the Roman Catholic Church) is a must-read. It comes from the WCC's US delegation which represents, amongst others, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, and several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations.

Read it at http://www.wcc-usa.org/news/news-container/article/1099/a-letter-from-the-us-conf.html

Posted by: PJB (UK) on March 6, 2006 at 8:05 AM | PERMALINK

I have to agree wtih marlowe up above. In terms of her history of posting here, Amy Sullivan is almost always wrong in what she writes. She consistently misinterprets things people are telling her, blows what she knows out of proportion to its reality, and generally seems to not know her audience here--whywould I believe she'd start getting it any better with some of her interview subjects. Still, I'll read th epiece and cross my fingers that for once she gets the proportions and the history straight, even if she usually punts the interpretation.

aimai

Posted by: aimai on March 6, 2006 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

"You can't come to any kind of accommodation with fundamentalist evangelicals without selling your own liberal soul - or the secular equivalent thereof."

I totally agree. There are a number of Christian organizations out there that are attempting to stop what many liberals see as a perversion of Christianity.

One is:

http://www.christianalliance.org/site/c.bnKIIQNtEoG/b.592941/k.CB7C/Home.htm

Posted by: Georgia Hoo on March 6, 2006 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Evangelical conversions to our liberal cause? Hey, we need all the help we can get. When they finally come to the realization that so called "free" markets are essentially ammoral and anti-religious--enought will come to the light to make a difference.

Class and power are the ultimate wedge issues.

Posted by: bobbyp on March 6, 2006 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

My take, on a personal level, is that the faith-based actively religiously engaged people I am acquainted with socially or professionally are actively engaged in not meeting my eye these days.

They'd have to acknowledge that I was correct in telling them that they were being played for fools by a party whose real agenda had nothing to do with them.

I don't have to do anything as crass as say 'I told you so." They already know that and are unhappy about it.

I most assuredly do not want a Democratic Party which goes 'Bush-lite' to pander to them either.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

You know there is political gold in them thar Christian hills. I know a lot of Evangelical Christians. Most of them are idealists trying to do what they think is right. For the life of me, I have never been able to figure out the attraction the Republican party has for them. I guess it the image Republicans (and some Democrats) have fostered of Democrats encouraging abortion. The "God, guns and gays" shorthand if understood for its evil mean spiritedness should turn off most evangelicals. Evangelical idealism is far more attuned to the Democratic party than the Republican. Now if we could convince them of something I have long understood--Democrats are not in favor of abortion, in fact, most are in favor of doing all possible to make abortion rare. They are simply in favor of giving women the power to decide whether to carry a child or not. A matter of personal choice, not government mandate.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 6, 2006 at 8:43 AM | PERMALINK

Georgia Hoo: Frankly, I'm shocked at the way some of the supposed "liberals" on here attack religion.

I'm guessing that you have no idea what it means to be non-religious/agnostic/atheist in this country. To have the 'God-Fearing' [Think about that phrase for a minute.] bigots on the other side act as though, by declining to acknowledge that their sacred texts are inerrant and dictated directly by a supreme being, means that you are allied with 'Satan' and munch babies for breakfast.

You meet a stranger and the very first question is, "What church do you attend?" If you say "None," as I do, they recoil in histrionically exagerated horror, as though you'd just announced that you were in favor of child abuse and crime-in-the-streets.

I know what 'religious discrimination' means up close and personal.

I admittedly have a deeply held interest that the fashion for burning heretics not make a come back. Ya know?

I though 'e pluribus unum' served as an excellent guiding principle for this country. That it has been replaced by "in God We Trust' does nothing to reassure me about my Constitutional rights being respected.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

On a related note, also worth reading:

The Book of Bart
In the Bestseller 'Misquoting Jesus,' Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030401369.html

Posted by: Catch22 on March 6, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

It is not just some evangelicals who are upset. Check out this astonishing letter in today's (3/6/06) Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper by Edward J. Steimel, former president of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry.

I am an unhappy Republican. More than that, I am an unhappy American. My greatest unhappiness is due to the continued and costly mistakes that our president makes that may jeopardize our very system of government, to say nothing of the damage being done to our economy

The war with Iraq was his first big mistake. I wont belabor the issue of weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein might have had them. He certainly had been a mass murderer of his own people. But how many other tyrants, especially in Africa, have done the same? But Saddam, to George W. Bush, was unfinished business of his father. And, of course, Iraq had oil.

The war has killed or maimed thousands of our young Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women and children (theyre people, too). It has cost us hundreds of billions of dollars, and no one can even guess what the total cost will be in dollars and human lives. Hes spending money like the proverbial drunken sailor, creating deficits our children and grandchildren will never be able to pay. Our international balance of payments has grown to unheard-of levels. He never vetoes a bill, tolerates massive pork in appropriation bills. In short, he is making a mockery of what we once thought of as the Republican Party. Im now afraid our dollar is in serious jeopardy.

I voted for him when he was first elected. I never thought he was very smart, but I thought he would surround himself with good people, listen to them and make god decisions. I was wrong; he listened only to those who said what he wanted to hear. I never repeated that voting mistake again. I simply DIDNT VOTE. I couldnt vote for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; we needed better than either of them.

God has certainly blessed America. But Im not willing to bet hell keep bailing us out when we make such huge mistakes as we did in picking our current president.

Posted by: Bayou Billy on March 6, 2006 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

The Book of Bart
In the Bestseller 'Misquoting Jesus,' Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030401369.html
Posted by: Catch22

Yeah. Beat me to the punch.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

re: aimai and marlowe

Amy Sullivan is a hedgehog. She's got a hammer and it all looks like nails. And while she's kinda right that there's room for evangelicals in the Dem tent because we all want to help the poor and the children and the spotted owls, she's just wrong about the politics.

There's only two ways to get "liberal" evangelicals back to the left. One is to run Clinton style southern democrats who are open about God and comfortable talking about faith, and who have charisma and political gifts that are off the charts. Or, we can go back to 1976 when Carter was elected: immediately post-Roe, when the religious right hadn't yet fired up the anti-60s-&-'70s-hedonism, anti-abortion apparatus in all it's power.

Because in 1976, things were changing in America and only Watergate and peace movement inertia were keeping evangelicals from really getting upset over the liberal permissive society taking root in our disco and coke filled cities. If you want to get back to 1976 we'll have to overturn Roe, stuff homosexuals back in the closet, and get back to

I don't think we want to go back there....

Posted by: Silent E on March 6, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Posted by: Bayou Billy

Wow. Another Louisiana resident! Yippee!

Hey, cher, it's been lonely here.

Bienvenue. (Though I've never voted for a Republican in my entire life. And never will.)

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

CFShep -- go back to Canada, and take Franklin, Jefferson, and that poser Lincoln with you, too. There is no place for people who don't believe in Jesus in the U.S. George H.W. Bush said he didn't think atheists should be allowed to be citizens -- now *that's* freedom, baby!

And Al is right -- the only problems faced in this country are RU-486 and Ellen DeGenerous' sex life.

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on March 6, 2006 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

I am sure the most vocal of the anti-religion liberals realize how much their opposition increases the visibility the Elmer-Gantry-type evangelicals who gladly return the favor.

After all, controversy sells newspapers and cable talk shows. Do you think if we just ignore them, they will go away?

Posted by: Emma Zahn on March 6, 2006 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Fuck Christianity, fuck left-leaning christians and fuck all religion. Religion is responsible for more death, suffering and inequity than any other single human invention.

And for whomever, said fuck one-note Amy and her article, here! hre!. The woman is obsessed with her imaginary Sky Daddy.

I've got no time for a bunch of dunderheads who merely go along like so many sheep with the religion of their parents and their ancestors. It's nothing but brain washing done from the time before many of its practioneers can walk. Moreover, it's simply a means of controlling a bunch of mindless sheep masquerading as people and sucking a few sheckles out of their wallets to enrich the priesthood/ministerhood who are for the most part, little better than thieves

Posted by: WyldPirate on March 6, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

CFShep: Hey there are more us here that lean left than you may think. I have voted Repub once in a while in a Blue Dog Moon. Voted 2-3 times against Ewin Edwards (only voted for him when David Duke was running for gov).

Posted by: Bayou Billy on March 6, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal (i.e. mainstream) religions are not in any basic way incompatible with progressive ideals, but the same cannot be said for the vast majority of fundamentalists. Their literalist reading of the Bible is not only incompatible with progressivim, it's also incompatible with the ideals of the Enlightenment, and, unfortunately, some of the basic founding principles of this republic, such as the separation of church and state.

Trying to pick off enough of the religious right to make a difference for us is a fool's errand, and I'm a little tired of Amy Sullivan's continuing to flog that same old tired idea.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) on March 6, 2006 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

A relationship with God is far from the current definition of what "religious" is today. Sadly, Islamic extremists, the self sanctimonious evangelicals and many others continue to pervert the purity of His word. Everyone will wish they had that relationship when their time is near and the sooner that relationship starts the more meaningful life becomes. "Persuading enough of them for the purpose of winning an election" - that's just conning the cons. Very self absorbent and hollow.

Posted by: Jay on March 6, 2006 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Learned of spiritualprogressives.org from psychotherapist and rabbi, Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right. WaPo article by Amy Sullivan describes him as "A social thinker with impeccable liberal credentials... a Berkeley-based rabbi..."

The website announces, "An interfaith movement... Welcoming to 'Spiritual but not Religious' Secular People As Well," and lists three tenets that speak to me and maybe others here.

I caught Lerner on C-SPAN and his talk was right up my liberal-lefty alley. An explanation of "Why America Needs a Spiritual Left" piqued my curiosity:

We are not advocating that people on the Left should all become religious or spiritual. What we are advocating for is a Left that is friendly not only to secularists and militant atheists, but also to people of faith who share a commitment to peace, social justice, and ecological sanity. We advocate for a Left which believes that the most powerful critique of this society must be rooted in challenging the way this society's capitalist marketplace fosters an ethos of selfishness and materialism. [Cite]
I skimmed, "Hostile Takeover: Theocracy in America," from their magazine, Tikkun, in which Lerner writes, "...millions of people who are attracted to the Religious Right are not originally attracted because of this worldview, but rather because their lives in capitalist society feel empty and purposeless, and that they hunger for some framework of meaning..."

Something to that idea.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on March 6, 2006 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

"Liberal (i.e. mainstream) religions are not in any basic way incompatible with progressive ideals, but the same cannot be said for the vast majority of fundamentalists."

"You can't come to any kind of accommodation with fundamentalist evangelicals without selling your own liberal soul - or the secular equivalent thereof."

It's nice to see people reading closely. Amy specifically says that Democrats shouldn't try to go over FUNDAMENTALISTS, or even conservative evangelicals who vote based on abortion and gay marriage. But there are evangelicals - I personally know a lot of them - who care more about traditionally liberal issues. If it doesn't mean we have to change substantively, why on earth wouldn't we try to attract those voters? Just because they're Christian? That's tolerance for you...

Posted by: religious lib on March 6, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Voted 2-3 times against Ewin Edwards (only voted for him when David Duke was running for gov).
Posted by: Bayou Billy

I lucked out. I was in Tallahasse (during Lawton Chiles' administration) and missed that particular "Wizard v Lizard" mess.

Voted for J. Bennet first time around. Can't remember 2nd one - selective amnesia? May have been in TX.

I did come home for Festivals Acadiennes and stopped David Duke cold from 10 feet away with a look that told even his reptilian little brain to go elsewhere. He took a 180 degree path away from where I stood. I loved it.

Better was Shreveport cops escorting him off the grounds of Red River Revel under the 'No Solicitation' rules. There was cheering! In Shreveport no less. Wow.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan has one point to make, and she never leaves it: if only liberals didn't ignore religion, we'd win. It's not quite a crock, but it's way off the mark. The first trouble is that it's a fiction, precisely echoing the wingnut fiction of liberals as "secularism" taking over our country and excluding us. Seems to me it's like complaining that Kerry didn't receive communion often enough during his campaign (or maybe didn't go hunting and windsurfing often enough to show he's a manly man). Our side does go through the paces, in sincerity as much as out of manipulative political concerns.

The second trouble is that it's telling people what to believe in matters of religion. If we WERE unbelievers, what are we supposed to do about it, find Jesus?

The third trouble is that it gains so little. The problem isn't that we're failing to win over liberal evangelicals, who presumably will have their own profound religious reasons for distrusting Bush without us, or mistaking them for the people we can't win over. It's that the ones we can't win over have inordinate power.

The biggest trouble, however, is that it's just self-expression, a matter I suppose of self-esteem. If she spent a tenth the time actually trying to rally people sharing her beliefs instead of blaming the rest of us for her lack of success, we'd be getting somewhere.

Posted by: artcrit on March 6, 2006 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

if only the rightwing Christians could be like the Hassidm in NYC.

They live in their own neighborhood with their own social rules, and they never ever try to make the rest of live by their rules. We all co-exist peacefully.

sigh

Posted by: lilybart on March 6, 2006 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

There's something pretty basic here:

(1.) You should treat people decently. That means disagreeing with them -- if you disagree -- in ways that don't insult or show contempt for them. I don't live up to this precept very often myself, and there are marginal cases where open contempt is probably morally necessary (I'm thinking of Ann Coulter). But I would hope we can all agree that this is a good rule of thumb -- the golden rule of thumb, you might say.

(2.) As a matter of political reality: A majority of the country think of themselves as religious to some degree and speak the language of religion. If your side shows contempt for such people, your side will lose elections. That simple. That's not saying you have to express false agreement or fawn over them, but you have to treat people with respect if you expect them to vote with you.

(3.) Politics is a matter of coalitions. You form alliances with others whom you disagree with on some things. If you don't reach out to others whom you have disagreements with, you'll never gain power in a democratic system.

It's pretty obvious that the left has to appeal to religious people. It's pretty obvious, in fact, that many of the greatest leaders on the left have been devoutly religious.

So find ways to talk about religion that don't alienate potential allies.

Posted by: tom on March 6, 2006 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Yu guys sure are rough on Amy Sullivan. Randy Brinson and the right's efforts to torpedo Bible-as-literature classes in Alabama must be old news to you (wow). And of course liberals have the luxury of cherry-picking their constituencies because...we're completely out of power. Got it.

As an atheist with a pretty baleful view of the Christian right, Sullivan's article was a revelation. Why not court evangelicals when our interests converge. That's not pandering, it's coalition-building.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

if only the rightwing Christians could be like the Hassidm in NYC.

They live in their own neighborhood with their own social rules, and they never ever try to make the rest of live by their rules. We all co-exist peacefully.

sigh
Posted by: lilybart


Maybe you could send some down to Central LA, aka Pentecostal World...Oy. I'd pay Yankee dollar for a ringside ticket.

Seriously though, I really doubt that segregation by religion, voluntary or not, really answers in the long term.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I like the part about religious people relating to the GOP like an abusive boyfriend.

Hey, maybe religious people do have more in common with Democrats than is thought!

Posted by: Gregory on March 6, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

>>>>observing a moment of silence for the demise of that most excellent independent bookstore, Elliot's.

Pick up some cool books, chat with the owner, and grab some beignets at Morning Call.

Sigh.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

It is somewhat hypocritical for Christian evangelicals to complain of being used by the Republican Party when the evangelicals do the same thing with respect to Jews. Many evangelicals are ultra-loyal, to-the-death supporters of Israel - but only because the return of the Jews to the Holy Land supports some of their own Biblical beliefs, not because they actually care a whit about Jews.

Posted by: Peter on March 6, 2006 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

I think people should acquaint themselves with the Khazar Empire before they start jumping into this issue. [My View]
Why? Because many don't know much if anything about the Asiatic Mongoloids [Khazar]
or the Thirteenth Tribe.
Heres a Free Online Book covering that Subject.
not replying to this Subject, but giving a Tangent to it.
--------------------------
The Thirteenth Tribe
As Arthur Koestler points out, the Khazars were the Third World of their day, ... Mr. Koestler was an Ashkenazi Jew and took pride in his Khazar ancestry. ...
http://www.christusrex.org/www2/koestler/

Posted by: mr ho on March 6, 2006 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

"A majority of the country think of themselves as religious to some degree and speak the language of religion."

That is the point I wanted to make. You can't pretend that since you aren't religious then everyone else shouldn't be either. I don't advocate prayer in school, 10 Commandments on the wall, etc., but the "fuck religion" statements are unnecessarily antagonistic.

Posted by: Georgia Hoo on March 6, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Suulivan writes:

A sign that Democratic leaders are beginning to get it is the planpromoted by leaders such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clintonto lower abortion rates by preventing unwanted pregnancies. Full-throated support of this effort, and a recognition that abstinence education plays a role in lowering teen pregnancy rates (along with birth control), puts Democrats alongside the majority of voters on this difficult issue, and it is especially appealing to moderate evangelicals.


This neatly sidesteps the debate. The current political issue is not "abstinence education" which is rather pointless but not harmful but about "abstinence only education" which is harmful. Sullivan also asserts without evidence that "abstience education" plays a role in lowering teen pregnancy rates. Is there evidence of this? The focus has been on "Abstinence only" was something else entirely.


Anyway, this is just one example of this kind of thing in Sullivan's article.

Posted by: Burzootie on March 6, 2006 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Many evangelicals are ultra-loyal, to-the-death supporters of Israel - but only because the return of the Jews to the Holy Land supports some of their own Biblical beliefs, not because they actually care a whit about Jews.
Posted by: Peter

On the other hand, in the spirit of 'Freakonomics', I saw the entire "Left Behind' DVD series in the $5 markdown bin...

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sounds like the Opinionists have Opined each others groups into meaningless nothingness by filling pigeon Holes with imagined Character Cracks once again.


Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 6, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

We will never - and we should never - win conservative evangelicals. Their understanding of politics and religion is repugnant to progressives. But we can and should win moderate evangelicals. I'm talking about people who support us on aid to the poor, the environment, workers' rights, civil rights, opposition to war, etc. but also may oppose abortion and have reservations about gay marriage. These folks would vote for Democrats if they believed that Democratic politicians acted, in some way or another, on the basis of their faith. That doesn't mean they want politicians to push a narrow breed of evangelical Christianity on the rest of society - those are the conservative evangelicals. It just means they want to believe that politicians are acting on the basis of some sort of conviction. Individual issues are much less important than the faith that stands behind whatever issues the politician supports. That's why Tim Kaine could win in Virginia even while opposing the death penalty. And it's why John Kerry couldn't reach moderate evangelicals - they just didn't know what the basis was for any of his beliefs. I know a few people who voted for Bush because they thought Kerry was an "empty suit", who didn't really "believe" anything he said. I told them that Kerry actually has a long record of, say, opposing the death penalty and has always based his position on a core principle of respect for human dignity. But these folks said, rightly, that Kerry spent the whole 2004 campaign running away from these issues (for fear of being tarred a liberal) and trying to make himself look like something else. Interestingly, they all thought Howard Dean was a much more respectable figure - and even considered supporting him - because they thought there was some basis for his beliefs (even if they weren't evangelical Christianity).

Posted by: Elrod on March 6, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I think Amy makes great mistakes in estimating the conservative Evangical movement. However, this is a mistake that's VERY common, especially among religious liberals. They want to believe that it's all on a balance. You have the liberal ideas of helping the poor and treating the sick vs. the conservative ideas of blaming the gay and the women for your problems. And if we can just tilt the balance a little bit, you can make changes.

That's just not the way it works 'tho.

The religious right's focus on sex, doesn't come in addition to any concern about the poor. It comes so they don't HAVE to be concerned. They're morally good, because they're all up in everybodies bedroom. So when it comes to business? It's all neutral. Only business.

The other thing to realize, is that for Evangical groups, poverty is a crucial marketing tool for them. It gets people into their arms. E-VANG-ICAL. Meaning trying to spread your religion to as many people as possible.

No, these people have an entrenched investment in maintaining the status quo.

From reading that article, it doesn't sound like he has a problem with just the Republican party, he's having a "crisis of faith". And that's what we need to inspire if we're going to attract these people. Massive crisis of faith. We need to talk morality...and their lack of. We need to steal the morals and values side of the argument, and paint them as being greedy, deceitful and untrustworthy.

Destroy their community, in other words.

Posted by: Karmakin on March 6, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

As a Democrat who is a economic populist and social traditionalist, I welcome evangelicals into my party. We have spent far too much time pandering to "rich, white and secular" social liberals who care only about abortion, gay marriage and gun control. The Democratic Party needs to focus on representing working and middle class families and take a "big tent" approach that will allow for a diversity of opinion on social issues. If Democrats can focus on appealing to the center and win back some religious voters then we might have a prayer of becoming the majority party again.

Posted by: Right Democrat on March 6, 2006 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Isn't it your 1st Amendment responsiblity to insult religion? You're refraining, holding back? The terrorists have already won.

Posted by: pebird on March 6, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

A long time ago on this board I said that the Republican / Born-Again Xtian coalition was an unholy alliance and that it should be easy to fracture since there are so many good arguments against Republicanism that come straight from the mouth of Jesus.

I've grown tired of pudding-headed liberals who believe the Republicans have been taken over by the Christian Right. Xtians are *tools*, not the other way around.

tbroz:>"A big difference was that Clinton could talk about God and mean it.

Or at least convince people he meant it."

T, I thought you more intellegent then to find it noteworthy that politicians are occasionally insincere.

Since you feel that insincerity in politics is a crime, why don't you try getting over 50% of a random group to agree on a dozen contentious topics?


Posted by: Joey Giraud on March 6, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Re conservative evangelicals, it's useful to keep in mind that they're conservative first and religious second. Their religious belief merely buttresses their deeply conservative inclinations. The best example of this phenomenon is their wholesale rejection of fellow born-again Christian, Jimmy Carter.

Posted by: joe on March 6, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

OK, so some evangelicals are a bit sour on the GOP and are skeptical of whether the party really wishes to accompish it's goals or string them along for political purposes. Fine. But is anyone confident in the Democratic party's ability to convince evangelicals that we'd be any different?

At least the GOP pretends to love god & hate gays, Dems couldn't really even do that with a straight face.

I'm a bigger fan of "the politics of politics" than most, but I think it's a bit disingenuous to talk about evangelical friction with the GOP & them possibily moving into our camp when we are no more likely to enact their agenda than the GOP is, and probably less likely.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 6, 2006 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

i have a friend in TX, and everyone in the family but him is very religious. they're lutherans, but of the type that shares all the fundie values as the most rabid baptists.

he went to church with his sister recently while visiting. he was truly shocked to hear the preacher, who spent the entire time talking about a long list of the damned. it included gays, pro choice people, all christians who aren't lutherans, catholics, the gays, etc... the preacher also stressed that bush is a wholesome, godlike man and that the war is a fight to bring "civilization" to those godless heathen brown people.

we may have a shot at the 12 thinking evangelicas left in america, but i think the rest are lost. it's sooooo not about true christian values anymore, and even those who may question being used like pawns by the republican party will still cling to the idea that they have no choice other than voting republican, because even if the republican party "fails" to live up to evangelical standards, progressives and liberals will always be gay abortionists, and therefore unacceptable.

Posted by: chicago dyke on March 6, 2006 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

We need to talk morality...and their lack of. We need to steal the morals and values side of the argument, and paint them as being greedy, deceitful and untrustworthy.

Destroy their community, in other words.
Posted by: Karmakin

I keep thinking they should be forcefully reminded that their religion is supposed to believe:

As you do unto the least of these; you do unto me.

Nowhere was "I've got mine, Jack. Screw you." a part of the canon. The Gospel of Gimme.

Guy's supposed to thrown the moneychangers out of the temple, right? Camel through the eye of a needle?

Ring any bells?

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK
I have to confess that I've always been skeptical of the notion that liberals should spend much time trying to get the Christian evangelical community on our side. When push comes to shove, they just care way more about sex and "moral degeneracy" than they do about helping the poor or taking care of the environment, and that means that outreach efforts are ultimately doomed to failure.

I don't think that's nearly as true as you seem to think it is, largely because I think you are mistaking the segment of the "evangelical community" that has been most effectively mobilized by political activists targetting them directly with the whole of the evangelical community.

That, and confusing the things that the Republican Party has successfully sold them as the biggest issues facing the country that are addressible through the political process with the issues they care most about.

Religion has been a big topic in liberal circles for a while now, and I have to admit that I always feel a bit like a bystander when the subject comes up. It's not like I can fake being religious, after all.

So? You don't have to fake being religious to try to understand people who are genuinely religious.

Still, no one is really asking people like me to do much of anything except stay quiet, refrain from insulting religion qua religion in ways that would make people like Brinson unwilling to work with us, and let other people do the heavy lifting when it comes to persuading moderate Christians to support liberal causes and liberal candidates.

There is certainly a lot more that non-evangelical and even non-religious liberals can do if they want to win more of the vote of the evangelical community. And avoiding insulting religion qua religion has more utility than trying to gain ground in the evangelical community; there's plenty of non-evangelical religious liberals around, and you might want to avoid alienating them.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Church in Texas can be intense(I live here). I heard a story recently from a coworker who was churchshopping at a Baptist church. When the service began, all the Deacons apparantly guarded the exits, told everyone in the pews no one could leave, even for bathroom breaks, & then the preacher proceeded into a 3 hour service in which Catholics, Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopals were all going to hell, and everyone in the pews that day was also going to hell, except for them, the preacher and his henchmen.

I won't even pretend this is close to the rule for church in Texas, even for Conservative churches but yes, they are out there.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 6, 2006 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I wish Libertarians would stop lying about "big government" and "freedom". Libertarians want government out of our lives, but that does not mean they are for maximizing human freedom -- on the contrary, they are for allowing corporations maximum control over our lives by allowing companies to control more and more of the market, and more and more of our individual freedom.

Who, after all, promotes freedom more, the person who sees a role for government in the controlling of corporate monopolies and the regulation of business, or the person who wants to allow companies to limit choice, privacy and equal access?

----------

As for the role of religion in the political parties: it should be based on the agendas promoted by those parties. If evangelicals are claiming that they are for protecting the rights of the poor in this society, for the limiting of monopoly and moneyed interests, then I see no conflict with them joining that party. I just wish their were a political party with that agenda. Right now, I see two parties fighting each other over who can give more to big business.

Posted by: Dicksknee on March 6, 2006 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

It's not like I can fake being religious, after all

Why not?

they just care way more about sex and "moral degeneracy" than they do about helping the poor

They fake it just fine.

Posted by: Allen K. on March 6, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK
I think Amy makes great mistakes in estimating the conservative Evangical movement. However, this is a mistake that's VERY common, especially among religious liberals. They want to believe that it's all on a balance. You have the liberal ideas of helping the poor and treating the sick vs. the conservative ideas of blaming the gay and the women for your problems. And if we can just tilt the balance a little bit, you can make changes.

That's just not the way it works 'tho.

The religious right's focus on sex, doesn't come in addition to any concern about the poor. It comes so they don't HAVE to be concerned.

The "religious right" is not the same thing as the "evangelical community"; you make the mistake, common among secular liberals, of conflating the segment of the evangelical community that the political right has already mobilized with the whole of the community.

In the near term, there is little prospect of us winning over much of the "religious right"; there is some prospect of us mobilizing some of the rest of the evangelical community, which itself would undermine the "Christians v. Liberals" meme that helps bind the "religious right" so tightly to the Republican Party, and which reinforces the narrow band of issues that they tend to mobilize around by making the whole conflict into a tribal war for survival.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many evangelical Christians that Dustin and Chicago Dyke are personally aquainted with. It's easy to sterotype people that you don't know. Unfortunately, people of like-minded political outlooks and religious attitudes tend to "talk among themselves" and fail to recognize that others with differing views are not necessarily ten foot tall monsters.

Jimmy Carter was one of my political role models and I still admire him greatly, but quite frankly Carter lost the evangelical vote in 1980 because he took it for granted. The evangelicals helped deliver the 1976 election for the Democrats and then were basically shut out of the Carter Administration. If Carter had appointed a few evangelical leaders to positions and made more of an effort to keep conservative Christians in his corner, the religious right might not have grown into a strong political force.

Posted by: Right Democrat on March 6, 2006 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Politics and power is strictly a sport of the flesh, far removed from the spirit. That quest (politics and power) is one common thread between the far right and the far left. The majority in the middle, who have a relationship with Him, try not to cast aspersions on others nor do they pretend to have all of the answers.

Posted by: Jay on March 6, 2006 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

"It's good to see you finally understand Kevin."

Yeah, Al, but when are you going to finally understand Kevin? Or basic punctuation.

Posted by: Kenji on March 6, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

OK, so some evangelicals are a bit sour on the GOP and are skeptical of whether the party really wishes to accompish it's goals or string them along for political purposes. Fine. But is anyone confident in the Democratic party's ability to convince evangelicals that we'd be any different?
Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway

We do not want these people as our fellow travellers, not unless you really want to scare the shit out of the rest of the world, who current understand that not all Americans are bigotted idiots.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"...a recognition that abstinence education plays a role in lowering teen pregnancy rates (along with birth control)"

As supported by what evidence, exactly?

Posted by: Kenji on March 6, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Believe me, the more than one in five born-again Christians who voted for Kerry in the last election are frustrated by the way we are portrayed within our own party. We could use a little help and articles like this are VERY useful.

My fundamentalist credentials are pretty impressive and my evangelical ones would make many in the movement blush. But you know what? My Democratic credentials are just as hard core, as are all of my family's. The 22% of Evangelical voters who did NOT support Bush are, in actuality, millions and millions of people all over the country, fighting this battle hand-to-hand, day by day.

Thanks Ms. Sullivan, for making my day.

Gretchen Moran Laskas
www.gretchenlaskas.com

Posted by: Gretchen Laskas on March 6, 2006 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus was a liberal.

When the evenagelicals decide to come back to Christ's teachings we can talk.

Posted by: sleepy on March 6, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Politics and power is strictly a sport of the flesh, far removed from the spirit.

Not sure if I understand you, Jay. But if words carry their everyday meaning then politics--which is simply how human beings relate to each other--is a direct manifestation of spirit, since it is our spirit which motivates us to act.

IOW, politicians like Bush pay lip service to Christ's teaching, but their acts show little if any Christian influence.

Posted by: obscure on March 6, 2006 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

Sigh.

It is very sad that 'religious' has come to mean hateful and judgemental but I have to agree those are the images of 'religion' that we see today.

We've got Christian fundies fighting Islamic fundies.

One thing I have to take as a matter of faith in these dark days is that love will win out over hate, cooperation ultimately beats competition, and there really is a force similar to karma.

Christ preached these things over and over and true Christians know these things.

Virtue beats value any day, and I'd like to see more Christian virtues displayed instead of supposed Christian values.

Posted by: Tripp on March 6, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

The Republicans have aligned themselves with every bat-sh*t and crazy that thumps the bible because--at its core--it gets people motivated to vote. The best way to introduce moderation into American representitive democracy is NOT to woo finatics, but to re-engage the people of the nation who no longer think their vote matters.

Posted by: Jon Karak on March 6, 2006 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

For all of those criticizing the religion in general, thinking it incompatible with progressive government, keep in mind that liberal, progressive, movements often have had a strong religious tinge to them.

--Much of the antebellum abolitionist movement came out of evangelical Protestant churches in the north--many evangelicals believed that slavery was an affront to God. In fact, the antebellum slavery movement was an interesting mixture of enlightenment ideals of human liberty and evangelical Protestantism's ideal of equality before God. If you don't believe me, try reading the poem "John Brown's Body."

In the Socialist movement in the American southwest (eg. Oklahoma), represented a powerful blend of left-wing economic philosophy and evangelical Protestantism. Oklahoma, by the way, was home to one of the largest branches of the Socialist party prior to World War I.

Part of the reason William Jennnings Bryan fought Darwin's theory of evolution is because Bryan was opposed to social darwinism--that is, Bryan, I think, was outraged that people were using a (in his mind fallacious) scientific theory to justify an economic and political system in which the rich ruled everyone else. He was also very upset that right-wing nationalists were using Darwin's theory to provide intellectual legitimacy for militarism and imperialism.

Posted by: Arthur on March 6, 2006 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Since religion and its language has been abused by the Republican elites to enrich themselves and gain power, wreak havoc and remain unaccountable, it's just plain asinine not to become fluent in the language and learn to respond.

Regardless of whether one is religious or not anyone opposed to the downright greedy manipulators sitting their fat rumps in the seats of power right now better wise up and learn to respond and point out their policies are against what's taught in the Bible. Romans 16.17,18 is a good place to start.

Posted by: Chrissy on March 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Gretchen and sleepy,

It's funny that we all three post at nearly the same time saying nearly the same thing.

Individual churches and parishes have unique personalities and they cannot be painted with the same brush.

There are a great number of religious Christians who take very seriously the proud, liberal, Christian virtues of caring for all people and trying to make the world a better place by following Christ's example.

Posted by: Tripp on March 6, 2006 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK


I am glad to see many people here with positive thoughts about evangelical Americans. I am surprised that Democrats have not found independent (independent from the manufactured conservative zeitgeist) ways to reach out to white religious moderates and give them a central position in the liberal coalition. To my mind it is were they belong instead of in the party of corruption, war, and neglect known as the Republican party. If Christian Americans were to take a look at the intellectual tradition of movement conservatism, as we now understand it, they would see how deeply anti-Christian it is. In many ways it is one long critique of the Gospels as many Christian scholars have pointed out.

Liberalism is a political doctrine that, in part ,springs from the blood-drenched religious wars of Europe. It is a kind of antidote. Liberals believe the privatization of religious belief in the political sphere will lead to domestic peace and prosperity. This does not mean morality as determined by religious understanding has no part in liberal government. It means one is prepared to compromise in the here and now for the sake our earthy lives. Under a liberal regime individuals will be able to pursue their own understandings about eternity without coercion or persecution. Evangelicalism is itself the result of the liberalization and individualization of orthodox religion. There is nothing inherently conservative about evangelicalism.

Religion becomes conservative and increasingly intolerant when it becomes part of the nationalistic identity of a besieged people.

Arthur has already captured my point. When and why did evangelicalism make the turn from populism to big-money social darwinism?

Posted by: bellumregio on March 6, 2006 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Their literalist reading of the Bible is not only incompatible with progressivim, it's also incompatible with the ideals of the Enlightenment, and, unfortunately, some of the basic founding principles of this republic, such as the separation of church and state.

Yep. Religious fundamentalism-- which is not the same as religion-- is essentially un-American, at least when linked with political power. Doesn't matter how many of them there are (another way in which conservatives display their ignorance is in their assumption that America is, at its core, whatever its most politically powerful group happens to say it is, which is untrue), what they envision is an insult to the Founders and all the great thinkers who painstakingly laid the foundation for this country. There's nothing even remotely special or advanced about their America, and its economic and military power will be short-lived should they truly take charge.

Posted by: latts on March 6, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Halleluia!

And we might want to think about pulling in some "right to bear arms" votes, too. After all, these truly are "keep an eye on Big Brother" days we're living through.

Posted by: ferd on March 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK
We do not want these people as our fellow travellers, not unless you really want to scare the shit out of the rest of the world, who current understand that not all Americans are bigotted idiots.

That post kind of undermines its own thesis.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

But in any case, what's the value of returning insult for insult? Turn the other cheek and let's win some elections instead.

Game Theory. Learn it. Live it. It is life. It is evolution. It is.

Tit-for-tat is one of the best strategies. A better strategy still is tit-for-two-tats. In no circumstance is no-tits-for-any-tats a winning strategy. Never. Never, ever works. Just sayin'.

How about adopting the Tit-for-two-tats (or analog) instead of chucking tit-for-tat entirely for the assured loser of no-tits-for-any-number-of-tats?

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on March 6, 2006 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus would bolt after he saw this animation:

Brokeback Bush Wears A Burka

Posted by: Balzac on March 6, 2006 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Even the Conservative Evangelicals have their dividing point. YaY
The Gary Norths and the Rushdoony's.

AL may well run for the hills upon mention of these radical guys.

Even the NCCC and the IRD are having second thoughts about the Radical Right of Falwell and the Bush Admin.

The Religious Right has helped [many unknowingly] financed that.

Now many wish to Blame the
'libruls' that catch all scapegoat word, for the current mess?
C'mon.
Did not you know?
Big Dog. He's still in charge. Yupp.
In the Basement. Hillary too.
Clinton is telling George what to do
thru Ted Kennedy.

moron -scotty evil

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

That post kind of undermines its own thesis.
Posted by: cmdicely

Explain.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

What happens when evangelicals find out:

The power structure in the Democratic Party is too entrenched with big business. It's not with evangelicalsthey're a means to an end.

Liberals need to tell evangelicals Democrats will fight to keep abortion from becoming mandatory just as hard they will fight to keep abortion legal and safe. Democrats need to communicate they will fight for religious freedom just as hard as they will fight for freedom from religion.

Posted by: Hostile on March 6, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 11:54 AM:

Explain.

Basically you are saying that in order to demonstrate that we are not 'bigotted idiots' to the world, we have to actually be religious bigots.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 6, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Arthur has hit on something most liberals forget. Modern liberalism arises not just from the enlightenment, but also from progressive christian revival movements over the past 200 years. Separation of church and state was a big Baptist issue until the current crop of conservative political theologians took over the Southern Baptist Convention. The proteztant movement itself is based on such the liberal notion as direct contact between an individual and his God. Conservatives always want to put themselves between the individual and his Creator. What we need to be encouraging is a return to the old time religion, and an abandonment of the new fangled fundamentalism.

Posted by: Ron Byers on March 6, 2006 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals need to tell evangelicals Democrats will fight to keep abortion from becoming mandatory

Anyone who believes that anyone wants "mandatory" abortions cannot be convinced of anything.

Posted by: craigie on March 6, 2006 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Basically you are saying that in order to demonstrate that we are not 'bigotted idiots' to the world, we have to actually be religious bigots.
Posted by: grape_crush

Well, if that means ignoring the intolerant, hateful, homophobic, xenophobic, small-minded religious right, yes. By your reasoning, I guess we need to open our arms to the Klan, the Aryan Nation, etc., etc. to show how tolerant we are. Fuck that nonsense.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK
Explain.

The characterization of the evangelical community as undesirable because they are "bigotted idiots" is no more accurate, and no less bigotted than would be, say, referring to Whites the same way.

Notwithstanding that the vocal political groups centered around either identity are composed, largely, of people it might be fair to describe as bigotted idiots.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Dear Amy,

Do I fucking give a shit about "moderate evangelicals"? I do fucking not.

Fuck you, Amy. Just go and join the fucking Republican party and get the fuck out of our hair, you moralistic piece of shit, you.

Love...

Posted by: dave on March 6, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, maybe you should spend more time considering pre-frontal lobotomy and less time thinking about abortion. Ask your doctor.

Posted by: Chrissy on March 6, 2006 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who believes that anyone wants "mandatory" abortions cannot be convinced of anything.
Posted by: craigie

Good morning. I've finished my coffee for the morning so it's safe for me to read your ripostes without endangering my new keyboard.

There should be some kinda 'craigie alert' system to warn me so I can remove all liquids from the vicinity of my computer.

heh

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK
Game Theory. Learn it. Live it. It is life. It is evolution. It is.

Tit-for-tat is one of the best strategies. A better strategy still is tit-for-two-tats. In no circumstance is no-tits-for-any-tats a winning strategy. Never. Never, ever works. Just sayin'.

This is wrong. Or, rather, it makes a rather major unspoken assumption -- this is true if and only if the scenario is an iterated version of Prisoner's Dilemma.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why don't the Albots and Jays, etc., ever tune into what will happen if abortion is made illegal? Are they just too young to remember "back-alley" abortions? Do they really not realize that "baby-killing," as they so indignantly call it, is not only going to continue, but will be joined by lots of mother-killing after Roe v. Wade? Are they really so heartless and stupid? And do they really think that abortions will no longer be available to the moneyed class, i.e., George Bush's crowd?

Posted by: Ace Franze on March 6, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

In no circumstance is no-tits-for-any-tats a winning strategy. Never. Never, ever works. Just sayin'.

But still, the highest teaching counsels us to aim for the goal of refraining from seeking revenge.

Partly, that is understandable as recognition of the fact that the goal will seldom be completely obtained. So, even while having the goal can serve to improve our behavior, we are unlikely to abandon retaliation altogether in the short term.

It is also understandable from the perspective that trust as a societal value takes a very long time to evolve, and by its nature must develop multi-laterally.

And finally, what is 'being won' by the parties involved in game-theory. In real life people put different values on different qualities of life, such as material gain vs. love & community solidarity.

Posted by: obscure on March 6, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

This has been a very long thread and I'm sure my comments will hardly be read but I'm compelled to venture forth.

I'm disgusted with my boomer generation and its issues. In the 60's I was too moderate now I'm too liberal. Actually I'm a left of center Dem. who has and will vote for republicans when the situation calls for it! Spiritually, I'm ex-Catholic, followed by three decades of self-rightous atheism, followed by a spiritual epiphany of a very humble nature. I'm not interested in "converting" anyone; I'm in complete support of an absolute wall of separation between religon and govt. That's who I am, this is what I say.

My generation is seemingly unable to get beyond the logical disjunction! Read this thread! We are so stuck in the "either or" disjunction that we are willing to dismiss a large portion of the voting public simply because they are at a different spiritual place than we are. It was not always like this. The conjunction was the norm. Yes, A and B, and you resolved the differences between them. We were once considered masters of this! It's called American pragmatism. We will remain in this political no-mans-land until we put our intellectual smugness aside... we pay too heavy a price for it.

The first step in going beyond the disjunction is to really encounter the other as a person rather than a straw-man. This profound lack of respect for the other is our political undoing. If I believed in a final judgement-which I don't-I'd think all this Bushit is the pennance we must suffer for our hubris.

Posted by: Dennis on March 6, 2006 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I believe that, in order to get the Southern racists' vote, the Democratic Party should moderate its position on race and support ban on inter-racial marriage or at least ban on inter-racial dating.

Posted by: lib on March 6, 2006 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

This is wrong. Or, rather, it makes a rather major unspoken assumption -- this is true if and only if the scenario is an iterated version of Prisoner's Dilemma.

But it is an iterated activity and Game Theory applies to evolution/biology, sex, couple (and group) interactions that are competitive, politics, and foreign policy. It doesn't HAVE to be a pure Prisoner's Dilemma for game theory to apply. It can apply to disciplining as well.

I will amend my previous statement about no-tit-for-any-number-of-tats being 100% ineffectual, however, by stating that it CAN be a fine strategy if the person/group administering the tats are insignificant or marginal among the overall tat-giving populace. Ignoring tats can then lead to simple atrophy or simple fatigue for the tat-giving marginal group/individual.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on March 6, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

"There's only two ways to get "liberal" evangelicals back to the left."

Why would any Christian go "back" to the left, when anti-Christian bigotry is not only widely accepted, but very much in fashion?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 6, 2006 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

lib wrote:I believe that, in order to get the Southern racists' vote, the Democratic Party should moderate its position on race and support ban on inter-racial marriage or at least ban on inter-racial dating.

This is cute (smug)! you get many girls with this?

Posted by: Dennis on March 6, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

dave at 12:08:

You should be saying those kinds of things in your therapists office.

It isn't helpful here.

Posted by: obscure on March 6, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 12:05 PM;

Well, if that means ignoring the intolerant, hateful, homophobic, xenophobic, small-minded religious right, yes.

Does every evangelical Christian, in fact, fit that profile?

By your reasoning

No. It's your logical flaw that I'm pointing out, not my 'reasoning'.

I guess we need to open our arms to the Klan, the Aryan Nation, etc., etc. to show how tolerant we are.

I would disagree with that strongly.

Fuck that nonsense.

Whatever. We can talk later when your knee stops jerkin'...

Posted by: grape_crush on March 6, 2006 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this virtually the same comment thread nearly word for word that ensues every time Amy Sullivan posts one of her articles which are also virtually the same word for word every time?

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 6, 2006 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this virtually the same comment thread nearly word for word that ensues every time Amy Sullivan posts one of her articles which are also virtually the same word for word every time?

Democrats' recent losing streak has generated an entire industry of pundits who know exactly how the Democratic Party should compormise on its principles to win the next election.

It is sad to see some Democrats take such advice quite seriously.

Posted by: lib on March 6, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Freedom Fighter, there is much more anti-Christian bigotry coming from the republican hierarchy - the unjust war and it's killings, the doctrine of division and hate that they've sown, the destruction and poisoning of the planet, the theft of money from the people and 'reappropriating' it into the hands of the rich, the spying and lying, the thievery.

There may be plenty of lefties whose don't like religion (understandably) but it's the righties with power who are the ones whose actions are anti-Christian and dangerous. The right wing may spout "fair words that deceive the simple" but they practice a "doctrine of devils".

Posted by: Chrissy on March 6, 2006 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Praetor Atrebates:
"...A better strategy is tit-for-two-tats."

Since you bring it up and did not mention this iteration, I kind of like the idea of two-tits-for-one-tat actually. (Especially when they are real and magnificent.)

I will trade you one good, sturdy woman in the halls of power for the dufus, weenie-men we have now--whether that is in politics, religion etc. A winning motto: "More titty, less tatty." (Sorry, could not resist.)

Posted by: mama on March 6, 2006 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Democrats' recent losing streak has generated an entire industry of pundits who know exactly how the Democratic Party should compormise on its principles to win the next election."

I haven't seen any suggestions on this thread that Dems should compromise their principles to win an election. What Dems shouldn't do is demonize someone simply because they are Christian. The religious groups that encompass James Dobson and their ilk will never be welcome in the Democratic Party. However, religion can be a driving force for positive social change.

The knee-jerk opposition of some Dems to anything Christian is damaging to the long-term prospects of the party and, frankly, a little bit bigoted and uninformed.

Posted by: Georgia Hoo on March 6, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

If I were a Republican troll working to keep evangelicals voting Republican, I would post hateful anti-Christian statements on liberal blogs.

Posted by: Harold S. on March 6, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK
Turn the other cheek Posted by: Kevin Drum
Every time I'm told to turn the other cheek, I have to unbuckle my trousers.
I think Democrats care a lot more about activist government than they do about social issues, Personally, I'd love to see the evangelicals leave the GOP and throw in with the Democrats to create the Big Party That Wants to Regulate Everything. Posted by: Adam Herman
The complain about activist government is about social issues: tolerance, equal rights, equal opportunity. Since racism is the core value of Southern Republicans, that isn't about to happen anytime soon. The regulations that evangelicals want to impose are precisely in the realm of individual rights and freedoms. The progressive stance is to leave consenting adults alone, the social conservatives is to impose Christian fundamentalist morality.
some elements of the Democratic Party want to totally divorce the party from religion. Posted by: Georgia Hoo
Few do, most don't; a few Republicans mock their Evangelical voters, some agree with them. Carter maintained separation of church and state; Bush wants to combine them.
Bryan was opposed to social darwinism--Posted by: Arthur
True, and social Darwinism lives on in Libertarianism. Posted by: Mike on March 6, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

Harold S: If I were a Republican troll working to keep evangelicals voting Republican, I would post hateful anti-Christian statements on liberal blogs.

I'm sure that would make a big impression on the many, many, many thousands of Republican-voting evangelicals who read liberal blogs.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 6, 2006 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK
But it is an iterated activity and Game Theory applies to evolution/biology, sex, couple (and group) interactions that are competitive, politics, and foreign policy. It doesn't HAVE to be a pure Prisoner's Dilemma for game theory to apply.

Game theory applies regardless of they payoff matrix, but the particularly ideal strategy comments you make are based on iterated PD.

It can apply to disciplining as well.

Game theory certainly applies to disciplining, sure, but I don't think it is all that clear that the same strategy is ideal in the iterated case as with PD. The payoff matrices are somewhat similar, but have a critical difference.

Then again, I don't think we've really identified the players or payoff matrices well here. I don't think the tits are being directed exclusively at the same people from whom the tats are coming.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK
Isn't this virtually the same comment thread nearly word for word that ensues every time Amy Sullivan posts one of her articles which are also virtually the same word for word every time?

No, to both parts of the question.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK
Game theory certainly applies to disciplining, sure, but I don't think it is all that clear that the same strategy is ideal in the iterated case as with PD. The payoff matrices are somewhat similar, but have a critical difference.

I thought I had rewritten this; "Disciplining" can certainly often be realized as having a PD-like payoff matrix.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Since you bring it up and did not mention this iteration, I kind of like the idea of two-tits-for-one-tat actually. (Especially when they are real and magnificent.) I will trade you one good, sturdy woman in the halls of power for the dufus, weenie-men we have now--whether that is in politics, religion etc. A winning motto: "More titty, less tatty." (Sorry, could not resist.)

Wonderful! Thank you, I loved the comment. Fortunately I read it between sips of coffee.

I wasn't sure if it would happen but I did wonder if someone would come up with some sort of comment playing off the tits in my comment (which was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, cmdicely, though Game Theory is a very interesting arena with application to biology including evolution, sexual selection, politics, and economics - which was its original focus). Your particular play off the tit-for-tat thing was quite worthy and better than what I feared the nature of such a comment would be.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on March 6, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

"dave at 12:08"

And we wonder why the erudite, liberal Christian, LW Phil no longer posts here.

By all means, Dave, let us paint all Christians with an extremely broad brush.

This party has been known for decades as having a very circus tent. Dave, with your lack of thinking, you are going to turn it into a pup tent.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 6, 2006 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think the tits are being directed exclusively at the same people from whom the tats are coming.

Ah, the rub...and I suspect you are correct. I also suspect that you may have a deeper understanding of Game Theory than I do. I am much more interested in it from the evolution/mate selection/biology focus and less so the political/economic focus.

In any case, I always enjoy your posts and never seek to offend you, even if your religiosity is, you know, bogus ;)

What do you do in the real world, anyway, cmdicely?

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on March 6, 2006 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

If I were a Republican troll working to keep evangelicals voting Republican, I would post hateful anti-Christian statements on liberal blogs. Posted by: Harold S.

What difference would that make since they wouldn't be visiting any to begin with?

All the "Christians" you are all yammering about winnning over aren't liberal. They are anti-intellectual and unless they are struck like Paul, and blinded by the light of reason, they'll never be under our tent, circus or pup. They are a lost cause.

Great piece about Jimmy Carter in the FT Weekend. The interview took place at a small restaurant in Plains. The comment from the owner was that while everyone respects Mr. Jimmy, they don't agree with him.

You are wasting your time.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Hostile, maybe you should spend more time considering pre-frontal lobotomy and less time thinking about abortion. Ask your doctor.

Like the Christian Fundementalists and Evangelicals who are insulted by Democrats, I am voting Republican from now on. NOT!

Posted by: Hostile on March 6, 2006 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Praedor:

You're very welcome! Humor is a wonderful thing. Perhaps the lack of which is really what is at the bottom of what is wrong with America more than anything else. We have forgotten how to laugh at ourselvses despite overflowing material. The more power folks get, the more they lose any trace of self depracation and humor.

I wondered if I would get clobbered by the usual humor police for a "sexist" remark, but since I have a fine set of aforementioned game theory playing pieces of my very own (both real and if I may be so immodest quite magnificent-- LOL) I felt empowered to make light of all of this. What fools we mortals be.

That is why I left the church (among a long list of various reasons). They who claim to be the uber-arbitors of the human condition seem to have little if no sense of humor. But yet the human condition is nothing but comic even as it is sometimes tragic. Jesus wept but apparently God laughs.

Posted by: mama on March 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Spirituality and religion are two completely differant things in todays society. Alot of the things done "in the name of god,"such as war,or of course the republican vote in an election,have nothing to do with god. Since the start of the church people have been using religion as a way to invoke fear,and manipulate the masses to get there way. Were does it change from what we think is right,into what the man at the podium, who's telling you god wants your money,says is right. Trying to win these sheep over to liberal status is creating two wrongs. Jesus is long gone,and god,is very dissapointed!

Posted by: bush+dick=fucked on March 6, 2006 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Let me see: the Democrats are already much closer to following the teachings of Jesus than are the Republicans, so we must support(abstinence-only education, late-term abortion bans, anti-homosexual bigotry) because a lot of Republicans, in their ignorance, believe that those are the teachings of Jesus. That's some good morality, that is.

Posted by: Calling All Toasters on March 6, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Amy Sullivan's program could backfire. The Sermon on the Mount works great for progressives, as does the religious rhetoric of the civil rights movement. But forget about demonizing abortion, not right after the Democrats caved on Alito. It could be an electoral disaster (besides being wrong).

One of the most reliable Democratic constituencies is single young women, those who vote, that is, since this is also a group that votes in low numbers. Simply finding a way to encourage them to vote in larger numbers could swing many races.

But with current events in South Dakota, Mississippi, and elsewhere, any movement on the Democratic side in the anti-choice direction is likely to anger this constituency so much that a lot of them will stay home; this could well cost more votes than can be picked up from evangelicals.

Some forms of pandering aren't worth the bother even if you have no principles. Take Al Gore's pandering on the Elian Gonzales issue; the anti-Castro Cubans all voted for Bush anyway, and a lot of middle-of-the-road Floridians were disgusted that a politician would try to take a kid away from his father in a transparent bid to win votes.

Posted by: Joe Buck on March 6, 2006 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

"The knee-jerk opposition of some Dems to anything Christian is damaging to the long-term prospects of the party and, frankly, a little bit bigoted and uninformed."

How else are the Dems going to monopolize the gay and black votes?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 6, 2006 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Let me see: the Democrats are already much closer to following the teachings of Jesus than are the Republicans, so we must support(abstinence-only education, late-term abortion bans, anti-homosexual bigotry) because a lot of Republicans, in their ignorance, believe that those are the teachings of Jesus.

You've missed the entire point. No one is saying that Democrats must support abstinence-only or late-term abortion bans. No one. The whole point is that because Democratic policies and principles are closer to Jesus' teachings than what Republicans pursue, Democrats don't have to change their substance to appeal to mod evangelicals. Your characterization of Amy's advice to Democrats is really just a straw man.

Posted by: religious lib on March 6, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Define Liberal?
To an Economist its an effect of transfer of wealth
To the Capitalist a Liberal is an effect. Not a Cause.

High Brow Liberals write books that are more or less Anti-Aristocrat.

Low Brow Liberals are the Ones Rush loves to talk about the Tax and spend Liberals whom are now the Do Not in actuality have become The Tax and spend spend spend Republicans.
[And Pocket what u cans]

Jerry Springer Liberals live in trailerparks get drunk fistfight in their underwear for some slut.

Hollywood Liberals are more high class sluts than the springer counterparts elevating to such heights as OPrah WInfrey.

Then we have the Neo-Liberal Bushco thats actually an Old Ivy League Liberal anyway....

Yah kno, all ah sea iz Hypocrites n blamers...

Posted by: one eye buck tooth [X^B on March 6, 2006 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK
What difference would that make since they wouldn't be visiting any to begin with?

Well, step two is pointing to those bigotted postings in postings on religious and conservative sites to demonstrate how nutso those Democrats and liberals are.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

animai, i'm curious about your comments regarding amy sullivan. do you subscribe to the washington monthly? she's perfectly consistent with the message charles peters has been conveying since the early 1970s.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on March 6, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

How else are the Dems going to monopolize the gay and black votes?

I'd love to hear how a perceived opposition to Christianity wins black votes in particular.

Posted by: latts on March 6, 2006 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK
Amy Sullivan's program could backfire. The Sermon on the Mount works great for progressives, as does the religious rhetoric of the civil rights movement. But forget about demonizing abortion, not right after the Democrats caved on Alito. It could be an electoral disaster (besides being wrong).

I don't think Democrats need to demonize abortion; I do think it would help win pragmatic pro-life voters, including non-insane evangelicals, if Democrats spent more time selling the idea that, in practice, legal freedom plus access to contraception and comprehensive sex education is more effective at reducing the rate at which people choose abortion (now, those willing to accept the premise that abortion might be morally undesirable could argue further that it is the morally superior path not just because it is more effective, but because, all other things being equal, it is better for people to choose not to do wrong than to be compelled not to.)

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Outreach to Republican voters should not come at the expense of a commitment to civil rights for all Americans. Some posters are happy if not eager to sacrifice the rights of gay Americans to form and protect their families in the belief that when the Democrats start sounding like Republicans, they will win like Republicans. First, this buys into the myth that the Democrats have somehow been a voice for protecting the civil right of gay people to marry. They haven't. As Kimmitt posts--applaudingly-- "Clinton could sign DOMA and mean it"-- and, as a result, gay couples lack family medical leave, social security survivor benefits, COBRA, and thousands of other protections available to other Americans. Hillary has embraced DOMA and no prominent Democrat has made the case that the denial of legal marriage to gay citizens is unfair, unjust or immoral. Instead, the Democrats have let the religious right usurp for itself the mantle of "family values" and "morality" on this and many other issues. As a result, many believe that the "moral" people are those who would deny a gay person rights they treasure for themselves. They believe that "religious" people are ones who want to marginalize their neighbors under the law. There may be those--even many-- for whom it is a pillar of faith that gay people must be treated badly and unequally in the eyes of the civil law, but that is hardly a pillar worth catering to, any more than religious justifications for slavery, for denying interracial couples the right to marry or for denying women the right to vote deserved respect. Second, the more they morally compromise, the more Democrats play into the Republican themes of being wishy-washy, flip floppers. The Republicans play fully to their base and are applauded for their commitment and conviction. Somehow, the Democrats learn from this that they, too, should play to the Republican base. As a result they get neutralized on Iraq, Katrina, corruption, health care and a host of other winning issues and run pathetic and uninspired campaigns. But at least they can blame gays who want to marry and women who want to protect their own bodies when they lose.

Posted by: David Goroff on March 6, 2006 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the word liberal does get thrown around a lot. It means something entirely different in Europe, nearly the opposite, of what it means in the US. But so does conservative. I personally find the characterizations of liberal democracy written by its sworn enemies to be informative (the Nazi Carl Schmitts characterization via Alan Wolfe is below). For me the 20th century has been a struggle between liberalism and totalitarianism of the left and right.

Schmitt argued that liberals, properly speaking, can never be political. Liberals tend to be optimistic about human nature, whereas "all genuine political theories presuppose man to be evil." Liberals believe in the possibility of neutral rules (Constitutions and separation of powers) that can mediate between conflicting positions, but to Schmitt there is no such neutrality, since any rule -- even an ostensibly fair one -- merely represents the victory of one political faction over another. ... Liberals insist that there exists something called society independent of the state, but Schmitt believed that pluralism is an illusion because no real state would ever allow other forces, like the family or the church, to contest its power. Liberals, in a word, are uncomfortable around power, and, because they are, they criticize politics more than they engage in it.

No wonder that Schmitt admired thinkers such as Machiavelli and Hobbes, who treated politics without illusions. Leaders inspired by them, in no way in thrall to the individualism of liberal thought, are willing to recognize that sometimes politics involves the sacrifice of life. They are better at fighting wars than liberals because they dispense with such notions as the common good or the interests of all humanity. ("Humanity," Schmitt wrote in a typically terse formulation that is brilliant if you admire it and chilling if you do not, "cannot wage war because it has no enemy.") Conservatives are not bothered by injustice because they recognize that politics means maximizing your side's advantages, not giving them away. If unity can be achieved only by repressing dissent, even at risk of violating the rule of law, that is how conservatives will achieve it.

In short, the most important lesson Schmitt teaches is that the differences between liberals and conservatives are not just over the policies they advocate but also over the meaning of politics itself. Schmitt's German version of conservatism, which shared so much with Nazism, has no direct links with American thought. Yet residues of his ideas can nonetheless be detected in the ways in which conservatives today fight for their objectives.


Posted by: bellumregio on March 6, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"...a recognition that abstinence education plays a role in lowering teen pregnancy rates (along with birth control)..."

Let's quibble over this uncontroversial statement lest we give a fraction of an inch on the albatross that is abortion. I've never liked abortion but have always been pro-choice, and there are probably many people like me. What's so wrong about working to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies? No one is suggesting that liberals should jettison their pro-choice principles to woo a few Christians. No one is suggesting abstinence should be promoted exclusively.

But "the left" must shoot itself in the foot because it is more important to be righteous than
in power.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I got your religious right right here!

From Daily Kos

Straight Talk on South Dakota?
by mcjoan
Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 11:21:13 AM PDT

John McCain, that self-styled "maverick" of Republican politics, continues to try to have it both ways, this time on the politics of abortion and specifically, the South Dakota ban.

A spokesperson said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would have signed the South Dakota legislation, "but [he] would also take the appropriate steps under state law -- in whatever state -- to ensure that the exceptions of rape, incest or life of the mother were included."

Well, Senator, the problem is that the South Dakota bill specifically ruled out exceptions for rape or incest, allowing only an exception for the health life of the mother, and by golly, the women of South Dakota were damned lucky to get that. I guess it's small comfort to know that their own lives rate just a little bit higher than a fertilized egg.

McCain has tried in the past to distance himself from the Party of Dobson, but the allure of those hard-core, dedicated votes just keeps bringing him back. And McCain isn't the only one.

Virginia Sen. George Allen's (R) chief of staff, Dick Wadhams, a national GOP strategist, said Allen "has consistently supported the rights of the people in their states to pass laws which reflect their views and values." A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said that if Romney were the governor of South Dakota, "he would sign it. [Romney] believes that states should have the right to be pro-life if that is the will of the people."

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/3/6/132113/2039

Posted by: Jeff II on March 6, 2006 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

You & Amy keep up with the religious bullshit & keep whining about not winning elections. Goddamnit, grow up. I am so sick of your ReThug-lite approach I could puke. Please, examine the causes for the Dems losing, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not someone is religious; it has everything to do with ReThug smear & fear campaigns. I am sick because people like you & Amy make me sick. Goddamnit one more time.

Posted by: Rick Penn on March 6, 2006 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

> if Democrats spent more time selling the idea
> that, in practice, legal freedom plus access to
> contraception and comprehensive sex education is
> more effective at reducing the rate at which
> people choose abortion

Unless the actual goal of the Radicals is the denial of sexual pleasure to women, followed by a return to the semi-subjugation of the 1800s. Which increasingly is what it looks like they are actually after, the abortion issue being a proxy/dogwhistle.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on March 6, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

After reading this thread, the question isn't how we can appeal to the 78% of born-again Christians disaffected with the GOP, the question is how can we retain the 22% of born-agains who voted for us, and convince them that while many young blogging hipsters consider them simple-minded superstitious rubes & a target for Snark, their view is not shared by the rest of the Democratic party.

Posted by: Dustin Ridgeway on March 6, 2006 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I always wanted to believe that most Christians were basically decent people, and would desert the Repiglicans once it was clear how corrupt, venial, dishonest, brutish, and immoral they really were. I just "keep the faith" as it were, as I waited and hoped. How good to see that many of the genuinely religious are finally coming around.

Posted by: Neil' on March 6, 2006 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of libertarianism as mentioned above: that whole philosophy is a fallacy.
1. Libertarians have never answered complaints about the initial justification of property out of the commons in the state of nature (why should it be given up for free?) Look up "geolibertarianism" for a more honest take on this problem.

2. They always dodge the issue that corporations are given some rights of a person as a gift (not owed naturally) and thus we can demand compensatory conditions on them. (I wish I could find that author who said they should be considered "wards of the state.")

3. The money supply is an artifical, socially-created mechanism that the public has a right to insist is operated in its interest - and an even-wore original validation problem exists as for property. Note that the market wouldn't be free even if no overt government interference existed, because in a modern money system, new money has to be created to cover an expanding economy and associated debt. That new currency cannot be simply traded for goods like existing hard currency, but must be allocated by a central authority. We let banks monetize debt, which gives them in effect free money, which means that we can demand compensatory mechanisms for everyone else.

Associated with the above is the Federal Reserve using interest rates to control employment, which is like flooding areas for dams - compensation is due those effected. And so on.

Look for the big thread I started on UseNet - "The foundational problem of libertarian theory."

Posted by: Neil' on March 6, 2006 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

Still, no one is really asking people like me to do much of anything except stay quiet, refrain from insulting religion qua religion in ways that would make people like Brinson unwilling to work with us, and let other people do the heavy lifting when it comes to persuading moderate Christians to support liberal causes and liberal candidates. That's not much to ask

Fuck you, Kevin.

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

You mean to tell me the GOP has a very successful propaganda machine?!

I was blind, but now I see.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy

I've never liked abortion

So don't have one.

And go fuck yourself.

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

religious lib

The whole point is that because Democratic policies and principles are closer to Jesus' teachings

Oy vey.

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Holy ad hominem Batman.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Liberal (i.e. mainstream) religions are not in any basic way incompatible with progressive ideals

Either is watching TV 24 hours a day.

Somehow I'm not inclined to pretend to encourage either activity.

Posted by: Batwoman on March 6, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy

Holy ad hominem Batman.

I know. It's crazy, ain't it?

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

It's common.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

?When and why did evangelicalism make the turn from populism to big-money social darwinism?

When Republicans like Ralph Reed and Karl Rove figured out how easy it was to manipulate stupidass paranoid evangelical rubes with bogus lies.

Next.

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy

It's common.

But I'm Batman.

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Oh yeah? Prove it.

Posted by: Lucy on March 6, 2006 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Remember what Rove's strategy has been in assembling victories in FL and OH. He didn't get all Jews--just some of the most security-minded (and Lieberman wasn't on the ballot in 2004). He didn't get all the Haitian-Americans in FL--just some more of them. He didn't get all of labor in OH--just some for whom cultural votes trumped economic ones, or the union leaders' endorsements. Its more of a cheese-grater approach than a carving knife, but it works.

Posted by: dell on March 6, 2006 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I surmise that in some areas of the country, it's socially very difficult to be a non-churchgoer. That has to suck. And you would like to vent all your frustration on Amy Sullivan. Her writing definitely has a theme.

But do you really think that teaching the Bible as literature is a bad thing, as long as it's done honestly, and not as a subterfuge for devotion and evangelism?

The Bible is the most important work of literature in the Western literary tradition. Bar none. Shakespeare comes in second, for us English speakers. There is a huge body of work out there that refers to the Bible and its characters. Isn't part of being an educated person knowing about this stuff?

I know lots of atheists who know the Bible well. Hell, I even know one who prays. He says, "it works."

And wouldn't you like to see fewer unwanted pregnancies?

Folks like the people Amy describes are prepared to be your political allies. By and large, they aren't much like the people that are making you miserable, they've simply been hornswoggled into voting Republican and are now waking up to that fact.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on March 6, 2006 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, the issue I have with Kevin's comment on Amy's article is this:

no one is really asking people like me to do much of anything except stay quiet, refrain from insulting religion qua religion

Which, for the most part (exceptions being demonstrated by some of the commenters here) is the status quo...The problem is that over the past few decades, the words 'Democrat-liberal-antireligion' have been all mashed together by a well-orchestrated smear campaign...'keeping quiet' has allowed this negative image to persist in the public consciousness. Keeping quiet isn't gonna be enough.

in ways that would make people like Brinson unwilling to work with us,

And that is actually the key; identifying common ground, building relationships and trust, and working with rational people from all sides to come to a state of compromise when there is a disagreement. Personally, I'm tired of the antagonism and posturing, 'tho I'm not willing to back down regarding issues of civil liberties.

and let other people do the heavy lifting when it comes to persuading moderate Christians to support liberal causes and liberal candidates.

Recipe for disaster, that is...What happens when these 'heavy lifters' make a promise that they cannot keep without alienating the other part of the base? Same thing that is happening to the Repubs right now.

That's not much to ask

Doesn't seem like it, but asking one side to lower its guard when there is little trust established is hard.

and Amy makes a pretty good case that it would make a difference.

Amy's article is good; any chance to promote rational, reasonable tolerance is in and of itself, good. Increasing voter support would be a happy by-product.

Posted by: grape_crush on March 6, 2006 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

People who identify as religious are having more children compared with those who are not. In a one person one vote country, you had better be prepared to kiss a little ass if you want the support of this large and growing voting block.

There are single issue voters. If they dont match your views, move along. The US is still a Democracy. Voters have every right to disagree for any and every reason. Even reasons you disagree with. Making fun of either the reasons or the person just costs you future votes.

The Democratic Party is more than willing to exclude individuals who have issues with people of different race or sexual orientation. For some reason the party is more than willing to keep people who have issues with followers of religion. The party might want to check its math when calculating if there are more people who identify with a religion or more people who identify against religion.

Laws represent an effort to force others to follow a specific set of mores by using the power of the State. There is no difference between say religious organizations and the environmental movement. Every group is attempting to use the law to enforce their individual views of right on wrong onto the public as a whole.

Posted by: james on March 6, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK
People who identify as religious are having more children compared with those who are not. In a one person one vote country, you had better be prepared to kiss a little ass if you want the support of this large and growing voting block.

Except, of course, its not really a growing voting block; the percentage that identify as religious have been decreasing, not increasing.

We religious may be having more kids, but more and more of those kids are becoming secularists.

Now, that being said, the vast majority still identify with some religion, and the sharp recent decline may do just about anything in the long term. Demographic trends are funny that way.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum wrote: When push comes to shove, they just care way more about sex and "moral degeneracy" than they do about helping the poor or taking care of the environment . . .

Which shows they are not really Christians.

Posted by: Nadine on March 6, 2006 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

There's a lot of sloppy generalization going on here. There is an assumption that the vast majority of evangelicals are repubs, that most evangelicals align themselves with Dobson and the other afformentioned advocacy groups. Evangelicalism is not a political affiliation, it is a doctinal affiliation. I'm willing to be that the the party breakdown of the evangelical community in the US is identical to the population as a whole. Stop generalizing about evangelicals and start understanding. Don't assume that because I'm an evangelical that I have any connection to Dobson and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Posted by: eah on March 6, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK
I'm willing to be that the the party breakdown of the evangelical community in the US is identical to the population as a whole.

How much is that bet, and what evidence will you accept that you are wrong?

While there is clearly more diversity in the evangelical community than many posters give credit for, I doubt very much that the partisan distribution of self-identified evangelicals is all that close to that of the population as a whole.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 6, 2006 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I had the impression, not well informed, that game theory held that cooperation was the best strategy unless one side foresaw a logical end or outcome, where tit-for-tat, or stabbing in the back, became the best strategy; and this applies in politics in that conservatives foresee an end to everything, their own deaths effectually, so, unable to seriously consider anything but themselves, they set about vindictively undermining anything that suggests it might move forward beyond the point of their own deaths.

Democracy is the point where we can agree to disagree and not let it bother us.

Posted by: cld on March 6, 2006 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

I would encourage liberals who view evangelicals as an undifferentiated fundmanetalist mass to read Alan Wolfe's "The Transformaiton of American Religion." It paints a vivid portrait of the growing evangelical movement as far more emotive than dogmatic. It is a culture of redemption, not damnation.

Rick Warren is far more representative of American evangelism than James Dobson. There is a tremendous opportunity to tap into the revival of the Social Gospel in an effort to bring non-fundamentalist evangelicals into a progressive coalition on issues of social justice. We can only hope that the Democrats seize on that opportunity as Sullivan's article suggests.

Posted by: Michael Pine on March 6, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Lucy

Oh yeah? Prove it.


((flies away))

Posted by: Batman on March 6, 2006 at 10:36 PM | PERMALINK

Doctor Jay

I know lots of atheists who know the Bible well. Hell, I even know one who prays. He says, "it works."

Reminds me of the Orthodox Jews I know who think that Hitler was the Messiah.

Posted by: Rev. James Grogan on March 6, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

All hail loser Drum!
Hell yeah let's bring back the ' libertarian theology' of 25 years ago - you all know what humongous success THAT was right!

HaHaHa!

Good one Drum - you crack me up sometimes. If there was a god it would be necessary to destroy it...a bit like Drum as any sort of ' politcial animal'. If he had any balls he'd have to lose them.

Posted by: professor rat on March 7, 2006 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

The Book of Bart
In the Bestseller 'Misquoting Jesus,' Agnostic Author Bart Ehrman Picks Apart the Gospels That Made a Disbeliever Out of Him

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/04/AR2006030401369.html
Posted by: Catch22

Yeah. Beat me to the punch.

Posted by: CFShep on March 6, 2006 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

Mr Erhman, is just resurfacing an old objection: How solid is the Bible?

Most Christians (who attend Sunday school anyway) know that bible was agreed upon at a meeting of the early Churches and that many of the gospels were passed on by oral tradition until they were written (1-2 generations after the death of the apostle. Churches tended to use the living witness when they were still around. Some of the timing differences, different impressions of each sermon are the result of these.

The thing is, Roman histories acknowledge the existance of an executed Jesus and various apostles work - these men died deaths as martyrs.
They didn't end up running a kingdom, community like the Prophet Muhammad or the Mormon Elders.
The argument that Jesus was a legend ignores the fact that first hand witnesses to this legend died for it.

You usually see martyrdom for a political cause (revolution/jihad) or for a charismatic leader (simultaneous suicide) but not anything like the sacrifice of the early apostles and Christians.

Posted by: McA on March 7, 2006 at 12:42 AM | PERMALINK

One thing in the Sullivan article struck me as being a fairly significant problem in terms of the Democrats successfully courting evangelicals.

The power structure in the Republican Party is too entrenched with big business. It's not with evangelicalsthey're a means to an end. The Christian Right? They just want to keep the culture war going because it raises a lot of money for them. Abramoff? Evangelicals were being used as pawns to promote a big money agenda. His fellow evangelicals? Can't they see that Republicans are just pandering to them?? He once was blind, but now he sees."

Okay, now I'd certainly like to be able to read this as being the thoughts of a man who has recently woken up from a long bout of sleepwalking, but the main thread I see in here is that the Republicans and the Christian Right bigwigs got the evangelicals in bed with them, then forgot their name in the morning...

...which I'm sure they did.

BUT... I think the unspoken thing here is, what did the evangelicals want out of the Republicans that they didn't get, which Democrats are now talking about giving to them?

If it's something other than the standard anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-science, anti-heathen trip, then yes... I suppose anything is possible.

However, if what Democrats would have to give them in order to get their vote is the retrograde theocracy agenda that so many evangelicals thought they'd be getting out of the GOP and don't feel they've yet gotten enough of... how are Democrats going to suddenly get these folks' support without simply aping the GOP's evangelical pandering?

It almost sounds to me like what this Brinson fellow wants is a version of the Republican party that pays more attention to an evangelical Christian agenda than they pay to big business. I may very well be reading his words (and the implications behind them) incorrectly, and perhaps Ms. Sullivan took Brinson's words out of context. But from where I'm sitting it doesn't look like the Democrats are going to gain the support of folks like this Mr. Brinson without adopting the set of political priorities that evangelicals thought the Republicans had adopted.

If this is what the Democrats have to do in order to get back in power (and I personally don't happen to believe that it is) then really... what's the point? If all we end up is two parties going after the evangelical vote, with any sense of a progressive agenda thrown to the wind to placate the evangelicals... what's left for those of us who don't happen to support the repeal of the Enlightenment, the treatment of women as little more than uteri with feet and an ability to cook, and the dismissal of gays as third-class citizens?

Sure, I think it's a fine idea to extend a hand to Christians who don't happen to hold a Medieval worldview. I know plenty of folks out there who have no problem worshipping Christ and voting Republican, and if the Democratic party feels that it needs to maybe be a little more welcoming to these folks, then fine.

But beyond that, it seems to me that to satisfy evangelicals who till recently thought the sun rose and set on the Republican party and are looking for another political vehicle for their theocratic agenda, the Democrats would have to out-Republican the Republicans in terms of social policy... or else just do what these folks apparently believe the Republicans did to them: pay tons of lip service to their agenda, throw them a few bones, and then forget about them in the end.

Either way, what does this really get us in the long-run?

Aren't there plenty of other untapped sources of votes out there that the Democrats can go for without turning the party over to an evangelical political agenda?

Posted by: Uh...Clem. on March 7, 2006 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

dada dada dada dada dada dada dada dada

http://crookedtimber.org/2006/03/06/evangelicals-and-democrats/

Posted by: Lucy on March 7, 2006 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

Thats a demand for Christian Supremacy: for Christianity to be a privileged ideology which maintains social, cultural, and political power in part because it is kept immune from criticism or challenge. So long as people are prevented from talking about how the emperor has no clothes, the emperor retains power and authority over the sheep who meekly submit. The truth is that we need people who are willing to speak out of turn, willing to be impolite, and willing to rudely challenge those in power. Full Post...

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 7, 2006 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

((flies away))

Praise the Lord!

Posted by: Lucy on March 7, 2006 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

Many of the comments reflect an ignorance of Christians. Christian churches and charities, as a group, are one of the largest givers of help, support, and money to the needy in the United States and around the world. A recent analysis of the red state/blue state divide regarding giving shows that red states by far are the largest givers and of that group the southern states are the largest. Most of this giving is through churches and Christian charities. The Methodist church was the second largest private provider of money and help for the tsunami victims behind the Red Cross. The highest ranked blue state was 45th in the survey. So much for the (phony) compassion of the liberals. By the way the reason most of you didn't know these facts is that Christians ask for nothing in return and don't seek headlines.

It appears that the secular prosletyzers commenting in this blog really don't have a grasp of Christianity but seem to hold views that are "sold" in hollywood and the mainstream media or support a misguided moral superiority which is laughable and hypocritical. You guys might want to sit down with the "quiet" Christians, who are the bulk of the believers, and get a real sense of who they are. But, maybe, that's too frightening because it may change your (closed)and judgmental minds. It seems that you're more comfortable just holding on to your ignorant and superficial views. Most Christians put their money where their beliefs are without having to open their mouths. Based on the record one can't say this about the secular moralists.

Posted by: gordo on March 7, 2006 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Most Christians put their money where their beliefs are without having to open their mouths."

No, not as much as you think.

Posted by: Austin Cline on March 7, 2006 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

The thing is, Roman histories acknowledge the existance of an executed Jesus and various apostles work - these men died deaths as martyrs. McAshcan

Roman histories also asserted that the interior of Africa was populated by pigmies with one eye in the middle of their forehead...and Amazons...

Posted by: CFShep on March 7, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum is wildly ignorant about evangelicals and conservative Christians, and in particular their work with the poor and sick around the world.

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt on March 7, 2006 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

"By the way the reason most of you didn't know these facts is that Christians ask for nothing in return and don't seek headlines."

That's excellent. Now, my question is... are these the same sort of Christians who have been supporting the politicization of their faith via the GOP (and who apparently the Democrats need to begin aiming their platform at attacting, according to Ms. Sullivan) or are these Christians who are motivated by something more noble?

As I mentioned, I know plenty of "quiet Christians" who vote for Democrats. But when you start talking about evangelical Christians, as Sullivan seems to be, then are we still really talking about the "quiet Christians" you mention?

One thing that I think a lot of Christians with a chip on their shoulder about the Democrats seem to miss is the fact that a lot of what's perceived (and often spun in the media) as some deep-seated "anti-Christian" attitude among Democrats is actually resistance to the politicization of Christianity of which the GOP has made so much hay, and which really boils down to a religious sect or group of religious sects attempting to cram their personal belief system down everyone's throats via legislation.

This has been getting worse for years now, and it is naive as hell for Christians to believe that this won't create a strong backlash among people who don't hold the same beliefs as these politically-oriented Christian sects. Hell, I know CHRISTIANS who don't want any part of what the Religious Right is selling.

So yes, I do understand that Christian does not necessarily equal Christian Right. But the fact is that the Christian Right has been allowed so much leeway as the years have gone by that a lot of Democrats are understandably leery of allowing their party to be co-opted by the same sort of theocratic activism that has been such a staple of the GOP for so long.

Do some Democrats overcompensate in response? I'm sure they do. But I think that while overcompensation may be sloppy and something to be avoided, in this case it stems from a valid concern. As much as some Democrats may need to not throw the baby out with the bathwater when dealing with people who happen to be Christians, I also think that Christians who aren't interested in the agenda of the so-called Christian Right and are looking for a political home because of that need to meet the Democrats halfway in more effectively differentiating "quiet Christianity" from the theocratic agenda of the Christian Right.

In other words, I think there's room for better communication on both sides of this thing.

Posted by: Uh...Clem. on March 7, 2006 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK
But when you start talking about evangelical Christians, as Sullivan seems to be, then are we still really talking about the "quiet Christians" you mention?

Yes. Most activists of the Christian Right are evangelicals or fundamentalists, but most evangelicals or fundamentalists are not activists of the Christian Right.

One thing that I think a lot of Christians with a chip on their shoulder about the Democrats seem to miss is the fact that a lot of what's perceived (and often spun in the media) as some deep-seated "anti-Christian" attitude among Democrats is actually resistance to the politicization of Christianity of which the GOP has made so much hay, and which really boils down to a religious sect or group of religious sects attempting to cram their personal belief system down everyone's throats via legislation.

I'm a Christian, I'm a Democrat. It doesn't matter what it's a response to, its still anti-Christian bigotry, and it demobilizes Christians that already agree with us in substance, and it makes it harder to win people that might be convincable.

This has been getting worse for years now, and it is naive as hell for Christians to believe that this won't create a strong backlash among people who don't hold the same beliefs as these politically-oriented Christian sects.

Its not that I don't understand it, just as I understand when people see images of black people as criminals more often on their TV, without context, and "respond" to that with racism against blacks; Understanding does not always mean excusing.

It is equally naive, OTOH, for Democrats not to expect that manifest anti-Christian bigotry, whatever it is a "response to", isn't going to help the party win many votes in a country that has an overwhelming Christian majority.

So yes, I do understand that Christian does not necessarily equal Christian Right. But the fact is that the Christian Right has been allowed so much leeway as the years have gone by that a lot of Democrats are understandably leery of allowing their party to be co-opted by the same sort of theocratic activism that has been such a staple of the GOP for so long.

No one, I don't think, is asking Democrats to allow their party to be coopted by theocratic activism. People are talking, mostly, about refining the message to appeal to religious voters without altering the substance.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 7, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Certainly leaves me in a tough spot.

I have to say I think 'reaching out' isn't going to work. We have to present the material, among ourselves, by which religious voters can find their way in to the material of liberal democracy. The history of the religious involvement in progressive causes of about a hundred years ago is largely ignored on the left these days, mostly because Prohibition was a religious-driven progressive cause, but there is so much more to it than that.

Reaching out may too easily seem like pandering. Like saying 'you're a hundred years behind us, fella.' So I think it we should be careful not to try, but rather to emphasize, for our own benefit, the history of the development of the left within the religious temperament.

Posted by: cld on March 7, 2006 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

Many of the comments reflect an ignorance of Christians.

No, they don't. I was raised in a fundamentalist house, and most of the negative comments directed towards Christians are spot-on with respect to conservative evangelicals. They may not apply to liberal Episcopalians but that's not the demographic Amy Sullivan is writing about. Look, folks, this is simple.

Separation of Church and State

Remember that quaint concept? Religion needs to stay out of politics. Period. I do not give a damn who what or how people choose to worship, but I'm sick of hearing about it and reading articles by pundits who wrongly believe that refining our appeal to the religious right will somehow save the Democratic Party. I. do. not. care. what. your. religious. beliefs. are. I just don't. Keep them to yourself. Don't like abortion? Don't have one. Don't like gay marriage? Don't marry someone of the same gender. If the Democratic Party would simply focus on the real issues that matter to real Americans--health care, jobs, education, environment, security--they will succeed. The introduction and passage of a single payer health care system, the raising of the minimum wage, a solution to rising college costs, real measured improvement to public education will all do more to win votes than a thousand prayer meetings or Clintonian religious speeches.

So, really, Ms. Sullivan needs to move on. Her one-note routine is both tiresome and fundamentally flawed.

Anyway, as per usual, PZ Myers at Pharyngula said it better:

No thanks. I've got another suggestion. How about if we reassure the evangelicals that they will always be free to worship as they please, there will be no interference by the government in their religion, but that in a nation with so many different religions floating around, we must and always will be a secular state and religion must stop interfering in government. Your belief in Jesus or Odin or the FSM is not a qualification for service in government (nor is it an obstacle), and isn't even a testimonial to the quality of your character. The small-minded bigots who would like to see the non-religious effectively disenfranchised are not the solution to the Democratic party's problems: they are the problem.

Posted by: TJ on March 7, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

"I'm a Christian, I'm a Democrat. It doesn't matter what it's a response to, its still anti-Christian bigotry, and it demobilizes Christians that already agree with us in substance, and it makes it harder to win people that might be convincable."

Okay, define "anti-Christian bigotry" as you see it. Because it would be incredibly easy for me to respond to exactly the wrong thing here if I assume I know what it is that you're referring to.

What I was primarily talking about is the notion, often put forth, that the Democrats need to either alter the substance of their agenda, stop supporting gay folks, stop supporting a woman's right to have the final say over her own body, stop supporting the separation of church and state, etc., in order to win over evangelicals (Not "Christians", but "evangelical Christians") or that at least some degree of a fundamentalist political agenda needs to be incorporated into the Democratic platform in order to appeal to this demographic.

You say, however, that you're not in favor of the Democrats changing the substance of their platforms, positions, etc.

However, you're still leveling accusations of "anti-Christian bigotry", and I'm really not sure what you're specifically referring to. Yes, there are people in the Democratic party who have had such terrible experiences dealing with fundamentalist Christians that they don't personally have much use for that particular strain of Christianity. There are atheists In the Democratic party who don't have much use for religion of any kind, Christian or otherwise. These days, do you really think those folks are going to tend to be clamoring to support the GOP? The Democrats often get these folks by default because of the way the Christian Right has polarized the country.

Then you've got folks like my dad, who's a deacon in his church, and who has been a Democrat ever since before I was born. He's certainly never felt discriminated against by the Democrats for being a churchgoer. I know plenty of other people like that too... "regular churchgoin' folk" who are also Democrats.

So again, if it's not an objection on your part to unwillingness to change the substance of the Democratic platform to include sugar-coated versions of the same tired old Christian Right planks that Democrats don't want to hear about from the GOP, what exactly is the anti-Christian bias you're speaking out against? I ask that not at all as a gauntlet thrown down in challenge... I ask out of genuine curiosity about what you want to hear and don't want to hear from folks like me.

Hell, one of my best friends from childhood is a right-wing fundamentalist (bailed from a southern Baptist church his family belonged to because he felt it wasn't conservative enough) but we manage to get along just fine when I'm home for a visit. So it's not like I can't talk to even the hardcore right-wingers, let alone "quiet Christians" or whatever you want to call it. ;^)

Posted by: Uh...Clem. on March 7, 2006 at 8:33 PM | PERMALINK

If the religious really see the GOP as an "abusive boyfriend" then we're really in deep shit cause they'll keep coming back and coming back to that daring bad boy until the domestic abuse becomes a "crime of passion".

Posted by: teammarty on March 8, 2006 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter cmdicely: Religious liberals are fragile souls that cannot handle being told that non-religious liberals consider their religious beliefs a bunch of superstitious nonsense.

Posted by: Secular on March 8, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I'm not a religious man myself, but as long as one isn't of that particular strain of Christianity that is constantly trying its damnedest to drag the world back into the 1500s, then I really don't have a problem with what somebody chooses to believe.

Like I said before, I know plenty of folks who are Christians without being Trekkies about it. I may not subscribe to the belief system that they do, but as long as they aren't fucking with me about it, I don't see any reason to fuck with them about it. Y'know?

Posted by: Uh...Clem. on March 9, 2006 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

I will say in all fairness, though, the article that started this whole discussion dealt with Republicans refusing to back a Christian Right attempt to circumvent a Supreme Court decision barring Bible classes in public schools, their refusal based merely on the fact that Democrats were backing the measure. What pissed off Brinson was the fact that the Republicans were choosing partisan politics over the Christian agenda, and that prominent Christian Right political action groups were choosing the Republicans over the Christian agenda.

So, this isn't just good ol' Christians we're really talking about here. It's still the Christian Right, just the less politically-opportunistic ones.

I would definitely have a problem with the Democrats picking up these folks' agenda simply to get some potential votes from a few people who don't think the GOP is catering strongly enough to them. Now, if that makes me an anti-Christian bigot in some people's eyes, so be it. I'm not... I just do not support the Christian Right political agenda, regardless of whether there's an R or a D after the names of the politicians backing it.

Posted by: Uh...Clem. on March 9, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly