Jesus And Voting

Came across an editorial by Amy Sullivan in the Washington Post this morning, How Would Jesus Vote? I’m an Evangelical — and a Liberal. Really. This followed on the heels of Charlotte’s excellent post about Sullivan’s recent Salon interview.

Salon asked Sullivan, “Do you think that many Democrats underestimate just how religious many of the members of their party are?”

Well duh. Naturally, Sullivan answered in the affirmative.

I can attest that I am one of many liberal religious tired of being maligned by my own people. I mean, sheesh, too many liberals seem to assume that their fellow liberals are 99% agnostic or atheist. Think again. I am not an evangelical, but I am a Christian and I do vote.

And with the popularity of books by religion-haters like Dawkins and Hitchens, some anti-religious are becoming more vitriolic than ever in their rhetoric. So certain of their rightness, they appear more fundamentalist than many of the religious they deride. Talk about rigid. Talk about closed-minded. Talk about arrogant.

We don’t co-exist by attacking one anothers’ religion, or lack of. One lesson that we would all do well to remember: We are unlikely to convince others by becoming louder, brasher, uglier. (In fact, on issues like this, we are unlikely to convince one another at all—we’re likely each preaching to our own choir.)

In the Post article, Sullivan writes that she was at a panel discussion in Manhattan when “a man stood up to declare that Democrats who reached out to religious voters, especially evangelicals, were akin to those who collaborated with the Nazis.”

Nazis. Wow.

And:

“Walking through Dulles Airport not long after losing the 2004 election, John Kerry was stopped by a supporter. The man shook Kerry’s hand and told the senator that he was an evangelical. ‘I voted for you,’ he said, ‘and so did a lot of evangelicals. But you could have gotten more of us if you’d tried.’ Kerry was floored. Evangelical Democrats?”

Truthfully, I am not sure that reaching out to religious voters is a great idea, because separation of church and state is important—but why alienate us? Why does the Democratic party so often seem aligned with the anti-religious, the oh-too-vocal atheists? The fact is that many of the issues that are important to Christians also happen to be liberal values—putting people before corporate interests, feeding the hungry, ensuring access to health care for all, peacemaking.

I find it interesting that (according to Sullivan) many evangelicals seem to be questioning their alliance with the Republican party. Sullivan writes:

Between November 2004 and July 2007, the percentage of white evangelicals who identified themselves as Republican declined from roughly 50 percent to 40 percent.

That dramatic slump was driven by a stampede of younger evangelicals away from the GOP. Christian colleges have become even bigger centers of political activism than secular universities, protesting the Iraq war and demanding that campuses “go green.” A recent Time magazine poll of voters ages 18 to 29 found that 35 percent of young Democrats and 35 percent of young independents identify themselves as born-again.

Jesus was all about serving the disenfranchised, lifting up the poor; he was not aligned with the privileged, the wealthy, the big wigs. He did not promote tax cuts for the rich, or war, or intolerance of people who are different.

In my mind, it makes sense that Christians would tend toward the liberal end of the political spectrum—as long as they’re not driven away by liberal atheists. Democrats should make peace with the fact that most Americans—yes, even liberals—are religious.

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8 Comments

Filed under politics, religion

8 responses to “Jesus And Voting

  1. I bet you’ve read “God’s Politics,” by Jim Wallis, on this very subject, but if you haven’t, you should! Great book.

    Loved your point of view. I really don’t understand why people think Jesus would have been a Republican 😉

  2. I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Mike Harmon

  3. Mike, Thanks for reading my blog!

    Yogamum, Funny you should mention Wallis—I’m going to go hear him speak tomorrow! And no, I haven’t read that book, but I’ve been meaning to for a while. He has a new book called The Great Awakening. I also like Sojourners.

  4. So much to go into here!!

    First of all I am very tortured right now by the level of angry anti-religious rhetoric among part of my blogging circle. It is so disheartening to hear otherwise compassionate and allegedly peace-seeking folk say such hateful things about religion, religious people and so forth.

    I know I need to post about it too and I am reluctant as my feelings are still so raw about it. Twice last week I cried when reading things at the blogs of “friends” – did they mean to be hurtful? No. But were they? Yes.

    Sometimes I bring it up and I get the token Christian response – “but Fran you are one of the nice ones!” WTF does that mean (i told you this was raw for me)????

    I actually wrote someone an email this morning asking them if they thought it would be nice if I put the following on my blog-

    “Wow, you are so articulate for a black person!” and then this- “For a Jew, you are not cheap at all!”

    No one would say that but they would most easily say – and think they are being nice – “wow for a Christian you are so open minded!”

    Grrrrr…. It makes me angry, I need to calm down.

    Which brings me to other points. Sorry if I sound like a crank, I guess I am today.

    That Amy Sullivan piece got on my nerves when I read it the other day.

    I was entranced by Wallis when I first heard him speak in January 2006, but have since cooled. After you see him we can speak via email about it if you wish.

    Time to go breathe!!!

  5. Fran, The rhetoric is becoming so divisive. I saw something on a blog (I think I got there from yours) recently about religious people being sheep—I don’t remember the wording exactly, but it was quite insulting and derisive.

  6. fran and wyrdbyrd, I believe people say that stuff about christians because of the “christians” I wrote about in my post “onward christian soldiers.”

    of course not all christians and “religious people” are like that, the same way not all muslims are fundamentalist muslims. personally I see no difference between a fundamentalist muslim or a fundamentalist christian. they both think they’re right, I’m wrong, and I’m going to hell, which I’ve been told on more than one occasion! I know there are a few out there praying for me because I’m one of those heathen Buddhists.

    as a United Church of Christ minister told me, it’s “‘those christians’ who give the rest of us a bad name.”

  7. Linda, You are so right. I wish people wouldn’t throw every Christian into the same pot. I know, however, that it is well-deserved by a certain segment of the population—-unfortunately the segment that gets media attention. All the quiet Christians going about their daily lives trying to follow Jesus are invisible. I know a lot of these people, but according to the media, they don’t exist.

    I read a book a few years back by Karen Armstrong on fundamentalism and she makes the point that fundamentalism tends to be fear-driven.

    I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “they think they’re right.” We all tend to think we’re right, and when arrogance and ego enter into the equation, you get mean-spirited rhetoric. I see it from the fundamentalist Christians and from the fundamentalist atheists! We will never live together in peace with this attitude.

    Peace to you, my Buddhist sister.

  8. yes, totally agree with karen armstrong re fear driven. I believe the two emotions that rule peoples’ lives, even more so than love, are fear and anger. think about how many people live their lives in fear and/or anger.

    look at two of the “fears” of fundamentalists: women (Taliban) and choice (murdering drs. who do abortions).

    and you’re right about fundamentalist atheists and I’ve known a few fundamentalist Buddhists (altho not many! 🙂 ) — they hang out at a Buddhist website I won’t mention arguing which path is quickest toward enlightenment (among other things!)

    and of course THEIR path is the RIGHT one!

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