Category Archives: religion

Words I Won’t Give Up (Plus, Falafel & Doubloon)

Liberal. For a while there I went along and identified myself as Progressive. Some say the L word as if they’re talking about the most evil, most corrupted beings on earth. The RNM has been effective. Yeah, I believe everyone should have access to decent health care (meaning, yes, free, or very affordable) and I don’t believe in war to solve our problems and I think people and their needs (yes, even gay people and poor people and other unpopulars) should come before big business. I also believe we should be responsible stewards of the environment. Go ahead, stamp me with the L.

Religion/Christianity. I know it’s common these days to insist I’m not religious, I’m spiritual. Religion is now equated with rigid belief systems, with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson. And with anti-science, anti-evolution backward-headedness. But I’ve been hanging on to this word. Religion is important to my life; it includes church-going, singing hymns, praying, reading religious books, writing religious gobbledygook. Loving Christ. So no, the fundamentalists cannot have the R word. And they can’t have the C word, either. Christ doesn’t belong to anybody.

Feminism. (The Other F Word.) Okay this one, I admit has been slandered so effectively that I wouldn’t label myself a feminist in most company. But hey, what’s it mean? “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men. ” Pretty ridiculous, eh? Could destroy the country.

On the smearing of feminism:

One of the most outrageous but effective conservative efforts in the last few decades has been the transformation of “feminism” into a dirty word. What began as the label for those who proudly worked on the frontlines to ensure equal rights for women has now been twisted to serve as a code word for alleged emasculating abortionists who can be blamed for everything from excessive litigation to the gay rights movement to the moral decadence of pop culture.

No one has been more influential in this sleight of hand than the conservative movement’s godmother, Phyllis Schlafly, the Trent Lott of gender equality.

For many Americans, the name “Phyllis Schlafly” conjures up images of her circa 1972 – when she was a Donna Reed doppelganger leading a 10-year battle against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). More than thirty years later, you might think this mother of six and leader of the so-called “pro-family movement” would have long since retired to the kitchen where – she claimed – all women belong.

Alas, she has failed to take her own advice. At 80 years old, she’s still waging the war against equal rights that she began in the 1960s, with the gusto of an overzealous preteen. Her weekly newsletter, The Phyllis Schlafly Report (now in its 38th year) lets her fulminate on everything from gay marriage to feminism in academia. She weighed in on the controversy surrounding Harvard University President Larry Summers’ recent remarks about the place of women in science, saying: “The outburst by feminist professors simply confirms the stereotype … that they are too emotional to handle intellectual or scientific debate.” Her newsletter can be read in 100 newspapers around the country and is accompanied by her radio commentaries, heard daily on 460 stations and on the Internet. Instead of leading the tranquil life of a grandma, darning sweaters and cleaning the oven and taking a few moments out of her day to dash off a bit of punditry, she’s still as hot as any of the fiery young pundits the right has, and she too is working the college circuit. In fact, it seems that Schlafly debates on campuses more frequently than any other conservative.

And a couple of genius quotes from the woman herself:

“The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” Mother Jones, (no longer available online)

“Many years ago Christian pioneers had to fight savage Indians. Today missionaries of these former cultures are being sent via the public schools to heathenize our children.” (Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum)

The above from.

And here‘s an exposé  of the ubiquitous, the evil, Liberal Media.

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My spellchecker didn’t like Falwell—thought it should be Falafel. It didn’t like Dobson, either—wanted it to be Doubloon. Jerry Falafel and James Doubloon, yahoo! (It thought Schlafly should be Scholarly—ha!)

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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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Filed under politics, religion