Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Christian Right v the Christian Left

From the Daily Beast, describing The Religious Right’s Slow-Motion Suicide
I it’s not just same-sex marriage. The country has liberalized culturally in a range of ways in the past six or eight years, and it’s not only not going back, it’s charging relentlessly forward. .... 
[The Christian Right is] a group that is losing power, and I think the leaders and even the rank-and-filers know it. Their vehicle, the Republican Party, is going libertarian on them. Rand Paul, whether he wins the 2016 nomination or not, is clearly enough of a force within the party that he is pushing it away from the culture wars. He is joined in this pursuit by the conservative intellectual class, which knows the culture wars are a dead-bang loser for the GOP and which finds the culture warriors more than a little embarrassing, and by the establishment figures, the Karl Rove types, who stroked them back in 2004 but who now see them as a liability, at least at the presidential level. There are still, of course, many states where these voters come in quite handy in that they elect many Republican representatives and senators.
Of course, they aren't going easily.  And they have a new bogeyman, the Christian Left.
A resurgence of the Christian left may seem a distant hope, but the idea of it has certainly spooked the Christian right. Such is the impetus for Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel & Damaging the Faith. It's a curious book from accomplished evangelical author Chelsen Vicari, who aims in it to address a "crisis" in evangelicalism — namely the rise of a Christian left. 
Vicari's book is neither a principled critique of Christian leftism writ large nor a principled defense of a Christian right-wing; on the contrary, it's very narrowly focused on American Christians who align with the Democratic Party versus American Christians who align with the Republican Party. It's in favor of the latter, of course, but in so doing it visits a number of tired arguments that are only tenuously linked to Christianity, and are more thoroughly associated with secular partisan politics.

Are we on the Christian left really the Bogeyman? Do we really have that kind of influence? 
Not yet — but we are working on it. 
And it’s working. 
And that’s what makes us so scary to Vicari and her readership. 
When we were a voice that was constantly drowned out by the megaphone that is the Christian right and their maniacal stronghold on traditional forms of communication, Vicari probably thought of us as that annoying little dust bunny under the bed that just would not go away. 
With the continued rise of new forms of communication and the way social media has given progressive Christians the ability to connect and be heard, we’ve become a threat. We’re no longer the annoying little dust bunny under the bed. We are the big bad monster that is ruining everything.
What conservative Christianity has become looks far too little like what the teachings of Jesus would encourage us to be. 
Causing a crisis of faith in that kind of belief system? I’m all for it.

1 comment:

dr.primrose said...

Frank Bruni (N.Y. Times) writes about "The [RC} Church’s Gay Obsession" - http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-the-churchs-gay-obsession.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region

"The blunt truth of the matter is that during a period when the legalization of gay marriage has spread rapidly in this country, from just six states in 2011 to more than three times that number today, Catholic officials here have elected to focus on this one issue and on a given group of people: gays and lesbians.

"Their moralizing is selective, bigoted and very sad. It's also self-defeating, because it's souring many American Catholics, a majority of whom approve of same-sex marriage, and because the workers who've been exiled were often exemplars of charity, mercy and other virtues as central to Catholicism as any guidelines for sex. But their hearts didn’t matter. It was all about their loins. Will the church ever get away from that?"


"When I discussed the issue with Lisa Sowle Cahill, a professor of theology at Boston College, she wondered aloud if Catholic superiors would dismiss someone or deny him or her communion for supporting the death penalty, which is against Catholic teaching. She and I alike marveled at how little we heard from American church leaders during all the news months ago about botched executions.

"'The bishops have picked up gay marriage ever since the 2004 presidential election as a special cause that they are against,' Cahill noted. She said that they were 'staking out a countercultural Catholic identity' that doesn’t focus on 'social justice and economic issues.'

"'It's about sex and gender issues,' she said, adding that it might be connected to the disgrace that church leaders brought upon themselves with their disastrous handling of child sexual abuse by priests. Perhaps, she said, they're determined to find some sexual terrain on which they can strike a position of stern rectitude.

"'They're trying to regain the moral high ground, no matter how sure it is to backfire,' she said. Having turned a blind eye to nonconsensual sex that ravaged young lives, they're holding the line against consensual sex that wounds no one.

"It's crucial to remember that in many cases in which the church has punished same-sex couples, their homosexuality and even their same-sex partnerships were widely known and tacitly condoned for some time beforehand. What changed was their interest in a civil marriage, suddenly made possible by laws that are evolving more humanely than the church is. The couples in question stepped up and made loving commitments of a kind that the church celebrates in other circumstances. For this they were spurned. It’s shameful."