God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Dear Kos, Can the Left Stop Shooting Itself in the Foot?

posted by gp_intern

Dear Kos,

I read your piece, Religion, values, and politics, and liked a lot of what you said. But I have a few responses to it. You and I have discussed this before, and you are clearly not attacking religion per se, as too many secular progressives have done for a long time. As a progressive Christian, I always wondered why many on the secular Left felt it necessary to cut off potential political alliances with progressive religious people, to alienate most of America with nasty anti-faith diatribes, and to choose to ignore the history of most of the social reform movements in this country, where religion often served as a powerful motivator and driving force – as in the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, establishing child labor laws and social safety nets and, of course, the civil rights movement. In recent years, the Left and even the Democrats managed to appear hostile to faith and to people in faith communities. Regardless of what one’s views of the divine are, that’s called shooting yourself in the foot.

And nobody has been more critical of the Religious Right and their “perverted” use of biblical texts, as you rightly put it, than progressive religious leaders themselves. But the mainstream media and the secular Left appeared to have one very odd thing in common. They both seemed to want Americans to believe they had only two choices: the Religious Right OR the secular Left. There were always millions of religious moderates and progressives who didn’t fit either category, and felt left out of the discussion. My book, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It, served to bring many of those folks out of the closet. A book about progressive faith in America became a best-seller only because it revealed what was already there – lots of unrepresented people, including a new generation of evangelicals who now had a broader agenda than just two issues. But, frankly, the response to the book has been mixed in secular Left circles. Some are quite pleased that the Religious Right’s political dominance was finally being challenged, and Tim Russert and Jon Stewart were now featuring other, more progressive religious voices. They also saw the electoral results of Democrats learning to make the connection between issues and values, as you suggested they should, and from becoming more faith-friendly. But others felt, and still feel, quite threatened by all that, fearing any kind of faith talk among progressive people, and objecting to Democrats “getting religion” – something they regard as foreign and hostile to their political agenda.

I’m also on record against Democrats’ “getting,” using, or manipulating religion for political purposes, simply mimicking what the Republicans have done so shamelessly. I’ve continuously said that “religion has no monopoly on morality,” agreeing with your point that “morality and ethics don’t have to come from religion.” But values can come from religion, and it’s important that Left seculars really embrace that reality too. I’ve said that religion must be disciplined by democracy, and publicly expressed in ways that are consistent with both pluralism and diversity. That means you don’t say (as the Religious Right often has) that this is a Judeo-Christian country and so we get to win! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. never did that. He invoked Jesus and Isaiah as the roots of his political convictions and held out his spiritual vision of the “beloved community,” but then made moral and political arguments (not religious ones) on behalf of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and a Voting Rights Act in 1965. He had to persuade all Americans, not just the religious citizens, that civil rights legislation was best for the common good, not just for the black Baptists like him. When we get to the public square, religious communities and candidates motivated by their faith must make a moral turn, and speak in a language accessible to all of our citizens, religious or not. You said it well; the real political conversation is one about values, no matter what their source. Indeed, the country is hungry for a new moral discourse on politics – it’s one that we all need and are all needed for. Nobody gets kicked to the curb.

But for some, faith is part of “what makes a candidate tick,” as you put it. And that has to be okay, too. You were pretty tough on Harold Ford, and seemed to blame his faith for his views that you don’t like. I disagree with some of Ford’s views too, but don’t think his faith is the problem. You like Tester of Montana and Webb of Virginia better, and seem to suggest their lack of expressed faith gives them better views. But I like Barack Obama too, and he and I have been talking about the connection between progressive faith and politics for 10 years. And I recently met Tim Kaine, also of Virginia and a strong person of faith, who seems to be at least as progressive, if not more so, than Webb or Tester. My point is, agree or disagree with a candidate’s positions, but don’t blame their faith for them. The same day your piece came out, The Wall Street Journal (of course) ran an editorial castigating secular leftists one more time, suggesting that those who disagreed with the Religious Right were showing their hostility to religion. Again, the assumption was that the only choice is between right-wing faith or militant secularism. And yesterday, I battled with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, who once more insisted that the real moral issue is still abortion, and the Democrats will always find that to be the obstacle to becoming truly religious. It’s time to change the conversation on all sides.

So Kos, let’s made a deal. How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith – and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do). If we progressives, religious and secular, could stop fighting among ourselves (shooting ourselves in the foot) and join together on some really big values issues – like economic fairness, health care, and a more just foreign policy – think of the difference we could make. How about it?



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Steve Rockwell

posted February 20, 2007 at 3:58 pm


Jim, This deal might be plausible if you didn’t come out the day after election day and call the elections a loss for the secular left. You got slammed on Huffington and rightfully so. There’s no evidence to suggest that the elections were somehow a loss for our friends on the secular left. The olive branch is necessary, but you have contributed mightily to the problem in the first place. take care, steve



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Brian

posted February 20, 2007 at 3:58 pm


I’m not going to ask in this comment box (becuase Mr. Wallis doesn’t use this as a means of conversation. I say this not as a criticism but just pointing out the obvious) but can someone point me to a place where Sojourners, or Mr. Wallis, has held a discussion on the issue of abortion? How would the “progressive Christian left”, “red-letter Christians”, etc, differ from the secular political left (Obama, Clinton, for example) in the position on this? Frankly, I haven’t seen a difference in those open and in favor of abortion and those on the “progressive Christian left”. Someone please advise. Thanks.



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pastordan

posted February 20, 2007 at 4:05 pm


You know, I’d be a whole lot happier with this lecture if you seemed to realize that Markos has generously bankrolled a progressive religion site for going on a year and a half: Street Prophets. Remember that one? It’s on your blogroll over on the left side of the page? Your people reached out to it specifically, and promised that you’d cross-post on it? Remember it now?



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 4:38 pm


Ooooooh, did DailyKos link here? The bananas will fly! Brian, To answer your questions, Sojourners is exceedingly tight-lipped about its abortion position. However, Wallis is pro-choice, though he agrees with some restrictions on partial-birth abortion, and has alluded to supporting parental notification in his book to my recollection.Oh, and don’t dare call Obama secular on this site.



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Jesse Lava

posted February 20, 2007 at 5:09 pm


Jim,I agree with your general points: secular folks and religious folks need to come together in this progressive movement of ours; genuine religious faith should be honored rather than disrespected; neither party should be disingenuous about faith simply to score political points; and intra-movement warfare is counterproductive, especially when we all seem to agree on basic issues. However, I think Steve Rockwell makes a fair point that you need to address sooner or later. The fact is, you’ve been “pushing off” the Democrats as well as the “secular left” for some time — positioning yourself as above the partisan fray because you disagree with the Republicans on X and the Democrats on Y.That approach has its merits, particularly a political one: you can have more credibility if you seem non-partisan. That’s understandable. But there are two problems with your approach. First, as Steve mentioned, you don’t sound all that consistent when you call for an end to “fighting among ourselves” given that you’ve carved out your niche in part by criticizing secular folks. You also have the habit of criticizing the secular left without ever naming anyone in it — leading some folks to assume “there’s no there there.” I do believe there is a secular left, and it is not politically insignificant. And yes, I’ll name some names: Bill Maher, Atrios, Matt Stoller of myDD, etc. But I don’t think this crowd is so large and so powerful as to warrant your repeated and example-free attacks. No elected officials, at least at the national level, speak the way those folks do. So it rings a bit hollow when you say “on the one hand we’ve got the religious right and on the other hand we’ve got the secular left” — as if there’s a power-equivalence between the two. Second, I think everyone knows you don’t really disagree with liberal Democrats on anything major. You don’t oppose civil unions for gays. You say you’re pro-life but don’t want to criminalize abortion; to most Democrats, that’s pro-choice. And your proposals in the Covenant for a New America are things that liberal Democrats have been seeking for a long time. So where’s the difference? To be sure, you utilize language about personal responsibility and morality that voters tend to associate with Republicans. But can you name a Democrat who does not believe in supplementing structural economic change with personal responsibility and morality? The issue — as you recognize, given your platform, rather than your rhetoric — is that unless people have the opportunity to succeed in this society, the question of personal responsibility doesn’t arise with as much force. Democrats place the rhetorical emphasis on opportunity because that’s precisely where it belongs. Jim, I agree with you the vast majority of the time. I think you’ve done great things, especially in getting a notion of progressive faith more attention in this country. That stuff really matters. I just think you should be careful about whom you attack, lest ye be attacked. Jesse



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 20, 2007 at 5:40 pm


To answer your questions, Sojourners is exceedingly tight-lipped about its abortion position. However, Wallis is pro-choice, though he agrees with some restrictions on partial-birth abortion, and has alluded to supporting parental notification in his book to my recollection. I don’t ever recall reading that Wallis is pro-choice — in the “God’s Politics” book he even castigated the Democratic Party for not allowing the late Bob Casey Sr. to speak at Democratic National conventions (although that was because Casey hated Bill Clinton and refused to endorse him).



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Will H.

posted February 20, 2007 at 5:54 pm


Kevin, saying that Jim Wallis is pro-choice is extremely simplistic. Sojourners has never been tight lipped about the abortion issue, they just present their stance in a way that does not fit into the false dichotomy that has been established by both parties. Sojourner s stance on the issue is that we should create social programs that make abortions less necessary. They recognize that one of the main factors in abortion is poverty, and if we make abortions less necessary then that will translate to significantly less abortions. Here is a link to a sojourners article on the issue. http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=Soj0604&article=060410



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Jesse Lava

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:09 pm


Rick — Quick thing: thanks for pointing out what no one else does, which is that Bob Casey Sr. was NOT kept off the podium for being pro-life, but for refusing to endorse the presidential ticket. — Jesse



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:17 pm


“saying that Jim Wallis is pro-choice is extremely simplistic. ” Yes it is. It is also correct. Wallis believes abortion should be legal in this country. That makes him pro-choice. I was just answering Brian’s question.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:25 pm


Jim has said for as long as I can remember that the attempt to make abortion illegal together with the focus on resisting that attempt, absent any concerted effort to do something concrete, is just using the issue as a political football, by both political parties. Now there is opportunity to do something. There are bills in the congress and we should be pushing our members of congress to act. Jim endorsed the opportunity to reduce the number of abortions and did not take sides on the two basic approaches in the congress, one which includes contraceptive support and one which does not. I think that is the right approach… we should be asking our members of congress to get off the fence and decide on one approach or the other (or come up with other approaches and file a bill or bills for those) and then to get about the business of hashing out a compromise so that some approach is begun to reduce the number of abortions. My criticism is only that Sojourners should provide a “take action” opportunity for us to begin hammering our members of congress to do something… and Sojourners should be asking the other similar organizations to do the same… or actually to combine their efforts on one web site… doesn’t matter which organization’s it is… Does Beliefnet have such a capability?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm


Kevin, Please go find something constructive to do… please…



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bob

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:31 pm


Jim, how about acknowledging you’re not the only “progressive faithful” on the block? You’re as responsible as anyone else at this point for spreading division among us liberal Christians. Sorry, you’ve got some competition now.



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Will H.

posted February 20, 2007 at 6:38 pm


Kevin, what’s it like to live in a world where it is only possible to communicate in talking points? I am sure it’s nice and safe because you never actually have to think about anything. Here is a talking point for you. Jim Wallis= Pro Life. He is against abortion. He thinks it is not a moral choice. Follow the link above and you can see how. Maybe that is simplistic enough for you.



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:03 pm


“what’s it like to live in a world where it is only possible to communicate in talking points?” Ask Jim Wallis. As I said, I understand his position on abortion. He believes that it is wrong, but that it should be legal. He dodges the question (see below) when asked, because if he reveals that he is pro-choice, he loses his non-partisan chic.



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Erin

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:04 pm


The two extreme views: pro-choice and pro-life are easy and simplistic but not at all realistic. Ultimately to deal with “sin” you have to deal with the root of sin, which is a complex issue in a complex society. Why are there unwanted pregnancies? How do we prevent unwanted pregnancies? Those are the key issues that are rarely addressed by conservatives because that would mean questioning their own lifestyle choices and funding “liberal” assistance programs. Because the key factor in many unwanted pregnancies is lack of money for pregnancy prevention, lack of adequate healthcare and lack of resources to raise a child.Abortion being legal or illegal does NOT deal with the underlying SIN of our overly sexualized, consumeristic, individualistic, greedy, comfort-driven culture. You want to lower the abortion rate? Great! Then help fund better healthcare programs for the poor. What? That may mean YOUR personal healthcare quality & coverage may suffer a bit? Isn’t that a SMALL price to pay for the life of a child?



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djtyg

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:05 pm


Jim, while I’m a fan of your work I have to disagree with you on your letter to Kos. Kos and the dailykos community has always had a respect for religious people. While everyone on there has a deep disdain for the religious right, almost all of the members of the blog are very tolerant towards Christians and people of other faiths. Kos’ first spin off blog, Street Prophets is dedicated to progressive religious values. PastorDan (who wrote a previous comment) runs the blog, and also posts on dailykos regularly and is considred very popular. There have been a few people who write diaries that are hostile towards religion, but those people are banned quickly through the auto-ban system that works by having its members “troll-rate” the writer. If you look today, there is a diary on the recommended list that shows that most of the people were a member of some Christian faith. In the diary that you linked to, Kos was expressing the anger at the idea that religion is the ONLY source of values and morality. Although my values come from my Christian faith, I know that in the case of others, they find other ways to define their morality. And I’ve found that there are a lot of very values-oriented non-believers out there, and live just as morally (if not more so), than many Christians.



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HASH(0x11b8dcec)

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:19 pm


bob, George Lakoff says that the problem is that liberals (broadly) just can’t get their act together and push for values they all share. He contrasts that with the weekly conferences in the office of Grover Norquist to hash out the differences among various conservatives and agree on an issue to work on, that week. If the progressive religious liberals would at least coordinate on the issues of importance to them, maybe there would be some progress.



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Frank

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:20 pm


Dear Steve R., Isn’t Wallis trying to bury the hatchet here? It’s certainly no secret now that you have a clear disdain, at least to some extent, for Sojourners and/or Wallis. Maybe some think tanks are busy bickering but I don’t think the “problem” is as divisive within the overall progressive community as it is for you in particular. Please cut out the “Survivor Alliance” crap and be mature about this. As Jim and The Kos will hopefully agree on, it’s now time to get serious. Mud has been flung like a couple snippy siblings but there are no hard feelings. It’s time to be wise. I respectfully suggest that you join in and keep it progressive. All the Best!



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:21 pm


Sorry, my name fell off the post to bob.



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Rev. Debra W. Haffner

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:22 pm


I think it’s fair to say that SoJourners has not viewed sexual justice as part of its portfolio, often labeling legalized abortion and full inclusion of GLBT persons as “wedge issues.” I respect Sojourner’s concentrating on its core issues, but have repeatedly suggested that if they can’t support those of us in the progressive and mainstream religious communities who work for sexual justice, they could at least not speak about them. The goal must be reducing the number of UNPLANNED PREGNANCIES not reducing the number of abortions by 95% as Sojourner’s has addressed. That could be done by making abortions harder to get and increasing restrictions — what we need instead is to make sure that every woman, every couple has access to the sexuality information and education they need and the contraceptive services they need in order to never face these decision. It is PRECISELY because life is SO precious and parenting so important that it should never be created carelessly. Same think for marriage equality and full inclusion — we’ve learned over and over again in America that separate but equal is not enough. Can one label themselves progressive and not support full inclusion of all of God’s children? The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing for those of you who don’t know us promotes sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society, and has theological frameworks on these issues. We invite SoJourners and others to join our network of more than 2600 religious leaders from more than 40 faith traditions. I don’t believe that you can label yourself as a “progressive religious folk” if you don’t support women’s moral agency and GLBT rights. Rev. Debra W. Haffner wwww.religiousinstitute.org http://debrahaffner.blogspot.com



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:26 pm


Regardless of the complexities of the abortion issue, the question of being pro-life or pro-choice refers to your opinion of the legality of abortion. That element is, in fact simple, and needn’t represent a complicated viewpoint on abortion. I have all sorts of thoughts on how abortion is sinful and why it is so tragic. I believe that Christians need to continue to step up to help single mothers find good homes if they cannot support their baby. I am still “pro-life”, because I don’t think that (by and large) abortion should be legal. “You want to lower the abortion rate? Great! Then help fund better healthcare programs for the poor. What? That may mean YOUR personal healthcare quality & coverage may suffer a bit? Isn’t that a SMALL price to pay for the life of a child?” I still have a problem with our society sanctioning the practice of abortion. This does not get around that fact, but let me ask you a couple of questions… In a hypothetical world where the courts have overturned Roe v. Wade, would you support a bill that provided Universal Health Care, but banned abortion except for cases of rape or incest?If you had a choice between universal health care and legal abortion, which would you choose?



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:26 pm


He contrasts that with the weekly conferences in the office of Grover Norquist to hash out the differences among various conservatives and agree on an issue to work on, that week. That’s because Norquist is working on a network that’s existed for decades, and he’s the unquestioned leader. Not only that, but he’s the one who controls the purse strings; cross him and the spigot of funding is turned off. Liberal groups, in the other hand, don’t have that kind of funding — or that kind of hate, for that matter.



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:32 pm


I don’t believe that you can label yourself as a “progressive religious folk” if you don’t support women’s moral agency and GLBT rights. I disagree — I’m a progressive evangelical but staunchly “pro-life” and consider homosexual behavior flat-out sin. This is what happens, unfortunately, when you have a system that puts ideology ahead of Biblical truth. I hated it when the right did it; I am no more tolerant with the left.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:36 pm


djtyg, That is interesting that Daily Kos has a troll monitor technique for “diaries”. Are “diaries” like “comments” here? How does the technique deal with reappearances under another user name?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:46 pm


Rick, Interesting, about the Grover Norquist process. The liberal groups, though, can’t even get together on contacts with members of congress, on issues which they hold in common. I would think that could be more effective, but there apparently are no resources available at the groups, like Sojourners, to do that.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:51 pm


Rick, I wish this blog had the capability of asking a clarifying question off-group, as does Yahoo! groups. Do you think abortion should always be illegal, and should civil unions be illegal? hayesmike@InsightBB.com



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kevin s.

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:53 pm


Mike, On Kos, they have a rating system so that dissenting viewpoints (troll or no) are eliminated. This is a common thing on the left-wing blogs, which contributes to sort of unchecked extremism you see in their message boards, and manifests in the blogs of folks like Amanda Marcotte.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:56 pm


Would a constitutional amendment to restrict civil unions or to restrict abortions, be constitutional? Would an amendment have to also change the original wording of the constitution, or could language in an amendment be adequate?



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 7:58 pm


Kevin, Are you also djtyg?



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pastordan

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:00 pm


Mike: no, he’s not. He’s also full of it. The Scoop site-moderation tools aren’t used to enforce conformity. They’re to get rid of obnoxious pests and spam.



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Matt Stoller

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:00 pm


As a progressive Christian, I always wondered why many on the secular Left felt it necessary to cut off potential political alliances with progressive religious people, to alienate most of America with nasty anti-faith diatribes, and to choose to ignore the history of most of the social reform movements in this country, where religion often served as a powerful motivator and driving force as in the abolition of slavery, women s suffrage, establishing child labor laws and social safety nets and, of course, the civil rights movement. In recent years, the Left and even the Democrats managed to appear hostile to faith and to people in faith communities. Regardless of what one s views of the divine are, that s called shooting yourself in the foot. You can keep repeating this narrative and using it to sell some books, but that doesn’t make it true or make you credible.



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dave

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:03 pm


How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do). Hey, I’ve got a better idea: howzabout you “progressive religious” folks make a very loud, very public statement that a woman’s right to choose is her own decision and that you won’t compromise to get some fundamentalist whackos’ votes? And then keep saying it every time you’re on TV or the radio or in print. And when you meet up with said whackos, you tell them it’s a non-negotiable point. You can start right now.



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ErinPDX

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:03 pm


Who are they? Name names, Mr. Wallis. Come on, name them.



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Hank Essay

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:04 pm


Jim, When you say something like “Democrats managed to appear hostile,” this is nonsense and you should really know better. The reason “Democrats manage to appear hostile to religion” is that conservatives and Republicans have done their very best to create such a frame/talking points, that are then picked up and disseminated as if they were truth. This isn’t the truth and seeing you adopt the talking points of the right is sad… –



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:09 pm


The liberal groups, though, can’t even get together on contacts with members of congress, on issues which they hold in common. By definition, “liberalism” cannot be that focused — it doesn’t always have or need a specific enemy to fight. Its contempt for the Bush II White House and the war in Iraq is kind of an anomoly.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:13 pm


pastordan, I wonder if there is a discussion group anywhere that can afford to have a full time moderator with the wisdom and patience to reject messages until the tone and language and effort to communicate would be reached that wouldn’t turn off ordinary persons. It would be worthwhile to pay a substantial fee to be a part of a group like that. This blog is informative, but it is just a debate, most of the time. Sharing viewpoints and learning how other persons think is very secondary… winning the debate is what it is about… but, the price is right… and the participation level is high…



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Tab Khan

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:16 pm


You claim that “many on the secular Left felt it necessary to cut off potential political alliances with progressive religious people,” yet you fail again and again and again to GIVE NAMES. That’s terribly dishonest and renders your argument null. How about this — how about growing a set and listing these folks’ names and their thought crimes for all to see? Otherwise, it’s just more Cry Baby whining and carping. Thanks.



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Wolverine

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:16 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: That’s because Norquist is working on a network that’s existed for decades, and he’s the unquestioned leader. Not only that, but he’s the one who controls the purse strings; cross him and the spigot of funding is turned off. Liberal groups, in the other hand, don’t have that kind of funding — or that kind of hate, for that matter. No Rick. Grover Norquist does not control any purse strings. He’s out there doing fundrasing just like everyone else. Wolverine



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Septic Tank

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:27 pm


You can keep repeating this narrative and using it to sell some books, but that doesn’t make it true or make you credible. More to the point, as long as you keep advancing this bullshit straw man GOP narrative to sell books/enhance your personal marketability/whatever, you’re functioning as an agent of the right’s agenda. Yes, let’s bash the no-name lefty athiests who antagonize Christians in your fevered imagination while the so-called Christian right does everything it can to make it harder for people who aren’t bond traders to put food on their families, while they drown Black cities here at home in a most un-Christian way and try to launch another Crusade (since the last four were so successful — and Christian!) abroad.



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IMU

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm


You say in the article: and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do). — Exactly which progressive secular folks have said that “progressive values can’t come from faith”? Who? When? I honestly can’t think of one example of a prominent and influential “progressive secular” person that ever made such statement. If you are talking to kos here, where does he say this? Not in the post you linked to that’s for sure. In the post you linked Kos just says that progressive values don’t HAVE to come from faith, not that they CAN’T. If you want to attribute statements or opinions to a group of people, please provide evidence of multiple statements from people in the relevant group.



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MS

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:33 pm


Please do not continue to infer that those of us who object to a “Christian” state have an objection to religion.Our Constitution specifically says that this is NOT a Christian state (or Catholic state or Jewish state). It is a state that allows people of all religions — or no religion at all — to enjoy all the benefits of citizenship and participation in political decisionmaking. Like many on the left, I believe that faith can inform political decisions (and I am pleased when it does). And I also think it is fine when faith does NOT inform political decisions. Nobody I know has ever objected to people of faith participating in politics. Nor do I object to people with no faith participating in politics. That does not make me or anyone else on the left an ‘enemy’ of religion! I support religious people and the right of everyone to practice their own religious beliefs. And I support your right to pray to your god to get advice on what to do politically. But that does not mean that I must share YOUR religious beliefs.



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Philboid

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:34 pm


…to choose to ignore the history of most of the social reform movements in this country, where religion often served as a powerful motivator and driving force as in the abolition of slavery … It’s true that some Abolitionists were christian, but they were in almost every case rebelling against their respective churches. Church leaders — in the North and South — were rarely sympathetic. Further, equally ardent religious types defended slavery — on religious grounds, citing Scripture. Abolitionism was a social force not because of religion, but in spite of it.



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In a Nutshell

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:38 pm


As far as I can see this whole issue is a regurgitation of strawman charges generated by the right. There are surely some seriously ‘anti-religious’ people on the ‘left’. The problem I have is I cannot name one, neither do I know of one personally. They represent a small and irrelevant minority. Why accept statements which draw conclusions about the ‘general’ based on theoretical and atypical examples of the ‘particular’? All of the people of the ‘left’ that I know seem to be extraordinarily tolerant of different faiths and beliefs, and quite happy to hear them explained even if they don’t share them. What they (and I) object to is hearing someone claim exclusive morality, based on a particular set of doctrinal values, which they believe the rest of us should be compelled to follow. So PLEASE let’s stop accepting this ‘Godless Liberals’ canard and instead address those who (hypocritically AND blasphemously) perpetrate this deceiptful propaganda for their own political advangage.



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Sarcastro

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:40 pm


And nobody has been more critical of the Religious Right and their perverted use of biblical texts, as you rightly put it, than progressive religious leaders themselves. HAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh man, tell me another one!



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Argonaut

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:41 pm


Re: Mr. Wallis’ original post asking for Kos to stop doing what he never did (and using the nameless straw man, “many on the secular left”) in return for Wallis doing what he should always do anyway if he is a moral person, the word that comes to mind is ‘sanctimonious’. What irritates all of us godless secular communist America-hating gay lesbian transvestite draft-dodgers is the sermons from our betters. As if.



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Harry Tuttle

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:43 pm


Is not the fact that Christians managed to find justifications both for and against slavery in the Bible a pretty damned good argument against using scripturally based values to determine the law? The rules and regulations that I live under should not, ever, be the result of interpretation but, rather, of logic and reason.



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Jason

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:45 pm


I don’t think Kos should take the deal … I’m a ‘secular progressive,’ and frankly anyone who thinks a Blastocyst is a person is a nutjob I’d rather have nothing to do with.



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Will H.

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:48 pm


“He dodges the question (see below) when asked, because if he reveals that he is pro-choice, he loses his non-partisan chic.” He does not dodge the question. He gives his stance on the issue which is we should get rid of abortions by changing the social conditions which make people think it is necesarry to have them.



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reverter

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:55 pm


I agree this is a straw-man argument. It seems these progressive religionists have somewhat of a chip on their shoulders.Of the secular leftist people mentioned — Bill Maher, Atrios, Matt Stoller of myDD ( I could name a bunch more — I’ve never seen what could be called anti religious sentiment. I’ve seen resentment about religious people trying to control the debate (and the country!) by insisting they be the arbiters of the truth of the matters debated; but not any sentiment such as “religious people shouldn’t participate in politics.”The only blogger I’ve seen come close is the biology professor, PZ Myers, at Pharyngula, who expresses his disgust with religious beliefs, but not even he, staunch non-believer he is, thinks “people of faith” should not participate in all things that Americans have a right to participate in.



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timks

posted February 20, 2007 at 8:56 pm


Mike Hayes, I share your oft-stated desire to make this blog one of civil exchange of ideas and polite questioning. However, above you asked kevin s. to go away when he is almost always polite and civil. Yet as far as I know you have never asked butch, for example, to stop his obnoxious behavior, or go away. I would respectfully ask you to not adhere to a double standard. Furthermore, I do apologize to you and all others if I have previously lost my poise and appeared uncivil out of frustration.



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autumn

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:11 pm


What about Sam Harris?



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benj

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:12 pm


this is a disingenuous conversation from the get-go. there are in fact NO leaders on the left who advocate or hold a position hostile to the religious. you just invent this position to rail against and assign it to nameless people who don’t exist. this makes it difficult to have a discussion on the entire matter with you, because you seem much more interested in getting recognition for your little theory that the left is “hostile” to religion, which is simply a GOP pejorative narrative invented out of whole cloth. name ONE single prominent Democrat who has said or even implied ANY of the things you say have been said and implied. maybe if and when you do so, people will actually be able to respond to the merits of your arguments, if there are any. however, as things stand now, there is no particular reason to take you seriously.



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ibc

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:12 pm


God, the sense of persecution and entitlement displayed daily by politically active Christians on *either* side of the aisle in this country is nauseating. You say that too many secular progressives have attacked religion for a long time. Your link is to a short piece in which you complain: “I got some critical reactions to a very short blog I posted the day after the election.” So is that it? Clearly it’s been going on for a long, long time, so let’s have some links? Or was it just that some anonymous commenter was uncouth to you. Put this one in your clip file: “Fucking nitwit.”



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Phoenix Woman

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:14 pm


As Steve Gilliard pointed out last week, the Democrats and progressives have oodles and oodles of “religious voters” They’re known as BLACKS and HISPANICS. But apparently, they don’t count as “religious” because they’re not white enough. Unless and until you recognize the racial component in the (white) evangelicals’ voting with the GOP (do the words “Southern Strategy” ring a bell?), there’s no point in holding this discussion. The whole reason we have a “Southern Baptist Convention” is because in the mid-1800s the Southern Baptist churches broke with the main Baptist branch over slavery. Yes, the white GOP-voting evangelical/megachurch types are not confined to the South. But it’s their not-so-veiled ethos — including and especially the underlying racism — that underpins all those megachurches in exurban white-flight territories across the nation. James Dobson. Ted Haggard. Jerry Falwell. Bob Jones. Jimmy Swaggart. Mac Hammond. Not exactly a roll call of civil-rights pioneers, is it?



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benj

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:16 pm


Jesse Lava – your argument majorly misses the point. no one is denying that there is a secular left!!! jesus, where did you see that written? of course the left is primarilly secular as it should be. the “left” believes strongly, and correctly, that the separation of church and state is the ONLY real means or protecting real religious freedom. keep it out of government. of course there is a secular left, America IS a secular Democracy, at least for now it still is anyways. you are resorting to the same trick as the OP here – attacking a straw man. you name people on the secular left, but offer no evidence whatsoever of their “hostility”.



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benj

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:20 pm


I don’t believe that you can label yourself as a “progressive religious folk” if you don’t support women’s moral agency and GLBT rights. I disagree — I’m a progressive evangelical but staunchly “pro-life” and consider homosexual behavior flat-out sin. You are NOT a progressive!!!



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db

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:36 pm


As a progressive Christian, I always wondered why many on the secular Left felt it necessary to cut off potential political alliances with progressive religious people, to alienate most of America with nasty anti-faith diatribes, and to choose to ignore the history of most of the social reform movements in this country Who are these people you speak of? Names, quotes and dates please, with links. Oh, and BTW, PUT UP OR SHUT UP.



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:01 pm


No Rick. Grover Norquist does not control any purse strings. He’s out there doing fundrasing just like everyone else. Wolverine, that is categorically false because I know where Norquist gets much of his money.



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Dan S.

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:15 pm


“Bill Maher, Atrios, Matt Stoller of myDD” On top of reverter’s comment, note that we’re talking about . . a comedian and two bloggers. One famous comedian and two influential bloggers granted, and Stoller’s been involved in campaign work, but really! “I always wondered why many on the secular Left felt it necessary to cut off potential political alliances with progressive religious people” Don’t be shy – name names! circumstances! etc! Inquiring minds want to know! “to alienate most of America with nasty anti-faith diatribes,” As pointed out, with a very few exceptions – PZ does come to mind – virtually all these diatribes are directed at right-wing fundamentalism/ists. I realize that this isn’t always made explicitly clear, except in terms of who and what is being criticized. As I’ve said elsewhere, Amanda’s remarks weren’t directed at the Quakers – or indeed, Sojourners. The vast majority of nontheistic folks on the left are more than happy to join together in common cause with devout theists (especially once they realize that they exist – and of course, most Left/Liberal/Democratic folks aretheists. “to choose to ignore the history of most of the social reform movements in this country, where religion often served as a powerful motivator and driving force as in the abolition of slavery, women s suffrage, establishing child labor laws and social safety nets and, of course, the civil rights movement.” Yes, it did. As pointed out, it also was used (in all senses of that term) to justify slavery and opposition to women’s suffrage. Don’t know about the next two, but the following words, proclaimed in a Virginia courthouse in 1959: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” were not uttered by a secular progressive. Religious belief has been a major force for social progress, and -at the same time – a major justification for bigotry. How could it be otherwise, given the immensity of what we are talking about, and given human nature? ” In recent years, the Left and even the Democrats managed to appear hostile to faith and to people in faith communities. ” 1) Who has done this? Please name actual names! Are they actually part of the (disorganized) Left or the Democratic Party? Do these entities have any control over them? 2) How have they done this? Please give specific examples. “But others felt, and still feel, quite threatened by all that, fearing any kind of faith talk among progressive people, and objecting to Democrats getting religion something they regard as foreign and hostile to their political agenda.” Who are these “Others”? And what are they doing on the island? Please – quotes, citations, vague references, anything! “But the mainstream media . . . [seems] to want Americans to believe they had only two choices: the Religious Right OR the secular Left.” That often does seem to be the case. However, unless you believe that the, ah, “secular Left” controls the media {ahem, ahem} – and I’m sure you don’t – that’s the media’s fault. You’ve worked to change this, which is wonderful – but unfortunately there’s only so much us secular lefties can do to help. “My point is, agree or disagree with a candidate s positions, but don t blame their faith for them. ” Hang on – if faith isn’t going to be blamed, then shouldn’t it not be praised either? This would seem to suggest that faith is in some sense irrelevent, or is canceling itself out, that it’s a case of religion being good for good people and bad for bad people. This seems to clash with your following remarks: “How about if progressive religious folks, like me, make real sure that we never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith ” I don’t doubt your sincerity, but to my ears this is phrased poorly – it ends up making it sound as if you’re promising not to say something, even through you know it’s true, which is not the intention. But perhaps I’m listening a little too hard . . . “and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can t come from faith . . .” This is such a minority opinion that it’s almost laughable that you bring this up. Again, perhaps you could give some actual examples, so we could judge for ourselves? “If we progressives, religious and secular, could stop fighting among ourselves” I agree with most of what you say! But too much of this sounds like wasted time spent criticizing (apparently) PZ Myers and some fellow in comments somewhere. Perhaps if you hold out the hand of friendship without simultaneously slapping us on the wrist, maybe we could get down to making a real difference a little quicker?



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Sceptic

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:16 pm


Jim, You are firing in the wrong direction. What is needed is a challenge to the perverse teachings of the right wing churches. We (religious progressives and secular progressives) need to start undermining the rights hold on Christian doctrine in this country. They’ve ruined Christianity and are ruining the nation. We need to stand up and cover each other as we take on the peverters of Christ. We need to cover each other. We’re under ennemy fire here Jim. It’s like you haven’t noticed or drawn the right conclusion.



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Jeff

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:29 pm


Pheonix Woman, The denomination I belong to is evangelical, predominately white (though less so) and our members mostly vote GOP. But people like us minister to the poor regardless of location (rural or urban) color of skin or nation (here and overseas). We are also the major financial supporters of these services not only through taxes but through our voluntary contributions. Though SoJo never misses an opportunity to be critical of us on the religious right, we are the ones actually getting our hands dirty.



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Wolverine

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:32 pm


Rick Nowlin wrote: Wolverine, that is categorically false because I know where Norquist gets much of his money. And that would be where, exactly? Wolverine



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Jesse Lava

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:33 pm


Reverter and BenJ: When I pointed out members of the secular left, I did’t mean to imply that these guys are always attacking religion on principle — though Bill Maher certainly does: http://www.celebatheists.com/index.php?title=Bill_Maher Folks like Sam Harris attack religion on principle, too, and particularly relate it to its use in the public square. But Atrios and Matt Stoller don’t really do that. What they do is speak a language that, to devout Christians’ ears, tends to sound dismissive. This is just a comment thread, so I’m not going to do a research project for you, but Atrios has said that religious language sounds like “gibberish” to him, for example — and I’m sure it does, which is fine, as far as it goes. But throwing in little barbs like that are the kind of thing that raise religious folks’ defenses. Again, I am NOT saying that Atrios or Matt or other bloggers tend to deny that religion can produce progressive values, or deny that it can be referenced at all in public life. What IS true is that the liberal blogosphere just doesn’t feel like home to a lot of devout people, and there are reasons for that. SO: I am not trying to engage in “secular baiting” or anything of the kind. I respect anyone’s right not to be religious, and to discuss that fact. Indeed, my bigger point in my post — which I hope you can treat as such — was that this contingent is really not overwhelming in public life. Politicians don’t talk dismissively about faith, and neither do most folks in popular culture. So folks like Jim Wallis should quit pretending that it is. Jesse



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Melanie N. Lee

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:33 pm


Dear Rev. Wallis: Thank you so much for sojo.net and Sojourners. I’m so sick of people thinking that Christian equals Right-Wing Republican! We Christians run the political spectrum from left to right, and of course, we are all sinners. Personally, I think that the rightists powers-that-be are corrupting faith so that Christians think that even the most evil things on the right-wing agenda (such as lying about the Iraq War or exploiting poor workers) are godly. I also hate that many Christians are being convinced that whatever is liberal is bad, and whatever is bad is liberal. In the Bible, liberal is a good word! One more thing, that I must apply to myself as well: Romans 14:4 (New International Version) Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:4 (The Message) Do you have any business crossing people off the guest list or interfering with God’s welcome? If there are corrections to be made or manners to be learned, God can handle that without your help.



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Melanie N. Lee

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:43 pm


BTW, Bill Maher is not an atheist. He believes in God. He strongly distrusts organized religion. Also, unfortunately, Maher believes that God is too big or too important to be interested in our little problems. On his first show after 9/11, Maher featured on his panel a local minister he respected. (I guess Maher knew 9/11 wasn’t a problem too little for God!)



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Melanie N. Lee

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:51 pm


I’ve found a relevant article in the current Time magazine: Oh, When the Lefty Saints Go Marching In http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1590434,00.html http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1590434,00.html The short article mentions Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, and Saint Francis of Assisi.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:56 pm


timks, I agree that we should all apologize if we have inadvertently offended anyone on this blog, and I apologize, following your example. And, the blog is a debate, not a discussion. I have been slow to comprehend that. There is no control of the content, and repeatedly asking for adherence to the Beliefnet Rules of Conduct gets nowhere. I admitted that, some time ago. Kevin is one of those who would not allow a discussion to take place here, in which persons who want to share ideas, instead of participate in endless, pointless, debate could do so. Kevin is fearful that the values might be having some success, and doesn’t want those who support the values to have an opportunity to possibly gain additional supporters…I couldn’t possibly begin to remember which topic was the one in which he said that, or what his exact words were, but he did. I remember thinking at the time that I finally understood what his purpose is in spending as much time here as he does. The problem is, there is no way of using this particular format on Beliefnet to establish a process that would work to allow discussion. butch’s way of debating those who have from day one attacked the values in “God’s Politics” helps balance the attacks on the topics on this blog. Absent that, the unkown numbers of persons who view this blog might conclude that there is something weak about the values, themselves… justintime also was tenacious, and he gave up on this blog. Maybe someone who has opposed the values from day one has also given up, but I don’t think so. I initially thought butch was wrong in the tenacious way he goes about debating those who attack the values… but now I see the value for at least one someone to be as forceful as are the opponents of the values. Thanks, butch. Sorry I didn’t see the value of your approach, earlier. Timks, thanks for bringing up your interest in the discussion being civil… it’s a debate… uncontrolled and uncontrollable… Maybe a better format will come along, from Beliefnet… they are working on something.



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Rick Perlstein

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:58 pm


“So Kos…make real sure that…progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do)” This strikes me as little more than libel: making something up to defame the opposition.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:58 pm


Melanie, Thanks for the links.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:03 pm


Kevin, I wonder who shot John, first.



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David

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:11 pm


As a progressive Christian, I have to wonder where you are getting this stuff from. ” In recent years, the Left and even the Democrats managed to appear hostile to faith and to people in faith communities. Regardless of what one s views of the divine are, that s called shooting yourself in the foot.” The only place I’ve seen this nonsense narrative is from Fox News and friends. How is standing up to false prophets like Robertson and Falwell (are they still claiming God wants segregation?) showing hostility to faith in general? Not once have I felt the progressive movement have this attitude in the real world. It sure seems like you are falling for the con-job of the conservative movement rather than actually exploring the progressives.



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DrSteve

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:23 pm


Please spend more time attacking the right than the left. Please spend less time feeding their meme. We on the left, religious or otherwise, are neither the problem nor are we in power.



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HASH(0x11668634)

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:27 pm


How about some factual reediting of your arguement to reflect reality. Instead of “…and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do)…” More accurelatly state “…and progressive religous folks, like myself, admit that the greatest crimes in humanities history ( the Inquistion, Religious Wars, Justifying torture of heathens etc) were the result of faith and that we will attempt to ignore and overcome that to maintain the faith of our fantasy’s no matter how many atriocities are committed in the name of those illusions…” At that point I might begin to believe you are sincere and have ome modicom of reason but while still taking snid little cheap shots in the conclusion of yopur sermon certainly does do a lot to show a real sense of entitlement with a blindness to your own hypocrisy.



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Miggs

posted February 20, 2007 at 11:31 pm


Check out the anonymous post at 6:32…who says there’s no secular left?



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Patrick ONeill

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:04 am


This is an excellent example of the failure of “progressive christians”. Always more anxious to “defend their faith” over the smallest of slights by the non-religious than to oppose real bigotry from their fellow christians. Basically – and always – “faith” before “good works”, which really makes it impossible to be “progressive”. If you don’t think that Harold Ford’s bigotry comes from his religion you don’t live in the same reality.



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Miggs

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:13 am


Patrick, if you think Jim Wallis puts faith before good works, you are either a bigot (for lack of a better explanation) or you simply don’t know his work. Why on earth do you think that pointing out slights from secular folks constitutes putting faith above good works? You’re really an eager beaver to put down religion any way you can.



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eyelessgame

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:20 am


and progressive secular folks, like you, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith (and perhaps concede that, in fact, they often do). Jim, has any secular progressive ever said that progressive values can’t come from faith? Ever? I have never heard such a thing. Even Dawkins has never said such a thing. The most militant atheists I’ve met (and I know some) have never said such a thing. I’d laugh in their face if they did. So would anyone who knows any history. Where did you get this idea? Where could you possibly have heard the notion that “secular progressives… suggest that progressive values can’t come from religion”? Did you mean to say something else — perhaps something that sound less like a conservative attempt to deceive religious progressives into mistrusting secular progressives?



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reboho

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:21 am


And nobody has been more critical of the Religious Right and their perverted use of biblical texts, as you rightly put it, than progressive religious leaders themselves. Actually, really don’t see this being backed up all that well. The secular left jumped in because “progressive Christians” seemed to abdicate responsibility for what is being said in your name. If you don’t stop your kids from throwing rocks, don’t be surprised if some of ours throw some back. You really need to fight to get control of the dialog. You want validation from secular left without really helping to tamp down the rhetoric from the fundies. (disclaimer: I haven’t read your book, but if it is anything like this post, don’t hold your breath) You want notice, respect and a place at the table, you need to step up and call the fundies when they speak out of turn in a voice that is as loud as theirs and determined as ours.You are not being excluded, you are being ignored which is much different. You’re being ignored because you won’t engage. You look like the left to the fundies and you seem to be fundie enablers to us. You are being painted with the same brush from the left because your silence is tacit approval of the fundies in the left’s eye. Here’s the problem in a nutshell but it much more complicated than this: Fundies see the bible and god as fact, that is their frame of reference when they view the world. It is an ugly frame because it comes with the god of the exile and it contains a lot of lot of hatred. Jesus may have tried to steer down a more moderate road (but not really) but Paul and friends came along to make sure we stayed true to the vengeful, wrathful god of the exile. Atheists use the other end of the same telescope to view religion, but the frame of reference is so very different. Atheists start with reason, so you can’t blame them for rolling their eyes when the faith card is tossed out. I know I will sound like a fundie but I’m curious what the bible would look like after you have picked out what you truly believe? Would it be a pamphlet? Don’t call atheists religious just because they call you on the entire bible, not just the parts you accept. You are ignored because you don’t face that deep dark truthful mirror. You have to reconcile the body with the mind, the belief with the reason. It’s all very difficult to reconcile and whether you like it or not you are being asked to choose.What I find frustrating with the christian middle is that you say you believe in god but you see the bible as metaphor. Fundies and atheists see the bible not as metaphor but as the same coin only from different sides. You want to be heard, you need to get off the edge. Choose what you want because the fundies will burn the left first then they will come for you. Think about this when you see the fundies in power start talking about anti-cohabitation laws and the like after they hang the gays. You are not going to have the luxury of your comfortable middle for much longer if you allow them to co-opt your beliefs. Without sounding like a 6-pack Chopra, I’ll add that the fundie frame of reference comes from the body, the heart, the gut where emotion all begins. Atheists, on the other hand, start at the center of reason, the mind. A god or religion doesn’t offer much for the atheist because god is connected to the emotions or body, not the rational or mind. You really can’t believe and be rational. Paul says that we need to put away reason and believe like a child.Atheism is viewed as a religion when you make it the yin to fundies yang, but it is really life without the emotional crutch of a god. Atheists don’t just take exception to the christian god but to all supernatural beings, so it’s not just the simple nay saying of the god of the bible. It is a life that is free of the fear of an afterlife, it is working to live this life, not the next. The problem you have is that you know that most of what’s in the Christian bible is ugly and wrong but you ignore it or see it as metaphor, that way you can have your cake and eat it too. You hold many of the same values of the secular left but you still need that connection because you can’t shake the indoctrination of religion. I don’t envy you, I know where you sit. But there is a storm coming and you will will be tarred accordingly if the fundies are holding the brush. If the secular left is holding the brush, you will be seen as handicapped and incapable of coming to terms with all the implications of your beliefs.Don’t blame the left for your own shortcomings. Don’t try to trot out all the good things that have been done in the name of moderation when that is really not what we are discussing. No one hears you because you aren’t at the table, not any more. Come to the table instead of trying to bargain. You will still suffer our fate unless you use your voices for reason. No one will begrudge you your faith but we would be no better than you if we turned a blind eye to the god question. You can’t just credit the god of Abraham for the morals we have today. You can’t deny that morality helps the species to survive and thus is an adaptation was a benefit. Societies rose and fell long before this particular god came along and they wouldn’t have even arose without some type of morality.I agree that we need to work toward social justice and environmental preservation, but don’t expect any slack when you throw faith and morality into the conversation. Come to terms with what your god requires of you, what your faith tells you, but think about what you are asking.



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ormondotvos

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:24 am


How does one actually have a conversation with Jim Wallis? At least Kos occasionally posts in his own blog in the comments section. Pharisees. Above it all. Lovin’ that “I speak to you, for God, and I ain’t got time nor inclination to talk back when you ask questions.” Hillary Clinton has the same problem.



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Rick Nowlin

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:41 am


And that would be where, exactly? A number of foundations that have bankrolled conservative causes for at least 40 years. The largest of them are in my city.



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Icelander

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:12 am


I came in here to do a long winded post about how an atheist like me sees the religious left, but I see that reboho beat me to it. So I’ll summarize. (And if I’m wrong, reboho, feel free to correct me.) There are 3 main problems with faith. 1. It is beyond question. 2. It is beyond reason. 3. You can pick and choose which stuff you take on faith. The religious right picks the parts that let them tell everyone what to do. You pick the parts that tell you to take care of people. Just because the stuff you’re picking and choosing coincides with a lot of the reasoned positions I’ve taken doesn’t give you a free ride. You’ve got a lot of speaking out against the religious right to do before I trust you.



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Dan S.

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:25 am


MIggs, as pointed out, no one is doubting the existence of a secular[more on that in a bit] left. Is anon representative of said secular left? (And if we was, what then?) More importantly, is anon secretly Barack Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or Howard Dean, or anyone in the Democratic Party? That would be quite surprising. They might (in theory) be Richard Dawkins, who is British, or Sam Harris, who isn’t, last I looked, active in politics. And: if anon’s history isn’t mistaken (and tragically, it isn’t), where do we go from there – what does Jim Wallis bring to the table that we can all accept? There are other issues. The words “secular” and “faith” are being slippery here. “Secular” is perhaps having to pull a double shift both as “atheist, etc.,” and “person who thinks that government should concern itself with worldly things, whatever their personal beliefs.” And “faith” – do we mean this in the sense of a generic presence of religious belief -‘person of faith’ – or in the sense of one specific variety of religious belief? And misreadings: Wallis tells Kos that “You were pretty tough on Harold Ford, and seemed to blame his faith for his views that you don t like. I disagree with some of Ford s views too, but don t think his faith is the problem. You like Tester of Montana and Webb of Virginia better, and seem to suggest their lack of expressed faith gives them better views.” Perhaps he’s right, but let’s look again at what Kos actually wrote: “Morality and ethics don’t have to come from religion. Ye[t], there’s a whole cottage industry of consultants, media pundits, and establishment figures who think that’s the case. . . . The DC punditry and party establishment were in love with Harold Ford. His campaign proudly sent me an advance look at Ford’s ad filmed inside a church. I guess I was supposed to get excited at Ford’s cheap manipulation of religion for political ends . . .[Ford] was on every cable show as an example of a new breed of Democrat willing to wrap himself up in a cross for electoral gain. It doesn’t matter that it’s ugly when Republicans do it, here was one of our own willing to debase religion just the same!” I dunno ’bout you, but to me, Kos seems not to be blaming faith for Ford’s view; rather, he’s disgusted by what he saw as Ford’s “cheap pandering“. And Tester and Webb – do they have better views because of a lack of expressed faith? Well, back to the text: “ . . . fact is that values can come from any number of places. For Jon Tester, his values were drawn from being part of a long line of Montana farmers. All a Montana voter had to hear about Tester is that he was a third generation farmer and rancher to get a sense for what made him tick . . .. . . For Jim Webb, his values were drawn from a deep commitment to national service, coming from a long line of military professionals. Voters could immediately get a sense for what makes Webb tick . . . And where do those values come from? If a candidate sincerely gets his or her values from religion, then that’s fine. The Bible is a wonderfully liberal text. And when it’s sincere it doesn’t come across so grating, so imposing. Compare Obama’s talking about religion to Bush’s “favorite philosopher” b.s. But religious values are no more superior than the values I learned from my abuelita. . . . They are no more superior than the values Tester learned on the farm from his farmer father and grandfather. Or the values that Webb learned while proudly wearing his uniform. Or the values someone might learn by contemplating the great philosophers. Or whatever.” Their views are better, Kos argues, not because they don’t shoot campaign ads parading around a church, but because it’s their views, their values, what makes them tick. If part of what make them tick is faith, well, he says, “that’s fine“.One could argue about Kos’ political analysis, ideas on authenticity and voter heuristics, etc., but if one’s ok with this basic point, I’m not sure what the problem is. And this, I think, is the answer to the question I posed way back at the beginning of this comment, about what Jim brings to the table. All these different values Kos mentions: different colored threads twining together into a common cloth – the presence or absence of ‘faith’ (that is, of religious belief) tells us little about the nature of those values: what binds us together, what we share, is not the source of these values, but the content, the product. Politics. We may be hard-core atheists or evangelicals, but our common ground is that we’re progressives/ liberals/ whatever! What we bring are different ways of being that, different views. Thirteen ways of looking at a liberal, one might say. But the most important thing in this case is the political, is what we share. Maybe we should talk a little more about that?



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reboho

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:30 am


Icelander, Think you hit it about right; I would have written a shorter post if I had more time and hadn’t hit POST instead of PREVIEW.



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dob

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:12 am


Hey Jim, I appreciate your willingness to engage the secular left honestly and openly. I think you’re mischaracterizing what Kos said, though. I don’t think he ever said that values couldn’t come from faith.



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timks

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:43 am


Mike Hayes, Thanks for your note. I appreciate your comments, but I have to address something you said. I am writing as someone who supports many of the values (but not necessarily the policies) Sojo endorses. You said, I initially thought butch was wrong in the tenacious way he goes about debating those who attack the values I have absolutely no problem with tenacity, or even strongly worded rebuttals to those with differing views. butch does not do that, nor does he “debate”. If you followed the sorry spectacle elsewhere on this blog, I questioned an assertion a different person made. I said, “Are you sure about that?” butch immediately jumped in and called me a Nazi-Bush-apologist and assumed that my question meant I favored going to war with Iran while he heaped abuse. That is not debate or even discussion. It’s certainly juvenile and it is not civilized. I haven’t seen kevin s. doing that type of thing. I believe kevin adds variety and spice to what would ordinarily be a bunch of “way to go, Jim” messages. butch adds nothing but disruption. When he is in one of his rare civil moods, he doesn’t carefully read the messages and wastes space and time responding to something no one said. That is why I felt you displayed a double standard when you asked kevin to go, but praised butch. justintime also was tenacious, and he gave up on this blog. I know from experience he could be tenacious, if somewhat limited in the sources he would accept during a debate (basically, if he didn’t agree with them, he would not accept them :) ). I initially enjoyed the give and take with him, but grew weary of his ad hominem attacks. I’m not sure he gave up on this blog. I believe he only stopped appearing as justintime. He also could be insulting and, I believe, purposely would misrepresent the views of those with whom he disagreed. I hoped when he said he was leaving the tone would improve, and it did for a while. Thanks for your time.



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Brian

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:21 am


I’m not so sure that Fr. Haffner’s post way up above should get a free pass: Is the religious Pprogressive Christian left really going to support bi-sexual and trans-gendered relationships or modes of sexuality? Doesn’t bi-sexuality, by definition, presuppose sexual action with both male and female and thus not a monogamous state of being? Surely any cursory reading of the history of Christian ethics will show that this has never been in option. If some groups approve of this the ideology has trumped the faith, ethically speaking. As for being trans-gendered. Well, this is almost laughable. Sorry. I know that is not politically-correct and may hurt some feeling but come on, this is an absurd notion.The diea that I feel like a woman on tes inside so therefore I am going to “trans-gender” is ethical gnosticism, if I may coin a term. Feelings. It’s always about those elastic feelings. If your a man yet you feel your a woman, take a look in the mirror. Why do you never see or hear of these folks conforming their inner-feelings to the outward body? It’s always the otherway around. Narcissictic ethical gnosticism. Pure and simple. This would be like me saying “I’ve been thinking, and I feel that deep inside, due to my struggles in life and the fact that no one understand me, I have come to the conclusion that I am really Teddy Roosevelt”. Geesh. And, Rev. Haffner, what about trans-specied peoples? Surely your not relegating these fine folks to the margins. Are you?



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kevin s.

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:35 am


Mike, Why do you consider debate and discussion to be mutually exclusive? Dailykos is a blog that forbids debate. As such, only a narrowly prescribed viewpoint (more or less dictated by Kos himself) is acceptable. Any deviance from that viewpoint is met with, well, I though that “f—ing twit” commenter was fairly emblematic.Part of dealing with these issues intelligently is being able to defend them against other ideas. Otherwise, you are left with a bunch of people cussing at each other.



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bob

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:42 am


Wallis, you are oh so full of crap. Digby expresses the problem perfectly:

The religious and secular left have the chance together to make both reasoned and moral arguments for social justice, civil liberties and civil rights based upon our shared liberal values. Our rational and idealistic worldviews are not in tension. There is no purpose to all this pandering to the right except perhap to give a few new strategists an opportunity create a divide where none exists so they might exploit their positions as professional mediators. [emphasis added] Beware the insider religio-political industrial complex. It dishonestly foments this fight with bogus statistics and bad advice. Democrats are making a big mistake if they listen to them. Their political ambition is tragically weakening the one thing that keeps the nation together and keeps the right from hurtling completely out of control — the US Constitution and a respect for the clear-eyed reason that inspired it. Democracy is not faith based and religion isn’t democratic. People need to be reminded of the difference not encouraged to see them as the same thing.

Digby’s full article is here.



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lambert strether

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:47 am


Jesse Lava: When people tell me that I’m going to hell because I don’t accept — I’ll be polite here — Jesus as my personal savior, it does tend to “raise my hackles” and it feels, erm, dismissive. Just sayin’.



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Tab Khan

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:47 am


You can call yourself “progressive” all you want, but the fact is, so long as you deny gays their equality, you are nothing more than a right wing shill with table manners. And pardon me, but as a religious person myself, I am deeply offended by your wearing your so-called “faith” on your lapel. I know tons of people who are deeply religious but don’t wear their faith like a cheap bumper-sticker or a flag lapel pin. Hypocrite, heal thyself.



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dob

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:48 am


Brian, that was a nice takedown of those straw men. Kevin S, you might want to spend a bit of time on Daily Kos before dismissing it. Debate of progressive issues does happen there.



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lambert strether

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:50 am


And that thing that really, really grates about phraseology like “person of faith” is that: (a) all WE have to go on is your WORD that you’re faithful. There’s no way to prove it, one way or the other. And there are plenty of self-proclaimed “people of faith” who are clearly enabling evil, if not evil themselves. But more deeply, (b) if we take all the God-talk seriously — after the Bush administration I no longer do — it’s up to GOD, not YOU to weigh the nature of your faith. So, surprise, it’s all about you…



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Dr. Finegums

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:56 am


Jim Wallis Gets it Wrong about the Religious Right (Again) This is the where I would go if I were a progressive person of faith.



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Faitheist

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:58 am


“person of faith” Whatever that means…



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R. Kelly

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:59 am


I believe I can fly! I’m a person of faith! I have faith in myself!



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Steve Rockwell

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:26 am


Frank said this about me: “It’s certainly no secret now that you have a clear disdain, at least to some extent, for Sojourners and/or Wallis. Maybe some think tanks are busy bickering but I don’t think the “problem” is as divisive within the overall progressive community as it is for you in particular.” Not sure where you would get that from since I don’t know you and never had a conversation with you. I hold no animosity towards Jim. Indeed, I was a student of his at Harvard Divinity School and have a great deal of respect for what he’s done. Why don’t you contact me directly if you want the full story. What I don’t like though is the constant positioning that Jim does to to put himself in the middle of things, rather than just stating what he’s for. He equates the Religious Right with secular folks and I just don’t agree. I think those tactics are divisive and to truly extend the olive branch Jim needs to agree to stop attacking secular folks every time he thinks he will gain some political advantage with conservative religious folk. One more thing: It would be great to have Jim actually participate in these discussions. He, like all of us, can learn a lot from this discourse.



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djtyg

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:29 am


djtyg, That is interesting that Daily Kos has a troll monitor technique for “diaries”. Are “diaries” like “comments” here? How does the technique deal with reappearances under another user name? Mike Hayes | 02.20.07 – 2:41 pm | #Sorry for not getting back to you sooner, but the way it works is when someone writes a diary, they tend to comment in it as well, especially if it’s hated. When they comment, we do a system of “troll-rating” in which we declare the comment unproductive. When a guy gets enough of these, he’s banned. We’ve taken down some athiestic bigots who confuse Christian with conservative (despite how many liberal Christians are telling him otherwise) and Atheist with liberal. PastorDan has even written his own diaries about it. And Kevin is a right-wing tool.



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djtyg

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:35 am


BTW, Jim. It should be obvious by now that Kos did not say that values cannot come from religion. You owe him a huge apology.



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jesse

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:35 am


I agree with Bob who said above that Wallis, in a way, seeks to create a divide where none exists. Wallis agrees with every policy of the secular left. He just wants them to use more religious language–basically saying that Jesus is a liberal and the Bible supports liberal policies. He chastises the left at times generally to make himself appear beyond categorization, above the fray, and non-ideological. But this is just a rhetorical trick.I would still probably feel insulted if I were a secular liberal, but you should understand that Wallis thinks just as you do…he just talks a little differently.



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amberglow

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:42 am


This back-and-forth is sad. Most of the progressive left is not at all hostile to religion or faith–we have faith, many of us, and we demonstrate that with much of our work and our actions. No one is attacking religion or religious people in general at all–we attack those who want their religion to be our laws (they’re always Christian, btw). Millions of religious people faithfully vote for progressive and Democratic candidates all the time, and always have.As a liberal Reform Jew, i have learned that all talk of inserting faith and religious speech into politics excludes me entirely since it’s only Christians who ever want to do that, and it’s always phrased to appeal and to be understood by Christians. This is not a Christian nation and explicitly designed not to be a theocracy or have a state religion. Just recently a fundraiser for Obama told a person on the phone that this was a Christian Nation. No thank you. It’s rare that religious speech is not Christian and until it’s phrased in an open enough way not to exclude the rest of us it’s not helpful–it doesn’t attain goals and it doesn’t help people. It’s a strategy to get votes from people who do not vote Democratic, and it turns off many Democrats.Democrats have wonderful values and morals and express them daily. We don’t need to package them as religious, nor as Christian. They’re not–they’re decent, human and humane values and do not depend on the rules of any religion but on our shared life here and making that better for all. That’s not a religious thing–it’s a society thing, and a human-centered thing.Until both the religious left and right broaden their approach and stop attacking people as being hostile to religion when we’re not, this friction will remain.And i’ll also add–pro-choice is not negotiable, and equal rights aren’t either. They are fundamental principles of respect and value for other people.



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amberglow

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:47 am


I don’t see how–if this is true that religious people are turned off of Democrats and progressive candidates because no one speaks their language–that our elections every time are so closely won or lost. Doesn’t that mean that millions and millions of religious people are already voting Democratic?And how insecure are people anyway? Are there really people who would change their vote because a candidate mentioned Jesus? I don’t need someone using religious terms to talk policy or society or politics or healthcare or poverty or jobs, etc.



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amberglow

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:58 am


And i’ll second that recommendation for Digby’s post–she’s absolutely right.



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Summer

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:24 am


Just wanted to chime in and say that there is some serious misrepresentation of http://www.dailykos.com going on here, mainly by Kevin S. “Troll-rating” is a relatively infrequently used feature that allows the community to collectively remove comments that are considered offensive: hate speech, personal attacks, etc. DailyKos is teeming with debate and freewheeling open discussion–much more so, I might add, than this comment thread, though I think that is mainly due to the technological limitations of this comment system. (Those interested in checking out other comment systems might take a look at http://www.streetprophets.com , which is a progressive religious site built on Kos’s commenting model. I find it very conducive to discussion.)



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edgery

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:28 am


A couple of thoughts after reading through all the comments and Wallis’s piece: (1) Who are these ‘secular progressives’ who are attacking religion? The link just takes me to another piece by Wallis again without any identified individuals or examples of attacking religion. It seems a ‘strawman’ argument unless one can point to specific instances where such attacks have actually been made (and I don’t mean in response to some right-wing pseudoargument). (2) Why does it seem that every discussion about politics and religion devolves into a back and forth about abortion? For the record, I’m sure my basic beliefs were informed by my exposure to traditional and positive religious experiences as a child. But while religion may have informed my values, it does not define them. What defines my political values more is the bedrock principle enshrined in our Constitution–that is separation of church and state. The freedom to practice whatever religion one chooses, or not to practice any religion at all. So as soon as a politician gets up and starts waxing poetic about his or her religion, I start thinking “fine, now what about everybody else.” I’m not hostile to religion, I just don’t think it belongs in the Congressional Record or the county courthouse. And apparently, neither did the Founding Fathers.



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Miggs

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:38 am


lambert strether: you write: “When people tell me that I’m going to hell because I don’t accept — I’ll be polite here — Jesus as my personal savior, it does tend to ‘raise my hackles’ and it feels, erm, dismissive.” Who on the Christian left told you that? Name names. Miggs



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Lettuce

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:58 am


I’m 47. I have voted for: Jimmy Carter – famously Southern Baptist Walter Mondale – Methodist turned Presbyterian Michael Dukakis – Greek Orthodox Bill Clinton – another Southern Baptist Al Gore – yet another Southern Baptist John Kerry – Roman Catholic And me, an atheist. Yet, I voted for every single one of them at one time or another.Indeed, I voted in primaries for other noted Christians such as Paul Simon, Tom Harkin and Howard Dean. How many atheists have any of the Christians around here voted for for President? How many of you think we’d stand half a chance? How many of you think we’d be rejected for being atheists? Some morality. Spare me. I’m obviously not holding it against you.



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bob

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:48 am


You want to get rich? Come up with a product that creates its own market. The best two examples I can think of: drugs (e.g. heroin, crack), and religion.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:20 am


timks and Kevin, Just got back and will also be out for much of tomorrow. I just don’t benefit from aggressive debates, and that was my basic purpose in my response. Thank you for your reply to me. I prefer a moderated discussion where enforceable rules exist and where messages are intended to inform participants about opposing views and gain insight in the process. Others enjoy debates. There is some opportunity to observe how persons holding an opposing view argue their case, but there’s no real intent to credit any part of the viewpoint of the opponent with any validity, which is what is required for a real exchange of views… to my way of thinking. In a debate, winning is everything. I’m not saying or thinking that the debate on this blog is entirely worthless. It just is not what I was hoping for and I’m recognizing that cannot be achieved, in this format. Thank you for your responses to me.



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Ali Eteraz

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:28 am


I just wrote a piece on the secular left, religious left, and american muslims, and i wondered if someone might be interested in it http://eteraz.org/story/2007/2/20/23260/2984



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derek

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:29 am


The deal: 1) Progressive religious folks, like Jim Wallis, make real sure that they never say, or even suggest, that values have to come from faith 2) Progressive secular folks, like… actually like nobody on record, never suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith That’s a very easy deal to agree to, because Jim Wallis’s side of the deal is the only side violating it at present. If he shapes up and sticks to the deal he proposes, I can’t see any problems with it.One of the most disappointing things about American Christians is that we secular folks have to be the ones to remind them that they have a model for actual liberal values from their own Jesus Christ (Sermon On The Mount ring any bells, guys?), and it goes in one ear and out the other with them. In the light of that, how Jim Wallis manages to justify to himself a whine that “secular folks suggest that progressive values can’t come from faith,” I am at a loss to account for. If we’re citing *Jesus* every five minutes, how can we simultaneously be suggesting that progressive values can’t come from faith?



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Ali Eteraz

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:00 am


the correct link for the secular left, left religious, and american muslim post is here http://eteraz.org/story/2007/2/20/23321/4062



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Frank

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:44 am


Dear Steve Rockwell: A quick comment/question about what you say here, “What I don’t like though is the constant positioning that Jim does to to put himself in the middle of things, rather than just stating what he’s for.” It’s pretty clear to me that it’s much wiser to keep from getting mired in the details of politics, especially the kind that exsists currently? Seems to me that you may be very worried that Wallis has a different perspective about the common good than you do. You wouldn’t be so opposed to his approach if you didn’t disagree with his core politics. If I’m wrong about that, then you’re simply splitting hairs as I’ve already mentioned.



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Steve Rockwell

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:28 pm


Frank, again how would you know that I have a different approach to the common good than Wallis? Lot of assumptions on your part.I don’t think my political views are generally much different than his. As I mentioned, I was a student of his and found myself agreeing with much of his political agenda (not a lot of policy stuff in his books). What I’m arguing is that his tactics are wrong. Attacking the boogeyman secular folks (whom he has yet to name) may score points with religious conservatives he’s trying to woo, but its not helpful in building a broad progressive coalition.



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Avedon

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:10 pm


I was raised as a Christian, and that’s where my political beliefs come from. It’s a direct connection – I’m not rebelling against repressive religion, because I don’t come from a repressive Christian tradition. I have always believed in understanding and redemption. My hostility toward the right-wing “religious” leaders in America comes directly from that upbringing and those beliefs. These people have so little morality that they can support making war and torture. They seem to hate the poor. They claim to be “pro-life” but have not one single political program in the public sphere that supports trying to support life. (Even being anti-abortion turns out to be anti-life, since abortion bans don’t actually reduce abortions, they just make them more likely to kill the mothers.) Frankly, I don’t understand how it is that the “religious right” in America isn’t the group that is being dressed-down for being hostile to Christianity. It’s not my atheist friends on the left who are advocating invasions, murderous occupations, and torture, after all. Nor do they have an entire economic philosophy that says it’s just tough if poor people don’t find some way to be “wealth creators” because it’s all their fault for being poor. If “religious” people are still voting for right-wing politicians in spite of all they do, their faith is meaningless to me. Their program is immoral. Why should I apologize to them just because I don’t want some religious sect to run our government? And, please, stop using “secular” as if it is another word for “atheist”. Wanting secular government has precious little to do with whether you believe in the divine.



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Emily

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:51 pm


The election of 2004 was stolen plain and simple (hardly a value of Jesus Christ’s I would add) by the Bush crime family and the people who helped (check out Greg Palast’s article “Kerry Won. Get over it” at his website gregpalast.com) I do agree that the religious people and the secular people (another phrase for people with no faith in my opinion) do need to get a long to get things done on the issues we agree upon like health care, minimum wage, war/peace etc. I’m a progressive Christian like you Mr. Wallis but I also remember when Jesus said to pray in your closet, don’t show off your fasting in public and finally to “Give that which is Ceaser’s unto Ceaser and that which is God’s unto God.” When Jesus Christ was being tempted in the desert by Satan one of the things he was tempted by was ruiling the Kingdom below him. Christ said no and refused. Sorry but I don’t want my government to be a theocracy. In my opinion someone’s religion (including my own) is a private issue and when you (in general) do something for someone else you shouldn’t do it to say you did so because of your faith but just because you know it was the thing you should have done. I suggest finding the following films if possible: “God in the White House” and “With God On our Side.” And finally the book “American Theocracy” by Kevin Philips and there is a new one out called “American Fascists” but I can’t remember the author. Where it concerns the progressive Christian’s and abortion I’m totally pro-choice. Doesn’t mean I like abortion for myself but I know that God has blessed us all with free will and that includes the free will for women to make up their mind about their health and that includes pregnancy. Why would someone trust me with a child and to raise that child but not to make that decision? I suggest on partial-birth for those who are for it to try sometime to find out Howard Dean’s comments on this. During 2003/2004 campaign season after that I saw an old campaign video on CSPAN of Howard Dean and he was talking with someone about partial birth ban and he (as a doctor) said it was a total joke (in so many words) and that it’s hardly ever used and it’s just a political ploy by the republicans. On Sojourners and the abortion issue again Jimmy Carter says the same thing about abortion and making it less there with poverty issues in his book “Our Endangered Values.” That’s a really great book and I suggest it to anyone who is reading this.



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russell

posted February 21, 2007 at 1:59 pm


I go to church most every week, went to Bible College in my youth, read Jim Wallis and Sojourners back when he and they were just starting out. I believe Jesus is the Christ. I’m a Christian, a “person of faith”, and (by American political standards) a lefty, and see these things as being related. So, that’s me. The dustup here seems to be about Duncan Black’s objection to this quote from an interview with Mara Vanderslice: “I just believe that the religious community can be the conscience and the soul of the Democratic Party” Black’s objection is that this language implies that, without this input from the religious left, the Democrats will lack a conscience and soul. He finds that offensive, and he’s correct to do so, it’s kind of an obnoxious statement. I read Black’s blog every day. Nothing he says offends me. He affirms what he has in common with religious people, and expresses puzzlement at and, at worst, lack of interest in what he doesn’t relate to. That’s about it. If that’s all it takes to get everyone’s knickers in a twist, somebody needs more important things to worry about. Seriously. I would also like to second Avedon’s comment about the distinction between having religious faith and supporting a secular government. There are many sound reasons, theologically and historically, for affirming a crisp line between church and state. Barmen Declaration, anyone? Thanks



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Bruce Wilson

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm


I’ve noticed some discussion of what Jim Wallis’ position on abortion might really be. Here is a clarification on that: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2006/7/11/33033/1340

” “The good news is that the monologue of the Religious Right is now over and a new dialogue is finally beginning.” That’s Jim Wallis’s favorite sound bite. He says it so often that Google finds his name plus that exact phrase about 13,000 times. Much of this “new dialogue” is devoted to poverty as a moral issue, a national discussion that is long overdue. But no moral/political dialogue can ignore for long those twin bread-and-butter bogeymen of the Religious Right: full civil rights for gays and lesbians, and reproductive rights for women. As Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, correctly points out, “Jesus never said one word about homosexuality, never said one word about civil marriage or abortion.” Jim Wallis meets Dr. Edgar only half way, allowing at least that “Jesus didn’t speak at all about homosexuality.” But no, Jesus never said a recorded word about abortion, either. Although these days, Wallis does his best to avoid talking about abortion much at all. But before his elevation as an “evangelical progressive” celebrity, together with a Who’s Who of the Religious Right that he now says “gets it wrong” — in lockstep agreement with Gary Bauer, Charles Colson, James Dobson, Robert George, William Kristol, Beverly LaHaye, Richard Land, Bernard Nathanson, Frank Pavone and Ralph Reed — Jim Wallis signed a lengthy document that said plenty about abortion, culminating in a call for a constitutional amendment to criminalize abortion entirely. And to this day, adept as he is at dodging questions about his true position, Wallis has yet to repudiate a word of it.



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Doug

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:19 pm


reboho wrote: “You really can’t believe and be rational.” This is a bit off topic and I’m not going to delve into a point-by-point rebuttal of reboho, since my reading tells me it’s safe to assume he or she is not interested in a viewpoint that differs. Except to say that, in the ever-so-remote chance that rehobo *might* be open to the possibility of another weltanschauung, I suggest reading a book or two by Francis Schaeffer. He makes a very good case for the rationality of Christianity. However, I will respond to this: reboho:”Paul says that we need to put away reason and believe like a child.” No. Paul did not say that.Here is the verse I believe reboho is referring to, in its entirety (I Corinthians 13:11, NIV) “11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Just the opposite, in fact, of what reboho claims. Get your facts right please.



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Doug

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:24 pm


Jason: “…I’m a ‘secular progressive,’ and frankly anyone who thinks a Blastocyst is a person is a nutjob I’d rather have nothing to do with.” Really? I’m a former blastocyst, and frankly anyone who thinks a ‘secular progressive’ is a person is a nutjob I’d rather have nothing to do with. Nonplused to meet you.



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Dan S.

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:51 pm


Atrios responds to Lava’s gibberish-as-a-little-barb commment here, asking “How is that a barb?” After all, his point wasn’t that it was gibberish, but that it was something meaningless and incomprehensible to him. In a way, perhaps this is like the Vanderslice comment, or even Biden’s “articulate” – whatever’s meant, people are going to hear it a certain way, because of the social/cultural/etc. background it’s uttered in? He ends the post with something very interesting: I’m not obligated to understand your traditions, and don’t claim to. It’s that simple. Now, no question, such an understanding sheds much light on U.S. history, Western culture, and modern society; can be fascinating in its own right acadmically or spiritually, etc. – but the choice of words here is very important. Is he obligated to do so?



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HASH(0x116b0128)

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:56 pm


I think that one of the problems that secularists like myself have is that we feel like religious progressives often want us to fight their theological battles for them, e.g., by indulging in religious discourse and metaphorical constructs. Often, we aren’t interested in that, see no reason why we should be, and aren’t equipped to do so. As an upthread commenter noted, I can’t count how many times I’ve noted direct conflicts between the way in which many Christians act and the teachings of Christ, at least as we perceive them. That gets pretty tiresome, and now you want us to do more of it? No thanks.If Barack Obama or some other candidate wants to do that and it’s genuine, then fine. But I won’t judge his suitability for office solely on that basis. I will look more generally to whether he is competent to the do the job, which means, first and foremost, upholding the Constitution. If he neglects that to obsessively cater to religious sentiments, I will not support him.In a theological battle with Christianists, we give you all the moral support we can, but that fight is yours. The assumptions upon which such arguments proceed (e.g., dueling scripture quotations, whether the Bible should be literally or metaphorically construed, etc.) are meaningless to most of us, because we don’t believe the basic premises, such as an anthropocentric deity, a virgin birth, and the like. That ain’t going to change. In the political realm, however, the thing we can and must agree on is the essential need to preserve the constitutional separation of church and state, and the Bill of Rights in general. As Digby points out, this is an essentially rationalist context, whether you like it or not. It’s simple pragmatism, and it does not appears to be necessarily inconsistent with the teachings of your faith. The Bill of Rights protects both of us, in different ways. We want to be free of religious tests and the other trappings of theocracy, however benevolent that theocracy might be, because we know from history that theocracy can so easily lead to oppression and tyranny because of the failings of human beings. You – I suspect – don’t want the state interfering with your religious beliefs, because history tells you know how your beliefs can be co-opted and corrupted by politics. This was the compromise the created this country.Remember this — we (self-professed atheists, agnostics and other non-theists) are a real political minority in this country. This isn’t about whether or not someone’s faith is “real” or not — who the hell knows? We are surrounded by “political christianity.” We have little sympathy for self-professed people of faith who claim persecution by us, when we see candidates of major political parties are openly suggesting such things as religious tests for holding office, and we are constantly bombarded with TV preachers calling for a “biblical nation”, calls for school prayer, and the like. Nobody of any stature in the “secularist” world is suggesting anything of the sort for you guys. We’re cool with your tax exemptions and other benefits you get under the Constitution, because we know that it’s for a good reason. Sure, you get a few rude commenters in a DailyKos or Eschaton post. Sorry, but I would hope your faith is stronger than that. If the Christianists succeed in getting us, you’re next. And, if the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights are diluted, you will be even more defenseless, because then the political battle will very likely be one of competing revealed truths, i.e., who has God’s ear, and reason will have nothing to do with it. All that will remain is naked power.



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Borg Warner

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:17 pm


“I don’t believe that you can label yourself as a “progressive religious folk” if you don’t support women’s moral agency and GLBT rights. I disagree — I’m a progressive evangelical but staunchly “pro-life” and consider homosexual behavior flat-out sin. This is what happens, unfortunately, when you have a system that puts ideology ahead of Biblical truth. I hated it when the right did it; I am no more tolerant with the left.” This is where I depart from all religious people. The idea of “biblical truth” is laughable. How a book of fiction and un–provable claims can provide us with unassailable truth is beyond me. How can you even define truth in a document that so contradicts it self at every turn. The idea that ideology didn t influence the compilation of the New Testament is ridiculous. When it comes to so-called biblical truth, who s truth are you talking about? Protestant truth? Catholic truth? Orthodox truth? All your so-called truths are fueled by centuries of ideology.



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Steve LaBonne

posted February 21, 2007 at 4:21 pm


“What I’m arguing is that his tactics are wrong. Attacking the boogeyman secular folks (whom he has yet to name) may score points with religious conservatives he’s trying to woo, but its not helpful in building a broad progressive coalition.” Your mistake, I think, is in assuming that’s what Wallis means to do. In fact he is a huckster, and the purpose of his schtick is to sell books and consulting services. So he just keeps going with the obnoxious BS that gets him in the media spotlight, collateral damage to the progressive movement be damned.



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Wolverine

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:12 pm


Rick, I’m confused. First you say that Grover Norquist controls the purse strings, now you say that he gets his funding from other foundations. Which is it? Wolverine



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Dan S.

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:23 pm


In some ways, what Wallis seems to be doing is quite understandable. He can’t stop the Religious Right’s anti-liberal spew, or Rovian propagarbage like Coulter’s Godless, or etc. They can’t hear/don’t care. What he can do is 1) present an alternative, 2) ask those of us on the ‘secular left’ to change our behavior, or, well, something, and 3) (through 2) have a Sister Souljah moment. But when it comes to 2), concrete change rather than positioning, it gets tricky. Everyone calling for Jim (and others like Amy Sullivan – see, was that so hard? Now folks can evaluate my statement, and theirs -) to actually give examples – it’s not some attempt to trick or trap ‘em, or something – there are real, important points here. Take the reference about how”others [those nameless others again!] felt, and still feel, quite threatened by all that, fearing any kind of faith talk among progressive people, and objecting to Democrats getting religion something they regard as foreign and hostile to their political agenda.” This is presented in a quite negative way, but it’s not entirely off, and specific examples might make us address why this might be the case. Take the reactions to (a line or two from) Obama’s speech some time back. Why were some folks concerned? Well, one reason given was that – as here – this seemed to be merely playing into rightwing talking points about the Left/Dems as Godless religion-haters; helping reinforce their frame, yadda yadda. This is especially bad given how unrealistic it is: the idea, in the linked Nov. post by Willis, that ” secular fundamentalists had too much influence in the Democratic Party,” (represented, via parallelism, as akin to the influence of religious fundamentalists in the Republican Party) sounds extremely bizarre. (Does he think Michael Newdow would be part of a weekly White House conference call in a Dem administration?) Another reason is more complicated. I’m an atheist. Now, that means I have no belief in Gods, etc., etc. But what it also means is that, outside of a secular archipelago scattered around the country, a lot of folks won’t like or trust me, sight unseen, simply by virtue of that fact. They wouldn’t vote for me if I ran for President, nor would they want me as a son-in-law. No, I’m not just paranoid; a 2006 U of M survey found that: “Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in sharing their vision of American society. Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry.” My beliefs and identity, outside some specific and limited settings, are often not seen as quite legitimate or deserving of a voice: for example, think of that recent Paula Zahn panel on CNN asking “Why do atheists inspire such hatred?” – with no actual atheists on the panel! Indeed, many of my fellow Americans (without intentional malice) favor practices that seem to declare that folks like my wife and I are second-class citizens. Now, I don’t want to play Oppression Bingo – I’d lose – but don’t forget what went on in Kearny, just over the bridge from New York (which is across the board bad for any minority belief group, or anyone who’s a fan of the First Amendment) I’m also Jewish and as such, I have a very strong appreciation of the value of church-state separation. About a hundred miles away from where I sit in Philly, a Jewish family was essentially driven out of their hometown for asking (eventually suing) that graduation prayers be made more generic. Again, this is not a specifically sectarian battle (and in both cases Muslim students were also involved) but one about whether or not we have real freedom of (and from) religion in this country. In this context, what does it mean if the party that is at least somewhat associated with that ideal decides to be more faith-friendly? Will we be thrown under the bus as politicans drive off in frantic pursuit of religious voters not already voting for them? Perhaps – probably? – not. But is it understandable why we might get concerned? If one actually engages with this view, instead of talking about unspecified “others” and “many,” perhaps we can get somewhere? Finally, examples would help us understand what on earth Jim Wallis wants us to do. (Metaphorically) break PZ Myers’ fingers, muzzle Amanda, gag Newdow with a flag? I’m not going to do that – whatever my personal inclination, I think this has to be a country where people can criticize faith (the overwhelmingly majority position), even unpolitely, especially when it opposes basic values. When Sheelzebub at Pandagon says: “I do not care if the Bible says it s bad. Not everyone believes in the Bible. Not everyone wants to follow your rules.” (and please! read the whole post, entitled “Bigotry, thy name is fundamentalist“) – well, for some folks (who have any chance of voting Democratic) it might sound like an attack, but for others, especially folks living outside that secular archipelago, it sounds like freedom. There are an awful lot of folks who do seem to think that everyone should follow their seen-as-religiously-based rules, after all. Threaten to stop donating to the ACLU if they take any more school prayer (etc.) cases, rather than solely defending street preachers and kids being prevented from handing out candycanes with religious messages? Nope. I think this has to be a country where freedom of religion applies to everyone. Not support politicians who go around attacking (generic) people of faith? Well, that’s easy, if not very helpful, since they don’t exist – although there are, I believe, rightwing politicians and pundits who cast aspersions on other faiths, and certainly on nontheism. Remember the fuss over Keith Ellison’s choice of scripture for his ceremonial swearing-in? Was it the secular left who threw a fit? So – what, exactly, are we supposed to do? And why isn’t this a big waste of time?



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kevin s.

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:24 pm


Who is this atrios fellow? Is he related to Kos? A subsidiary of the Kos corporation? Just kidding, but his name gets thrown around a lot, like Kaiser Soze or something. “This is where I depart from all religious people. The idea of “biblical truth” is laughable. How a book of fiction and un–provable claims can provide us with unassailable truth is beyond me.” I am symptathetic to the idea that the Bible has limited power to inform governmental systems. However, I would clarify that the Bible is not a fictional work in the view of most Christians, and is no more unprovable than historical texts regarding Caesar. That you find biblical truth to be a laughable concept is offensive to many. While I understand where you are coming from, a little more research and empathy might help you understand the Christian faith, which, whether you like it or not, is becoming a major talking point of the Democrats (presuming that this is your party affiliation).



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:37 pm


Can we please stay away from depicting the bible as less than it is. Whether you (Borg) believe it to be the word of God or not is irrelevant. It is a complex book. It contains myth, allegory, actual history, and yes even some moral truth. p



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HASH(0x116b6994)

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:01 pm


Really, what Anonymous at 10:01 said (wish I had hit reload before I started typing!) – see also digby’s post today on Reason and Faith: “The religious and secular left have the chance together to make both reasoned and moral arguments for social justice, civil liberties and civil rights based upon our shared liberal values. Our rational and idealistic worldviews are not in tension . . .



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Dan S.

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:02 pm


- That last 1:06 pm comment was me.



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Borg Warner

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:19 pm


“I am symptathetic to the idea that the Bible has limited power to inform governmental systems. However, I would clarify that the Bible is not a fictional work in the view of most Christians, and is no more unprovable than historical texts regarding Caesar.” I agree that it may not be a fictional work to most Christians, but the phrase “biblical truth” gives it a cache that I don t think it deserves. I also agree that the historical texts regarding Caesar are no more reliable as fact. His own writings under the title The Battle for Gaul are some of the most self-serving tracts ever written. But the comparison is not relevant. No one holds up his writings as some source of ultimate truth. But Christians do hold up the New Testament as such every day.Can we please stay away from depicting the bible as less than it is. Whether you (Borg) believe it to be the word of God or not is irrelevant. It is a complex book. It contains myth, allegory, actual history, and yes even some moral truth. The fact that you discount whether or not I believe the that the Bible is the word of God as irrelevant, shows the intolerance you have for rational discussion about what the Bible is and its effect on humankind. I never said that the Bible has no moral truths in it. I take exception with the phrase Biblical Truths . If it contains myth, allegory, and history, how do you know what is true or not. You have no more clue than I do. What you have is your faith in what you believe to be true. People use phrases like Biblical Truths to cut off discussion of a variety of difficult subjects. I don t think it s a very effective way to breach the gap between secular and religious progressives if you shut off discussion of difficult and painful subjects like abortion and Gays by just saying my biblical truth over rides your ideology, which is what prompted my first post.



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Steve LaBonne

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:47 pm


Look, believers, here’s how it is. I’m ready at any time to work with you to further our shared progressive ideals. But just as I certainly don’t give you any demerits if your attachment to those ideals happens to stem from your reading of the Bible, neither am I going to give you any extra brownie points for that. it’s just irrelevant. It’s the shared goals that matter. I would never suggest that you abandon your book before I’ll work with you. Don’t insinuate that I should kiss your book before you’ll work with me. Deal?



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Joseph T

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:59 pm


WOW This one certainly brought in a new crowd.Welcome. I hope many of you will visit from time to time. I comment fairly regularly here. I came to the site because I was a part of “orthodox” Christianity and have many friends among Charismatics, Jewish Christians, Anabaptists and Evangelicals. I left this religious position behind after much study , thought and many tears. I found myself free, happy as could be and a greater admirer of Jesus than ever. Eventually I gravitated to the Quakers. I agree with many of the criticisms of Jim’s message,particularly the failure to acknowledge the Bloody Colonial history of post Constantinian Orthodoxy but it is impossible to cover everything in one article and I share a central concern that he is addressing. I frequently work with secular progressives and fully value their committment to justice, their analysis of events and ideas etc. Many of them however fail to recognize how many political allies they might attract and be able to work with if they were less willing to write off a great many church goers in overly simplistic terms. I believe Jim will here what many of you are saying. The question is can we break down the walls that keep all who want a more just , tolerant, and peaceable society, from allying together against the dangers of big brother government, fundamentalist wars against “infidelity”, and the myth of some perfect totalitarian answer(all the isms)in order to find rea anwers rooted in our democratic diversity and vitality. There is a lot of very understandable anger out there aginst the neofascist mentality which has been rising in the world and we all have to be careful about slipping int an overly purist camp where we have the answers and others don’t . Dividing into warring camps is not the answer. So once again welcome. I mean that.This is a very stimulating thread.



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Joseph T

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:02 pm


Jim will hear, that is. Plenty more mistakes where that came from.



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reboho

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:06 pm


Doug, Sorry I conflated I Cor. 13:11 with other verses. How childlike of me. After all, I Cor. 13 is talking about all that really adult stuff like speaking in tongues.I also think that you shouldn’t insult people asking them to read the godfather of Dominionism. That is what you were going for here. In my “worldview” having Tim LaHaye and Randall Terry site me as an influence would actually be a bad thing. And taking Genesis literally as a “worldview” is silly. And that whole Genesis 1:Genesis 2 confusion is just a stylistic difference, right? But we should really blame that on the Babylonians since it was their creation myth that the Hebrews plagiarized? I actually used up a few nights of my short life reading “The God Who Was There”. Can you intercede on my behalf and try to get those hours back? Ironic you should bring Francis Schaeffer into the discussion. If it wasn’t for he and his ilk we probably wouldn’t even be having this discussion.



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phil

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:09 pm


I read the KOS article several times trying to see what had agitated you so. What I saw was a thoughtful and consistent piece offering perspective, insight and hope. Aside from your condescension and self righteousness, your piece, as well as others, demonstrates how similar you have become to the religious right. I say this with some authority having been a Sunday school teacher, youth director and more. I escaped that fundamentalist nightmare and am very concerned when someone like you creates an argument where there is none, and reacts to imagined affronts. If this is to be the future of “Religion on the Left” then we can say goodbye to any imagined, sustainable, progressive movement and look forward only to the darkness and terror of a Cromwellian purgatory.



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christiannoapologyneeded

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:32 pm


I’m new to SoJo, but have found it stimulating and thoughtful, challenging to my Christianity and my worldview.I’m certain that Jim Wallis is up to whatever critique that he receives here, but I am a bit confused about the vitriolic stance I keep hearing in these comments. Over and over I read about proving that the secular left holds animosity to the religious anything. Didn’t any of you go to college? I’ve had professors lamblast and belittle all kinds of faith, but especially Christianity. Notice the movies or TV? It’s okay to make a priest or a rabbi an evil person, and certainly no outcry of bigotry is heard! Face it, a nice Christian is the exception. Hey, it’s their right to do it, but it’s also damned mean. It’s also a pragmatic issue. Even if liberals don’t come out and state their dismissal of faith and people of faith, not saying anything can say everything! Frankly, perception is reality, and if the religious right have that “faith market” cornered, then liberals and dems need to take it back! You can be liberal and still be clear if you’re a believer and share how that informs your decisions. Like it or not, that opens up dialogue and understanding that NOT sharing faith or at least proclaiming tolerance might simply preclude. If whole scads of voters who identify themselves as Christians are running to the Republicans, don’t blame them. It’s at the least insulting and at the most stupid. We have to function from where we are, NOT where we think we should be.I consider myself a progressive Christian, have been critical of the religious right, but I think that the perception has been that there’s no place for Christians in the left-leaning/democrat world, and I think it’s a shame. Most of the Dems social justice issues align more closely with Jesus’ teachings than the typical republican stance of the right. But we’ve got to quit villifying the right and prove why the left has a place for everyone.



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Guy Cross

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:49 pm


Jim + Co Long Time reader, first time caller…. Great blog, as always! a pleasure to readGuy



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Barbara

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:49 pm


I don’t believe that you can label yourself as a “progressive religious folk” if you don’t support women’s moral agency and GLBT rights. I disagree — I’m a progressive evangelical but staunchly “pro-life” and consider homosexual behavior flat-out sin. This is what happens, unfortunately, when you have a system that puts ideology ahead of Biblical truth. I hated it when the right did it; I am no more tolerant with the left. Rick Nowlin | 02.20.07 – 2:37 pm | # You may need to go live in a theocracy! Our country was not founded on Biblical truth.



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Barbara

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:53 pm


Rick Nowlin: Who are you to judge. What part of the bible don’t you understanding on that subject. Please!



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John Lydon

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:58 pm


Hi, I’m a Reform Shaker, Pennsylvania Stake, who has good fellowship with the Old Order Catamites as well as fundamentalist Unitarians. So many posts on here have such a tone of arched snarky filiopiety, buttressed by Heideggerian-informed poststructuralism.



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Wolverine

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Having ripped on Rick Nowlin on other threads, I find myself in the awkward position of defending him. (Whether Rick wants my help is another matter.) I’ll leave aside the gay issues for later, but I honestly do not see what it is about being pro-life that disqualifies one from being progressive on other issues. Especially as a protestant, one can oppose abortion and still support an activist state that provides material support for the poor, a pacifistic approach to foreign policy, affirmative action (even reparations) and a host of other things. One can even support large chunks of feminism, including the right to use contraceptives prior to conception. Nor must one be a “theocrat” to see problems with abortion. One merely needs to see “potential” human life as a valuable thing that should have some legal protection. In reality the question of when human life begins is something of a mystery, (and I think a lot of Christians are way more certain of their answers than they have a right to be, scientifically or even theologically) but even if you ignore the Bible, the biology is such that it is not absurd to see life as beginning at conception. Is “progressivism” such an inflexible thing that you cannot discuss this question? If it is, then I must confess amazement that we ever lose a political battle to you guys. Wolverine



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A.J.

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Is there some reason why the term “progressive” is always substituted for “liberal” or “left”? If we have a Religious Right, we also have a Religious Left (and why not a Religious Moderate?) Liberal is not a dirty word – look it up.



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Dan S.

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:37 pm


christiannoapologyneeded – My $0.02:”but I am a bit confused about the vitriolic stance I keep hearing in these comments. Over and over I read about proving that the secular left holds animosity to the religious anything.” Perhaps part of the problem is that there’s been a sort of minor genre that goes, more or less (again and again and again): ‘Some Democrats/secular progressives are being mean to people of faith and driving them away from the party!! You have to be nice!!’ Now – [re: Dems] – This is absurd. Do you imagine that Hillary or Obama lighten up their speeches by mocking religion? In reality (and whatever one thinks of this), as far as anyone can tell, the folks being mentioned turn out a) not to be politicians, b) not part of the Democratic Party, or c) some random guys in a comment thread somewhere. As we see, when you say: ” I’ve had professors lamblast and belittle all kinds of faith, but especially Christianity. Notice the movies or TV? It’s okay to make a priest or a rabbi an evil person, and certainly no outcry of bigotry is heard!” Well, I haven’t had profs like that, actually, but it might be good to go into what “lambast and belittle” means to you. Random exclamations about how Christians are idiots – that’s not really appropriate for the classroom. Otherwise – well, it gets more complicated, no? And I can’t think of a single movie or tv show with evil rabbis (Attack of the Evil Rabbis? It Came From 20,000 Leagues Beneath the Synagogue? Scary Mitzvah 3? Nightmare on the Lower East Side?); evil tv priests do exist, but so do countless good ones – is the idea that there should be no bad priests on tv? (Especially, and very unfortunately, given recent events?) Special privileges, much? Re: Secular progressives in general – you do know that we don’t have a clubhouse or anything, right, or membership lists, or fancy badges? The very name blurs two things together – progressives who are nontheists, and progressives who believe in a secular government (but may be personally quite religious). Is there a teeny number of people within the first group who go around talking about sky fairies and such? Yes. Is this kinda rude? Sure. Is there anything we can realistically do about it? No. Is there anything we should do about it? That’s a complex issue. Is this a more important matter than social justice, environmental protection, etc.? Well? How many people out there would vote for Democrats/ be involved in left-leaning work for Good Stuff ™ except there was some show on with an evil rabbi? (And see the link at the end of the comment). “. Even if liberals don’t come out and state their dismissal of faith and people of faith, not saying anything can say everything!” So I don’t even have to run around talkin’ trash about sky fairies – which I don’t – it’ll just be assumed that I hate religion and want it to die, and this is my fault? “You can be liberal and still be clear if you’re a believer and share how that informs your decisions.” I agree. But does one have to? What if you feel your belief is a private matter? What if you’re not a theist? ” but I think that the perception has been that there’s no place for Christians in the left-leaning/democrat world,” WHY? Who said this? What caused this perception? Look, I think there’s a lot more that could be done. I think there are entirely appropriate, respectful, good ways candidates can talk about the importance of religion in their life (or the importance of x, y, or z). But honestly, within the confines of actually being the Democratic Party I voted for, I would think the folks doing the most work to create this perception – well, let’s just say they ain’t on the Left, m’kay? See also Mithras about Religious Left Wannabe Power Brokers (on Kleiman and Vanderslice). Yes, this comment spends maybe a bit too much time smacking strawmen around. Obviously this is all your fault.



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Hali

posted February 21, 2007 at 9:59 pm


“Anonymous” wrote: “‘…and progressive religous folks, like myself, admit that the greatest crimes in humanities history ( the Inquistion, Religious Wars, Justifying torture of heathens etc) were the result of faith and that we will attempt to ignore and overcome that to maintain the faith of our fantasy’s no matter how many atriocities are committed in the name of those illusions…'” No, dear. That wasn’t faith; that was dogma. Big difference. Dogma is often attached to religion, but not exclusive to it. Faith, also, is often attached to religion, but not exclusive to it. In my way of thinking, the two are antithetical to each other, but all of us harbor at least a little of both. Which do you prefer?



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Barbara

posted February 21, 2007 at 10:05 pm


I am a lesbian. And I must say that what the christian right and this administration has done in Jesus’ name to gay people all over this country is inexcusable. I am sick and tired of being portrayed as sinful, deviant, amoral, comparing me to animals, etc. I am sick and tired of them using Jesus’ name to further their cause, which you can attribute to money!!!! Besides our troops, just the sheer number of Iraqis who have been slaughtered in the name of Halliburton, Black (?) not sure of last name of firm, etc. they are war profiteering, while people are being slaughtered. Maybe people should be concerned about that, our bombs being dropped in our name on innocent people and CHILDREN YES CHILDREN, you have such a concern for the unborn what about the ones already here. Bring them into the world starve them to death at 5 or send them to war at 18 to be killed. I probably do more good in this world than the so called religious right whose leaders are only in it for the money, the almight dollar!! They keep these people fearful and keep them giving their money away to THEM. Which keeps them loaded with lots of money, nice houses, best cars, etc. (you get the point). I do not want any religion pushed at me. I am quite fine with my personal Jesus and I don’t need to be saved, thank you very much! What I do want is fairness and justice in this world. It has really turned me off, tuned me out, etc. to their kind of religion, etc. I will leave you with this thought: RELIGION IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ENERGY SOURCE KNOWN TO MANKIND. THE MOMENT A PERSON (OR GOVERNMENT OR RELIGION OR ORGANIZATION) IS CONVINCED THAT GOD IS EITHER ORDERING OR SANCTIONING A CAUSE OR PROJECT, ANYTHING GOES. THE HISTORY, WORLDWIDE, OF RELIGION-FUELED HATE, KILLING, AND OPPRESSION IS STAGGERING. THE BIBLICAL PROPHETS ARE IN THE FRONT LINE OF THOSE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT. THE BIBLICAL PROPHETS CONTINUE TO BE THE MOST POWERFUL AND EFFECTIVE VOICES EVER HEARD ON THE EARTH FOR KEEPING RELIGION HONEST, HUMBLE, AND COMPASSIONATE. PROPHETS SNIFF OUT INJUSTICE, ESPECIALLY INJUSTICE THAT IS DRESSED UP IN RELIGIOUS GARB. THEY SNIFF IT OUT A MILE AWAY. PROPHETS SEE THROUGH HYPOCRISY, ESPECIALLY HYPOCRISY THAT ASSUMES A RELIGIOUS POSE. EUGENE H. PETERSON, THE MESSAGE, NAVPRESS, 2002, P. 164



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christiannoapologyneeded

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:22 pm


Dan- You made some good points, but I still continue to ask politically OR from a social justice stance what good it does to point at the flaws of the right instead of creating a dialogue and a welcome mat for Christians (and that’s really all I’m addressing at this time. I can’t speak for other faiths. It’s MINE that’s been kidnapped).I do have some specifics for you from college. Realizing that we all view the world from our unique experiences, I was perhaps more tuned in to times when in college when Christianity was attacked: How does “Refrain from leaning on your Gnostic brainwashing?” to an 18-year-old minister’s daughter (not me, but an acquantiance) sound to you? I see belittlement there, thank you. How about my art professor who made us write a review of “Piss Christ” but we were forbidden to speak of how it might offend anyone? I can handle all of this, but it was certainly not acceptable. I was also called a hate-monger because I attended church. My experience is not unique.(By the way, I’ve donated thousands of dollars and volunteers thousands of hours for many organizations, being the “hands and feet” of Christ. Most of this was organized through my church. I openly support one of my good friends as a lesbian lay-leader, and my denomination emphasis ecumenicism and tolerance to all people, regardless of faith or lack of it. For some Christians I know, that makes me too liberal or even non-Christian. I still don’t think attacking them does any more than put me where they are.) My point, to some degree in all of this, is to find a home where my faith-informed politics and social justics inclinations can live and be accepted without feeling alienated. My point about liberal politicians sharing their faith is to create that opportunity to open the door to bring other Christians in alignment with politics and law-making that truly reflect Matthew 25: 35-36 as well as our tenent to Love God and Love Neighbor. It simplistic to believe that I think all politicians should avow faith; I look for genuine people who walk and talk it. I’m merely stating that by NOT talking, we miss opportunity to persuade.Hey, I don’t watch so much TV that I notice any villifying of rabbis, but my point was how acceptable it was to take pot shots at faith leaders. And, just like I was pointing out, my worldview keeps my ears/eyes perked when faith leaders are villified, so I do note that. THey are so often made the “bad guy” that I rejoice when one is portrayed as just a regular person, not even a hero, because THAT reflects the real faith that I live. To recap one point: why is the Republican party the party of (primarily anglo) Christians? They feel little in common with the Democrats. Shame on US!



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:41 pm


Barbara I agree w/you completely. Unfortunately the left has been weak in standing w/ their LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I hope that continues to change. p



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Payshun

posted February 21, 2007 at 11:53 pm


Borg You said: The fact that you discount whether or not I believe the that the Bible is the word of God as irrelevant, shows the intolerance you have for rational discussion about what the Bible is and its effect on humankind. I never said that the Bible has no moral truths in it. I take exception with the phrase Biblical Truths . If it contains myth, allegory, and history, how do you know what is true or not. You have no more clue than I do. What you have is your faith in what you believe to be true.See that’s just silly. I have no problem w/ rational thought or it’s impact on mankind. I am a black man. I am well aware of its destructive impact on humanity. it was used to destroy 3 continents and shape and damage an entire world. But it has also been used to help liberate countries and peoples too ie the Civil Rights and other eras. So please don’t assume stuff w/o asking questions. Another thing unlike most of the people here left or right I don’t worship the bible. It’s a book. The Christ revealed in its pages is the person I worship.Now that that is clear it is not just faith that I base my trust in when it comes to scripture but also secular archeology and Hebrew history. The kings of the old testament existed. Or does that go against rational thought?They have records in other countries and you see this clearly in Assyrian and other ancient historical accounts. So please spare me the rationalism argument because again if you study the bible, no agenda, no desire to connect to divinity. You will clearly be able to see where the history is and where the myth is, where the poetry is and where there is literally someone telling a story. Oh and I never said biblical truth I said moral truth. there is a big difference. It really is that simple. p



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Borg Warner

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:30 am


“Oh and I never said biblical truth I said moral truth. There is a big difference. It really is that simple.” I know you didn’t say biblical truth. I never said you did. My post was in reference to a previous post where someone did use the phrase “Biblical Truths” to put down someone else. Hell you didn’t really even read my reply to your post or the post before it.You want to put your faith into “scripture but also secular archeology and Hebrew history.” Good for you. That doesn’t address my issue. No one, including you can define what is a biblical truth. Telling me that my opinion as to the Bible as the Word of God is irrelevant has nothing to do with the idea that the Bible has some special truth that transcends all others. I don t see it.Another thing believers might want to think about is this: Just because someone takes issue with something like the veracity of the Bible, doesn t mean that they haven t read it or been exposed to Christian theology. Twice in posts back to me I have been told to do more research and then I will understand. That my friend is why us secular progressives don t trust you religious progressives. I have heard the same statement from the right wing Christians too. Whether you want to admit it or not, you all sometimes sound alike.



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Bob

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:48 am


I don’t know why you feel rejected by the secular left. I do know that I once went to an interfaith peace retreat and saw a strong community united by faith, that managed in every talk and presentation to exclude those whose personal beliefs do not have an explicit spiritual basis. The group accepted Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Native Americans. A neo-Pagan gave a benediction. They agreed only that any solution to the world’s problems would have to be based on religious faith. I guess any group has to draw the line somewhere on those they are willing to associate with.



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Payshun

posted February 22, 2007 at 1:48 am


Actually Borg, I only responded to the part that was about me. So you are right I did not read the earlier comment. You are right, some religious folks use the bible to make themselves righteous. I don’t. But I don’t see why you feel led to care about this. Borg: Telling me that my opinion as to the Bible as the Word of God is irrelevant has nothing to do with the idea that the Bible has some special truth that transcends all others. I don t see it. So what? You don’t see it. It is not for you to see. Can we please move on now? I am not here to convince you of a truth I believe in. I don’t feel like wasting my time. But I think your distrust is misplaced because a lot of religious people on the left are not interested in converting you or in convincing you of the divinity of Christ.I don’t understand why you care about the bible at all or how it is being used. I don’t understand why that’s an issue for you. Can you explain? I did read your response and responded to it. Your earlier comment to me focused on how I could discern the difference between history, allegory, myth… Unless I am wrong and that was not addressed to me. I read a lot and I like archeology and other historical sciences.One more thing as one of those readers… You said: Just because someone takes issue with something like the veracity of the Bible, doesn t mean that they haven t read it or been exposed to Christian theology. Twice in posts back to me I have been told to do more research and then I will understand. That my friend is why us secular progressives don t trust you religious progressives. I have heard the same statement from the right wing Christians too. Whether you want to admit it or not, you all sometimes sound alike. Duh we are Christians. Some Christians(I am not one of them) will sound like others. I won’t in this case because I don’t agree w/ a lot of evangelicalism, dispensationalism, or cessationism. Especially if they are evangelicals but I would say this. Talk to a rabbi or a professor and discuss the Torah for what it is.The bible doesn’t reveal everything that goes on in Hebrew culture during the time of the prophets or kings… In order to find out more about the history of what is said one has to look hard. Talk to a Christian and see what it is. Unless your are a real geek for biblical minituae then you might miss something. I miss stuff all the time and I am geek for this stuff. God knows most Christians do. p



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Mike Hayes

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:02 am


Wolverine, Christians see life beginning at conception.



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Frank

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:01 am


STEVE R., I apologize for not responding sooner. I couldn’t disagree more. I find the tactics, as you say, spot-on of Jim. I ll tell you why. First, secularism today needs to be understood in a more specific light than it has in the past, does it not? And not just because its close relative, 21st Century Capitalism, is the obvious bully on the block. We re all secularists or consumers or viewers or whatever, are we not? “Secularism” – in other words – is a very broad term, yet a very familiar concept to the average American. However, secularism, in my opinion, is nothing more than the domestic and social-epidemic of Consumer Hedonism we all live with today. But that s not necessarily a correlate with what I m about to say. Secular Extremists, even the religious conservatives and others who Secular Extremists ruthlessly belittle, repel each other. Secular Extremists intimidate people not by communicating hard truths but by FANATICALLY AND HARSHLY stereotyping people of faith as simple-minded. Many S.E.s not only dismiss those who hold strong beliefs of faith, but they consistently attack core progressive ideals as well. S.Es are too cool for a Social Progressive Movement. Many S.E.s run blissfully close with the robber barons that exploit the people of this Nation and ARE NOT EVEN politically active with a particular party ideology. S.E.s make careers out of intellectual grand standing, for instance. There are many brilliant fools who do nothing for the progressive movement in the 21st Century. Secular Extremists MUST BE OPPOSED, AT EVERY TURN. I can t say for sure, Steve, but maybe Wallis hasn’t offered to debate anyone like this because he’s really talking to you and me and all the rest of us. I d say he s referring, mainly, to an attitude. Who exactly should he call out? It s wise for Jim to draw a clear line in the sand about the kind of negative influence these people project on what is hopefully an emerging progressive social movement. Wallis knows that we must stand up for the right attitude, whether those tactics are blatantly confrontational or not. He knows we must be accepting of all perspectives so long as each is presented in a decent manner. And I d say he also knows there are Real agitators out there who will use and abuse any respected opponent. The progressive community should be aware of this.



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Doug

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:46 am


reboho: “Sorry I conflated I Cor. 13:11 with other verses. How childlike of me. After all, I Cor. 13 is talking about all that really adult stuff like speaking in tongues.” Your sarcasm notwithstanding, it also speaks about what love is. Someone a few posts back asked to see one Biblical truth? The entire chapter of I Corinthians 13 provides a stellar definition of what love is (or should be). This is Biblical truth. But I digress. My point was, if you want to be taken seriously in your rantings about Christianity, make darn sure you know what you’re talking about. (there, see? I’m falling way short of the mark in loving you) reboho: “I also think that you shouldn’t insult people asking them to read the godfather of Dominionism. That is what you were going for here.” 1) Well, you live in a strange world where suggested readings are viewed as an insult. So much for being fair and open-minded. 2) I don’t know what your definition of Dominionism is, so I can’t tell you if your presumption of where I was going is correct. 3) I thought I was simply pointing out that it is not a rational thought to label all Christians as irrational. rehobo: “In my “worldview” having Tim LaHaye and Randall Terry site me as an influence would actually be a bad thing.” More power to you. I’ve heard of these authors but never read them, so I can’t comment. reboho: “And taking Genesis literally as a “worldview” is silly.” In my worldview, trying to place faith in a theory so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese look like mortar, which maintains that the universe is nothing more than a colossal accident, and that amazingly complex humans ascended from single-celled slime, is equally irrational at best, and even more plainly silly. reboho: “And that whole Genesis 1:Genesis 2 confusion is just a stylistic difference, right?” Maybe. And can you tell me with a straight face that our ancestors are chimpanzees? Please. reboho: “But we should really blame that on the Babylonians since it was their creation myth that the Hebrews plagiarized?” Since Hebrew history purports to start at the beginning of time, isn’t it more likely the other way round? We don’t have a comprehensive account of history from the beginning from the Babylonians, and maybe this is more than coincidental. But I wasn’t there, neither were you, and this discussion can go nowhere. …other sarcastic comments snipped… Here’s something an atheist has never been able to answer me. You atheists claim to have such moral superiority because, to quote reboho, “Atheists, on the other hand, start at the center of reason, the mind.” Why is it then, whenever there are disasters in the world, there are NO atheist humanitarian organizations that rush in to help (that I’m aware of)? Why is it, instead, going back to at least 1863 with the foundation of the Red Cross, these organizations stem from Christian convictions? To cite a very few other examples (there are lots more): World Vision, Compassion, Food for the Hungry, Bread for the World, Medair, Oxfam…all of these have roots in Christianity and rational thought processes, which lead to the emotional response of having compassion for fellow humans. What has your pure rationality wrought?



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Dan S.

posted February 22, 2007 at 12:22 pm


Doug -this is drifting far off the topic, such as it is, but I do feel I should respond : I can’t tell you with a straight face that our ancestors are chimpanzees, because they’re most certainly not. That would be like saying that your siblings are really your parents, which would mean either a) you’re really confused, or b) you’re a character from Deliverance. Chimps and humans share a common ancestor several million years ago; neither is descended from the other. Now, I could quote somebody about making sure one knows what they are talking about if they want to be taken seriously, but instead – if the chimp reference wasn’t just a rhetorical flourish – I’ll hope you’ll reflect on this, consider if you should try to learn more about the subject from credible sources, and perhaps examine why you seem to find the idea of being descended from chimps so disturbing? [fade out to sound of banjo music . . .]



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Steve LaBonne

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:14 pm


“Secular Extremists MUST BE OPPOSED, AT EVERY TURN.” Our country is controlled by, and is being run into the ground by, religious fascists, and THIS is your idea of what the problem is?



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Steve LaBonne

posted February 22, 2007 at 2:30 pm


Many of you- as well as Jim Wallis- could learn a great deal from the words of an Anglican priest in New Zealand: http://tinyurl.com/2zzabd



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Dan S.

posted February 22, 2007 at 4:57 pm


As the conversation seems to have petered out: doug: “Why is it then, whenever there are disasters in the world, there are NO atheist humanitarian organizations that rush in to help (that I’m aware of)? ” This isn’t the question you should ask (especially given that atheists are a small, disparate, and scattered minority with extremely limited community or organizational structures (often, in fact, isolated individuals); also, since establishing a humanitarian organization in the name of the nonexistence of deities is kinda weird, you might do better to look for organizations that stem from a)nonspecific or b) nontheistic moral/ethical convictions (see for example the American Ethical Union’s National Service Conference for one specific example)). Really, the question you should ask is: whenever there are disasters in the world, are there are atheists who rush in to help? And what do you think the answer is?



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Frank

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:21 pm


This isn’t the only problem, Steve LaBonne. But if people are to begin to build a civil discourse and a more productive dialogue in this Country then they have to find a way to stop these blowhards from making noise sound like important discussion. We all know the type of people who habitually and condescendingly talk at and over people. They’re always belittling other people and their takes on things. They’re usually always ready to claim at least one shocking opinion or viewpoint that seems to run counter to their past associations. This certainly isn’t THE problem, but it unclogs a lot of space and creates a more inviting environment that some very useful people may not otherwise seek.



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Barbara

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:29 pm


To Steve LaBonne: What a great article by Clay Nelson. American needs to wake up. It won’t be Jesus destroying us it will be man!



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Dan S.

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:36 pm


more doug: “In my worldview, trying to place faith” First mistake: if faith is, as one definition puts it, the evidence of things unseen, scientific theories are based on evidence of things seen.”in a theory so full of holes it makes Swiss cheese look like mortar,”Cute. The best simile I’ve ever seen in this context, though, is that scientific knowledge (ie, our understanding of evolution and life’s history) is like a wall being painted. At first, it’s simply blank – just one unpainted piece – but as more and more brushstrokes cross and intersect, the number of unpainted bits increase, even as their area steadily decreases. Another way to put it involves how the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know. “which maintains that the universe is nothing more than a colossal accident,” I guess I missed the part of the Big Bang theory that involves Reality tripping on a corner of the rug and dropping a jar full of stuff which breaks open with a big bang! forming the universe. What you’re complaining about is that science doesn’t get involved with ascribing intelligent intention to natural laws; you might as well complain that science maintains that things fall down or the earth orbits the sun “by accident.” Additionally, there is no single theory that involves both the origin of the universe and – as we’re about to see – (biological) evolution. They’re wildly different things; conflating them into some Great Big Bad Theory is a common creationist move. “and that amazingly complex humans ascended from single-celled slime” Yes? And? What’s the problem here? Do you imagine that this happened in a single (and indeed, pretty implausible) step? Instead, we’re talking about more complex single-celled creatures evolving from single-celled slime, and some of those eventually evolving into very simple not-very-differentiated multicellular creatures, and some of those eventually evolved into somewhat more complex multicellular creatures, until finally, couple of billion years down the road, you have a pretty complex multicellular creature that looks a bit like a globby worm – perhaps . . . and you still have a couple hundred million years ahead of you before getting to humans. You believe in a Creator – are you saying that they are so small and powerless that they couldn’t make a universe where “single-celled slime” could eventually evolve into the vast diversity of life today? _________________________ But you know what the real point is here? If Doug tried to have silliness taught in science class, he’d have to go through me – and lots and lots of other folks. If he tried, instead, to help fight for an equitable system of education, rather than the savagely inequitable one we currently have, then he’d be my ally. If we have the same goal, we’re on the same side. That’s the important part.



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Steve LaBonne

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:54 pm


“This isn’t the only problem, Steve LaBonne. But if people are to begin to build a civil discourse and a more productive dialogue in this Country then they have to find a way to stop these blowhards from making noise sound like important discussion. We all know the type of people who habitually and condescendingly talk at and over people.” Ah, you mean the way religious peole do all the time to people who don’t share their beliefs. I agree. So please stop. Which part of “working together on shared values, regardless of the path by which you or I arrived at those values” do you have a problem with? Because that’s all that I (or Markos Moulitsas for that matter) am talking about. So why does Wallis keep trying to drive a wedge into those efforts? (Well, I know why, of course, and said so further back in the thread.)



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JS

posted February 22, 2007 at 6:43 pm


I read about halfway down and doubt anyone will read this comment, but I felt compelled to write it anyway.What everyone here is missing is that there are distinct issues at play in this debate.1) What is the proper role of one’s religious (Christian) views in their public life. i.e. should one’s Christianity shape their views of what the State should do. 2) after that issue is solved, based on the answer the question left is what Christianity has to say about politics. Only if you think that Christianity should impact the public sphere would one care about what it says about govt.



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kevin s.

posted February 22, 2007 at 7:43 pm


“This isn’t the question you should ask (especially given that atheists are a small, disparate, and scattered minority with extremely limited community or organizational structures” It seems that by asking this question, he has teased out something interesting about atheists, which, in turn, is entirely relevant to the question he asked. If, as you claim, aetheists begin at the center of reason, the “right” point as you call it, then why are they so small, disparate and scattered. If you believe, as you seem to, that we are related to chimpanzees by way of lineage, and that we evolved, the shouldn’t our very centerpoint compel us to human preservation?Why, if our minds are the center of reason, must we stand athwart reason by constructing a deity to justify altruism? And why would those whose beliefs extend from natural reason not be more successful in uniting around the cause?Your attempt to avert the question seem to prove its validity.



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monkeys fer Christ

posted February 22, 2007 at 8:58 pm


Hi, I’m a pedagogue. I love nothing better than to get together with young kids and be pedantic with them. Am I a bad person?



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reboho

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:22 am


Doug, Maybe. And can you tell me with a straight face that our ancestors are chimpanzees? Please. Doubt I could look at you with a straight face at all after that ignorant comeback. You chastise me for getting my Bible quote wrong (and rightly so, by the way) and I assumed you had some sort of credibility. I got snarky when you brought up Francis Schaeffer. Regardless of whether my mind is up or not, trying to persuade me about the rationality of belief in god by having me read books by someone who thinks that the United States started as a nation rooted in Biblical principles and that as our country took on more immigrants with their cultures and ideas it went to hell is my idea of an insult.If you aren’t aware of this, you should read his “A Christian Manifesto”. You will probably agree with most of it but it leads to Christian Nationalism or “Domionism”. To put it in cruder terms, Christian Taliban. Randall Terry of Operation Rescue is one of his disciples. I will not degenerate into the black hole of abortion discussion, but let’s just say I think there are better ways of handling things. As far as the aid organizations go, haven’t the Democrats been accused of being godless treehuggers that want to give all the rich peoples money to the poor? Seriously, something doesn’t come from nothing. There is a lot of good done by these organizations, but I think you have to put them in the context of the society in which they exist. It’s hard to have a large, full-fledged atheist organization within the religious climate of the US. It wouldn’t be allowed to exist or it would hounded out of existence by people like you. If such an organizaion existed that gave 98% of it donations to help the cause, would you contribute? The altruism of the organization can exist without a god, just as it can in a single person. I am no less charitable than I would be if I were a Christian. In some way I think I am more so. I do think that doing to others as you would have done to you is good advice, but I didn’t need Jesus Christ to tell me that.So, if you weren’t baiting me then I retract my snarky remarks. But if you weren’t baiting me, I suggest you do a little more research on your friend Schaeffer. I would also suggest you get some of the basics of evolution down as well. You don’t have to agree but you do need to be conversational. As I said before, this discussion would probably not be taking place if it wasn’t for Schaeffer and his ilk. If those that subscribe to his ideas had their way, I and others like me would be locked up for incorrect thinking. If you think I’m overreacting you spend some time looking into what his followers are up to. Now if that is the god to which you pray, then you will get no quarter with me. If on the other hand you would like to worship god without involving me, we have no quarrel. Go in peace.Don’t brand me or ideas expressed as religious. I don’t hold any dogma. If it exists in this world or leaves some sort of trace that can be detected and can be examined by science and a testable theory can be put forth, I will skeptically accept it. But if your religion requires me to accept that a supernatural being made all this possible and if I don’t you will legislate against me, that’s a problem and it goes against everything that I do believe about the United States. In other words, this is no longer a country made up of white christian males with subservient wifes and children and it will never be again. I concede the high ground because this is a majority christian nation, but christianity is not homogeneous and I suspect that the example being set of attacking the secular left is just a rehearsal for what will be done to other faiths (ie Muslims in America that have absolutely nothing to do with what going on in the Middle East or presidential candidates of faith that happen to be Mormon) or other creeds within your own faith(like the Christian left, the one’s that seem to think that taking care of the environment or helping the poor is the right thing to do). Please, tell me I’m wrong and worried about nothing. I’ve got a question that you may find mundane, but it is a question asked of me several years ago that I thought was trivial but when I began the process that resulted in an answer to that question, I reached a point where I could examine my life in a different context. The question was “If you were born in the Middle East, would you be praying to Jesus or Allah?” I thought it trivial but I never forgot it. It forced me to take myself out of the only context I knew and examine how I came to believe what it is that I believe. I was honest with myself. I stripped away all the training, the dogma, the hellfire and brimstone. I woke to an answer that is moral and a life that is not spent trying to get to the next one. I will live this one! Take that for what you will because I can’t tell you how to do it. And one thing I can say is that if anyone says they can tell you, say “thanks, but I have to do this myself”. If you can and it’s only you facing yourself and you can live with what you find, then no matter the outcome I will always hold you in the highest regard.



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reboho

posted February 23, 2007 at 12:52 am


Kevin, If, as you claim, atheists(corrected spelling) begin at the center of reason, the “right” point as you call it, then why are they so small, disparate and scattered. That one is really pretty easy to answer. Since we came from tribal group or herds for lack of a better term, it is pretty difficult to hold a position that the tribe doesn’t hold. It’s our nature to live in groups that accept us, we are after all social animals. So if you decide that you want to be different, what does the tribe do? When it comes to atheism, I can give you first hand experience. Didn’t the first christians question their world and the gods of the majority? But over time they became the majority and payback was the the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages. Once the world was rebuilt as the majority desired a new set of questions came to bear. They outgrew the old gods and I think we are part of outgrowing this one.



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kevin s.

posted February 23, 2007 at 9:03 pm


Reboho “It’s our nature to live in groups that accept us, we are, (correcting punctuation) after all, (correcting punctuation) social animals.” Right, but if atheism starts at the center of reason, what causes tribes to diverge from the this center? If starting from a centerpoint of reason connotes a proclivity toward real truth, why would tribalism shirk said truth. Wouldn’t the philosophy of the majority regress to the mean, so to speak? And, since atheism relies upon a “knowledge” that rests firmly on inherent reason, wouldn’t atheism represent the path of least resistance, as compared to, say, believe in the son of God rising from the dead?



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Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




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