God's Politics

God's Politics


Ryan Beiler: With a Little Help from Our Friends

posted by gp_intern

Apparently there was something about Jim’s tone in his last post that struck a nerve within the progressive faith blogosphere. From Pastor Dan:

…there’s a whole constellation of faithful people in the netroots who have been working these issues out while Jim Wallis has been insulting our secular allies. I think it’s terribly insulting to you all to have Wallis lecture Kos (and by extension the entire blogosphere) without even so much as a nod in your direction.

It’s not clear to me why addressing issues of liberal intolerance of religion, without mentioning all the good folks who are doing the good bridge-building work among progressives that Jim is asking for (including those, as Pastor Dan mentions, we promote in our blog roll), is a problem or an insult. Re-reading Jim’s post, I found the tone mostly conciliatory. So I’m genuinely confused by this response, but hereby give a shout-out to all progressive faith bloggers like Daily Kos’ own Street Prophets. We’re glad that lefty powerhouse blogs like Kos have given people of faith a home there. For a list of many of them, again, I recommend our blog roll. But I would like to offer comment on one minor point:

How about if you realize that there are other people in the religious grassroots working carefully and productively to make common cause with secular progressives – they’ve been doing it long before you came on the scene, and they’ll be doing long after we’re both gone – and how about if you save your patronizing lectures.

I’ll assume by “on the scene” he means the blog scene, to which I’ll admit we’re relatively new, and not always the most savvy. But Sojourners and Jim have been working hard among the religious grassroots since long before there was a blogosphere.

Ryan Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 9:39 pm


Ryan, Thanks for the follow up.



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Mike Hayes

posted February 20, 2007 at 10:12 pm


Ryan, I’d say from the comments on the original topic that casual observers will conclude that Jim is equally admired by some on the left and some on the right.



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Kris Weinschenker

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:14 am


The Street Prophets “Pastordan” is the epitome of what is wrong with the Religous Left. His tactics mirror those of the Religious Right, i.e. he is more interested in his own political agenda, that he is with the Person of Jesus.



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Mike

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:58 am


The reason that the previous post was controvertial was that Wallis was treating an urban legend like it was a fact. By pretending a non-existant issue is real, he is contributing to a right wing meme.It’s a bit like Biden’s ‘praise’ of Obama as articulate and clean. Why wouldn’t he be?To make vague accusations about progressives without actually providing any actual evidence invites scorn.



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MikeJ

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:05 am


Liberal intolerance of religion? Really, please show it to me. I’m an agnostic, and three different times I’ve packed up and traveled thousands of miles to work on campaigns for politicians who are christians. Every politician I’ve ever had a chance to vote for or against claimed to be a Christian.I’m more than willing to work with christians to help get the person with the best policies elected. I’m not willing to say that christians’ ideas about policy are beyond debate just because some watery tart lobbed a scim…, err, you know what I mean.Being a christian doesn’t make you right when it comes to public policy. Disagreement over policy does not equate to being “intolerant”. Find me a prominent liberal who thinks christians shouldn’t be allowed to vote or hold office, and I’ll agree that person is intolerant. I don’t think you’ll find any, beyond some anonymous comment on a blog somewhere.



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amberglow

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:08 am


It isn’t intolerance of religion at all. It’s intolerance of those who would impose their specific religion on us all, and who would use the political system for ends that are incompatible with Democracy and a multicultural and diverse and free society where we are all free to practice our own religion or have none at all.I get the feeling sometimes that Christians on both the left and right are not happy unless they are interjecting their religion everywhere and especially into politics and govt. Are you guys supposed to be doing this? Isn’t there some “render unto Caesar” thing that’s supposed to operate? Where do us Jews (or Hindus or Muslims or Sikhs, etc) and those who don’t have a faith end up? Why is it only Christians who do this?



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Mithras

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:28 am


It’s not clear to me why addressing issues of liberal intolerance of religion …. Names, dates, quotes and links, please. Otherwise, you’re just slandering the people who have been fighting the good fight while the Evangelical Left as a group has been busy getting roundly ignored, belittled and marginalized by the Evangelical Right.



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scg

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:09 am


True, Jim & Sojourners have been working in the grassroots quite awhile. But so have many others (AFSC, Catholic Worker, etc.).In the netroots, sojo.net is a relative newcomer, and really seems to have burst onto the scene with an attitude of being the ‘only game in town’. I get what seems to be endless daily mail from Sojourners promoting Sojourners, asking how Sojourners can be more ‘relevant’ to me, offering to sell me something to improve my Lenten experience, building a paid-up network of churches that my church simply must join. It feels like endless self-promotion, with no indication that there’s others out here who are doing the work on the ground. I have no idea what Street Prophets costs Kos to maintain, but I doubt if the ad revenue begins to cover it. For someone who’s purportedly ‘hostile to faith,’ carrying that all-volunteer-run blog is a funny way to show it. For someone who wants to make common cause with secular progressives, going after Daily KOS doesn’t make much sense. How’s Wallis’ foot feeling these days?



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DBIX

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:35 am


SCG says “For someone who wants to make common cause with secular progressives, going after Daily KOS doesn’t make much sense.” I agree. Just read the comments spewed out by the Daily Kos regulars against Wallis. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Liberal Christians should be very careful who you ally yourselves with. You might find the price of political coalition too high. I am a Christian and I am politically conservative. I am a voice within the right against the secular conservatives and their extremist positions. I am very happy to see Christians with more liberal political views start to stand up and be recognized. Your party needs you. But it needs you to stand as Christians, not an appendage of the secular progressives.



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Ali Eteraz

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:29 am


I penned a response post about Secular Left, Religious Left, and American Muslims, and I’m putting it here b/c I don’t know where else to put it: http://eteraz.org/story/2007/2/20/23260/2984



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Dominion

posted February 21, 2007 at 7:40 am


Wow dude. Way to ignore the elephant in the room. It was an impressive feat considering it was craping all over the place and the smell was apalling…



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amberglow

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:13 am


Eteraz, the link didn’t work–can you repost?



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Ali Eteraz

posted February 21, 2007 at 8:59 am


The correct link for the American Muslim post is here: http://eteraz.org/story/2007/2/20/23321/4062



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Incertus

posted February 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm


Others have mentioned their problem with the phrase “liberal intolerance of religion,” so I won’t belabor the point, other than to say that said intolerance is far more smoke than fire, and generally isn’t coming from liberal atheists (there are plenty of atheists who aren’t liberal, after all). The liberal atheists I know who are politically (and blogospherically) active generally have no problems making common cause with religious people as long as it’s an alliance that is, at heart, based on reason. We work for social justice because it’s rational to do so, and so do enlightened people of faith (at least the ones I know). If part of that enlightenment comes from Jesus’ teachings, what does it matter to me?Short answer: it doesn’t. The people who are being thin-skinned in this whole debate are the Christians, and I don’t get it. Maybe it comes from being told by the right-wing that you’re not really Christian, and you’re feeling a need to show your bona-fides–I don’t know–but you’re in the position of strength in the party simply by force of numbers, so why are you worried about what a couple of loud-mouthed atheists have to say (assuming they aren’t just internet trolls)? When it comes to numbers, we need you more than you need us. We know it, you know it, everyone does. So why play the victim of the big, bad atheists?



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Bella

posted February 21, 2007 at 2:31 pm


Don’t be surprised! since you’re rather new to blogging, just remember that blogging is all about Ego First; additionally, in this case, Kos funds StreetProphets, so PastorDan ‘defends’ kos b/c any, and I mean, any! criticism is seen as an ‘attack’ and a standard tactic is to (1) attack the messenger, (2) conflate the ego with the response for an emotional reaction, hence the ‘insult’ where none was evident (nor intended, I imagine). Poor Jim Wallis thought he could have a dialogue w/’secular progressives’ — but what he didn’t grasp, as evidenced by the replies to his post in Huffington Post and Kos’ site, is that he’s talking to, mostly, ‘secular fundamentalists’ who are hostile to any whiff of Christianity — the hatred/intolerance/bigotry are there in the comments — it’s not a myth! and it’s not a stereotype; it’s merely a fact, but one which secular progressives collectively deny, and project onto their ‘enemy’, the Religous Right, but that’s a smokescreen for all to see. Just read the comments. What’s that about ‘none being so blind as not to see’? And if you want your eyes opened, may I recommend you register at dailykos, and post a few diaries on religion? and then judge for yourself. Good Luck.



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kevin s.

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:20 pm


“any! criticism is seen as an ‘attack’ and a standard tactic is to (1) attack the messenger, (2) conflate the ego with the response for an emotional reaction, hence the ‘insult’ where none was evident (nor intended, I imagine).” This is true. These people will throw a fit if you tell them their socks are too tight. Kinda begs the question of why you consider them allies, but whatev… On the other hand, in this instance, I see their point. Jim Wallis crafted a strawman, made a grand accusation, failed to provide specifics, and promoted himself as the cure for this mystery illness. Sounds familiar.



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Jeff

posted February 21, 2007 at 3:38 pm


On the other hand, in this instance, I see their point. Jim Wallis crafted a strawman, made a grand accusation, failed to provide specifics, and promoted himself as the cure for this mystery illness. That’s SoJo in a nutshell.



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Chuck Warpehoski

posted February 21, 2007 at 5:04 pm


I admit, I was one of the folks reading Jim’s piece and wondering “what’s his beef?” In particular, how did he get to,”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).” Kos’s piece never challenged that assertion. He affirmed the value of honest faith, and questioned the value of smearing a false piety on candidate. I’m a big Sojo fan, but I was disappointed by this screed. Now, all that said, I do recognize that Jim and others are in a tough space. I work for an interfaith peace group, and we’re criticized if we get too faithy or if we aren’t faithy enough, so it’s a tough walk. I pray that progressive people of faith get better at walking it.



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butch

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:13 pm


His tactics mirror those of the Religious Right, i.e. he is more interested in his own political agenda, that he is with the Person of Jesus. Kris Weinschenker | As an attorney Kris what is your proof?



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Chris Andersen

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:14 pm


There is nothing wrong with talking about “liberal intolerance of religion”, just so long as you make it clear exactly WHO you are talking about when you discuss the issue. When you don’t name names you feed the right-wing talking point that liberals are INHERENTLY intolerant of religion, which we all know is complete bullshit.



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jb

posted February 21, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Here’s a name: Amanda Marcotte.



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Diversity

posted February 22, 2007 at 5:06 am


Ryan: You suggest that your blogroll is something that is useful and impressive. I disagree. SJ/Beliefnet seems to foster a unilateral and closed set of views, given it’s weak blogroll. It represents little diversity (ethnic, cultural), and promotes a white, male consensus. I’m disappointed that SJ is becoming such a narrow, selfish, and self-absorbed blog.



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