Monday, April 27, 2009

It is possible to be a Democrat AND a Christian

I'm not one for discussing religion. I'm of the opinion that there are many paths to follow and feel those that push their faith down other people's throats have generally missed the point. However, I have noticed a tendency on the liberal blogs I read, both big and small, of many authors and commenters to assume that those who profess a faith in God are, well, not so bright.

The Right, and especially the Religious Right, in this country like to paint the picture that all Democrats and Liberals are Atheists.  And there are quite a few out there.  The Left perpetuates the stereotype when  blogging and commenting on anything that the Religious Right has to say by being disrespectful, demeaning and downright rude.  I'm appalled often at the blind hypocrisy of left leaning writers who use derogatory language. Some of the things that are said are just as hateful as the things the Religious Right spews.  More insidious is the off hand disrespect thrown casually around in comments about ghosts and religion turning people's brains into mush and a delusion for the weak minded.

First, when you use stereotypes and disrespect to make fun of the people using the stereotypes and disrespect against you, you've sunk to their level.

Second, it's entirely possible to be Progressive, Liberal or whatever left-leaning label you want to use and believe in a higher power and follow a faith or creed.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

I am by NO MEANS endorsing the idea that religion needs to be intertwined with politics. I believe in the separation of Church and State.  I believe in the ideals of religious freedom and tolerance. I have absolutely no desire to force my faith on anyone.

Like many, if not most, Christians in America I have doubts, confusion and lapses in judgement. In other words, we're human.  I do not deny that the Religious Right has a loud voice but what I want you to understand is that not only do they not speak for me, but they don't speak for most Christians.

I like the term Christianist to describe the Religious Right.  These folks, in my opinion, they've stepped off the path of Christianity.  They preach hate and exclusion and seem to cherry pick the parts of the Bible that defend their ideas and ignore the rest.  Many of them have moved into the realm of politics and sought to impose their ideas on the rest of the country. Some out of a misguided sense of "saving" us and others out of fear and hate. Either way, they're wrong. They've missed the point of the faith they claim to profess and the Founding Fathers' ideal of separation of Church and State.

The church that I belong to is a joint United Church of Christ/Disciples of Christ congregation. It is a progressive church that is open and affirming of all people regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation or gender expression.  We have groups in the church that work with homeless groups,  refugees, area food pantries and more.  We support the missions of both of our parent churches. These missions work in disaster relief, fighting racism and injustice and in support of LGBT people of faith.

What I'm really trying to impart here is that by blindly bashing Christianity, you're lumping moderate and progressive Christians in with the nut jobs like Fred Phelps.  When you assume that anyone who believes in God must not be educated or intelligent, you insult those of us who are college graduates and attend weekly religious services.  Not everyone who identifies as a person of faith believes that homosexuality is a choice, abortion is murder or the poor are just too lazy to work.

Words matter. What you say and how you say it is important.  It doesn't matter to me if those of you who read this blog are Atheist, Pantheist, Christian, Hindu or belong to the Church of Sleeping in on Sunday. What matters to me is the language that is used to vilify, belittle and marginalize people of faith.  I know some of you have had your run ins with Christianists or had other personal experiences that soured you on religion. I respect that. I understand your anger. I've been there.  All I ask is that you remember that when you swing the brush to paint all Christians or people of faith in one broad stroke that you're including me and others like me.


Gaston Studio said...

My grandfather always said: "When you sling mud, some always splatters back on you."

skyewriter said...

Thanks, True Blue.
I needed to be reminded of this...

Grandpa Eddie said...

When I rant about "believers" my rage is directed at those who try to force feed their beliefs onto everyone else, and those who believe we are a "Christian" nation which we are not.

I do not intend my anger to be directed at those who, like you, believe that everyone has their own choice to make for their lives and beliefs. What you believe is your choice, and what I believe is my choice. I have no problem with believers like you. My problem is with those who believe that if I don't believe I am an evil person.

True Blue Texan said...

I wasn't trying to pick on any one person in particular. Let me assure everyone of that.

@Grandpa Eddie- I understand your anger. I agree that we are not a Christian nation in the religious sense though in a cultural sense i think we could argue that there are aspects of Christianity that have shaped this country's culture- from the holidays we celebrate in both a secular and religious sense to the basic ethical foundation that shapes all Western culture. It's really hard to separate the history of the Church from the history of Western Civilization. That said, I don't believe that those who choose not to believe as I do are evil. I have as much anger directed at those folks that do as you. My concern is more for how that anger is expressed. It all goes back to the idea that the world is not Black/White or Right/Wrong but instead consists of infinite shades of grey.

And it doesn't help that the Christian Left is mostly silent and offers no counter voice for the loud and obnoxious Right.

Grandpa Eddie said...

But you make some of the same arguments that the religious right makes, concerning holidays and that our civilization was founded on "christianity" which it was not. None of the Founding Fathers were "christians", although some were Deists. Their intent was that NO religion would take precedence over another. With the holidays we have that are "christian" oriented, these holidays are promoted by the government which is unconstitutional. By that I mean any time the Federal govt makes a legal holiday out of something that is a "religious oriented holiday", that is illegal. Not all people in this country celebrate these holidays which means that their beliefs are reduced to second class. To be fair ALL religious holidays of ALL religions need to be recognized, which will never happen because of the strangle hold "christianity" has on the Federal govt.

True Blue Texan said...

Now I remember why the Christian Left is quiet. Sorry to have offended any one. It was not my intent.

I forgot the cardinal rule of polite discourse- never talk religion or politics.

Grandpa Eddie said...

I am sorry if I have offended you.
I have dealt with this all my life and find it very offensive that my elected officials will take the side of one particular religion over all others and the rights of those who don't believe. This is wrong, has always been wrong, and will always be wrong.

Aliceson said...

Blogging about religion IS tricky. Everyone has an opinion and it's rarely the same one. Religion is a very personal choice and it never feels good when someone condemns another person based solely on religious practices. The crazy actions of some can tarnish the quiet voices of the rest.

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I think this is a great post. For so long the right wing, conservative (AKA judgmental) christians have been acting like they speak for all christians. They do not.

Anonymous said...

True Blue, I have been out of town all week and am catching up with your blog. This is a really important post because I do think that the progressive Christians stand in the shadows of extremism and are largely quiet because of their concern about being lumped in with extremists.

I have always tried to qualify my comments about religious extremists, but this has been a really good reminder. I hate to think that i may have offended someone. My mom was about as progressive as you could be for her time and was passionately and unapologetically religious. That is just how it should be.

Thank you.