Tag Archives: religion

Disgust /n/ Intense Dislike

Sister Hillary,” by “Lexington,” The Economist, http://www.economist.com/people/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3600187, 27 January 2005.

The Party of Carter, America’s first evangelical President, is rediscovering religion

George Bush is not the only American politician with a penchant for “God-drenched” rhetoric (to borrow a phrase from Peggy Noonan, chief speechwriter for Ronald Reagan). Last week the lioness of liberalism herself, Hillary Clinton, engaged in a bit of God-drenching of her own at a fundraiser organised by the Reverend Eugene Rivers, a leading campaigner against teenage violence. She lavished praise on faith-based organisations, repeatedly invoked God’s name and declared “I’ve always been a praying person.”

Mrs Clinton’s speech was part of a growing debate on the left about how to close the God gap. Democrats want to change the focus of religious debate from abortion and gay marriage to, say, war and poverty. Jim Wallis, who has the rare distinction of being both an evangelical preacher and a Kerry voter, points out that the Bible has 3,000 references to alleviating poverty.

Democrats are also talking about softening their image on divisive cultural issues, particularly abortion. Howard Dean urged his party to embrace pro-life Democrats. Tim Ryan, a Democratic congressman from Ohio, pointed out that his party has paid a heavy price in the heartland for its inflexibly liberal position on partial-birth abortion and parental notification. And the hyperactive Hillary told a throng of pro-choice activists not only that abortion represents “a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women” but also that “religious and moral values” are the primary reason why teenage girls abstain from early sexual activity.

Lexington proceeds to describe Democratic hopes of a religious left movement, until savaging the thought

All this sounds plausible until you take a look at today’s religious left. To begin with, it is split by race. The black churches (such as the one that Mr Rivers runs) are vigorous enough, but their impact is necessarily limited. The white churches include all the mainstream denominations, but they suffer from what might be called a European problem: they are haemorrhaging members and are run by an unrepresentative elite that is far to the left of the people in the pews.

Far-Left Christians are threatening to take the Democratic Party further into the wilderness

The Democrats are also deeply divided about what winning the religious vote means. Does it mean moving to the left? Many religious Democrats claim Jesus was a socialist pacifist. Or to the right? Some New Democrats want to recapture “conservatives of the heart”. Or staying where they are, but sugaring their policies with a few spoonfuls of Christianity?

All that in the context of fundementalists disgusting secular Leftist Democrats

The biggest problem for the Democrats is that many of their hard-core supporters would rather lose another election than court the religious vote. Mr Wallis worries about Democrats being depicted as secular fundamentalists, but that is not far off the truth. The number of people who deny any religious identification has doubled from 14.3m in 1990 to 29.4m in 2001—and many of them will do anything to stop the Democrats from drenching themselves with God. No pro-lifer has been allowed near a Democratic podium for years. Will People for the American Way allow the Democrats to let religion flourish in the public square? Will feminists allow them to compromise on abortion? Will the Hollywood crowd allow them to crack down on obscenity? Louis Bolce and Gerald De Maio, two academics, point out that in 1996 and 2000 one in three white Democratic voters “intensely disliked” Christian fundamentalists.

Too bad. We need two good parties. Not a responsible party and a kamikaze party.