"The right-wing hijacking of religion's public role in our political discourse is as undeniable as it is inappropriate, and represents one of liberalism's most serious problems." Writing in The Nation, Eric Alterman illustrates this problem perfectly. Speaking for liberals, he later states that "we happen to have Christianity's deity on our side." Apparently it’s only a "hijacking" and "inappropriate" if religion bolsters conservative causes.
For the past few years, the left in general and the Democratic Party in particular have been struggling with religion – to be specific, with Christianity. The 2004 election demonstrated this clearly; moral values voters, evangelical Christians…the label doesn’t matter. Catholics, especially devout ones, chose the Protestant Bush over the Catholic Kerry. Liberalism had turned off people who take their faith seriously.
The left’s first response was a self-indulgent orgy of hateful rhetoric. Apparently, the real American Taliban isn’t John Walker Lindh, but James Dobson. Though this reaction has receded, it remains a strong presence, as evidenced by a plethora of books, articles, op-ed pieces, etc, decrying the theocracy the religious right is purportedly establishing in America. But the animosity toward the religious right is prompting another impulse: theocracy envy. Having determined that the right manipulated religion to get elected, liberals are increasingly determined to do the same.
This hypocrisy was displayed for all to see in the third Bush-Kerry debate. In response to a question on abortion, Kerry replied, "I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight against poverty. That's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith." So he would advance socialism because he thinks that is implicitly encouraged by his faith, but won’t oppose the legal killing of babies even though his faith explicitly commands him to. Clearly what he claims is his faith serves him as nothing more than a prop, to be pulled out or put away as it serves his own agenda.
The crucial difference lies between what those who are devout on each side believe. This is illustrated by Dan Wakefield, who of late seems to have become one of The Nation’s pet Christians. His opinion of conservative Christians is this: "While I'm not sure what it is now that they believe in--since they don't believe in a lot of the messages of Jesus--they do have a strong belief in whatever they conceive of as Jesus and his resurrection." Liberal Christianity is about social, not spiritual, salvation – the Kingdom of God on earth, not in heaven.
This arises from the liberal rejection of the doctrine of original sin. Liberal philosophy has proclaimed the problems of the world to be found in causes external to man, not in an intrinsic fault of his, and liberal theology has quietly accepted this view. It treats Christ as if he was the greatest of moral teachers, come to save us from a poor social construct, and perhaps some personal foibles. It most certainly does not act as though he were the Son of God, sent to suffer for the remission of our sins and save us from hell, which we had sentenced ourselves to by rejecting God.
And that is why the religious left cannot sustain itself, for as Lewis observed, "Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan." We don’t need another moral philosopher, we need a savior. As Whittaker Chambers saw, the mark of the crisis of our civilization is that if all the material needs of men were satisfied, they would still die of despair.
Friday, May 26, 2006
It's Not Fair! How Come They Get To Impose The Theocracy?!?
Nathaniel Blake, a Townhall columnist: