Monday, May 12, 2008

are pigs flying?: the religous right leaning to obama?

via Jack & Jill, this article seems to posit that the Religious Right is cracking up and the flotsam are breaking for Obama.

my first reaction was to go, Hmm. Really??

a few months ago, we saw the Religious Right (R2) go slightly nuts with their rejection of Romney, their pragmatic shunning of true-blue, 'not electable' fundamentalist Huckabee and their reluctant embrace of McCain.

but does that mean the R2 is going for Obama?

i'd say no. rather, what this article demonstrates is that the term 'evangelical' is just as diverse as the term 'progressive.' (as this primary season has demonstrated, there are schisms and fractures all over the liberal/progressive community. class, racial, sexual orientation and religious differences have uncovered a shifting and discomfitted coalition that hasn't had to face the fact in a very long while that not everything is about holding hands and singing Kum Ba Ya, you know?)

there are an emerging group of evangelicals (like Jim Wallis) who, rather than focus on hot button issues like abortion and homosexuality or whether or not dinosaurs existed, tend to look at other 'values' issues like the care of the earth, the treatment of the poor, war, or human rights issues (like trafficking, immigration, rape in the Congo and Darfur, genital mutilation, etc.) through a lens that we would say is more 'progressive' than their counterparts in the R2.

but i'd be very comfortable in saying they don't represent the R2. who's the Religious Right? look at james dobson, hagee, and the current leader of the southern baptist convention. that's the religious right. and there is no way in frakking hell their constituents are going to break for the Dems.

i'd say this group the article, and the other links in the Jack & Jill post, describe moderate evangelicals. these are evangelicals who believe in actively spreading the gospel (as well as the power and necessity for conversion) by focusing on issues that can make the most impact on a person's life now, rather than later. with issues like poverty and the environment, they're not necessarily already preaching to the choir about issues that are 'easy' rallying cries for those already hanging out inside the fundamentalist clubhouse . these are folks who just built a different clubhouse - same tree, different branch.

can the Dems depend on this emerging moderate evangelical bloc?

no. well, maybe the Dems can depend on these folks for those issues that speak to a moderate evangelical sensibility - like AIDS, global poverty, war/peace, the environment, or human rights (outside of abortion and/or gay rights, unless the Dems can find a way to message reproductive justice and gay rights as part of human rights, or social justice, issues. which they haven't successfully been able to do for the moderate evangelical crowd because the Dems just haven't taken the time), etc.

(i keep drawing a line between moderate issues and hot button issues because i think those moderate evangelical issues are 'missionary' issues; you can build a nice youth trip or awareness raising campaign around these things. you can't necessarily do that around reproductive justice or gay rights without looking like, well, the Religious Right.)

this isn't to say that i think moderate evangelicals don't belong under our progressive big tent. quite the contrary. but if the tradeoff is to give on some fundamental progressive issues, like abortion or gay rights, just to curry favor with some moderate evangelicals as part of a measly electoral strategy, then i'm more than wary.

(and why is our first inclination to tradeoff, anyway? let other people tradeoff if they wanna vote for us!)

and if the Dems really think it's going to be a good idea to climb up on that slippery slope and begin to couch our values in even stronger language of religion, then i wonder what kind of weed someone's smoking up there in Democratic headquarters.

Jack and Jill Politics: Religious Right -leaning towards Democrats?

The New Republic has an excerpt of Jeff Sharlet's The Family that will give anyone pause about the benefits of mixing politics with religion. [via The Revealer]

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