Hypatia's Library
Thursday, November 04, 2004
A Christian Democrat
I've been trying to articulate my response to the election results. In one sense I am gratified. The results are clear. The turn out was high. The Republicans have won not just the White House, but also the Senate and House and Gubanatorial races across the nation. Clearly, there was a sentiment for the issues and values and ideals that the Republicans claim to stand for.

At the same time I am deeply disappointed and troubled by the results. Obviously I am not anywhere near what the majority of the people believe (even if I am a part of a substantial minority). The Religious Right apparently carried the election for the Republicans. Christian Conservatives have spoken.

The thing is, I am a pretty strong Christian myself. I go to church every Sunday. I pray. I believe in a fair number of the "values" that Bush stands for, at least as they apply to myself (personally Pro-Life, personally not sure about gay marriage in the Church, etc). BUT I am capable of making the distinction between Church and State. And I think that what the state does is different from what I as an individual do and what my church does. Politically I'm very socially liberal.

But even beyond that I put a higher priority on social justice issues than I do on social life issues (I'm not sure how to distinguish things like 'religious values' from things like raising the minimum wage, adequate child care, universal health coverage, improved educational system, equal rights for all people, etc - Maybe they aren't different). I also put a higher priority on the value of tolerance than I do on a strict social structure.

I want the Democrats to reach out to Christians in a way that they aren't currently doing. But I don't think I want to give up the things that I value in order to do that. How do we grow as a group without sacrificing the values that are the reason why I am a part of the Deomcratic Party?

Am I so different from other Christians? Why do I have such a distinct view of what I am called to do? I don't understand how people read the Bible and believe that intolerance and hatred and anger and enforced morality trump love, mercy, peace, forgiveness.... I can't get there from here.
See, this is what I think too. And I don't think you're out of step, but I do think that the left has largely succumbed to using really oppositional, holier-than-thou rhetoric, and we need to take people's beliefs actually seriously, and make a sincere case for things like yes, social justice. And tolerance and respect, including tolerance and respect for people's sincerely held beliefs.
And we need an organized Christianity on the left, something to counter the Christian Coalition.

Oh, and Spouse feels almost exactly as you do.

I applaud you. I'd hug you if we weren't in the same room.
Hypatia, I've just discovered your blog via Jimbo at Cul de Sac, and I'm delighted by the discovery! (And I see that we're both Real Live Preacher fans.)

I also am a Christian Democrat and very much appreciate your comments. I'm increasingly convinced that the change the Democratic Party has to make, starting *immediately*, is to reach out to Christian progressives. There are many, many Christians on the left, but we've ceded ownership of "Christian values" rhetoric to the right, and I think this has to start changing NOW.

I'm a fan of Sojourners (at www.sojo.net), which I think is making exactly the kind of arguments that more of us on the left need to embrace.
It may rather depend upon which denomination you're with (I won't ask which - none of my business). The reason I mention it is because various denominations have differing levels of left/right elements within them, and you may find ones you are more agreeable with in some denominations more than others.

So, for instance, in Catholicism, you have a long tradition of left-of-center (along with right-of-) activists and clergy, and indeed much of what is called "social justice" is included there. But, naturally, there is also conflict (there's a joke about how long it would take before a fist fight if you put an Opus Dei priest and a Jesuit brother in a room together).

I'm sure other denominations (Methodists, Anglicans, some varieties of Baptists, etc.) have the same.

Best of luck in the search...
So I haven't been replying to comments because I was away for the weekend and came home to a flooded basement... What now, I'll definately check out Sojourners - it's always nice to read things from people who agree with you. :) A friend put me on to Real Live Preacher about two months ago and I do really enjoy it most of the time.

Phil, I have experience in Catholic, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches. I would actually lay claim to the later two as denominations I belong to...
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