Monday, January 16, 2006

Faith in Politics: Other Views

As much as possible this post will serve to collect other Faith in Politics postings. They are all very well written and my posting looks very poor by comparison.

LVDem

Apt. 2024

Just Between Strangers

jordanna

The Smedley Log

Forever a Square Peg

Gort 42

Another Monkey

Serendipitously enough, Faith Today, a Canadian publication, posted an article today with a survey of Canadian politicians and officials asking them about the intersection between faith and public policy. It is also worth a look (here).

From Michigan: badchristian.com

17 comments:

ACM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John Featherman said...

I'm Jewish, and I support freedom of religion, but also strong separations between church and state, as intended by the founding fathers. We should keep religion out of politics, and politics out of religion.

I do agree that the Democrats haven't yet catered to the whims of those that are very religious. And I hope they don't.

I am not proud of my party's (Republican) affiliation with the church. It's too extreme. And I've heard that the reason Kerry didn't win in 2004 was because he didn't embrace religious folks ... not right-wingers, but simply average church goers. That may be true, but nonetheless, it's scary how Democrats want to learn from Republicans and incorporate religion into government. But when we see Democrats embracing pro-life, anti-gay, anti-embryonic stem cell research Democratic candidates, we have to ask ourselves what the Democratic Party stands for.

We know where the official line of the GOP stands on religion and politics, and I hope to be one of many on the inside that changes it.

Let's hope that the Democratic Party doesn't sell out its conscience for the sake of winning elections.

John Featherman
Republican Candidate, US Senate-PA
www.featherman.com

AboveAvgJane said...

John,

What do you have against average churchgoers, or even above average churchgoers? ;)

howard said...

Jane,

I think there's a common misconception that discussions like this one are about incorporating religion into public policy. I personally believe that's bad policy. But I don't think that's what you're advocating at all.

I don't want a politician taking office and imposing his religious views on the citizenry, but I have absolutely no problem with people allowing their beliefs to affect the way they vote or act in general. One is not the same as the other.

And if you truly believe in one philosophy or another, why on earth wouldn't you let that affect your actions (and your vote)? If your beliefs don't affect your politics in any way, are they really your beliefs?

I don't think Kerry lost in '04 because he didn't embrace religious folks. If it was anything along those lines, it might have been that he didn't embrace his own stated beliefs.

He talked about them at times, but he continually assured people that his beliefs had no bearing on any other part of his life. To many religious folks, statements like that just sound disingenuous.

John Featherman said...

Jane,

I have nothing against "average churchgoers, or even above average churchgoers." What I simply said was that Kerry didn't win because he didn't embrace churchgoers. I have no problem with churchgoes. I support churchgoers.

What I don't support is politicians incorporating religion into politics and, specifically, into public policy.

John Featherman
Republican Candidate, US Senate-PA
www.featherman.com

LVDem said...

John, our country has had many policy decisions made that were founded in religion. Some were good, others were bad. The good: abolition of slavery, women's sufferage, Civil Rights movement... the list is on going. Some bad: prohibition (well, I like beer so it's bad), banning bi-racial marriages, etc. I also take exception to your statement about "the whims of those that are very religious." I don't consider my faith and my views on world problems to be whimsical (whim is the root of whimsical and is even found in the definition supplied by dictionary.com). I hope the Dems don't become a party of the religious right, but saying that the religious are full of whims exposes an underlying bias against religion that immediately disqualifies a candidate in my book.

The way I see it isn't that the GOP is dominated by the religious right. The GOP is dominated by folks who pander in word to the religious right. How many religious right policies have been enacted? Has abortion been criminalized? Has a gay marriage amendment been passed? Is their prayer in public school? Does the GOP control all three branches of our government and many of the states? Answers: none, no, no, no, yes. Yet every year for the last 25 years (or more if you want to go back to the early movements), the GOP whips up a storm to energize the religious right and every legislative year, nothing changes. My submission isn't that the GOP is a religious party. My submission is that the GOP uses religious to obtain power and maintain it, then pays it lip service when push comes to shove.

Take a moment to read my article on the matter. I do believe their is a faith basis for the seperation of church in state, and I briefly mention one instance, citing public prayer.

Anonymous said...

Jane, while I generally have found your commentary interesting your post reminded me of claims of reverse discrimination by wealthy white males like Supreme Court Nominee Alito’s group the Concerned Alumni of Princeton; people in a position of privilege whining about how unfair the world is towards them. You live in an overwhelmingly Christian society where religious expression is found in some form in schools, local and state government and every other aspect of civic life. My goodness I have to vote in a church!

To your larger point that Democrats fail to appeal to religious people; religious people as you point out are not weak-minded. They vote based on whether the candidates before them support positions they support. In other words, when choosing between two devoutly religious candidates your average religious voter in Pennsylvania is going to vote for the gay bashing / anti-choice candidate. In fact religious values are so strong that many people will vote against their own economic interests rather than support candidates who have views or are members of a party that has people with views that contradict their own religious values. I would go so far as to argue that if you can not put yourself in someone else’s shoes, something which is required to see why gay marriage should be legalized or why a women’s right to choose should be protected, you are also very unlikely to believe that society has any role helping people in a time of need. The prevailing Christian view in America is that God rewards the industrious not that a rich man may have trouble getting into heaven.

The reason the progressive religious community is small is because well, it is small!

AboveAvgJane said...

Anonymous,

I wonder why you assume that all people of faith are against gay marriage or anti-choice. I didn't comment on marriage in any form in my posting and made it clear that I did not want the government making medical decisions for people. You may be reacting to something but it is not something in my post, or in some of the others listed.

Your stereotype of religious people does not allow for variations within the spectrum. Are you including the Quakers in there? the Unitarians? the Metropolitan Community Church? These groups would be surprised to find themselves included in your description.

If, as you say, the progressive religous community is small, are we not entitled to the same tolerance as other small groups within the party?

howard said...

"I would go so far as to argue that if you can not put yourself in someone else’s shoes, something which is required to see why gay marriage should be legalized or why a women’s right to choose should be protected, you are also very unlikely to believe that society has any role helping people in a time of need."

Anon,

The above sentence from your post confuses me. How does this relate to religious philosophy? My religious upbringing is at the root of my belief that we need to put ourselves in other peoples' shoes -- it in no way forbids me from having sympathy or empathy.

I think Jane speaks well to this. A lot of her theme seems to follow the idea that religious political action in this country has been largely hi-jacked by those who speak of religious values, but don't actually follow those values. You seem to be talking of those people as well.

ACM said...

I'm Jewish, and I support freedom of religion, but also strong separations between church and state, as intended by the founding fathers. We should keep religion out of politics, and politics out of religion.

I do agree that the Democrats haven't yet catered to the whims of those that are very religious. And I hope they don't.


wow, John, I'll take "Missed the Purpose of the Exercise" for $400! but, um, thanks for the prickly and off-putting input, the lifeblood of any campaign strategy....

John Featherman said...

ACM,

We'll just have to agree to disagree. But let's do so without sarcasm, please. Let's try to be civil. Care to share your views? I'm politely curious about your views on religion and government.

John Featherman
Republican Candidate, US Senate-PA
www.featherman.com

LVDem said...

ACM's perspective was posted on his/her blog.

But John, I'd like to know why you think my faith is whimsical? I fully respect your views on the seperation of church and state, but I find the statement about "the whims of those that are very religious" to be terribly troubling.

John Featherman said...

LVDem,

First, thanks for the clarification on ACM's posting. As Jane also informed me, that was her posting. I wasn't a regular here until recently, so I was unaware it was the same person.

Let me address and clarify my comment. I didn't want to imply that very religious people are extreme. What I intended to say
-- and said in a very poor fashion -- was that I don't want very religious people having government make laws that are extreme. My apologies for how
what I said did not get that across.

John Featherman
Republican Candidate, US Senate-PA
www.featherman.com

Anonymous said...

Jane, I didn’t question your particular views on gay rights or abortion. I did however question the validity of your argument that the Democratic Party would gain more religious voters by pandering to those voters with candidates that wear their religion on their sleeve. The majority of devoutly religious voters vote Republican because they have views contrary to your own on government intervention in marriage or in women’s medical decisions.

Howard I didn’t suggest that religious people were not capable of empathy or sympathy but that the Republican base is composed of people who subjugate those values to dogma on issues like abortion, homosexuality and poverty. What Jane suggests is the equivalent of trying to advance the cause of civil rights during the 50s and 60s by embracing the Dixiecrat/Republican language of states rights. Civil rights didn’t gain traction until the majority of Americans began to view African American’s as people, that is, until empathy triumphed over dogma and fear. They were not persuaded by appeals to religion. Appealing to the religious voters who compose the Republican base today requires that base evolves into better more thoughtful people.

Jane, in the end you feel you don’t have a home in the Democratic Party and that is a shame. But I would ask is that because your fellow Democrats are intolerant of your spirituality or because you want more Democrats to be like you? Tolerance goes both ways.

LVDem said...

And who led that Civil Rights movement? We identify men such as MLK who found their strength in their faith.

The religious left is about tolerance and acceptance. They accept people regardless of who they are b/c we believe that we are all created in God's likeness. My guess, and it's only that, a guess, is that many of the people who vote based on matters of religous values could be swayed, not by policy, but by an appeal to the other values that they hold. Equality and compassion are two very powerful values that I think a good number of self-proclaimed "values voters" could identify as reasons to vote for Democrats. Nobody is suggesting changing our policy. I'm talking about changing the way we frame the issue to make it a statement of values.

Anybody who doubts that liberal Christians exist need to find their local Quaker, Metropolitan Community Church, Unitarian or United Church of Christ congregation. Heck, the Episcapol (spelling?) church has an openly gay Bishop. The UCC has ordained openly gay ministers for more than 20 years. The Metropolitan Church is easily identified as a church of gay/lesbian families.

There are faith based values to be found in progressive thinking. If we ignore this long enough, we are relegated to a life as the minority party at too many levels of government.

AboveAvgJane said...

Anonymous,

I have read over my original posting and do not see the words "pandering" or "wear their religion on their sleeves" anywhere in it. My last sentence ended with this "I wish the party would be more receptive to and respectful of the beliefs of at least some of the party’s foot soldiers." I don't think this is unreasonable. My statement that people who are active in religious communities vote more often than people who are not is backed up by research and statistics. I would be happy to include some citations if you like.

Generally candidates either try to connect to people who are likely to vote or encourage those who dont' vote to start. The percentage of the general population that believes in God is roughly equivalent to the percentage of the general population that supports reproductive choice. I think both are around 70%, which implies at least some overlap. For any candidate or political organization to assume that everyone with deeply held religious beliefs has the same social values is a mistake.

The purpose in inviting people to write on this topic was to bring to light some of those differences, as they are seldom expressed. I was distressed to receive email from a few bloggers that they were interested in writing on it but were worried about negative responses (such as yours) and decided against it. I doubt this reticence exists only among bloggers. If the Democratic Party is losing out on the energy and contributions of these people, it is an avoidable loss.

Anonymous said...

Jane, while I do think you have a persecution complex I do also regret being a source of negativity in your web space. Best of luck.