But sometimes, there are disagreements worth highlighting -- even among our friends. And this week, a few have surfaced. What we disagree on, and how we go about disagreeing, can be at least as important as the things on which we agree and how we come to agree on them.
TrueBlueMajority's Retrosexual politics--I'm not concerned about Concerned Women for America -- argues that vocal conservative groups are nothing to fear. In fact, their agenda is so out of touch with mainstream America that the more publicity they get, the better - for us.
The diarist seems to think that merely publicizing their "agenda" will translate into changes in voting behavior of the religious right, or those they influence; and that antisex legislation and court decisions can't happen because it would make "angry white men," angry. hmm. While that premise is unsupported, the anti-contraception "agenda" has been well known for decades -- but no one has, to my knowledge, ever made it into an effective issue. This is not to say that it shouldn't be an issue. But that is hasn't yet, should give us pause.
But there was also good stuff at The Daily Kos: Front-pager DarkSyde had a characteristically feisty piece about fighting back against media repetition of lies and errors of the religious right as if they were facts:
Social conservatives are determined to protect the ability of rapists to reproduce, and the wishes of the victim apparently don't matter. Plan B contraception has again attracted the ire of the fundies but this time the medical community is fighting back.Issac-Davy Aronson at State of Belief picks up on an important piece from Mainstream Baptist at Talk to Action:
"We need more Christian influence in Congress..." ...So said an Air Force general in a fundraising email he sent for a Republican Congressional candidate...from his official email account. Oops...
"The Air Force is investigating whether a two-star general violated military regulations by urging fellow Air Force Academy graduates to make campaign contributions to a Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
"Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr., who is on active duty at Langley Air Force Base, sent the fundraising appeal on Thursday from his official e-mail account to more than 200 fellow members of the academy's class of 1976, many of whom are also on active duty."
Howard Friedman at Religion Clause has a good summary of this and other recent events in the controversy over religious bigotry at the Air Force Academy. Among other things:
Jeremy Gunn, director of the ACLU's program on religious freedom spoke at the Air Force Academy Thursday, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette Gunn told Air Force cadets and faculty that the alleged war on Christians in America is a myth driven by politics. In fact, he said, religion has never enjoyed a time of greater freedom. Philosophy Professor Col. James Cook, who invited Gunn to speak, said the debate over the role of faith in the military has led the school to seek out a variety of opinions without taking sides.
Don Byrd at Blog from the Capital has further news. Among the opponents of legislation designed to favor evangelical military chaplains -- is the chief of Navy chaplains, Rear Adm. Louis V. Iasiello, a Roman Catholic priest.
Friedman also has a succinct report (which I have made even more succinct) on Pat Robertson's latest outburst against Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
Robertson said, "Barry Lynn is so extreme, he has said that if a church is burning down, the city shouldn't't bring the fire department and trucks to spray water on the church because that violates separation of church and state." AU officials deny that this is Lynn's position. Robertson went on to claim that the ACLU had taken over Americans United, and described the ACLU in these terms: "The goal of the ACLU is to strip all religion from the public square. Why? Because the goal of the Communist Party was to weaken America, and they thought that they could weaken America if they took faith out of our public life. That's where it all came from, ladies and gentlemen." In a release by Americans United in response to the attack said "Robertson is not just factually wrong, but increasingly shrill and paranoid."
Our friend Pastordan takes on windbag Andrew Sullivan at Street Prophets -- over the idea that in the name of the purity of faith that all politics should be taken out of religion. I agree with Pastordan, and that this is a silly, nonstarter and a basic misunderstanding of religion. Religion is part of one's identity, not something detached. It is possible to respect religious pluralism and separation of church and state without worrying whether religion has anything to do with someone's politics.
I'm not willing to walk away from advocating for the people directly affected by these things in the name of spiritual purity and the "quiet majority." To ask religion to stay out of politics is to ask it to forswear moral witness, to abdicate its responsibility to act on behalf the poor and powerless.
For that reason, this is perhaps the most offensive part of Sullivan's column:
What to do about it? The worst response, I think, would be to construct something called the religious left. Many of us who are Christians and not supportive of the religious right are not on the left either. In fact, we are opposed to any politicization of the Gospels by any party, Democratic or Republican, by partisan black churches or partisan white ones. "My kingdom is not of this world," Jesus insisted. What part of that do we not understand?
Emphasis mine. It's really nice to issue calls to high-mindedness and non-partisanship - except it leaves the oppressed in bondage. I won't do that: I worship a God of liberation. And though I don't agree with many stances of conservative Christians, I won't ask them to do so, either. We are all called to seek justice, as best we understand it. That inevitably involves us in conflict with one another, but so be it. No one ever said that finding - and doing - what was right would be easy.
The one thing on which Pastordan agrees with Sullivan (or maybe Sullivan agrees with Patordan) is that we need a special word - they both advocate "Christianists" -- to describe the kind of people whose agenda they mutually don't like.
There are already many perfectly serviceable terms we can use to clearly and accurately describe various factions and characteristics of the religious right. No one term will ever fit all -- and I wish people would stop trying to coin it. What we really need -- is to know what we are talking about. When we do that, the right words and the right terms will fall right into place.
Meanwhile, over at Talk to Action, Mainstream Baptist highlights a remarkable outline of how to manage religious differences, in terms of "rights and responsibilities" in the public schools.
Michelle Goldberg defines Christian nationalism -- which is the subject of her new book, Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism -- just out from W.W. Norton.
Jonathan Hutson explains what's wrong with the picture of a cowboy George Bush has on the wall of the Oval Office -- the one titled "A Charge to Keep" that has come to serve as a metaphor for Bush's political identity and the themes of his administration. (Don't miss this one -- it's an amazing story.)
And John Dorhauer tells the story of how he recently served as the MC for the annual awards banquet of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
The title of the evening, "Faith and Freedom," encapsulates what is often at the heart of much of the progressive religious community's point of view: citizens should not have to choose between their faith and their freedom. Conversely, religion should not be a tool used to deny citizens their right to freely choose when it comes to moral principles. Such a belief is at the heart of the concept of the separation of church and state.
But the attacks from the right mischaracterize the issue, and typically portray pro-choice advocates as having abandoned the faith.