A Brookings Institution study says that today’s Democrats are less interested in even liberal Christianity, but that it still might be possible to bring back the religious left. I would think this is true. Pope Francis seems to be bringing liberal Catholicism back into power. Many ostensible evangelicals are reconfiguring their teachings to promote liberal, rather than conservative, politics. And of course there are the mainline liberal Protestants who are still around in significant, though reduced, numbers. (Do notice that I am not referring to people who are liberal politically though conservative theologically, which used to be commonplace and is still evident in many congregations and on this blog. I’m referring to new iterations of the social gospel.)
The religious left was never as cohesive and effective as the religious right. But a new report based on interviews with religious progressive leaders finds that the Obama era may have further weakened Democrats’ interest in the non-secular.The report, released Thursday by the Brookings Institution, argues that religious progressives could be heading for a renaissance if they can focus on what some see as the civil rights issue of today: economic justice.
The report, by the institute’s Governance Studies Program, is based on polling and interviews with many of the top players among Washington’s religious left. They include John Carr, formerly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; evangelical writer Jim Wallis; and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform Jewish movement.
It starkly lays out the challenges facing religious progressives — activists and voters who see their faith lived out through social justice, particularly working for causes such as immigration reform and limiting budget cuts for the poor.
Religious progressives played a major role in social movements ranging from the New Deal to ending slavery. Can they be as impactful again?