Why the white evangelical religious right can no longer presume to claim moral superiority

The religious right is frightened and angry after Tuesday’s election.

That’s not really news, since the religious right was frightened and angry before Tuesday’s election. Frightened and angry is pretty much what the religious right is like every day.

But this quasi-religious political movement is back on its heels now. After decades of lucrative success that transformed America’s politics and deformed American evangelicalism, the religious right was confronted Tuesday with evidence that its strategy is no longer working. The problem is not just that they lost in this election — that the president they demonized was convincingly re-elected, the legislative candidates they championed were resoundingly sent packing, and the ballot initiatives they rallied behind all went against them.

That happens with elections sometimes. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That, by itself, doesn’t necessarily mean that something fundamental is no longer operative.

The problem for the religious right is not that they lost, but how they lost and why they lost.

The religious right lost because they are no longer perceived as having the moral high ground. For decades, the religious right has been pre-occupied with two issues above all else: abortion and homosexuality. And on both of those issues, they have wielded power and influence by claiming the moral high ground — claiming to represent the godly, “biblical” truth of right and wrong. Anyone who disagreed with them on these issues was portrayed as less moral, less godly, less good.

That claim — that framing of these issues as right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, biblical vs. unbiblical, moral vs. immoral — was asserted and accepted for most of the religious right’s 30-year run.

But not any more. That claim is still being asserted, but it is no longer being accepted.

Part of what happened on Tuesday was that millions of people rejected that claim on moral grounds. This was not just a political or pragmatic disagreement that preserved their essential claim of godly morality. It was a powerful counter-claim — the claim that the religious right is advocating immoral, unjust and cruelly unfair policies on both of its hallmark issues. Knee-jerk opposition to legal abortion and to gay rights weren’t just rejected as bad policy, but as bad morals — as being on the wrong side of right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, biblical vs. unbiblical, moral vs. immoral.

When Franklin Graham took out full-page newspaper ads declaring that “there are profound moral issues at stake” in this election, voters agreed with that much of his argument. Voters thought Graham was right that this argument about “the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman” is a “profound moral issue,” but they believed that Graham himself was profoundly wrong — that his opposition to marriage equality put him on the wrong side of a moral issue.

Voters in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington all rejected Graham’s opposition to marriage equality, not because it was too lofty a moral claim, or too sectarian in its “biblical” concerns, but because it was immoral, oppressive, unfair, unjust, unethical, unkind and unrighteous.

This makes for a new and fundamentally different argument. For decades, the religious right has been arguing that their purchase on the moral high ground ought to result in their political triumph. The political opposition to that used to be a form of “yes, but …” — yes, these political preachers are correct about morality and immorality, but other factors need to be considered, or other complications have to be accounted for, etc.

Opposition to the religious right’s agenda on Tuesday did not take the form of this “yes, but …” argument. It was simply, “No.”

It was not a disagreement about the political implications of the preachers’ righteous moral claims, but a denial of those claims, of their righteousness and of their morality. No, these political preachers are incorrect about morality and immorality. No, pretending that some “biblical definition of marriage” is a pretext for denying people their rights or delegitimizing their families is not good or decent or right. No, legal coercion compelling rape victims to bear the offspring of their attackers is not good or decent or right.

And that cuts to the core of the matter. That isn’t just a single defeat in a single election, but a fundamental rejection of the entire basis for why anyone, anywhere should ever listen to the religious right.

The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.

I think of the religious right, broadly speaking, as divided between two groups: True believers and hucksters. They true believers have become unaccustomed to having to explain why they believe what they believe. The hucksters — disingenuous, bad-faith actors in it for the money, the power and the perks — have never been interested in or capable of explaining that.

But that explanation is now required. It will no longer suffice for the religious right simply to assert that everybody knows that marriage equality is immoral, because everybody does not know that. Many of us claim to know the opposite, in fact — we are saying that opposition to marriage equality is immoral. If the religious right wants to convince us otherwise, it will have to do just that — convince us, providing arguments, data, reason and reasons.

It won’t do for the religious right simply to continue wielding the word “biblical” like a club. President Obama quoted the Bible in declaring his support for marriage equality. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe cites the Bible more often and more specifically than any of his religious-right opponents bother to do.

The ground has shifted. The religious right has backed losing candidates before and has occasionally lost ballot initiatives too. But this loss wasn’t due to other issues — the economy, a war — eclipsing the significance of their “values” issues. This loss wasn’t due to any evasive “yes, but …” arguments from the other side.

The other side met them toe-to-toe: You want to argue about abortion on moral grounds? Great, let’s do that. We say your opposition to legal abortion is immoral, and here’s why. You want to argue about the morality of same-sex marriage? Fine. We say your opposition to marriage equality is immoral, and here’s why.

The religious right wasn’t prepared for that response. You could see that throughout the election, as they continued to rely on attack-lines that had served them so well in the past. They repeatedly characterized President Obama as the “most pro-choice president of all time,” expecting him to cringe and deny the suggestion. Instead, he embraced it — running ads saying the same thing and insisting that it was true because defending women’s right to make their own choices is the right thing to do. They attacked Obama for his association with women like Sandra Fluke, as though they were somehow self-evidently immoral. Obama embraced them, figuratively and literally, insisting that doing so was the right thing to do. The religious right spent years accusing Obama of secretly favoring same-sex marriage and he responded by openly and forcefully supporting same-sex marriage, declaring that it was the right thing to do.

The religious right didn’t just lose an election or a ballot initiative, it lost an argument. It lost the argument because it wasn’t used to having to make an argument — wasn’t accustomed to encountering a forceful argument coming back at it from the other side.

The other side won the argument, and in so doing, it seized the moral high ground.

The full meaning of this still hasn’t sunk in for many of the leaders on the religious right. They can’t imagine that anyone may have begun to doubt the legitimacy of their long-presumed moral superiority.

What is going on with the American people?” Pat Robertson asked, utterly perplexed.

“Race and ethnicity overrode values,” said Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel (still unable to see how his bigoted assumptions about the immorality of those people taint the reception of every other moral claim he makes).

The Liar Tony Perkins is in full “Turn those machines back on!” mode, unable to do anything more than just keep repeating the same failed assertions. The marriage equality votes in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, he said, were “a significant moment for the radical Left, which was helped to victory by the most pro-gay president in American history.”

Perkins is still operating under the assumption that calling someone “pro-gay” implies a moral deficiency on that person’s part. Most people don’t agree. We’ve been having quite a national conversation on this subject for the past several decades and most of us have come around to regarding a title like “the most pro-gay President in American history” as a badge of honor — as high praise for this president’s morality, values, principles and commitment to justice.

Robertson, Staver and Perkins are all hucksters. What about the true believers? Southern Baptist Archbishop Al Mohler is someone I think of as a true believer on the religious right, and he’s one of the few figures in the movement who seems to realize that their presumption of moral superiority is no longer widely accepted.

As election returns came in Tuesday night, Mohler tweeted: “There is no evidence in voting patterns that President Obama’s evolution’ on same-sex marriage cost him anything. Another revealing truth.”

Mohler also referred to the marriage equality votes as a sign “we are witnessing a fundamental moral realignment of the country.” Unlike Perkins and Robertson, he seems to grasp what he’s seeing and hearing — that Americans aren’t just failing to embrace his denunciation of LGBT families as immoral, but Americans are actually denouncing him as immoral for opposing such families.

David Sessions finds a few other voices from the anti-gay, anti-abortion religious right who also seem to be “Smelling the Coffee.”

“We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

This loss did not occur in Tuesday’s election — the election was simply a powerful demonstration that the loss is occurring. Much, much more to say about this, so we’ll return to this topic in future posts.

  • Lliira

    “We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

    Pfffttt.

    They lost the culture war decades ago. Only now are some of them starting to realize that maybe they could lose it? What is with the far right-wing in this country being unable to realize they lost? I guess when you and your buddies still think the Confederacy has a chance to win the Civil War, this is what happens.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

     Vikings punter Chris Kluwe cites the Bible more often and more specifically 

    Oddly, I first read that as “spectacularly”.

  • CeeQ

    Fact – allowing safe and affordable contraception = reduced abortion rates. Merely making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the rate of abortion. The Religious faction backed the wrong horse when they chose to pick a protracted fight about Obamacare and contraception coverage. It exposed them as merely power hungry fools using their religion to gain ground and control over the flock.

    Fact – legally recogising the right of consenting, committed gay couples to marry stabilises communities. The Church was never forced by the State to endorse it if they disagreed. This was totally a secular issue of legal rights. Don’t want to sanctify gay marriages in your church? Then don’t. It shouldn’t make it any less legal. Gay people should not have a different set of legal rights than straight people, full stop. In any case – all churches should welcome all people, without exception. But I get that will take some time. That’s the next Everest to climb!

     Speaking as an ethnic minority – we have morals too. We have family values too. We cherish tradition too. Which is why I love my gay cousins. I will be dancing at their weddings and I will cherish seeing them and their spouses at every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will fight back if anyone tries to hurt them. I will fiercely protect their children if and when they have them. Because that’s what families do. And for the ones who don’t believe in Jesus Christ – I will evangelise to them. Because it’s faith that saves. Not which church we go to, which pastor we listen to, not what political beliefs we have. I’m done with the pharisees in the modern church making me feel like crap because I don’t believe and do exactly as they do. I’m elated at the re-election of Barack Obama. Let the fever break in the GOP and sane conservatives return.

  • JustoneK

    o/

  • Jim Roberts

    I think that it was pretty strongly implied regardless.

  • Lliira

     And for the ones who don’t believe in Jesus Christ – I will evangelise to them.

    You were doing so well until this point.

    Fred is an Evangelical. The way he evangelizes is to set up a tent and say, “anyone who wants to come, come.” He does not, to my knowledge, intrude on other people’s homes and insist they hear him. He does not shout on street corners. And I dearly hope he does not corner relations at family get-togethers and force them to listen to how he supposedly knows the One True Way and they must do as he says.

    Relatives feel obligated to listen to you. When you try to evangelize them, therefore, you are forcing something upon them that they don’t want. That is not hospitality. That is deep and abiding rudeness. It is a betrayal of social codes. It is a misuse of the familial relationship.

    We know about Jesus. Trust me. We really, really, really know about Jesus. It’s inescapable in our culture. If your relatives choose to start having faith in Jesus in the way you want them to, I am sure they will come to you.

    Evangelism is like seduction. Don’t ever try to seduce or evangelize someone who does not feel perfectly free to tell you to shove off. And, as with seduction, the best way to get what you want is to have a lot to offer, play it cool, and wait for them to come to you. And to back off if the other person isn’t showing a lot of interest. And to immediately and forever and without blame stop trying if the other person says “no”.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Let the fever break in the GOP and sane conservatives return.

    Amen.

    And for what it’s worth, I don’t believe Jesus had any particularly unique relationship to God, but I would nevertheless prefer you not evangeliae to me.

  • cminus

    Possibly because “spectacularly” is a word that so often naturally comes to mind when reading Chris Kluwe.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    “We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” Southern Baptist pollster Ed Stetzer writes.

    Jeeze, I think a lot of us could have told him that years ago.  Just a shame that they backed themselves into a corner like this, a lot of them will not want to reverse course on these issues due to having sunk so much of themselves into it.  

  • histrogeek

    After years and years of hearing how Democrats or liberal Christians are just a small, stuck-up bunch destined for history’s dustbin, I can say, “Karma’s a bitch assholes!”
    On a slightly more serious note, I think part of the religious right’s problem is how very dated they’re sounding. Every fight, every word they push out is just retread of crap they have been pushing out since the 60s (earlier really but the current iteration is post 60s). Somehow they forget that people in their 40s (!) either weren’t alive in 1968 or have no memory of it.
    Hal Lindsey, Jerry Fawell, or even Jimmy Carter sounded exotic in the mid 70s. (Carter’s evango-speak about Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior sounded really weird then. Like someone saying they were talking with Jesus at Starbucks would today.) Today it’s background noise.

  • Carstonio

    I’m done with the pharisees in the modern church making me feel like crap because I don’t believe and do exactly as they do.

    Yet you would make your cousins feel like crap by insisting that they should belong to your religion, not whatever religion they might have. You are rightfully refusing to decide what’s best for your cousins in martial matters but doing so in religious matters. I don’t want to be too rough on you, because you and I appear to share most of the same moral principles. Still, I’m disappointed that you don’t understand that other people’s religious beliefs are none of your business, just as your religious beliefs are no one else’s business.

  • Robyrt

    The standard American story of evangelism involves some remote tribe with no concept of monotheism, a linguist on hand for a custom translation, and a heroic missionary family who convinces the natives via good deeds and stirring tales of the top 20 Bible stories. “Have you heard the good news?” and all that. The problem is when it’s held up as a model of how you should act towards your American friends, relatives and coworkers, all of whom know a lot about Christianity through cultural osmosis. You end up with a Chick tract.

  • Worthless Beast

    Of course, many voters could be like me…  My guy reminded me yesterday that, since Obama won, “nothing will change” becuase he’s against a lot of guys in Congress who will keep on gridlocking things.  I made a reply about our shared poverty/working class status and the Disabilty (along with its healhcare) I just won and desperately need.  I’m less concerned with grand sweeping moral ideals and more concerned with “fighting to keep the few scraps that I have.”

    I didn’t ask my significant other the way he voted, but the fact that he likes to refer to Romney has having “child-rapist eyes” gives me a clue. 

    I suspect that voters just trying to keep the few things they have and/or have gained over the years outnumber the starry-eyed-idealists. 

  • Magic_Cracker

    That explains why every overtly evangelistic experience I’ve ever had was somehwat bewildering and largely negative.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I dunno – they’ve had a pretty good romp trying to use the wedge issue of “I am SO much more moral than YOU!” (meaning they tell right-wing white Christian voters what they want to hear) to help tie a socially reactionary agenda to an economically adverse agenda.

    The fracturing of that coalition  may be what actually gives rise to a true third party on the right, which, as we’ve seen with Ross Perot in the past, will break the right-wing vote and in the first-past-the-post system, effectively give the Democrats first place every time just by “sneaking up the middle” (Canadian parlance – we have a similar vote-splitting pattern in British Columbia in particular and it’s what gives the NDP a chance to fight above its weight).

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Robyrt said:

    The problem is when it’s held up as
    a model of how you should act towards your American friends, relatives
    and coworkers, all of whom know a lot about Christianity through
    cultural osmosis. You end up with a Chick tract.

    I may fall over. You actually said something I agree with.

  • Tricksterson

    Hey, if Jesus happens to like the occasional mocha latte that’s his business.

  • reynard61

    “For decades, the religious right has been arguing that their purchase on the moral high ground ought to result in their political triumph. The political opposition to that used to be a form of ‘yes, but …’ — yes, these political preachers are correct about morality and immorality, but other factors need to be considered, or other complications have to be accounted for, etc.

    “Opposition to the religious right’s agenda on Tuesday did not take the form of this ‘yes, but …’ argument. It was simply, ‘No.’”

    I think that both the Republicans and their Evangelical cohorts are going to have to learn — real fast — that Politics plus Religion is, indeed, Politics. Politics *taints* Religion. Politics can eventually, if not kept in check by moderate elements, *pollute* Religion; and, by extension, the moral message that a particular religion is trying to uphold and/or convey.

    The Republicans are going to have to learn this or they’ll eventually be seen in the same light as those pedophile enablers in the Vatican or those child-killing terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    “The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.”

    This. So, *SO* this.

    “I think of the religious right, broadly speaking, as divided between two groups: True believers and hucksters. They true believers have become unaccustomed to having to explain why they believe what they believe. The hucksters — disingenuous, bad-faith actors in it for the money, the power and the perks — have never been interested in or capable of explaining that.

    “But that explanation is now required. It will no longer suffice for the religious right simply to assert that everybody knows that marriage equality is immoral, because everybody does not know that. Many of us claim to know the opposite, in fact — we are saying that opposition to marriage equality is immoral. If the religious right wants to convince us otherwise, it will have to do just that — convince us, providing arguments, data, reason and reasons.”

    And it’s *ABOUT DAMN TIME!!!* This country is, contrary to their self-deluded pronouncements, *not a theocracy!!!* The religious right has been allowed to skate on these issues for *far* too long. We (as in “We, The People”) need to start making our religious so-called “leaders” as accountable to us as they (the Righteous Right) claim that the “Gummint” should be.

    “‘What is going on with the American people?’ Pat Robertson asked, utterly perplexed”

    Simple, Pat. We’re finally learning that hate is *not* a “Family Value”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    We know about Jesus. Trust me. We really, really, really know about Jesus. It’s inescapable in our culture.

    Wait, what?  Who is this “Jesus” of whom you speak? </ChickTractVillain>

  • LMM22

    This is a brilliant post — and it may help end the culture wars as we know it.

    One of the things I’ve realized is that many liberals don’t just differ with conservatives on ethics — we differ with them in terms of our ethical *philosophy*. At least when it comes to public policy, most liberals are utilitarians. If a policy we adopt will not help their final goal, or if a policy we adopt is actually harmful, we tend to change it. Most conservatives are not — they tend to think in terms of theology (at best) or simple Biblical passages at worst.

    This is most clear for abortion. Liberals who oppose abortion (or who just want to end the culture war) tend to propose utilitarian approaches which have been shown to reduce the rate of abortions — for example, increased availability of effective forms of birth control, an increased social safety net in the form of universal government benefits, and increased access to medical care. Conservatives tend to see these (particularly birth control) as “wrong” and simply argue that women shouldn’t have sex outside of wedlock. Many conservative anti-abortion groups don’t even bother to pursue public policies that might help their cause — for example, most anti-abortion activists I’ve encountered seem unaware that an abusive father could prevent an adoption from going forward.

    So there is no compromise when it comes to public policy. There can’t be — there isn’t even the agreement that, if one wishes to pursue a certain goal, one should adopt the most effective methods for getting there. The only successful strategy is to simply subvert claims of ethical superiority — and that seems to be what we’ve managed to achieve in the past year.

  • reynard61

    “What is with the far right-wing in this country being unable to realize they lost? I guess when you and your buddies still think the Confederacy has a chance to win the Civil War, this is what happens.”

    There’s no delusion like self-delusion.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I can’t speak to the other states, but in Maine it took a lot of work, work done my people not-me.  I met one of them, put my name on the petition, called to my mother so she could do the same, and then, just as she[not my mother, the other person] was leaving somehow managed to say what I had wanted to say since I found out why she had knocked on my door.

    I told her thank you, thanks for doing this because I can’t.  I’m not good with strangers, have problems with depression and anxiety, and I simply cannot do what she was doing, but it was vitally important that someone did, so I thanked her for doing what needed to be done.

    -

    What she was doing was probably the easy part.  Presumably our house got marked down in the “on our side” column so I never saw anyone doing the hard part.  The hard part had been taking place since 2009 when, after becoming the first state to legalize same-sex marriage via legislator + Governor, Maine became what I assume is the first state to have the people first put the legislation on hold, then overturn it via popular vote so that not a single marriage could come of the work of the legislators and governor.

    When that happened, and I didn’t learn this until years later, they immediately started a hearts and minds campaign.  They went door to door when necessary and they simply talked to people.  For years, person after person, they talked openly and honestly about the issue.

    And in so doing they changed people’s minds.  Part of the change from victory to defeat might have been different demographics and such (hell 2009 was an off off year) but a lot of it has to be credited with all of the people who changed their vote.  People who were convinced first that marriage equality was the right thing, second to do the right thing.

    Not all of those who switched were convinced by an organized campaign  of course, some votes were changed when the voters put faces on the people whose rights they’d previously denied.

    But a lot of work went into just talking to people.  People other than me did that work, and they did it well.

    And as for why I say, “They immediately started…” it’s because by the end there was a broad coalition, but I’m not sure what group was first to go to work.  So for now they’re just they.  But the good “they”, not the bad “they”.

    -

    I’m not really sure why I bring this up, except that a lot of people deserve a lot of credit, and while they did make ads and there were lawnsigns and buttons and whatnot, from my understanding the bulk of the success was had via conversation.  Talking to people works.  Definitely not nearly all the time, but enough to flip enough of the electorate to change the outcome of a vote.

  • Tricksterson

    “The United States is becoming more like Western Europes, or even Zaire”

    Oh Pat you never fail to combine Asshole and Moron into one neat and efficient package.

    Let’s take the last part first.  In what way does successfully having a free, fair and peaceful election make us like Zaire?  Or is it because Zaire is such a renowned bastion of LGBT and women’s rights?

    Now as to “Western Europe”  First off Western Europe is not a country!  Yes, the EU exists but there are still, and for the foreseeable future, will continue to be, more cultural, economic and political differences between any two members of that body than similarities.

    Second, Western Europe is not the Soviet Union!  The latter was a politically and economically totalitarian, as well as imperialistic nation.  Even if you automatically identify “Western Europe” with the European Union (and if you do, Switzerland would like a word with you) it is a fairly loose confederation, none of whose members have designs on world domination, all of whom are democracies and all of whom are, more or less, capitalistic, not to mention that they’re all at peace with us and most of  them are our allies.

    Okay, who wants this soapbox?

  • Daughter

     Here in WA state, the pro-marriage equality campaign grabbed the moral ground early and held on in all their promotional efforts. To vote for Prop 74 meant you were voting for marriage and family. To vote no meant you were against those things. Evidence that liberals are finally learning the power of talking points!

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    Oh, definitely.

    The yard sign here was:
    YES on 1
    [logo]MARRIAGE MATTERS
    [ditto]TO ALL FAMILIES
    (www.MainersUnited.org)

    But with better formatting.

  • Marta L.

     Well, that too… :-)

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    disqus, your changing the formatting of my post (that was plain text, not a link, as a yardsign can’t hyperlink) without my permission has not resulted in catastrophe, for once.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    And you know, I’m not sure that I’ll ever know who “They” was because now that the measure passed the focus is so much on the official effort that the unofficial work done in the time between the 2009 vote going the wrong way and the start of the official effort (to, initially, get the 2012 initiative on the ballot and, then, to pass that initiative seems) to have been lost in the news shuffle.

    But I did learn at some point that the effort to change people’s minds on the matter was immediate, well before the official process that led to legalizing marriage equality.

  • ReverendRef

    The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has
    the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.

    Oh, I don’t know about that.  I think they very well can, and will, assert and assume that they have the moral high ground.  I don’t think they will feel obligated to explain any of their positions because, let’s face it, having to explain something means that you actually have to know why you think/believe that way in comparison to alternative ways of thinking/believing.  Which means that they will continue to assert their position with the unassailable argument of, “Because the Bible says so RIGHT THERE.”

    So I’m convinced that they will simply assert their so-called moral high ground through louder and meaner tactics.

  • Soylent H

    I think this is what’s going on as well.  It’s finally becoming clear (or perhaps more broadly accepted) that one can be ethical outside of a biblical framework, and highly unethical within a biblical framework.  It’s not enough anymore to simply say “this is a reading of the bible and therefore is moral.”  They need to defend the justification for their interpretation’s morality.  Anything else is insufficient.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    Every fight, every word they push out is just retread of crap they have been pushing out since the 60s

    As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote yesterday, “It is slowly dawning on them: This isn’t 1968. The hippies are punching back.”

  • Jessica_R

    And speaking of changing times, our first Hindu congressperson is going to be sworn in on a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, how cool is that? 

  • Soylent H

    “The religious right can no longer simply assert and assume that it has the moral high ground. If it wants to make that claim, it will have to argue for it, will have to explain why its absolute opposition to legal abortion and to civil rights for LGBT people is right or true or good.”
    I liked this as well.  Thanks very much for making this post, it’s a much more coherent version of something I was trying to get at on my blog last night ( http://slacktopia.blogspot.com/2012/11/conceding-authority-part-1.html ).

    I left my church, in part,  because they could not behave ethically to me, as a gay person.  I feel they’ve lost moral authority by pursuing the course they have with regards to favoring tribalism over compassion.  What’s really sad to me, is there’s plenty of history and precedent within christianity for broader acceptance, compassion and dialogue with non-believers or at least people without the same tribal markers.  I hope they figure that out again soon, because in the meantime, they’re making a lot of people unhappy.  

    In essence, you can’t just claim moral authority, you have to justify it in a way that makes sense to people.  And as long as they’re clinging too demonizing gays and abortion, and privileging the bullies over the bullied, they don’t have much justification for their moral authority.

  • CeeQ

    I hear what you’re saying. And in my defense – I don’t push my religious beliefs on my cousins unless they ask me what I believe in or ask my opinion on a certain issue. I don’t just run up to them and make them listen to me, in season or out of season. A lot of them are atheists and we’ve had the conversations. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make them feel like crap because they still speak to me voluntarily =) So now I pray for them – because I truly believe that Christ is the Saviour. The fact that they don’t believe is not a barrier for me to love them. Thanks for being tough on me – I’m ok to hear push back =) 

  • CeeQ

    And that’s OK =) All I meant was that if people ask me – I will share my faith.

  • CeeQ

    It’s fascinating to me how much the evangelicals in this country has ruined the word “evangelise”. I don’t go up to people and ask them “Have you found Jesus?” And I especially don’t do that with my family – for the exact reason that you mentioned – it’s not fair on them cuz they feel like they have to listen. If the subject comes up and if it is appropriate, I voice my faith. If they ask me, I tell them what I think. When it’s in due season. I don’t push it on people who aren’t asking me about it. 

    I’m Australian – and the American way of sharing the gospel has turned me off the minute I got off the plane. 

    Thanks for the comment though – I totally get where you are coming from. In all honesty – I kinda wish people in this country would stop talking about God and Jesus like they are some sort of rock band or celebrity.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Don’t tell them you’re praying for them, however. Saying “I’ll pray for you” can carry some unwanted undertones.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

     For all the religious Right’s forty years of doomsday schtick, they seem to have truly believed that some force of nature would always protect them from becoming “strange” minorities in “their” country. 

    Nope. 

  • reynard61

    “I think that they very well can, and will, assert and assume that they have the moral high ground.”

    Then it’s up to the rest of us to disabuse them of that notion. It’s up to us to remind them that they’re humans (and, yes, I’ll admit that I was sorely tempted to sneak a “barely” in there), not God; and that, as humans, they are just as prone to the imperfections, immoralities, and vanities (including arrogance) of the flesh — even as so-called “forgiven” Christians — as the rest of us filthy heathens. They will, of course, be reluctant to listen to us at first; but as the reality of the situation intrudes on their fantasies, they will either have to wake up and face that reality or find themselves condemned to religious and political obscurity as the rest of the world — and History — passes them by.

  • Carstonio

    I agree that simply wanting others to change their religious beliefs, even if one never speaks to others about this desire, is not the same as suggesting that they consider switching to one’s religion. And it’s far removed from actually trying to convert them. Still, as long as others aren’t using their religious beliefs to hurt others, I see no reason  why someone should even want to change those beliefs. And I see no reason to trust that someone who wants to change others’ beliefs won’t give in to the temptation to actually try to change those beliefs.

  • Lunch Meat

    But Fred, the marriage equality measures didn’t pass because the voters actually supported them! They passed because they were evil oppressive liberal states and the poor defenders of marriage just couldn’t raise enough money to stop them! Obviously, the Minnesotans and Maineans are good RTCs who love heterosexuality, but when they saw how much money the Gay Agenda was spending, they just got so confused and pushed the wrong button at the polling booth. (http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/07/1158081/national-organization-for-marriage-claims-we-are-not-defeated-ignoring-reality/ )

    Of course, the amendment against marriage equality that passed in Texas in 2005 wasn’t because Texas is a deeply, overwhelmingly conservative state and the homophobes spent more money. No, that’s because “Americans believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

  • Lunch Meat

    I told her thank you, thanks for doing this because I can’t.  I’m not good with strangers, have problems with depression and anxiety, and I simply cannot do what she was doing, but it was vitally important that someone did, so I thanked her for doing what needed to be done.

    Few things make me angrier than when one of my facebook-friends speaks sneeringly of Obama because he was “just” a community organizer. I’ve been a community organizer. It’s hard, uncertain, thankless work. You have to knock on the doors of people you’ve never met before, get them to agree with you that there is a problem and what the problem is, convince them that your solution will help, and persuade them to give you time/money to support it. It takes a very, very special kind of person to be good at that. Much harder than any office job I’ve ever had–in fact, I got fired after 4 months because I wasn’t good enough.

    And of course, I’d much, much rather have a president who’s good at getting people s/he doesn’t know to agree with him and support him in solving problems, than a president who’s good at moving numbers around to make money.

  • CeeQ

    And you know, I’ve had this exact same discussion with my cousin – to which I replied, “You’ve got a point, I get what you’re saying. I think the trouble with most Christians is that they don’t care about the person they are trying to evangelise to and care only to get what they want from them. So for me – if you prefer we don’t talk about faith, that’s totally ok.” 

    So I say the same to you =) 

  • CeeQ

    I don’t say “I’ll pray for you” – I just pray for them. I don’t feel the need to announce that’s what I’m doing. I agree with you – the way Christians have used it in this country always seems like it comes with an implied “you pagan who’s for sure bound for hell”

  • CeeQ

    “And to back off if the other person isn’t showing a lot of interest. And to immediately and forever and without blame stop trying if the other person says “no”.”

    Absolutely agree. I don’t feel offended if someone doesn’t want to talk about faith. Faith is an intensely personal conversation – I don’t expect to even get to that point in a relationship or friendship where it’s comfortable to talk about our faith or lack thereof until at least a couple of years of knowing each other. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     

    Few things make me angrier than when one of my facebook-friends speaks
    sneeringly of Obama because he was “just” a community organizer. I’ve
    been a community organizer.

    Not to mention that by some accounts, that knocking-on-doors, talking-to-people, organization-at-a-community-level mindset was one of the advantages the Obama campaign had that won Obama the election.

  • AnonymousSam

    I’m Australian – and the American way of sharing the gospel has turned me off the minute I got off the plane.

    Consider yourself fortunate that it took that long. It wasn’t that long ago that pilot Roger Findiesen took a minute to ask how many of his passengers were Christian and then imply that the unreligious should use their flight to get to know their fellow passengers’ faiths.

  • Carstonio

    While I appreciate that, I also think the problem is bringing up one’s faith in a social situation in the first place, at least outside one’s own faith community. Far better to assume as a default that others don’t want to talk about faith. 

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    In one of the neighborhoods I regularly walk in, there’s been a handmade yard sign saying, “Support Our Family:  Vote Yes on Question 6″ (six being Maryland’s same-sex marriage ballot question).  Normally I hate seeing election-related signs hanging around after the election is over.  But today I passed by that house, with the now very faded handmade sign still in the yard, and noticed that a new message had been written over the old:  “Thank You.”

    That simple message made me smile and cry, knowing that we the voters, when given the power to vote for or against somebody’s civil rights, made the right choice.  We made the right choice.  And in spite of all the background radiation of fundamentalism that I’ve absorbed from certain of my relatives and old neighbors, I can’t find within myself even the slightest trace of doubt that we made the moral choice.  We did a good thing.  And I’m hoping and praying for more good things to come.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

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