Democrat platform’s section on faith.

Saw a part of the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform over on Hemant’s blog.  Le sigh.

Faith. Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history. We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires. Faith-based organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world — from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking. People of faith and religious organizations do amazing work in communities across this country and the world, and we believe in lifting up and valuing that good work, and finding ways to support it where possible. We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests. There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.

And away we go…

Faith has always been a central part of the American story, and it has been a driving force of progress and justice throughout our history.

Progress and justice?  What about when the right of suffrage had to be ripped from the steely grip of the faithful who cited god’s assurance that the man was the head of the household?  Where is the justice in the outcry of millions of Christians that necessitates the battle for equal rights for LGBT people?  And how is the dumbing-down of science on account of the demands of the faithful conducive to progress?

Progress and justice have been achieved through reason and compassion, nothing more.  Faith does not hold the monopoly on these things.  Humans do.

We know that our nation, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith and the countless acts of justice and mercy it inspires.

But the faithless are also inspired to good deeds.  There are many motivations to do good that do not require us to hand the deeds to our reason and our sense of self-worth/purpose to the empty hands of myth.  Yes, untrue beliefs can inspire people to good, but they can also make people blind to their humanity.  Marriage equality is on the DNC’s platform for 2012.  Would it need to be if not for the “justice” wrought by faith?

Faith-based organizations will always be critical allies in meeting the challenges that face our nation and our world — from domestic and global poverty, to climate change and human trafficking.

In 2009 a Pew survey asked the question “Is there solid evidence the earth is warming?”  The results were…

Total U.S. population 47 %; Unaffiliated with any church 58 %; White mainline Protestants 48 %; White, non-Hispanic Catholics 44 %; Black Protestants 39 %; White evangelical Protestants 34 %

There can be no doubt that many who deny the world is warming (and, in so doing, proclaim their own scientific conclusions to be superior to the consensus of the world’s scientists) do so because the evidence-based conclusions do not align with the end-time predictions of their faith.  Religion’s only use for evidence or science is when it supports the religion’s conclusions.  When the evidence would prove believers wrong, faith takes over.  Whether it’s evolution, climate change, or any other product of science that advances the well being of our species, once it conflicts with the stories in the bible then faith stops being a friend to science.  As leaders of our nation, you must align yourselves with one or the other.  You cannot do both honestly.

I’d much rather see them catering to our humanity, which is shared by theist and non-theist alike, than to faith.  As it stands they seem to be saying that our faith has more to do with our charity than our humanity.  I guess if we’re all despicable by nature, as Christianity would have us believe, then that makes sense.  Of course, I think humanity is badass.

We believe in constitutionally sound, evidence-based partnerships with faith-based and other non-profit organizations to serve those in need and advance our shared interests.

Emphasis on our shared interests: feeding the poor, clothing the freezing, etc.  If one dollar of that money gets spent on a bible, will the DNC hold them accountable?  Why invest in faith-based groups if that worry is on the table when there are secular groups who focus only on the charity?

There is no conflict between supporting faith-based institutions and respecting our Constitution, and a full commitment to both principles is essential for the continued flourishing of both faith and country.

Supporting faith-based groups is essential to the flourishing of the country?  Imagine what that says to religious people: that without faith as a foundation for your charity, you likely wouldn’t give a shit.  If the country can’t flourish through simple human compassion, it deserves to fail.  Without compassion or empathy, faith only makes you a begrudging schemer, focused on what good the charity can do for you instead of for the poor.

Maybe that’s the kind of people Americans are, but I don’t think so.  Of course, that message would never get anyone elected.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • SparkyB

    I think this is just the reality of what the democrats need to do to win. It’s not that the country couldn’t flourish without faith-based groups, it’s that the country is already full of faith-based group without whose support the democrats can’t win and the country would certainly not flourish under the opposition. If you look at substantive planks of the Democratic platform (woman’s reproductive rights, gay rights, science, education, the environment), I think this bit about faith is just to say, just because your your theistic religion is against these things we are not at war against your belief, only against certain actions. If you agree with the goals of the party and can reconcile that with your faith, then go ahead and work with us. It may not be perfect but it is a necessary step in the right direction and heaps better than the alternative.

    • Yalie

      So we know Democrats would be willing to lie to win.

      Now the question is, what else will they lie about?

      • SparkyB

        What about it is a lie? First of all, the Democrats in charge of the platform probably are religious and do genuinely believe that faith is important (even if it is not the dogmatic unreasonably faith of the Republicans). I was just presenting a way of looking at a plank on faith as a necessary good, even if you don’t personally believe in faith. Even in those who wrote this feel as I do, I don’t think that makes it a lie. It isn’t a lie to acknowledge that many Americans need faith and you support that even if you don’t need it personally and hope for the day when that will be the majority.

      • Nate Frein

        The sad reality is that the Democratic Party’s “lies” are simply nowhere near the level of truth-abuse the Republican party is committing on an hourly basis.

        I’m not happy with a lot of the Obama administration’s works. But most of what disappoints me is either the result of some of the most vicious partisan pushback in history, or simply would not be any better under a Republican president.

        The sad fact is, voters are faced with a choice between “not very good” (Obama) and “very bad (Romney)”. (In my quietest, most hopeful of dreams, a re-elected Obama will have the courage to do many things he caved on during his first term. But that hope is getting quieter.)

        I absolutely agree with what JT is saying here, and I think it still needs to be said. But if this is what you call “Lying to win” then I shudder to think what the Republican party’s total disregard for facts should be called. These comments here reflect the sad reality of today’s politics. What the Republican party is doing is proof of the sad reality that too many people can’t see past their seething hatred of a black man above his station to know what a dangerous man they’re courting.

  • ACN

    [quote]If the country can’t flourish through simple human compassion, it deserves to fail. Without compassion or empathy, faith only makes you a begrudging schemer, focused on what good the charity can do for you instead of for the poor.[/quote]

    Hear, hear.

  • iknklast

    “Supporting faith-based groups is essential to the flourishing of the country? Imagine what that says to religious people”

    Even worse, what does it say to non-religious people? It suggests that we are a drag on the country, and the country would flourish much better if we were faith-based instead of evidence based.

    I also have a problem with the idea of evidence-based partnerships with faith-based groups, since I’m not sure it’s evidence they’re considering. They cherry pick the evidence to show what they want it to show, which is that faith is better than non-faith.

    As for whether they need this to win, if that’s the case, then it’s a sad commentary on the state of affairs that no one can stand up and tell the truth in this country and still win public office. It’s time that truth becomes more important than merely winning the plurality of the votes. Yes, I know, we need to be in power to make change – but it does no good if being in power doesn’t make those changes. And we don’ t want “them” in power, because their ideas are so bat-shit. But still, our “leaders” should attempt to tell us the truth and encourage us to think, rather than blindly following like sheep wherever the general public chooses to lead (which is why I put leaders in quotes – our leaders do nothing of the sort. They follow. Money. Votes. Popularity polls. Our leaders are sheep, our citizens are sheep, and it’s time we have a shephard if we’re going to have so many sheep. I nominate JT.)

    JT for shephard. Bumpersticker, anyone?

    • Loqi

      Something tells me JT would disown that label faster than you could apply it to him.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

        Shepherd is so…weak.

        Supreme dictator for life? :P

        • Loqi

          “Dictator” has too much of a negative connotation. You need something less evil, more awesome. For example, I was president of our university computing technology group, and I submitted our charter renewal with myself listed as “supreme commander of computing resources.”

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

            Did you say “less evil?” Come on, that’s my whole MO! :P

          • Loqi

            But we’re talking about politics and propaganda, here. You can’t just come out and say what you mean. It’s why we have “Family Research Council” instead of “Gay Bashing Council” and “Tea Party” instead of “Loose Association of Racists.”

  • BethE

    And yet, even with this paragraph, the Republicans are claiming that the Democrats are ‘godless’ because the word ‘God’ was not mentioned at all in their platform. (12 times in the Republican platform.)

  • Loqi

    Ugh. Pandering. Boring, stupid, dishonest pandering.

    (Side note: is there a login around here? Typing my nym into the name field every time seems…wrong.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      Um, I think you can register here. Not sure. Will ask people who know.

      • Loqi

        I registered, it just doesn’t seem to help. There’s no login link on wwjtd, so I checked the My Account link, created an account, logged in, then it dropped me on the Patheos main page. As soon as I came back here, it acted like I wasn’t logged in.

  • Pingback: Dan wonders about the DNC removing god from its platform.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

    Progress and justice have been achieved through reason and compassion, nothing more. Faith does not hold the monopoly on these things. Humans do.

    THIS. So much this.

    I actually said this in reference to Atheism+ a little while back. Atheists don’t have a monopoly on social justice, and “people of faith” don’t either. Likewise, sexism, racism, etc, are human problems, problems often exacerbated and contributed to by religion yes, but human problems nonetheless.

    Regarding your anecdote about suffrage, I would say that when people talk about faith bringing progress they often refer to abolitionism. And it’s true – abolitionists believed their views were God’s views, and had a sort of divine passion. But at the same time, their opponents ALSO cited the Bible and God’s will in order to support slavery. Religion is in a sense value neutral – it can be used to support bad things or good things. However, religion includes things like dogma and belief in things we can’t see, etc. When used for good, those things amplify the effect – making an abolitionist willing to go much further in his efforts to free the slaves than he might go if he thought he was going it alone – but they also amplify the effect when used for bad, making it so that people can’t think critically and ask questions and instead adhere to dogma just because (see the LGBTQ rights issue).


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