Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Left's Christian Problem

I had an interesting conversation with my sister last night. We rarely talk about politics, but I knew she had supported Kerry and I wanted to get her take on the election. Obviously, she wasn’t thrilled with the result. But I was happy to see she wasn’t among the crowd preparing to throw themselves under a bus, or emigrate to Canada over it either. I was amused to find that her biggest reason for supporting Kerry was that she assumed he was lying through his teeth about finishing the mission and Iraq. She was sure he would cut and run in a hurry. Not really the sign of a strong candidate when someone's number one reason for supporting him is because she assumes he's a liar.

Then she said something that puzzled me. One of the things that most bothered her about the result was (I’m paraphrasing here) all of those unthinking religious people who voted for Bush because they thought it was their moral duty. I’ve certainly heard that attitude before. It’s classic elitist propaganda, mixed with a hint of religious bigotry.

But my sister and I grew up in the same house. Both of us were raised Catholic, and neither of us buys into the trendy rejection of that upbringing, even if we aren’t always perfect in living it out. By many people’s definitions, we are two of those religious people from red-state America. (No doubt my sister didn’t personally mean Catholics, but others with similar sentiments certainly do.)

When I pressed her a bit to explain this comment, she did clarify she didn’t mean everyone who goes to church, but rather those “unthinking, redneck, religious” people. My sister now lives in the New Jersey suburbs of Manhattan, and she noted that the news there pretty regularly showed these ignorant people in the days leading up to the election.

Which is something that has been in the back of my mind all day as I have read post-election opinion pieces. One of the very common threads running through a lot of them is a visceral loathing and fear of practicing Christians (sometimes called “fundamentalist,” sometimes “evangelical” sometimes “extreme right,” etc.) among the left. I’m not shocked to discover the existence of this particular bigotry. But I am a little surprised to see its extent.

It pops up in unexpected places like Thomas Friedman’s article today in the New York Times (hat-tip RCP):

“Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science?

My problem with the Christian fundamentalists supporting Mr. Bush is not their spiritual energy or the fact that I am of a different faith. It is the way in which he and they have used that religious energy to promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad.”

Friedman is not part of the moonbat fringe. He can accurately be described as center-left. But he has bought into the anti-Christian mindset as surely as my sister. I could cite a dozen more examples from today’s reading alone if I cared to.

Atheist Bush supporters like Stephen Green or Michele Catalano have noted some of these comments with bemusement. But it’s a little more personal when you realize a seething hatred building among a political class, with you and your whole family well within their scope.

What exactly are Christians doing to provoke such massive hatred on the part of the left? I always see fuzzy generalizations, but never any specifics. Is it the opposition to abortion? That's hardly new. Is it prayer in schools? Not exactly a burning issue of the day no matter where you come down on it.

There was that doofus I linked to yesterday in the Village Voice who explicitly accused Christians of trying to tear up the Constitution and establish a theocracy in its place. But this is raving lunacy. Theocracies don’t spring fully formed from the head of Pat Robertson, let alone George W. Bush. If one was imminent wouldn’t there be some tangible evidence? Something a little stronger than fighting the removal of decades old religious symbolism from public buildings? Something a little more recent than the fact that Christianity doesn’t condone gay marriage?

As for the apparently commonly assumed leftist notion that religious people pose some inherent threat to the Constitution by the very existence of their faith, I blame historical ignorance. At some point within the last few decades, the left rewrote the history of the country to pretend the Constitution requires religion to remain entirely out of the public sphere. Without attempting to dive deeply into Constitutional history, I’ll simply state that this is a gross exaggeration refuted by America’s own history. Congress opens each session with a prayer, for goodness sake. The president has always placed his hand on a Bible when being sworn into office. These things don’t violate the Constitution, nor do they suggest impending theocracy.

I suspect the real problem the left has with serious expressions of Christianity is that they hate a morality which might judge their actions wrong, even when they're legal. Christians aren’t going to arrest homosexuals, or pass a law mandating Church attendance on Sunday (and I have to believe the more rational among the left really do know this). But Christians are going to call these things sins. They’re not going to approve of them as a "lifestyle choice."In the lexicon of the modern Left tolerance and disapproval simply cannot coexist. Therefore, Christians are accused of intolerance. Or, to use Friedman’s words above “promot[ing] divisions and intolerance at home and abroad.”

Near as I can tell, this division is being prompted by the left, and the leading cause is their own intolerance of Christianity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the whole "blame it on the Christians" theme is an outright canard. It's easier to think that there are millions of "fundamentalists" out there skewing the vote towards Bush, than to believe that most "normal" Americans chose Bush (or rejected Kerry, as it were).


11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How interesting to read about your sister and you differing on opinions. I was raised in Fridley along with 5 siblings. My folks still live near Moore Lake and it is no surprise to me why Sen. Kerry won all the Fridley precincts. We were all raised Catholic because to my folks it was the right thing to do. Today however, my parents eschew religion, but keep their ante in the pot by claiming to be "agnostic." (just in case the bets are called in).

Most of my siblings appear to be committed Dems, with the attitude of "what can my country do for me." Not evil, nor leftists, but content to take advantage of any govt program available. They also subscribe to the basic Dem belief of tax the rich. And who are the rich? Anyone making more than them.

They also fail to realize that the GOP ticket was not voted in by the religious right and that 95% of Bush supporters are average people. They prefer to buy into the model of a Bush electorate consisting of wild-eyed evangelists, with spittle stained lips shouting Hallelujah - instead of the 51% of ordinary shoppers at the mall who voted GOP and swung the election.

I keep campaigning them with the facts; that today Kennedy would be considered a conservative, that the Depression and FDR are long dead, that the DFL is not the party of the working class but the party of the non-working class and guilt ridden upper class.

The holidays are a tough time to stay neutral, but I just try to stick to the facts and shake my head in bemusement wondering what happened? Neither heredity nor environment worked on me. Am I the misplaced zygote?

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please be careful that the Conservative Way isn't being controlled with a stealth mission in mind.
What is the proper method for taxing and sharing in a democracy, as not every being is identical?

11:00 AM  

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