Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Religious Liberals Emerging

A number of recent stories point to an national trend that we have also been noticing here in Montgomery County. The Washington Post last week:
Long overshadowed by the Christian right, religious liberals across a wide swath of denominations are engaged today in their most intensive bout of political organizing and alliance-building since the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements of the 1960s, according to scholars, politicians and clergy members.

Religious liberals say their faith compels them to emphasize such issues as poverty, affordable health care and global warming. Disillusionment with the war in Iraq and opposition to Bush administration policies on secret prisons and torture have also fueled the movement. Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility: A Different List Of Moral Issues

Maybe it was just me, but I grew up thinking that God so loved the world, that Jesus loved the little children, and that joy was the manifestation of spirituality. But then something happened, I guess I wasn't watching and I missed the changeover. Now "religion" has come to mean these hard-edged, judge-everybody institutions that, at least to some of us, are just not representative of spirituality or the generosity and that is evident in inspired acts and religious scripture from around the world. Whether it's Christian evangelists or the Taliban, these days it just seems that the concept of religion has come to represent a mean thing.
"As religious people we're offended by the idea that if you're not with the religious right, you're not moral, you're not religious," said Linda Gustitus, who attends Bethesda's River Road Unitarian Church and is a founder of the new Washington Region Religious Campaign Against Torture. "I mean there's a whole universe out there [with views] different from the religious right. . . . People closer to the middle of the political spectrum who are religious want their voices heard."

Well, yes.

Yesterday's New York Times had a story that put some meat on the bones of the Post article.
WASHINGTON, May 22 — An interfaith coalition of clergy members and lay leaders announced a petition drive on Monday aimed at blocking a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill on a vote along party lines last week, and the full Senate is expected to vote on it the week of June 5.

By the end of this week, the site should have an electronic postcard as well, said Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, an organizer of the lobbying effort but not in the coalition.

Among those represented by the coalition are clergy members and groups affiliated with mainline Protestant churches; the Interfaith Alliance; Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism and the National Council of Jewish Women; Sikh groups; and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Clergy Group Aims to Block Gay Marriage Amendment

I think a tide is turning. The religious right worked long and hard to put themselves in the position of power that reached its peak during the Bush years. They got what they wanted, embarrassing the fine name of the USA and all Americans in the process. There are many issues that call for spiritual attention, as these two stories make clear, ranging from torture to the environment to the temptation to declare war against random nations, to greed and its flip-side, poverty. So many issues. It's encouraging to see good-hearted people starting to organize, to provide the moral and spiritual guidance that we need as a country to pull ourselves out of the pit we have fallen into.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What is not clear, according to sociologists and pollsters, is whether the religious left is growing in size as well as activism. Its political impact, including its ability to influence voters and move a legislative agenda, has also yet to be determined.

"I do think the religious left has become more visible and assertive and is attempting to get more organized," said Allen D. Hertzke, a University of Oklahoma political science professor who follows religious movements. "But how big is it? The jury is still out on that."

Conservative Christian activist Gary L. Bauer said the religious left "is getting more media attention" but "it's not clear" that it is getting more organized.

"My reaction is 'Come on in, the water's fine' . . . but I think that when you look at frequent church attenders in America, they tend to be pro-life and support marriage as one man and one woman, and so I think the religious left is going to have a hard time making any significant progress" with those voters, he said."

May 24, 2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unitarian Universalist Association Principles and Purposes

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:

Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;

Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;

Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

The Purposes of the Unitarian Universalist Association

The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.

May 24, 2006 1:57 PM  

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