The Christian Left does not seem to be so well-organized or publicized as its right-wing counterparts. Opponents state that this is because it is less numerous. Supporters contend that it is actually more numerous but composed predominantly of persons less willing to voice political views in as forceful a manner as the Christian Right, possibly because of the aggressiveness of the Christian Right. Further, supporters contend that the Christian Left has had relatively little success securing widespread corporate, political, and major media patronage compared to the Right.
The religious left is not the religious right. The left isn’t as organized or assertive. For the most part, it seems to have made its peace with the mishmash of morality under the Democratic umbrella, rallying instead around some core Democratic tenets: protection of, and equality for, the disenfranchised and providing greater opportunity and assistance for the poor.
So what are we going to do about this situation? Are we going to be like we’ve usually been in the past and let the right out organize us? It’s our call.
We think it’s time to rise up people with passion. We’re looking for a core group of people. People who will pray for us on a regular basis, and people who will support us financially on a regular, predictable basis, like every month. We have big plans and It's time to put them into motion. Financial support doesn’t have to be in big amounts, at all. It just needs to come from your heart and be consistent. Please contact us at TCL@TheChristianLeft.org if you would like to be one of these people. Please make the subject, “Core Group.”
If we want to see change, we need to be the change.
-- The Christian Left
 Rise of the Religious Left, By CHARLES M. BLOW, Published: July 2, 2010,. New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/opinion/03blow.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage
We all have certain truth. Each of us brings a little truth, our self- truth to the Table. Our stories are important to each other. As a human family, they can bring about knowledge of our independent need and continual search for greater meanings and goals. At the top of our list rests our deep desire for reconciliation, not victory.
As I reflect on my own life journey and read the wonderful stories and ideas coming from the internet social networks, I am inspired. Look at all the great quotes posted from varieties of both civil and faith based leaders over the centuries. We see a diverse human and spiritual thread that is undeniable in like-mindedness. Only through diversity are we better connected. Through my eyes as a lay person and artist, reading through so many wonderful posts it is like beginning to watch a movie in black and white turn to the innumerable bright colors I love to use when I paint. It is creativity, flowing and beautiful. And if we are looking for opportunities, we can’t miss the fact that a spirit of love from past and present members of our human family is mysteriously and mystically alive within us. Reconciliation knocks on our door.
I have collected some of my own stories and “tips” regarding my journey into nonviolence and nonviolent principals of negotiation and direct action. In my lifetime I have been incredibly blessed to have put these principals into my daily life challenges as well as out in the real world. When we bring truth in love relentlessly without judgment, we are traveling down that “narrow path.” And if negotiations fail and we are committed to direct acts of civil disobedience, things change, people change, hearts change.
As a growing and liberal Christian of 55 years, and speaking from my own journey, to me that new space of change is reconciliation, and it is where Jesus exists to bring us all the joy and peace we struggle for in the gift of life given to us and in a chaotic and hostile world. We are all colorful children of the colorful Creator of the Universe which is love.
Here I have attached several links to short stories and tips or reminders of nonviolent principals that have fueled my passions. These never go out of style, they always yield truth and change and today we fight the good fight in our local communities & states and nationally on many fronts; the poor, the sick, the oppressed, elderly, women and children. We are busy “trickling UP” integrity to our leaders again. These are useful individually or as group studies. I hope you will enjoy any of these links that may strike a chord for where you are on your journey "to LOVE Mercy, to DO Justice and to WALK humbly with God..."
13 Rules for Planning Vigils and Direct Actions https://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=1669942878#!/notes/cindy-hadden/13-rules-for-planning-vigils-and-nonviolent-direct-actions-from-the-writings-spe/10150122888193009
HERE’S A PERSPECTIVE FOR PRO-ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS IN THE VIGIL PROCESS https://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=1669942878#!/notes/cindy-hadden/heres-a-perspective-for-pro-active-participants-in-the-vigil-process/10150122885798009
The Pledge to Nonviolence - written by Martin Luther King, Jr. https://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=1669942878#!/notes/cindy-hadden/the-pledge-to-nonviolence-written-by-martin-luther-king-jr/10150182448523009
Teach Your Children How to Live & Work in the Struggle-The Good Fight Ever Before Us
(My daughter and I learning and using principals together) https://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=10150393911508009
Mel White’s 17 Step Journey into Nonviolence – excellent source for self or study groups! (Mel White led us on this through weekly emails prior to 200 of us meeting with Jerry Falwell in 1999) http://www.soulforce.org/article/530
What the NY decision of marriage means - AND means to me personally – June 25, 2011 https://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&¬e_id=10150391269938009#!/note.php?note_id=10150381161593009
Building Local Soulforce in WA 1998 to 2005 (BUILD YOUR OWN COMMUNITY JUSTICE GROUP) https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1142291572038.19161.1669942878&l=7bd6fe5749
PHOTOS OF PERSONAL LOCAL AND NATIONAL ACTIVISM: This is my FB Photo page. At the bottom is about 20 Albums of Soulforce events/vigils/arrests
(Guest Feature submitted by member of The Christian Left, Cindy Hadden)
In a recent post (“The New Left”, 7/20/11) we issued a declaration that we were going to reclaim the term “Left” and redefine it in terms of who Jesus is and how he calls us to live and reflect his heart. I’d like to add a little background to some popular ideas (and misconceptions) of “the Left”, since the term that we want to reclaim has had quite a convoluted history, and has generated a lot of misunderstanding, for quite a long time. So ........
Ready for a jaunt through some history?
Where did all the “left/right” dichotomy come from in the first place? The terms first showed up (in politics) in France during its Revolution of 1789, when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president's right and supporters of the revolution to his left. The terms went through a history as complex as the politics in France over the next century and more (including the appearance of more nuanced terms such as “center-left” or “extreme right”), but by 1947 historian Robert McIver noted in his book The Web of Government:
“The right is always the party sector associated with the interests of the upper or dominant classes, the left the sector expressive of the lower economic or social classes, and the center that of the middle classes. Historically this criterion seems acceptable. The conservative right has defended entrenched prerogatives, privileges and powers; the left has attacked them. The right has been more favorable to the aristocratic position, to the hierarchy of birth or of wealth; the left has fought for the equalization of advantage or of opportunity, for the claims of the less advantaged. Defense and attack have met, under democratic conditions, not in the name of class but in the name of principle; but the opposing principles have broadly corresponded to the interests of the different classes.”
That ought to sound familiar: it’s pretty much identical to the battle going on today between Left and Right in this country — and it describes perfectly the principles that The Christian Left takes, in line with Christ and the rest of Scripture on defending justice and supporting the less advantaged.
“We’re the ‘left’”. “No, we’re the ‘left’ ...!”
So what should be the problem with that? Well, the problem comes from the competing political and social forces that have wrangled for control over how “the left” (or its professed support of “the people”) ought to be put into practice. Early “liberals” were actually from the middle class, aiming to protect themselves against aristocratic power (and “conservatives” arose to defend aristocratic privilege, in reaction to liberals — hence the idea of “reactionary”); later in the 19th century, socialist groups, at first allied with liberals, broke away when workers and “lower” classes sought more control of their work and political futures, since the middle-class capitalists held most of that control (at least, in the workplace). The very idea of socialism — an economic system, not originally a political one at all — arose from the ideal of the society (“we the people” would be another way of putting that) controlling material wealth and production, in order to promote more equality across society as a whole.
But as you can imagine, all sorts of disagreements about how best to apply that led to the competing political groups I mentioned just above. In the middle and later 19th century, socialism in turn led to the development of communism (a more extreme form, which held that only revolutionary change could bring about an ideally socialist society). Various forms of “socialism” ranged from the more democratic, to the more “statist” or centralized-control versions. Popular unrest over Russia’s involvement in the First World War paved the way for the Bolshevik Revolution, in which the Communist Party seized power (and set the standard for “communism” as involving centralized state control, as separate from socialism as allowing for more democratic elements). The great tragedy of the 20th century, of course, was that autocratic groups so easily seized control in the name of “the people”, but then committed horrific genocides and instituted oppressive regimes in which “the people”, of course, had no control at all.
McCarthy era: no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!
All that, of course, left a deep distaste in the more democratic-capitalist West, and naturally was the source of legitimate fears of “socialist” or “communist” infiltrations into democratic societies, especially in America. (The author of the Pledge of Allegiance, Baptist minister and Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy, ironically was booted from the pulpit in 1891 shortly before the Pledge was published, over his socialist views.) After the Second World War, and with the start of the Cold War — with the Soviet Union now our competing superpower, and an even greater threat — fears of communism and socialism reached fever pitch, climaxing with the McCarthy-era inquisition and “witch hunts” of suspected Communists throughout the U.S.A.
And behold — the image of communism, and of socialism (with few people distinguishing between the two) were fused in American popular understanding as: fiendish plot to destroy Moose and Squirrel! As they pretty much are seen to this day. So on a political level, anyone who identifies with “the Left” is still automatically assumed, by most in this country, to be in league with forces that wanted to impose autocratic, centralized control over all aspects of life, threatening to turn America into the kind of nightmare, totalitarian state that cast such darkness over the world during the 20th century. And because totalitarianism took so many ugly forms during that century, popular thinking also usually doesn’t distinguish between communists, socialists, fascists, Marxists, Maoists, or Nazis: to many people, those are all different names for the same horrors. (See the signs that often sprouted at Tea Party rallies in recent years, for plenty of examples of that!)
What about the “religious left”?
What about the “religious left”? That’s a whole different arena, of course (which may wait for another blog post to look at more deeply). But briefly, since the 19th century, especially during the last half of the 20th century, a whole host of views — ranging from fusions of Christianity and socialism, to “unorthodox” ideas that merge with some of what are often known as “New Age” beliefs, but often also aligning with ideas on the political or social left — have convinced much of conservative Christianity that, well, the “Christian left” doesn’t often have much to do with historic Christianity at all. That’s why, in most references to the “Christian left” in conservative Christian publications, the general perception is that “lefties” are probably not Christians at all.
Okay ... so what about The Christian Left?
So where does that leave our group, The Christian Left? Following Jesus, of course — at least, that’s always been and always will be our stated intent. Politically, we see the overwhelming theme in the Bible to support justice and defend the rights of the poor, the sick, and all the disadvantaged — which is at the original heart of what political groups on “the left” have always advocated. Religiously, we don’t take a doctrinally narrow view (or impose a religious “purity test”, nor exclude anyone from joining us, no matter their views on religion) as some groups on the Right tend to do; but neither do we have a problem with the heart of historic Christianity. Instead, again we want to emphasize the heart and life of Jesus himself, along with the rest of Scripture, as supporting justice equally for all in society (especially the poor, sick, or disadvantaged) — including the biblical insistence that it is most certainly the business of government, not just individuals or churches, to provide for the poor and needy — and we recognize the Bible’s strong call that all who consider themselves Christians “must live as Jesus did” (1 Jn 2.6).
So, to the political Right: sorry, but we are not out to impose fiendish plot to destroy Moose and Squirrel (or otherwise promote centralized, state control)! And to the religious Right: sorry, but we actually love Jesus Christ and want to follow him, as you profess to do also. We just take utterly seriously that walking our talk means applying the Golden Rule in everything, and that, as Scripture emphatically declares, it is government’s business to practice that as well.
To all our readers, then — the next time someone squawks at you over your involvement with something incongruously (as they think) called “The Christian Left”, you’ve got the chance for a little good old American value, freedom of speech, and maybe can educate some people out of misconceptions. You’re in pretty good company when you do that: Jesus is a teacher too, you know.
Sources: you can read a lot more about the histories of Left and Right, and about socialism, communism, and related topics, at these Wikipedia pages:
(Post submitted by featured blogger, Roger Smith, who also blogs at Roger’s Shrubbery.)
We’re proclaiming a new definition of “Leftism.” Frankly, we’re tired of being dismissed by the same old tired clichés about the left. Our definition is based on what Jesus said:
Matthew 7:12 Whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. And a second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.
Who is this man issuing “new” commandments anyway? How dare he do such a thing? Well, we believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, but we realize that not everyone agrees with us on that. Some folks think Jesus was an “enlightened prophet.” That’s fine. Everyone must decide who Jesus is on their own. It’s a personal decision.
Who is my neighbor you ask? Funny you should ask. It’s an old question. Jesus answered it in the parable of the Good Samaritan:
On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
So why do we talk about politics so much? Because so much of what our politicians decide affects how our neighbors live, or die. We can’t stand idly by while politicians serve up injustice to the poor, the sick, the weak, or the oppressed. We’re not going to be the ones in the silk suit who hurry by as we catch the poor old lady's eye, and just for fun, say, “Get a job!” Indeed, some things WILL change if we have anything to say about it.
The Way It Is
By Bruce Hornsby
Standing in line marking time, waiting for the welfare dime
'Cause they can't buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by as he catches the poor ladies' eyes
Just for fun he says "get a job"
That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
Ah, but don't you believe them
They say hey little boy you can't go where the others go
'Cause you don't look like they do
Said hey old man how can you stand to think that way
Did you really think about it before you made the rules
He said, Son
That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
Ah, but don't you believe them
Well they passed a law in '64 to give those who ain't got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don't change another's mind when all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar
That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
Ah, but don't you believe them
Thanks Bruce. We don’t believe them, and we never will.
by: Rev. Zac Bailes and Rev. Mark Sandlin
(The opinions shared here are Zac and Mark's who, other than attending the camp mentioned in the article, are not affiliated with Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America).
Over the Forth of July week, we traveled to Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virgina to attend Peace Camp. Think of it as a multi-generational hippie convention. OK, now throw that idea completely out of your head. While that's the image “Peace Camp” may evoke, it's not what it is about. (OK, ok... a few hippies were there, but still, you are missing the point).
Peace Camp is actually the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America's (BPFNA) Summer Conference. BPFNA is an international organization focused on building “a culture of peace rooted in justice.” We are talking solid, intellectual pursuit of peacemaking rooted in biblical perspectives and pursued with a passion for all people. Hmmmm. Can't help but wonder where that idea came from? Sort of reminds us of that Jesus fellow.
So, anyway, we were having a wonderful and informative time at the Summer Conference, making connections and expanding community with others who are interested and invested in peacemaking when we find out that there is a mole in our midst! Egad! The conference was all a tizzy (yes, we said “all a tizzy”) and we weren't sure if we should even continue on. Ok, not really, but that'd make this curious case much more curious wouldn't it? But alas, we actually were just intrigued and not much more than that. Frankly, most of those attending Peace Camp probably didn't know about it and even more people probably weren't even effected by it.
As for the rest of us, the game was afoot! Our magical mystery mole was providing a welcomed distraction from the dead space between lunch and the next presentation! Oh, thank you Mole Man! We learned that he was blogging for the Institute on Religion & Democracy (IRD) and a quick investigation of the web site gave us a name: “Vinnie 'The Mole' Malone” (OK, again, not really, but how cool would that have been?). His name was Bart Gingerich. Yeah, Bart Gingerich, really.
A quick search of conference registrants also told us that he was not paying to take part in the conference. By our superhuman powers of deduction, we reasoned that he therefor would not have a name tag. The mole was practically in our clutches! Then we realized that we had registered for the conference and even we weren't wearing our name tags. Drat. Foiled again.
Upon further investigation, including speaking with Irving Hall whose presentation was critiqued by Mr. Gingerich, we also learned that IRD was, unfortunately, doing a poor job. With articles like “Anti-Zionism Escalates at BPFNA Conference” and “Liberal Baptists Displace Christ for “Peace” Activism” their coverage not only mislead (we had to being wondering if this was not at least somewhat intentional) and was full of inaccuracies, but it also didn't adequately engage BPFNA. (Specifics on these misrepresentations have been posted by Irving Hall at notinkansas.us)
Mark Tooley, the President of IRD, says of BPFNA, “This Baptist Peace Fellowship surely represents very few mainstream Baptists. But its conference accurately showcased the current obsessions of today’s Religious Left elites.” Tooley also states, “Seemingly, Christ takes a back seat at this event, where the Savior was overshadowed by political advocacy or equated with political liberators like Gandhi.” Tooley’s statements are highly unoriginal and demonstrate a lack of concern for positive collaboration. Had his hidden away reporter actually engaged the community rather than slipping in and out of the conference in secret, he would have found a great diversity of people and perspectives all centering on the biblical mandate for peacemaking. But instead he unartfully wields a large brush, painting with falsehoods and vast generalities. It is unfortunate to say the least.
Sure, Tooley and IRD do what many Right-Wing organizations do – distort and defame. It’s an easy act, and allows for the demonization of your opponent. However, there is no hope for the advancement of relations, let alone the advancement of peace, with that kind of games play. We even made contact with IRD during the conference to invite Mr. Gingerich into conversation in hopes of correcting some of this misrepresentation and to advance our mutual understanding of each other. While they positively acknowledge our request, ultimately, Bart continued hiding behind a computer and avoiding authentic conversation that might have allowed a demonstration of the power of collaboration.
Peace will only happen if we can work together, across the aisle. We may be either extraordinarily crazy or remarkably hopeful, but we believe conservatives and liberals can inch closer together. However, if IRD believes so strongly in their message that they cannot open themselves to conversation then so be it. We are left with yet another example of the ignorance and unwillingness that plagues our common humanity.
So, we close this curious case of the misinformed mole with this thought: genuine relationships and authentic conversations are important in securing the peace to which the Prince of Peace call us all. IRD and Mr. Gingerich demonstrated over and over again a clear lack of interest in authenticity and conversation. It is safe to assume that peace is not truly central in their pursuit. The sometimes lighthearted nature of this article is an acknowledgment of that reality. While we would love the opportunity to engage in a respectful discussion, we recognize that is not their desire. So, we simply ask, in the name of truth, they retract their misrepresentations and apologize to those whom they have misrepresented.
(Zac Bailes blogs for Those Crazy Liberals and Conservatives and Mark Sandlin blogs for The God Article).
"In Christ, every moment, every second is complete. There is NO getting TO God. We are with Him now. The enemy's job is to separate us in our mind and thinking from God. When we believe in that separation the enemy has us. Then we are ever on a journey toward Him rather than the experiencing of Him. That makes the moment where we experience him a high point and everything else a low point. It isa complete defeat, for Christ does not dwell only in the moments we feel Him, He is in the complete fullness of time - filling everything with Himself. He wants us to Invite Him into every second. When we feel ecstasy or the drudgery, in everything we do, He wants to experience it with us, in us and through us.." -- John Michaud
"Church is you, church is every time you feed a hungry mouth, church is when you write a check to help the homeless and outcasts, church is when you allow someone to cry on your shoulder, church is when you forgive those who have harmed you, church is when you love, church is when you put your faith into action, church is acceptance and living your life as Christ did." -- Laz Castillo
Published on Saturday, July 16, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Among those who are mournful and angry about the outcome of this election, doubtful about the integrity of the process, and opposed to the neoconservative agenda are Christians who believe the name of Christ is being pressed into service to market a political agenda impossible to align with the ethics, mission, or character of Jesus. Here are some of the identifying features of that agenda: -- suppression of authentic diversity and debate in the name of “unity” -- fearmongering and secret surveillance in the name of “safety” -- wanton military aggression in the name of “liberation” -- triumphalist rewriting of recent history to justify unprecedented economic imperialism -- use of religious language to persuade a poorly informed public to accept political control by the few -- literalistic and selective use of biblical texts to legitimate that control -- sale of government to big business to consolidate that control -- sloganeering, anti-intellectualism, and oversimplification to forestall reflection, analysis, and debate -- expropriation of public media to insure the success of all the above
Alas, a good number among those cheering the Republican takeover are church-going people who sincerely believe that God has sent us a leader whose purposes are God’s own. Why do they think this? (I’ve asked.) Because he prays. Because he gathers with his cohort to study Scripture. Because he’s “unafraid” to invoke the name of God publicly. Because he opposes abortion. (This from single-issue voters who need look no further.) Because he supports “traditional family values.” Because he appears to believe that America is a Christian nation and as such, a chosen people whose objectives are God’s.
The very public nature of Bush’s religiosity ought to be at least a yellow flag for any believer who remembers Jesus’ admonishment to the Pharisees: "Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). Bush’s “God talked to me” approach to political decision-making needs at least to be submitted to the test Paul sets forth in enumerating the fruits of the Spirit: if an action is truly “Spirit-driven,” it will be marked by “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:23). Moreover we are explicitly reminded that "Not every one who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). So it appears “sincere belief” is subject to a “reality check.”
Sincerity itself is, of course, a manifestly useless and dangerous criterion of rightness. A list of those history has shown to be sincerely and disastrously wrong would require a volume at least the size of the Bible itself. Some of the most sincere people I know are also the most poorly informed. Indeed sincerity often seems to be a handy substitute for rigorous examination of and reflection on the facts at hand.
And I wonder how those on the “Christian Right” whose rallying cry of choice is “family values” read Jesus’ admonishment to the disciples, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Or his answer to the messenger who interrupted him to say his mother and brothers wanted his attention: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers? . . . whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:42). Obviously these startling “hard sayings” need to be read in context. No one claims Jesus was “anti-family,” but neither did he elevate a particular model of family life. Rather he seemed to indicate that there would be circumstances in which people would be called to leave their families, to reconfigure them, to challenge them, and in any case to understand that as members of the Body of Christ, we would have to subordinate our allegiance to all human institutions, including family. Focusing on the family can become idolatry.
Politically, “family values” serves the purposes of Bush’s deeper agenda, all too reminiscent of the National Socialist slogan, “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” (Children, Kitchen, Church) that focused the attention of a compliant population on the domestic sphere as the locus of their proper moral concern while political power was concentrated in the hands of a violent few.
The claim that the election was won by those who voted on the “moral issues” is particularly troubling to those of us who believe in the richness and complexity of the biblical story and of the way it invites us to moral reflection. For many on the “Christian Right,” the “non-negotiable” moral issues in the election were reduced to abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research. Many thoughtful Christians recognize the moral complexity of these issues and the need for careful reflection on the contexts of biblical guidelines invoked in discussion of them. Oversimplification of these issues by members of the far Right (often in complete disregard of their socioeconomic and psychological contexts) has resulted in widespread lack of compassion for those most closely and personally affected. (see Matthew 7:3)
Abortion can hardly be opposed without comparable attention to systems that support people in a wide range of desperate situations for whom the decision is hardly abstract or ideological, but economic, relational, and radically personal. As to gay marriage, a colleague of mine put it best when she pointed out that Christians disposed to oppose it most vocally were generally those whom it was least likely to affect in any direct way. "Why don´t we spend our time on the temptations--if that’s what they are--that we ourselves are most prone to rather than adjudicating the behavior of those whose needs and longings we can’t know or experience?” she asked. To which I can only add, Amen.
Stem cell research, like abortion, is not a simple issue, and we need to be vigilant indeed about the uses to which human lives and bodies are put in the name of science. As with abortion, it does raise significant moral and medical questions and we need ethicists who have done their biological homework to serve as guardians over the processes by which stem cells are collected and used. Nor do I think we should simply “leave it to the experts.” But those of us who aren’t experts have some homework of our own to do before presuming to pronounce with the utter certainty of vocal representatives of the “Christian Right” that efforts to determine the healing potential of stem cells are evil.
Most troubling of all, of course, is the fact that so many seem to restrict their concept of morality to personal actions. Where is the moral concern for the underfunding of services to the poorest among us, or stewardship of the natural world that has been put into our keeping? How can we overlook the moral obscenity that is war? Especially a war based on lies that has laid waste to the land and infrastructure of Iraq, killed well over 100,000 innocent civilians, and brutalized the psyches of our own troops as they brutalize their victims in the name of security.
As a Christian teaching at a Christian college, wife of a Christian pastor, I am appalled at the irresponsibility, ignorance, and self-righteous posture of those on the “Christian Right” who support these atrocities. I am deeply grateful for progressive Christians like the editors of Christian Century (christiancentury.org) and Sojourners (sojo.net), congregations that have rallied against war and weapons build-up, organizations like the Mennonite Central Committee (mcc.org), the American Friends’ Service Committee (afsc.org), Pax Christi (paxchristi.org) and Church Folks for a Better America (cfba.info) who offer an alternative political vision to people of faith.
Many on the “Christian Right” are fond of posing the question “WWJD?-- What would Jesus do?” I’d like to remind them what Jesus DID do: he cared for the poor. He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery. He prayed alone. He commanded us to love our enemies. He preached peace. He ate, drank, and lived with “tax collectors and sinners”—the lowlifes and outcasts of his day—while reserving his condemnation for the religious leaders who from a place of privilege imposed their legalism and literalism on the people they were responsible for leading. He told his disciples not to oppose the healing work of those outside the ranks of his followers. And again and again he reminded us to care for the poor. (That moral issue gets more air time than any other in the gospels: 1 verse in 9.) If Christians concerned about how to respond to the grave global issues facing us all were to reread the Gospels for guidance, I think we’d find some pretty clear indications there about what Jesus would do. And what he wouldn’t. (One of the few bumper stickers I’ve been tempted to affix to my still undecorated car in recent months reads “Who would Jesus bomb?”)
Whatever Jesus would do, given what he did do, and has promised he will do, I don’t think it looks much like what the insulated, self-congratulatory Fox News fans on the “Christian Right” are doing.
Marilyn McEntyre is a Professor of English at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California. Her website can be found here.
© 2005 Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
The historical, Biblically documented teachings of Jesus Christ clearly show that Jesus is a Liberal. His philosophy, based in compassion, equality, inclusion, forgiveness, tolerance, peace and - most importantly - love, is 100% Liberal.
For 30 years we have seen the growing domination of the radical right wing evangelicals on TV, on the radio and in the news, newspapers and magazines and in politics - claiming to own a virtual monopoly on Jesus. They have redefined what He meant and used His name to advance their radical right wing social, business, governmental, political and military agenda - or as President George W. Bush called it their just and righteous Crusade. We strongly object and disagree.
We reject the radical right wing Republican evangelicals' claims that they alone represent the will, expression and blessing of Jesus Christ. We believe it is high time someone stand up for the Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant and Independent thinking majority's position that any plain reading of His words, any genuine interpretation of His intent, outline a Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant, and Loving world view.
Why is Jesus a Liberal?
Webster's dictionary defines a Liberal as one who is open minded, not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways. Jesus was a pluralist Liberal who taught that one need not conform to strict and orthodox views of God, religion, and life. He rejected greed, violence, the glorification of power, the amassing of wealth without social balance, and the personal judging of others, their lifestyles and beliefs.
Over and over again, He taught us to believe in and live a spiritual and ethical life based in our essential, inherent goodness. What Jesus promoted was succinct set of spiritual principals and a way of life based upon the of love, compassion, tolerance, and a strong belief in the importance in giving and of generosity to those in need.
While not Biblical scholars, our common sense understanding of His lessons as philosophically and politically Liberal is founded upon Jesus' own words (see quotes below), modern interpretations of Theology, and in the positive, loving and compassionate application of His teachings - from the many early Saints to Mother Theresa.
Certainly, Jesus brought a radically Liberal theology to the Orthodox believers of his time. Jesus IS a Liberal even today because now more than ever, His principals align with the very core of Liberal Beliefs.
Biblical Quotes Supporting the Belief that Jesus Is A Liberal
Peacemaking, not War Making: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. [Matthew 5:9] Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. [Matthew 5:39] I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; [Matthew 5:44]
The Death Penalty: Thou shalt not kill [Matthew 5:21]
Crime and Punishment: If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to cast a stone at her. [John 8:7] Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. [Matthew 7:1 & 2.]
Justice: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. [Matthew 5:6] Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy [Matthew 5:7] But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. [Matthew 6:15]
Corporate Greed and the Religion of Wealth: In the temple courts [Jesus] found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and other sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. [John 2:14 & 15.] Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. [Luke 12.15.] Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 19:23] You cannot serve both God and Money. [Matthew 6:24.]
Paying Taxes & Separation of Church & State: Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. [Matthew 22:21]
Community: Love your neighbor as yourself. .[Matthew 22:39] So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you. [Matthew 7:12.] If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. [Matthew 19:21]
Equality & Social Programs: But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just. [Luke 14:13 &14.]
Public Prayer & Displays of Faith: And when thou pray, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret… [Matthew 6:6 & 7]
Strict Enforcement of Religious Laws: If any of you has a son or a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? [Matthew 12:11] The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. [Mark 2:27.]
Individuality & Personal Spiritual Experience: Ye are the light of the world. [Matthew 5:14]
I bet you think of him as a nice, clean, long-haired Republican; Nah, he'd be all locked up in Guantanamo Bay if he were alive today; He'd be a revolutionary wanted by the CIA; I picture him in all the wrong places, finding diamonds in the dirt; Star of David tattoo and a Che t-shirt; Jesus was a left-wing radical Jew; Murdered by people like you (and me).
The above was reproduced from the now seemingly abandoned website, Jesus Is A Liberal. We tried to contact the owner using the e-mail provided but our e-mails were returned as undeliverable.
The painting of Jesus used above is called "Mystical Jesus," by artist Tahnja. Prints can be purchased here.
Washing someone's feet in bible times was like cleaning someone else's toilet in modern times. What would you do if you knew that the President was coming to your home to clean your toilet? Eeeek. Exactly!
As we listen to the Religious Right tout their purity, cling to the righteousness of their cause and inform the rest of us that they are the ones representing the Bible, read what Jesus did and compare the two. (words in blue are my comments)
"Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, 'Master, you wash my feet?' (or Master, you wash my toilet?)"
Jesus answered, 'You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.' Peter persisted, 'You're not going to wash my feet - ever!" (or You're not going to clean my toilet - ever!)"
Jesus said, 'If I don't wash you, you can't be part of what I'm doing.'
"'Master!' said Peter, 'Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!' (or Not only my toilet, clean my floor, wash my dishes)
This goes beyond political views. The point is if we are going to hold up signs and slogans that label us as Christians, we better be prepared to act in a way that represents the Christ that we follow.
"You address me as Teacher and Master, and rightly so. That is what I am. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each others' feet. I've laid down a pattern for you. What I've done, you do. I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it - and live a blessed life."
The “unemployment rate” is false. It’s much, much larger than the numbers say. Tens of thousands have dropped off the books but still aren’t working or are underemployed. American disposable consumer income is dismal. Our politicians don’t represent us anymore. They’re basically corporate agents. The American manufacturing / industrial / jobs base is completely gutted and exported. Mass swaths of people are suffering in silence. Let’s quit kidding ourselves. This is a Depression. And it’s not the Left’s fault. It’s the Right’s fault. Period. Now what are we going to do about it?
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.