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Campbell Gibson

Alex,

You know where to dangle the hook...

I enjoyed the articles and have read at least on of the books. This is such a difficult subject that I think we could wrestle with it for a very long time and still not come to any resolution.

Brooke Allen makes some very valid points and the Enlightenment certainly sparked seeds of freedom without which our revolution would have been long in the making. It seems to me that our colonies may have been founded by religion (or the search for religious freedom). This defiance and search for self determination coupled with a healthy dose of unrestrained taxation and a fair amount of Voltaire, Rousseau and others created a full scale revolt. To argue that our colonies were jam packed full of humanists and atheists may be a little strong. That is certainly beside the point. Our Founding Fathers worked to ensure that Americans were free to practice their beliefs and that the government did not prescribe what those beliefs would entail. That is where the current administration and the Christian right is wrong headed in their arguments.

My problem does not come with voters or politicians who bring their religious beliefs into the voting booth or Congress. I think that someone with strong moral, spiritual or philosophical beliefs has the potential to act in a consistent, thoughtful and compassionate manner and really can serve their fellow Americans well. I think of the wonderful progressive leaders who have been driven to public service by their deep religious convictions. Most of the major political movements in US history have serious roots in faith based initiatives (excuse the phrasing).

I think that part of the problem is that conservatives have been allowed to coop religion and act like Christianity is synonymous with Republican. Jim Wallis's book "God's Politics" is an excellent look at how both the Democrats and Republicans get it wrong. He argues that the Republicans stances on the environment, poverty, education, the deficit, war, etc run completely counter to Christ's teachings. He argues that the Democrats get it wrong because we allow them to act so sanctimoniously without pointing out these inconsistencies. His book is really an eye opener on the subject and it should be required reading at the DNC.

Until Democrats and progressives stop bashing people of faith and acting like they are all conservative freaks, we have only ourselves to blame. When you look at some important Democratic voters, such as Blacks, Jews and Hispanics, and realize they are by and large extremely devout, you also understand the potential for further erosion to politicians who reach out and "talk their language". If Democrats want to win, we should use our traditional beliefs and reach out on the commonalities with major religions. Our beliefs such as stewardship of the earth, racial, social and religious tolerance and equality, workers' rights, education, uplifting the poor, etc poll incredibly well with even the most evangelical Christians. Tom Delay may stand up for Terry Schiavo but is not afraid to pack death row and start wars and send America's youth to fight them. Until we point out that BS then we have no one but ourselves to blame.

I would go on longer but am guessing you know where I stand.

thanks starting the dialogue.
cg

Alex Collmer

Campbell,

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I'm actually really looking forward to reading "God's Politics". You're unquestionably right about how out of the mainstream the beliefs of Ben Franklin and the others were. It's interesting that a seemingly disproportionate number of deists and atheists made up the group of founding fathers when compared to the beliefs of the population at the time. I wonder why that was?

ac

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