The View from the Hudson
8 Settembre Set 2011 1517 08 settembre 2011

Where is the Religious LEFT?

We have been hearing for decades about the religious right.

It’s almost accepted as gospel (pun intended) that being religious and being conservative are synonymous. But it hasn’t always been this way. And it still isn’t.

Think of the powerful role religious leaders played in the civil rights era. My rabbi’s teacher’s teacher, the sainted Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, famously said about his legendary association with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “When I march in Selma, my feet are praying.”

The 60s and 70s were filled with amazing hippie nuns and ministers and monks protesting the Vietnam War – on religious grounds.

Where are they now? Where are the religious leaders marching for equal right in marriage? Where are the crosses and crescents and stars of David on placards and signs at marches against the wars we are in now?

Where are the hippies sharing God’s Love? Where are the people saying that you can be sane and follow a faith at the same time.

Of course, they are there, in small numbers. In my area, a liberal Christian denomination is fairly active: The Unitarian Universalist Church is known for accepting all comers, even atheists. But for every bumper sticker proclaiming, “Hate is not a family value,” there are literally thousands of anti-Choice ones.

Liberals of faith are certainly not a major factor in America’s political life the way the religious right are. The religious right sway elections and go for the jugular. The religious left politely sit on the sidelines and negotiate and accept and cajole and work with those who don’t agree with them.

Could it be that the religious left associates, by definition, with – people who believe differently than they do … Could it be that the very notion that liberals accept those who don’t agree with them is their downfall?

That thought depresses me, to have a fatal “flaw” like that. After all, how can liberals suddenly become less accepting? It doesn’t compute.

My two cents? Stop being shy about the labels. Reform Jews are known as Liberal Jews in the United Kingdom. But they would never want to rock the boat here.

Let your liberal flag fly. If you believe in healthcare for all on religious grounds, in marriage equality on religious grounds, just say so.


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