The rise of the religious left

by

Reuters reports that the “religious left,” long thought to be too loose a congregation to wield political influence, is beginning to organize in the wake of last year’s election of Donald Trump to the American presidency.

Although not as powerful as the religious right, which has been credited with helping elect Republican presidents and boasts well-known leaders such as Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson, the “religious left” is now slowly coming together as a force in U.S. politics.

This disparate group, traditionally seen as lacking clout, has been propelled into political activism by Trump’s policies on immigration, healthcare and social welfare, according to clergy members, activists and academics. A key test will be how well it will be able to translate its mobilization into votes in the 2018 midterm congressional elections.

The article cites a rise in attendance at religious progressive conferences, seminars, and rallies, and the explosion of faith communities associating themselves with the sanctuary movement to protect and promote the interests of immigrants.

“It’s one of the dirty little secrets of American politics that there has been a religious left all along and it just hasn’t done a good job of organizing,” said J. Patrick Hornbeck II, chairman of the theology department at Fordham University, a Jesuit school in New York. …

But some observers were skeptical that the religious left could equal the religious right politically any time soon.

“It really took decades of activism for the religious right to become the force that it is today,” said Peter Ubertaccio, chairman of the political science department at Stonehill College, a Catholic school outside Boston.

But the power potential of the “religious left” is not negligible. The “Moral Mondays” movement, launched in 2013 by the North Carolina NAACP’s Reverend William Barber, is credited with contributing to last year’s election defeat of Republican Governor Pat McCrory by Democrat Roy Cooper.

Read the article on Reuters. Have you witnessed a surge in progressive religious and political engagement since November’s election?

Featured image: Christ Episcopal Church, Shaker Heights, via Facebook. The Reuters article cited an increase in faith communities involved in sanctuary efforts as evidence of the mobilization of the “religious left.”

Dislike (0)
Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail
Facebooktwitterrss
Br. Richard Edward Helmer, BSG
Guest

The watchword here is "power." That is what seduced the self-proclaimed religious right in this country. Woe betide us on the left if we also are seduced. Remember Jesus' third temptation in the wilderness?

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Philip B. Spivey
Guest
Philip B. Spivey

Having traveled in left-progressive circles most of my life, I can tell you that I hope our future Does Not rest on the ascension of a "left-wing religious movement". Who are these people? They have not self-identified as "left"; that's something the media has attributed to them. Probably more accurately, they would self-identify as "progressives", "liberals or "Democrats", which by the way, are less volatile labels.

The terms 'Left' or 'Left-wing' are freighted bringing to mind the dark and sullen images of Marx, Mao, Stalin and Soviet labor camps. Although every effort has been made by left-wing intellectuals in the late 20th century to free themselves of these ghosts, the old images remain in the public's eye. All this to say that---for purposes of collaboration--- 'a left-wing movement' will never be acceptable to middle America. It would become an opportunity for isolation and sectarianism.

A second and more important reason not to proffer a left religious movement is that 'left' connotes an ideology. Needless to say, we have seen what well meaning leftists have attempted to build since the (one-hundred-year anniversary of) the October 1917 revolution.

Communism/socialism, ideologically, seeks to distribute societal wealth and power and democratize it. However, what this social theory promised, application could not fulfill. The right-wing, on the other hand, ideologically seeks to concentrate power in a very few hands; the right-wing often succeeds.

Regardless of your political leanings, ideology is typically co-opted by a hand-few for personal and political gain; it's less egregious to see the right-wing do it because that is their raison d'etre. It's more egregious to see the left co-opted because---well---they started from a more promising place.

I believe our future is contingent on the idea of a "Moral Center"; a philosophical space and place where all people of good will can gather without owing allegiance to any thing more than a shared moral compass. What does that moral compass look like? Rev. William J. Barber's book, "The Third Reconstruction", points the way. In particular, Rev. Barber examines effective strategies for resistance that educate, train and help protect the resisters and the resistance-movement from external and internal sabotage.

It's time we put our cherished ideologies aside in favor of a Moral Center that exhorts us to--- Do no harm---and---Leave no one behind. Surely, Jesus would get with that.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
James Hughes
Guest

A commitment to Gospel values will make the religious left a formidable and respected force. A commitment to partisan politics can only weaken and divide an already divided electorate. Let's not make that mistake again. I hope the religious left can solidify for the midterm 2018 elections.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
David Richardson
Guest
David Richardson

I am with Stuart. Politics yes, party politics absolutely not.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Stuart Schadt
Guest
Stuart Schadt

I am solidly a part of the religious left but I hope we don't rise in power in the way the religious right has. They rose in power because they proclaimed not the Gospel of Jesus but the gospel of conservative America. And finally, they abandoned all their Gospel principles and supported Donald Trump. I hope we are strong. I hope we are a voice to be heard, a force to be reckoned with, but mostly I hope we don't forget the teachings of Jesus.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
1 2 3
wpDiscuz