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I've heard a lot of people over the last few years talk about the need for Democrats to start speaking to Christian conservatives and reaching out to them. What I've heard in response is either a blatant pandering to the right on social issues like gay marriage and abortion form conservative Democrats or Dems without a spine, or Democrats who cynically create rhetoric like John Kerry who now talks about "driving the money changers out of the temple of democracy," when talking about corruption in government, referencing Jesus' call to rid synagogues of money changers.

Democrats do not need to follow either of these paths. Religious voters, whether they be Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other faith, tend to hold the same basic moral values about how society is set up, what is right and wrong, and how we should act toward others. The remarkable similarity between the major faiths is even more remarkable when you consider that liberalism is not just compatible with these basic moral principles of faith; in fact, liberalism's entire philosophy stems from core religious moral principles.

1) "Do to others as you would have them do to you." - Luke 6:31. The golden rule is a very simple concept, one rooted deep in our moral guide as human beings. Liberals believe in the Golden Rule, conservatives don't. Liberalism is founded on the principles of tolerance and mutual respect. Jesus believed wholeheartedly in this principle and conservatives have completely rejected this very important idea, tolerate others, don't discriminate, respect others. The shameful attacks on immigrants, gay marriage, and women who have abortions by conservatives demonstrates that the conservatism is out of step with mainstream religious values.

2) "Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?" - Malachi 2:10. We are all created equal in the eyes of God. Religions of all faiths believe in the absolute equality of humanity. Non human being is worth more value than any other. This firm belief in equality is an important value to liberalism and we cherish the idea that "all men are created equal." Conservatism, unfortunately, does not believe we are all equal, and they have made a business out of division, inequality, and entrenched status. Conservative policies further divide people based on class, income, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, and ideology. Christians and liberals are lockstep on this idea of equality.

3) No one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common." - Acts 4:32. All religions believe that community is far more important than ownership. Liberals too believe that we live in a community, that we must share our resources for the betterment of all, that we must regard certain activities as the duties of the commons, not the individual. Our environment is a shared resource. Our health is a shared resource. Our intellectual capital is a shared resource. And therefore, liberals believe in the moral principle of community, leading us to support universal health care, universal, world-class education, and a strong commitment to preserve the environment. Conservatives believe in private ownership and give the finger to the idea of communal life.

4) "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 5:3. The commitment to ending poverty, to helping those that are less fortunate, is a religious and moral principle in which liberals deeply believe. Conservatives take the opposite view, rewarding greed and wealth, instead of hard work and struggle.

5) "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." - Mattew 5:9. The power of peace and love over war and hate is not a liberal hippie fantasy but a real religious virtue. Using diplomacy, alliances, and global unity to overcome global challenges is both smarter policy and better in keeping with the commitment to peace that God has commanded. Conservatives who deride diplomacy as weak on defense, do so in opposition to the teachings of Jesus.

So, there you have it. Tolerance, equality, community, charity, and peace. Five values which form the core of all religious faiths and the foundation of liberalism. Conservatives believes in bigotry, division, privatization, greed, and hate. These are not deep moral principles and Christian conservatives can find a home in the Democratic party far more appealing that a Republican party that rejects the teachings of Jesus Christ. We need to start talking about our values as Democrats and people will understand that our faith is just as profound as theirs, and a lot more in sync with religious principles.


Liz Fossett said...

i think maybe you should write some speeches adam (say for john kerry...). you have that 5 point thing down!

very good.

OrSkolnik said...

Adam, I agree, but let's face it-- you and I can't really talk about how we should be following the teachings of Jesus without sounding ridiculous. And I've tried to before; I really do sound silly.

Pam said...

Oh my goodness.

I love your conclusions, but your premises I disagree wholeheartedly with. Sorry. I could sit here and pick a thousand holes in them.... Sorry again, and I won't. But it reads more like someone trying to convince himself that Democratic values are in line with religious values than a strong argument that Democratic values *are* religious values (I don't believe any political party can [or should] fairly represent [a] religion, but I also don't believe religion should matter [as much as it does]. So paint me European.)

If I can suggest one book for everyone to read or at least skim, I would suggest George Lakoff's Moral politics : what conservatives know that liberals don't (at Lauinger Library!) Quote from an Amazon reviewer: "In this book George Lakoff applies insights from contemporary cognitive science and the study of metaphor in an effort to explain why conservatives and liberals think as they do, why their positions on certain issues seem inconsistent with their positions on other issues, and why debates between the two always seem to generate more heat than light."

He postulates that conservatives follow a political Strict Father worldview (even if that's not the way their lives are set up), whereas liberals follow a Nurturing Parent worldview. Strict Father government: protects you when you're very very young (abortion, NCLB), but once you're out in the world, you're expected to make your own way and not always rely on your father (healthcare, social security), punishes you when you're bad (death penalty). You're expected to bow to the strict father's will and he isn't expected to listen to you -- in fact, for him to listen to his kid, even his grown kid, would be a complete reversal of roles. Father knows best; don't question him.

Liberals, on the other hand, are completely different -- their government is more like a Nurturing Parent moral model and paragon of interaction. Gender-neutral, actually listens to its kids, expects them to have important things to say no matter what age they are and even expects them to question. It's a long-term relationship so you never get cut off and there's always help available. But it can easily stray into wanting to run your entire life for you.

That's the very condensed premise of the book, anyway -- I'm sure conservatives would disagree with his ideas and his conclusions, but I found the framework he puts forward incredibly useful in determining how a Republican worldview could possibly hang together.

OrSkolnik said...

George Lakoff is, as many already know, my hero.

Jenna L said...

"Conservatives believes in bigotry, division, privatization, greed, and hate. "

C'mon Adam.