Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sen. Obama's Appeal to Faith

Obama: Democrats Must Court Evangelicals

Obama said... "we cannot abandon the field of religious discourse. ... In other words, if we don't reach out to evangelical Christians and other religious Americans and tell them what we stand for, Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons will continue to hold sway."

Obama coupled his advice with a warning. "Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith: the politician who shows up at a black church around election time and claps _ off rhythm _ to the gospel choir."

At the same time, he said, "Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square."

As a result, "I think we make a mistake when we fail to acknowledge the power of faith in the lives of the American people and join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy."

Obama mentioned leaders of the religious right briefly, saying they must "accept some ground rules for collaboration" and recognize the importance of the separation of church and state.



But the right to practice one's religion must be balanced. Just as feminism that ignores men and the gender roles they are forced into (and other roles that they are privileged to have) is incomplete, just as racism is not the “problem” of black folk and must also include whites and mass education, so the right to practice one's religion must be balanced by the right to be FREE of religion. There is no reason why if I need rape counseling or a meal for my child or help with my taxes, I must go to a Baptist, or any, church. There is no reason why as a non-believer I must live under laws that govern the faithful. I have lost something if I feel bombarded by not only religious messages and slogans but religious thinking, rules and condemnation. I dare any atheist or agnostic to be open about his or her lack of faith and walk away unscathed. (In the US.) Atheists are assumed to be devil worshipers and anything else people of faith think they themselves are not--if people of faith are loving and kind, non-believers are hateful and sadistic; if people of faith care about "life," non-believers hate "life"; if people of faith love America, non-believers are traitorous, treasonous, hateful scum. Democracy shouldn't end where faith begins. Sen. Obama is right that religious faith must find a way to reconcile with a "pluralistic democracy." And part of that democracy is secular. Democratic thinking is itself secular. Most faiths urge their followers to believe, among other things, that their group is the most favored by God and other groups are condemned or just on the wrong side of righteousness. Democracy assumes we all have the same rights that should be enforced and honored equally. Faith demands belief in things without any empirical evidence or logic. Democracy depends on empirical evidence and logic. Yes, I do believe there is an inherent lack of logic in religious faith. (So does Sam Harris--see "An Atheist Manifesto" at Truthdig.) I would not believe my husband is Russian without evidence. Religions generally ask one to believe things in spite of physical evidence, in spite of inductive or deductive reasoning. There is also an inherent nosiness, a need to regulate the behavior of others and watch them as your God/god watches the faithful. Who I fuck in private does not wreck my neighbor's life or jeopardize a Midwesterner's salvation or "weaken" the institution of marriage.

And Sen. Obama, if we non-believers are to give people of faith their props, their due, their dignity, we, too, should be allowed ours. I should not have to avoid medical procedures because people of faith believe that conception equals the creation of a soul. My daughter should not have to learn in some abstinence "sex ed" course in school that girls have less libido than boys, who just can't help themselves, and it is up to her to remain virginal and enforce chasteness and purity, for herself and all boys around her, and save herself for the ultimate roles of wife and mother. In a democracy, I should be able to love and share my life with who I want regardless of what some think their Bible says. Allowing religious faith does not equal being ruled by religious faith. I have no interest in living in a theocracy like Iran or Saudi Arabia. I like wearing what clothes I like, driving, voting, using birth control, getting advanced degrees and running my bitchy mouth.


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7 Comments:

Blogger Tim said...

Thanks for that! Yes, it's a shame when someone so openly lowers himself to just flat out pandering. This guy is supposed to be a rising star in the Democratic party--but his suggestion amounts to abandoning a basic principle of liberty. Sorry Senator, no political gain is worth such a compromise.

Keep up the great blogging, and Peace,

Tim

Thu Jun 29, 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger ChasingMoksha said...

Yes, I agree. I may have to borrow your last line. I'm so sick of my bitchy mouth being relegated because it is a bitchy mouth.

Pandering to the right makes me sick!

Fri Jun 30, 12:09:00 AM  
Blogger quakerdave said...

I have real problems with Obama these days, not the least of which is his perchant for pandering. In an earnest effort to sound "balanced," he sunds more and more like a Lieberman-wannbe to me. And that's not what we need.

As a "believer," a person of faith who looks at the world from a leftist perspective, I think that Obama really doesn't understand this group of people very well if he thinks traditional liberal values are going to work with these folks. By definition, evangelical Protestant types look at the world from a very fundamentalist perspective. Which means that a "believer" like me gets left out.

I'm saddened by this. I had such high hopes for him...

Fri Jun 30, 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Doctor B. said...

Excellent piece. You haven't said anything that religious and political libertarians haven't said a million times before, but these days, it needs to be said over and over, until the kinds of people who vote Republican because "they cut taxes" GET IT.

I don't consider Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, et. al. to be "religious fanatics". As far as I can see, they are neither religious or fanatical. Rather, they are crafty, clever power-trippers who know a good racket when they see one. If they thought they could get as much political and financial mileage out of promoting atheism, you'd see them quoting Madalyn Murray O'Hair instead of Leviticus.

Oh yes, our area is just beginning to recover from floods which happened over the last week. For 57 points, how many people are going to start to preach that this disaster was divine retribution for gay marriage?

Fri Jun 30, 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Doctor B. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Fri Jun 30, 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

ditto. i still say the dems do *not* need to move rightward to regain power, but say something different. more and more this reminds me of the colonel aureliano buendia's realization in _one hundred years of solitude_, that liberals and conservatives were not fighting over political programs or ideas, but only over power.

Wed Jul 05, 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger Marj aka Thriver said...

I put up a post (for Marcella's carnival against sexual violence) about verbal and emotional abuse--AND spiritual abuse--related to child sexual abuse. See the judgment and damnation provided by the "woman of faith" mentioned there...she happens to be my mother.

Sat Jul 15, 03:13:00 PM  

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