We hear a lot about “The Religious Right.” Perhaps it is time to speak up for “The Religious Left.”

Recently a friend mentioned that she would like her congregation to discuss “the religious left.” She sees local folks from many churches act on behalf of social concerns in a way that would fit a “religious left” description. Indeed, many local folks from a number of faith traditions — Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and others — speak out, write letters to the editor and work diligently on behalf of various peace and social justice concerns. Martha and I have touched base with them at courthouse rallies focused on the Dreamers, Muslim-ban policies, separation of families, gun control, domestic terrorism and health care — social concerns definitely not associated with the “religious right.”

I have toyed with a “religious left” designation for my own involvements. I have never been “far left,” but always at least “center left.” Center-left and center-right citizens can work and talk together. Far right and left are more often associated with violence than with collaboration and dialogue.

My early calls to pastoral ministry were to intercultural and interracial churches. I had pursued my peace studies BA, studied a year in Japan, and had two of three years of seminary training without any vocational focus until immersing in the early 1960s civil rights movement in Boston and North Carolina. While raised in the church, this involvement allowed us to see the church as being relevant in a new and dynamic way. We also became involved in peace movements of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.

In my DN-R Open Forum response to the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally (Sept. 2, 2017: Confederate Nostalgia Is Dangerous”) I mentioned times when my religious left activities brought me into scary contact with white nationalists, the KKK and neo-Nazis — the actual “deplorables” that Hillary tried to warn us about.

Terms like “religious right” and “religious left” suggest convergence of religious faith and political involvement. One does not have to have a progressive religious theology — or even be religious — to hold progressive social concerns; nor does everyone with a progressive theology hold such social views. But just as conservative theology and conservative social concerns tend to go together, so do progressive theology and progressive social concerns. One’s faith motivates such involvement.

From the 1960s until Jerry Falwell Sr. founded the Moral Majority in 1979, society’s view of socially concerned clergy and laity was of people speaking out, braving rejection from their congregations, and sometimes being jailed trying to secure racial civil rights, women’s rights or to end the Vietnam war and nuclear arms race — all concerns of what can be called “the religious left.”

Falwell and others changed that dramatically, to the point that now when socially concerned millennials consider joining a church, synagogue or mosque, they see the religious right as the symbol of religious social involvement. Perhaps it is time to speak up for the religious left.

Bill Faw lives in Rockingham County.

(19) comments

LVW

I'd prefer it if we left religion out of politics, period, right or left.

bishopsboy

Dear LVW, religion influences all aspects of life. How do you realistically propose to leave it out?

LVW

Bb: Recognize that it is a personal choice and should not influence public policy. Surely as someone who denounces socialistic thinking you can appreciate the difference.

bishopsboy

Dear LVW, that is impossible. Judeo-Christian thought has influenced Western Society for thousands of years and has fundamentally shaped everyone's, including your, worldview of what public policy should be. It's irrelevent whether you acknowledge it, LVW, everything you do and everything you think are at least in part a product of Judeo-Christian thought.

newshound

The world is so pleased you and Martha keep in touch with your America-hating socialist friends.

prodigalson

I find it difficult to take the "religious left" seriously when it is their side that comes out in favor of murdering innocent babies while still in their mothers' womb, and more recently, even suggesting that it is morally acceptable to murder babies after they are born. Furthermore, if, as Mr. Faw suggests, the Ku Klux Klan represents the "bucket of deplorables" that Hillary Clinton referenced during her campaign, then I would suggest that she look into the origins of the Ku Klux Klan. It was the Demokkkrat party.

hbdansby

The Democratic Party of the south that you say formed the KKK converted into the Republican Party in the 1960’s forward after the civil rights act was passed. Different name, same culture and world view.

prodigalson

Nice try Mr. Dansby, but no, the Demokkkrat party of today is the same one that supported slavery and the Ku Klux Klan. President Trump has actually made life better for minorities (and everyone else for that matter) by breathing life into our economy and creating jobs. Demokkkrats spread pain and misery wherever they go. Our inner cities, run exclusively by Demokkkrats, are prime examples of that.

bishopsboy

LOL. Not quite, dear hbd. Following the civil rights era, the racists within the Democratic Party largely went underground, rather than joining the Republican Party, and manifested their racism through Big Government programs and policies designed to destroyed black lives through means that segregation, Jim Crow laws, and the KKK never could. Government aid programs initially intended to help black Americans were perverted by racist Democrats to create and perpetuate a dependency subculture plagued by generational poverty, crime, drug abuse, and violence. Once dependency took hold, racist Democrats set low expectations and implemented fearmongering to hold political sway over their victims, ensuring black Americans would never gain equality with whites. Contrary to your assertion, the racists never left the Democrat Party, they just changed tactics. Rather than lynching one black person at a time at their Klan rallies, the Democrats perfected the use of Big Government, dependency, and fearmongering to lynch millions at once.

prodigalson

Well stated, my royal brother! To see evidence of your point, one need look no further than Virginia's current Klansman governor, Ralph "Coonman" Northam, whom the Demokkkrat party refuses to denounce. The truth of the matter is that "Coonman" is simply revealing who Demokkkrats are, and what the Demokkkrat party stands for. This is evil stuff.

LVW

Bb: Wow, that is quite an intricate conspiracy theory. There are a couple of problems with it, however. I will accept the argument that some great society programs did not work as intended. But you claim that this was on purpose! That's crazy talk. Also, there is actually a racist element to your argument: that blacks were just not smart enough to realize that they were being taken advantage of. Tsk tsk. And the lynching metaphor is beyond the pale.

bishopsboy

Dear LVW, complete nonsense. Why do you suppose Democrats work so hard to continue this horrible system? I’ll concede that additional motives such as greed and arrogance played a role in perverting the Great Society programs. But it’s incredulous to believe lifelong racist President Lyndon B. Johnson suddenly experienced a come to Jesus moment causing him to propose the Great Society to help black Americans. It’s much easier to believe he was motivated by locking up a Democratic voting bloc for generations. And what better way to lock up that voting bloc than by forcing dependency upon them? It’s motivated Democrats in black voting districts for decades. This racism, arrogance, and greed are evident in every election. Regarding the alleged racism in my argument, again, nonsense. (BTW, I’m the less racist and greatest advocate for black Americans on this site.) Some black Americans (i.e., Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, Condie Rice) saw through the power play, escaping the new system of Democratic bondage but at the cost of ostracization from the larger black community and denigration by racist Democrats in the MSM. Ask yourself some questions, LVW: Which political party benefits from poverty, crime, drug abuse, and violence in poor black neighborhoods? Which political party depends on black turn out to win elections? Which political party fears the loss of black support? The answer to all those questions is obvious - no conspiracy theories required.

LVW

Bb: Sorry, but you argument still boils down to this: blacks are too clueless to realize that they are being taken advantage of by the Democratic party. In fact, that voting block is secure for Dems because they realize the Republican party doesn't give a d@mn about them.

bishopsboy

No, dear LVW, my argument boils down to most desperate and hopeless people throughout history (regardless of race) generally take the easiest path to survival even if it’s not in their long-term best interest and even if it results in loss of fundamental freedoms. The racists in the Democratic Party knew that and took advantage of their situation to create an entrenched voting bloc whom they could threaten with loss of subsistence benefits if they voted Republican. Thankfully, that is changing as the black middle class grows and as racial relations improve. That is why all the Democratic presidential contenders in 2020 are pandering to blacks regarding reparations and calling Trump supporters white supremacists. The Democrats don’t care about poor blacks anymore than most Republicans do, but they are more than willing to buy their votes with freebies because the Trump economy is improving the quality of black lives which will ultimately destroy the Democrat’s most loyal voting bloc.

LVW

Bb: You think Dem politicians are more diabolical and a whole lot more smart than they really are.

bishopsboy

Dear LVW, I disagree with you about the diabolical part and agree completely about the smart comment. [smile]

hbdansby

The key to avoiding abortions is preventing unwanted pregnancies. The religious right seems to not want to do that, just as the “left” seems not to care about preventing illegal immigration.

prodigalson

Actually, the key to preventing abortion is to foster a culture of love and respect for human life. The Demokkkrat party has no respect for human life.

bishopsboy

Well said, Prince Prodigal.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.