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April 24, 2009

The Lines, They Are a-Changin'

After decades of eschewing the label "Religious Left," Jim Wallis—founder and editor of the socially liberal Christian magazine and activist community Sojourners—seems to have found peace with the nomenclature.

"I wanted to gauge your interest in the first big mobilization of the Religious Left in the Obama era—a signal of the shift in power dynamics," Wallis states in a new press release promoting an anti-poverty conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend. "This is the Religious Left filling the hole created by the decline of the Religious Right but now we have the political power and ear of the White House—definitely a new trend and a 'first' within this new political era."

Ted Olsen of Christianity Today's Politics Blog points out that this is a clear shift in Sojourner's approach. Wallis has repeatedly said that he does not see himself as part of the "Religious Left," claiming that he is instead seeking to provide a "moral center" for those religious people tired of political posturing of both left and right. On Sojourners' website, Wallis claims, “The alternative to the Religious Right is not the Religious Left. It's time to transcend the old polarities of our public life.”

It appears that Wallis feels that having "the political power and the ear of the White House" justifies the maintaining of the old polarities—at least until his agenda has been adopted by the new administration.  I'm interested in hearing how Mr. Wallis differentiates the current approach of Sojourners and that of the "Religious Right" he has spent several decades decrying.

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Comments

vikingmother


A strong case could be made that both the Left and the Right have their moral blind spots...that is the flaw to overcome.

Currently we have a left leaning almost entirely one party federal government that may target possible human rights violations in the few waterboarding cases
...but they see no problem with the obvious pain one can see a fetus going thru in an ultrasound...and then aborting the child---subjecting it to much more pain than from the ultrasound waves.

People may counter this by pointing out where the right is deficient in defending human rights.

But the goal should be to bring both sides to commit to some basic human rights that will not be chopped down at the whim of the next administration.

Jason Taylor

The right not to be murdered by ones mother is a "human right", Vikingmother.

As far as waterboarding goes, there is reason to fear that it is about political vendetta and not human rights.

The left has still not forgotten "McCarthyism". But has it occured to anyone that treason might be as bad as waterboarding terrorists? And people go on about the Salem Witch Trials, even though in fact if someone really is guilty of enlisting the devils aid against their neighbors they would be very wicked; being angry at witch trials because one disbelieves in witches is not an advance in human rights.

The seriousness of a crime and the propriety of prosecuting someone of it are not the same thing.
And one of the main things that upholds democracy is the faith that ones own faction will not be persecuted for the crime of losing an election. If that is brought into suspicion, how many would take chances?

It is not just a matter of the human rights of terrorists. It is also a matter of the human rights of anyone caught in the way of someones headlong pursuit of malice subliminated as pursuit of righteousness. And the Human Rights of anyone whose lives are indirectly disrupted by the fact that propriety in the transfer of power is put into doubt.

There is an old Roman saying taught to officials when they carried out important business: "Beware lest the Republic fall".

LeeQuod

Jason Taylor wrote: 'The left has still not forgotten "McCarthyism"'.

Jason, I just finished reading a chapter in Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" that dealt with McCarthy and the Left. It's fascinating historical material; right up your alley. Turns out that McCarthyism isn't as clearly a case of right-wing jackbooting as it might appear.

As to Steve's original point, a lot of 20th Century American history would suggest that some religious-and-political groups call for humility and compromise only until they're in power, whereupon the "us vs. them" language powerfully resurfaces.

Jason Taylor

Furthermore Viking, Human rights are also threatened if the State is afraid, through overscrupulousity, to protect it's citizens. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are threatened by sins of omission too. Providing efficient security is not just an objective, it is a duty, one far greater then spreading wealth around, restoring science to it's rightful place, or kowtowing to foreign princes.

The anger at waterboarders however justified will have at least one effect. It will convince officers that the State's wrath can strike down unexpectedly like a lightning bolt from the throne of Zeus. It will make them inefficient and timid at times when they should be neither.

Jason Taylor

I am aware of that LeeQuod. I am also aware that saying the Russians did not in fact have spies in the US, is something of an insult to the competance of the KGB. But that makes my point more relevant not less. The fact that someone may actually be guilty(in both cases) makes the issues more simmilar.

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