29 July 2016

Religion at the Democratic National Convention

Over at Religion and Ethics News Weekly, managing editor Kim Lawton presents a "behind the scenes" look at religion and the Democratic National Convention.

As Lawton notes, the Democrats for many years have suffered from a religious deficit of sorts. Many Americans, especially evangelical Christians, consider most Democrats hostile to religion, or at least, religion in the public square.

The year the DNC worked hard to challenge that view. Several interfaith gatherings featured prayers and speakers from diverse religious groups. Workshops focused on mobilizing liberal Christians to get out and vote. Largely overlooked with the mainstream media's obsession with "Religious Right" legislating morality is the existence of a "Religious Left" legislating its own morality.

Hillary Clinton's quote of a traditional Methodist exhortation at the convention sums up liberal Christianity quite well:

“Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.”

Of course, "all the ways you can" means the government.

Liberal or progressive religion emphasizes the what used to be called the social gospel: holding institutional arrangements largely responsible for the debilitating social pathologies that afflict the poor.

The most challenging aspect of changing the anti-religious reputation of the Democratic Party is the christening of  Hillary Clinton "a great Methodist," as one  convention participant called her. Clinton's faith is seen in her values, i.e., progressive politics and not, it almost goes without saying, her personal character.

Clinton demonstrates that the Republican Party owns a monopoly on neither religious faith nor religious hypocrisy.

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