Saturday, October 1, 2022

September 30, 2022
Another challenge for the left

    Two or three sermons I have heard recently have emphasized stewardship.  It is an element of religious belief which is important in many ways, notably in the current climate as a way of directing attention outward, toward helping others, rather than inward, focusing on grievance.  Unfortunately, too much of what currently passes for Christianity in the public arena follows the latter path.    
    I’ve noted my puzzlement at the willingness of so many people to follow Trump.  The tendency of many Christians to do so seems even odder, but the explanation may be the same as for others: a rebellion against a culture that no longer reflects their values and beliefs.  As Michael Gerson puts it:, “From one perspective, the Christian embrace of populist politics is understandable. The disorienting flux of American ethical norms and the condescension of progressive elites have incited a defensive reaction among many conservative religious people — a belief that they are outsiders in their own land. . . .They fear their values are under assault by an inexorable modernity, in the form of government, big business, media and academia.”[46]  As I noted on September 23, I think that criticisms of liberal culture are to some degree valid, but have been exaggerated and manipulated by politicians on the right, in this case with aid from some religious leaders.
    Another possible explanation for the support of Trump by some evangelicals is simply that they are political conservatives first, Christians second or, as John Danforth put it, “We have a strong inclination to let our politics determine our faith rather than the other way around.”[47] 
    In any case, following Trump has a price: Gerson refers to “the perverse and dangerous liberties many believers have taken with their own faith. Much of what considers itself Christian America has assumed the symbols and identity of white authoritarian populism — an alliance that is a serious, unfolding threat to liberal democracy.”   
    It might be tempting for those on the left simply to dismiss or denounce religious belief because of its politicization, but that would be a mistake.  As with working families, Democrats need to reconnect to those of faith, and do so with a message of stewardship toward each other, toward future generations and toward the planet. 


46. democracy/?utm_campaign=wp_opinions_pm&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_popns&

47  Faith and Politics (2006), p. 213

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