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PostPosted: Sat Dec 25, 2010 11:25 am 
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SirDennis wrote:
Furthermore one could not really understand this topic without looking at how Christianity is viewed from the Left. In the structured Left various and sundry caucuses (caucusii?) -- aka special interests -- have little use for followers of Christ, largely, I believe, due to the impression the "religious right" leaves on anyone with a social conscience.


I don't think this is accurate in the United States. I suppose I'm part of the structured Left in that the Left is where my pro bono work, layperson organizations, political donations, etc., all go -- though I'm feeling a bit out of the Left these days given that I'm not in the country. And from what I've seen, we're generally intelligent enough to distinguish between liberal Christians who support our objectives and the "religious right" (or, as I've called them in moments of frustration, the "religious wrong"). In San Francisco, the left-wing San Francisco Organizing Project was instrumental in the city's successful bid to set up an intra-SF universal health care system, for instance - most of the city's left-wing congregations (including my synagogue) worked side-by-side with the non-religious as part of that organization to get things done. I didn't really encounter any confusion from fellow agnostics/atheists about the fact that the "followers of Christ" were an equal part of our team.

We don't need liberal Christians to do much yelling/soapbox distinguishing from their counterparts on the right. What we need is for Christians who consider themselves on the left to be quietly honest about both their religion and their political beliefs, by working within leftist organizations to achieve leftist political or social objectives (e.g. universal health care, inclusion of all immigrants, etc.) - while being "openly Christian." :P And from what I've seen, many are already doing so.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 10:20 pm 
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ToshoftheWuffingas wrote:
But I am not so much talking about the atheist/believer debate but the apparent neutralising of the progressive voice within the various denominations of Christianity in the US. It was not always so.
I do not understand why that voice is no longer effective and I think it is long overdue that it should be once again. Nor am I particularly interested in finding reason's to dislike the right wing versions of Christianity. That is something well covered already. But how both they and right wing politicians have made them pre-eminent over Christian liberalism is worthy of thought.
How did they do that?

The victory that the conservative elite has won in this country, in a very systematic campaign to reshape the framework of political discourse, going back to the 60s, really is breathtaking. They just set out to do it, and they did it, starting with the establishment of well-funded think tanks, to the domination of the air waves with right wing thinking and coming to ultimate fruition recently in the Supreme Court decision equating corporations with persons. This includes a very clever co-opting of religion for political purposes. It is now widely assumed that to be Christian means one must hold Republican political views.

Right-wingers (I hesitate to use the term 'conservative') seem to have a single-mindedness of purpose and conviction that liberals/progressives lack. I think in the very nature of liberalism there is a certain respect of open-mindedness or diversity of thought that is inherently lacking in a right-wing mindset, which seems to be utterly convinced of its own more narrowly conceived correctness. If you believe that you are the sole purveyor of right, you'll be more ruthless in your actions towards those you consider the enemies of that right. You'd also be more willing to put aside lesser differences and band together for a larger goal.

Why is the progressive voice no longer effective? Because there is such a powerful and monolithic right-wing machine translating every statement into right wing parlance and a right wing, or corporate, perspective before it ever reaches the citizenry for consideration, whether in a religious or secular context.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:57 pm 
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I've always been bemused by the (fundamental) religious right. In terms of being vocal at least they are in the majority and are the better funded. And yet Republicans have far more of a Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' approach to their fellow man, whilst Democrats are more of the 'help thy fellow man and throw the moneylenders out of the temple' approach.

Strange, that.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:19 am 
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This is a fascinating debate.
As an employee of a left-leaning, liberal church (Church of Ireland, Anglican), that allows anyone to become a priest, and to progress to any level of the clerical heirarchy, regardless of gender, sexuality or marital status (all you need are qualifications, experience and ordination), it seems to me that the religious right are not necessarily on the rise, but simply a lot more vocal than the religious left. The opinion of the clergy of the church of Ireland (particularly the farther South you get) is that everyone is welcome to their own beliefs, and that all systems of belief are equally valid. Obviously, Christianity is encouraged, but so is ecumenism. I couldn't count the number of services we've had that have been attended by Methodist, Presbyterian, RC and Orthodox clergy. The central idea behind the gospel spreading side is that people are more likely to be attracted by a tolerant open hand than by an intolerant closed mind. It's working too. At the last census, the number of Anglicans in Ireland had increased in every county, in some places by up to 10%. (2006 census)

The liberal view of Methodism in America is fascinating too. Over here, their general attitude towards alcohol, sex etc. is viewed as fairly conservative. (Though my Uni's Methodist chaplain comes out drinking all the time... In fact they all do except for the RC ones.)

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:38 am 
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Lidless wrote:
I've always been bemused by the (fundamental) religious right. In terms of being vocal at least they are in the majority and are the better funded. And yet Republicans have far more of a Darwinian 'survival of the fittest' approach to their fellow man, whilst Democrats are more of the 'help thy fellow man and throw the moneylenders out of the temple' approach.

Strange, that.


Republican's "survival of the fittest" mentality is entirely one of living with personal responsibility, while democrats are more in line with 'give a man a fish' rather than 'teach a man to fish.'

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:56 pm 
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Way back in 2007 Yov posted the following in the MLK tribute thread:

Quote:
I just saw this article posting in another board and wondered at it's accuracy:

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2269

The Martin Luther King You Don't See on TV


Media Beat (1/4/95)

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."

The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.

What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).

An alert viewer might notice that the chronology jumps from 1965 to 1968. Yet King didn't take a sabbatical near the end of his life. In fact, he was speaking and organizing as diligently as ever.

Almost all of those speeches were filmed or taped. But they're not shown today on TV.

Why?

It's because national news media have never come to terms with what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for during his final years.

In the early 1960s, when King focused his challenge on legalized racial discrimination in the South, most major media were his allies. Network TV and national publications graphically showed the police dogs and bullwhips and cattle prods used against Southern blacks who sought the right to vote or to eat at a public lunch counter.

But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power.

"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."

By 1967, King had also become the country's most prominent opponent of the Vietnam War, and a staunch critic of overall U.S. foreign policy, which he deemed militaristic. In his "Beyond Vietnam" speech delivered at New York's Riverside Church on April 4, 1967 — a year to the day before he was murdered — King called the United States "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."

From Vietnam to South Africa to Latin America, King said, the U.S. was "on the wrong side of a world revolution." King questioned "our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America," and asked why the U.S. was suppressing revolutions "of the shirtless and barefoot people" in the Third World, instead of supporting them.

In foreign policy, King also offered an economic critique, complaining about "capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries."

You haven't heard the "Beyond Vietnam" speech on network news retrospectives, but national media heard it loud and clear back in 1967 — and loudly denounced it. Time magazine called it "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi." The Washington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people."

In his last months, King was organizing the most militant project of his life: the Poor People's Campaign. He crisscrossed the country to assemble "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. Reader's Digest warned of an "insurrection."

King's economic bill of rights called for massive government jobs programs to rebuild America's cities. He saw a crying need to confront a Congress that had demonstrated its "hostility to the poor" — appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."

How familiar that sounds today, more than a quarter-century after King's efforts on behalf of the poor people's mobilization were cut short by an assassin's bullet.

As 1995 gets underway, in this nation of immense wealth, the White House and Congress continue to accept the perpetuation of poverty. And so do most mass media. Perhaps it's no surprise that they tell us little about the last years of Martin Luther King's life.


I thought reposting it here might revive this discussion. As I said elsewhere, although there is a political movement called the Christian Right there is no such thing for the Left. Earlier in this thread Tosh shared a fair description of how the political movement known as "the Christian Right" operates:

Quote:
If you read the second site I gave a link to it seems clear that neo conservative political organisations are behind the splintering of a range of Christian denominations with the aim of destroying their liberal heritage. It isn't just the Methodists.
The process is to form an activist group within each denomination to undermine the leadership. It is part of a planned campaign and each denomination has had the same attack. I believe I call it attack justifiably
It is my humble opinion that this should be both widely known and resisted for the honour of Christianity.


(For the record, though this thread is not really about what the Right is doing, I watched this sort of thing play out in the [oft described as Liberal or Left leaning] United Church of Canada a few years back. Though some ministers left (with chunks of their congregations) for reasons of conscience there was also a very real far-right political urging coming from without the church. For your convenience, here is the link Tosh refers to above: http://old.mediatransparency.org/story.php?storyID=93 )

Imho many (but not all) traditional Leftist ideals are the same ideals that ought to be manifest in Christian thought and deed. Certainly there is a scriptural basis for such ideals; the article Yov shared (above) would indicate that at least one Christian leader, Martin Luther King, thought so too. I should say (again) that I also believe that at the point where Leftist ideals mirror what The Bible says, they cease to be Leftist at all.


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