Progressive moral politics

The Rise of the Religious Left: Why the old ‘moral majority’ is crumbling By Jennifer Butler, posted by The Christian Left on Facebook May 27, 2016, medium.comThe religious left, once overshadowed by a better-organized Christian right, is making a surprise comeback. …As religious conservatives remain divided and perplexed by this year’s presidential candidates, progressive faith leaders are surging ahead. As more than 45 million Americans live below the poverty line and nearly 30 million Americans remain uninsured, progressive faith leaders are working to not only save souls but to improve the quality of millions of lives… The new moral majority of religious progressives and conservatives is focused on addressing racial and economic inequalities, welcoming immigrants, ending the death penalty and implementing criminal justice reform… The culture war issues of the old moral majority no longer divide religious communities as strongly as they once did. This has enabled religious progressives and conservatives to unite around a broader agenda.

Faith in social justice By Paul Massari, HDS Communications, May 2, 2014- interview with Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), on a new report from the Brookings Institution:religious voices will remain indispensable to movements on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and middle-class Americans…There is a lot of potential for religiously unaffiliated progressives — especially millennials — to partner with religious institutions and organizations in working for economic justice…The Civil Rights Movement is still a good model for partnership between religious organizations and religiously unaffiliated individuals. Though the report characterizes the movement as an alliance of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, its religious diversity was actually quite a bit broader than that. Religious humanists, secular humanists, Unitarian Universalists, and Muslims also played very important roles in the movement…

The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post, 06/04/2014  Anyone born within the last 50 years would be justified in thinking that Jesus’ teachings and Christian preachings were the exclusive domain of social and fiscal conservatives. The ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s were dominated by Christians with names like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson who leveraged television and radio to make theirs the default religious voice in America….There has been a largely unnoticed but radical movement over the last decade during which the spiritual fire has shifted to more progressive Christians and that has the potential to change both the political and spiritual landscape of America…progressive Christian leaders are speaking out and being heard in their effort to impact the public square. Pastors and priests have spoken out on blocked Medicaid expansions, gun control, and climate change…immigration reform…religious right to perform gay marriagesNet Neutralitychange drug sentencing laws. Groups like Nuns on a Bus, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, The Cana Initiative, Moral Mondays, Faithful America and many others are consistently witnessing to injustice in visible — and reportable — ways. Now, when the mainstream media is looking for a Christian to comment on a story, they have a powerful progressive set of voices to chose from…The way forward is for people of good will of all faiths and no faith to work together on matters that promote the common dignity, respect and well-being of all Americans.

Christians: It’s Time to Break Our Silence on Faith-Based Terrorism By Rev. Brian McLaren, TIME, May 29, 2014 — Six reasons why faith communities should refuse to be enemies.

Moral Monday Sit-In Equates People’s Health with Eco Health by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, June 3, 2014

Faith in social justice by Paul Massari, Harvard Gazette. HDS Communications, May 2, 2014 …a new report from the Brookings Institution that contends that “religious voices will remain indispensable to movements on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and middle-class Americans.”

Why Progressives Can’t Ignore Religion by Mike Lux, AlterNet, February 27, 2012  Wall or no wall, politics and religion have always been inextricably intertwined, and we won’t win until we recognize and deal with that fact. 

U.S. Religious Progressivism ‘Way of the Future’ By Michelle Tullo, Inter Press Service, May 6, 2014 

Milquetoast Liberal Religion Won’t Challenge Conservative Values: A History Lesson By Sheila D. Collins, Religion Dispatches, March 24, 2014

… the rise of secular spirituality in this country, a liberated set of values that exists largely outside organized religion… Religion was hijacked for political gain by the right wing beginning as far back as the Nixon era, yet there is a much stronger current of secular spirituality running through our history.….secular spirituality…Nothing about secular spirituality is radical. Most of its principles are articles of belief for millions of average Americans who have largely been shut out of politics for eight years…Nothing less than spiritual renewal is needed across the board… Obama And the Rise of Secular Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Dave Stewart, Beliefnet.com, January 18, 2009

…Spiritual Left did not, of course, originate with the 60s.…it dates back at least to 1838, when Emerson and other Transcendentalists began their quest for a path “away from the old ‘religions of authority’ into a new ‘religion of the spirit.’”…Rooted deep in the grain of American culture, the Spiritual Left has long acted as the progressive conscience of the nation, championing as it did from its very beginning unpopular causes like abolition and women’s rights…While many in the Spiritual Left are politically active, many others eschew direct participation in the Political Left because it remains locked in a destructive cycle of conflict with the Political Right…Amorphous and anti-authoritarian, the Spiritual Left is perhaps best defined as a borderless association of leaders. Free thinkers and independent seekers of spirituality beyond dogma, its members engage in–and disengage from–political activism as a matter of personal conviction, not ordained groupthink…The Political Left will need to return to the moral high ground of progressive American thought and give voice to the American conscience of compassion if it is to recapture the imagination and heart of its spiritual counterpart. It has to want to change the world for the better, not just get elected… Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden, Huffington Post, March 1, 2010

…the history of the progressive movement has shown us, over and over, that there are things that the spiritual community brings to political movements that are essential for success, and can’t easily be replaced with anything else…abandoning the entire landscape of faith to the right wing amounts to political malpractice…To our credit, a lot of our best organizers and activists are starting to realize the magnitude of this mistake. We’re paying a lot more attention these days to learning to clearly articulate progressive values, to express ourselves in explicitly moral language, and to put forward more strongly progressive frames, narratives, and future visions to counter the bankrupt conservative worldview that’s brought us to this sorry place in history… If we’re going to overwrite their [right wing] brutal and anti-democratic story of how the world works, the most important step we can take is to tap into the vast reach and deep moral authority of our remaining progressive faith communities, and amplify their voices every way we can.…there’s very little agreement about the nature of God — but a very strong consensus that the act of radical community-making is the most intensely holy and essential work that they do… Six Reasons We Can’t Change the Future Without Progressive Religion By Sara Robinson, AlterNet,  July 9, 2012

Susan Jacoby on Secularism and Free Thinking, Moyers and Company, March 1, 2013

Another Word on “God and the Twenty-First Century” by Michael Benedikt, Tikkun, March 5, 2011 It is no longer necessary to invoke the name of God to explain or promote compassionate action. Today we understand we have evolved that capacity…what are commandments? Ways of bringing goodness to life through actions, through deeds…These are the words of three champions of monotheism [Judaism, Christianity, Islam]…But what should followers of these theist traditions think of the good practiced by nonbelievers — people who would say it’s quite unnecessary, and even counterproductive, to bring “God” into ordinary morality, who would offer that morality can and should be understood from an entirely scientific, evolutionary, and historical point of view thus: the capacity for empathy, fairness, and altruism is wired into human beings and even other higher mammals from birth, thanks to millions of generations of reproduction-with-variation under the constraints of natural selection. Similarly, the laws of civility — from the Eightfold Way and the Ten Commandments to the Magna Carta, the Geneva Convention, and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights — are the culturally transmitted legacy of thousands of years of human social evolution overlaid upon older, natural reproductive-selective processes. Whereas laws of civility may once have needed the rhetorical force of God-talk to establish themselves, today they can be embraced rationally in the service of peace and prosperity.

A Values– and Vision-Based Political Dream by Benjamin Mordecai Ben-Baruch, Tikkun, Winter 2011, December 21 2010   We need leaders and organizers to inspire people and communities to act on their values and hopes. We need help articulating our values and vision of the ideal future. Right-wing successes have been achieved by appealing to peoples’ fears, hatreds and prejudices. But the politics of hope is stronger than politics of fear. Imagining our future based on our highest ideals can mobilize us to overcome the paralysis of fear and hatred. The politics of hope is not issue oriented, and people who share the same values and vision often disagree on the issues.…[people] have been misled into believing that their freedom and empowerment resides in “free markets” and that the government is Big Brother and something to fear. They have become paralyzed by their fears. The irrationality of these fears makes us vulnerable to demagoguery. We need to go beyond issue-oriented politics and the politics of fear to a public discourse focused on articulating our vision for the ideal future and what that future would look like. We need a vision of a society without the injustices of poverty and social inequality. We need a dream…Most Americans will understand that the kind of America they want to build is quite different from that of the new Conservatives and the neo-liberals. But we need clarity. We need help articulating our values and vision. We need help exposing the contrary values and vision of the neo-liberals, clericalists, religious Right, and ultra-capitalists. We need to overcome the politics of fear. We need to go beyond issue-oriented politics. (And we need to go way beyond cyclic party and electoral politics.) We need to engage in the revolutionary politics of hope. We need to build a social movement of people inspired and mobilized to act upon hopes and dreams.

“Moral March” Poses Big Questions for Progressives by Ira Chernus, Common Dreams, February 11, 2014  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/11-0

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