Jim Wallis Imagines A Loss For the Secular Left

Damn, somebody forgot to send me the memo. I learned from Bill Scher at Huffington Post that, at least according to Jim Wallis, as a member of the secular left I had candidates I didn’t know about. According to Wallis, “In this election, both the Religious Right and the secular Left were defeated, and the voice of the moral center was heard.”

If someone had told me that the secular left had some official candidates, I might have sent a check. Actually, the only candidate I sent a check to this year was Jennifer Granholm. Sure she supported abortion rights and stem cell research and she argued that Republicans must “Stop using religion to divide” but she also said “Jesus is in all of our people, and in serving them we are serving him.” I guess that disqualifies her as a member of the secular left.

Bill Scher, who supports a coalition between the secular and religious left, debunks Wallis:

…the vast majority of new Dem congresspeople are not social conservatives. Media Matters reports: “this incoming crop of Democrats largely agrees on the most contentious social issues of the day: All but two of the 27 challengers support embryonic stem cell research and only five describe themselves as ‘pro-life’ on the issue of abortion.”

Furthermore, all the new Dem senators from “red” states support reproductive freedom, while bright red South Dakota voted down an abortion ban.

It’s foolishly divisive because we can’t isolate fringe fundamentalist religious leaders like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson unless we build a majority coalition of the religious and nonreligious on a set of common principles. Attacking the “secular Left” as having nothing to do with America’s “moral center” is not the way to do that.

Democrats won not by imitating the Republicans in using religion, but by speaking about the real issues. This time people cared more about Iraq and the corruption of the Republicans than about the “moral issues” which some falsely claim decided the 2004 election. While this was no loss for the secular left, the one prominent Democrat who did lose was the one who tried the hardest to play the religion card, Harold Ford.

Separation of Church and State is a fundamental principle upon which this nation was founded, and a fundamental liberal value today. Jim Wallis cannot simultaneously attack the secular left, including raising false claims that there was a defeat for the secular left, while also claiming to be promoting liberalism. Just as I support religious individuals who I share a common view of government with such as Jennifer Granholm and John Kerry, including the necessity of maintaining a strict separation of Church and State, Jim Wallis should realize the folly of attempting to divide the secular and religious left.

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7 Comments

  1. 1
    kj says:

    Ron, I agree. More later, brain isn’t awake.

  2. 2
    janet says:

    “In this election, both the Religious Right and the secular Left were defeated, and the voice of the moral center was heard.”

    I am extremely liberal and proud of it. I am not a part of the “moral center”. There is no such thing as the “secular left”. I do not get this. I am a Christian and I attend church regularly and my friends at church are also left wing liberals. So is my church-involved Mom in Montana.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    janet,

    I don’t care if Wallis wants to refer to the secular left. As with any political label it may be of some use in a column but it also has its limitations. At least when Wallis refers to the “secular left” we konw he isn’t claiming a hostility to religion by the left as conservatives suggest when they use the term. My objection to his column is in taking the term beyond where it makes sense in claiming the election was some sort of loss for the secular left.

  4. 4
    janet says:

    But he is making the assumption that people on the left are not people of faith. His suggestion is that people of faith must only be in the middle or on the right. And he is just wrong.

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:

    He does seem to give that impression here. I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t think there are no people on the left who are people of faith considering that a big theme of his writings seems to be the interrelationship between his religious principles and liberal political beliefs

  6. 6
    kj says:

    This didn’t make sense to me either, glad to see I wasn’t the only one. Thought about exploring the issue but you know, why bother. The spinners are going to spin whatever they want to spin out of last week’s election. I’m just happy the Dems have a majority in Congress and made the command decision to stay happy for at least another week. :-)

    All this breakdown of who is who and what means what is depressing and puts a narrower slant to the perspective. Imo.

  7. 7
    kj says:

    janet said: “But he is making the assumption that people on the left are not people of faith. His suggestion is that people of faith must only be in the middle or on the right. And he is just wrong.”

    Exactly. I expected more from Jim Wallis.

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