3 Dirty Words Obama and the Dem Faith Folks Won’t Utter

Building off my last post and piggy-backing on Sarah’s piece about “Obama’s supposed religious dilemma”, I should say that one thing I’ve always found frustrating about Democratic faith outreach efforts is that they’re continually aimed at demonstrating that Dems Aren’t Scary Secularists, They’re Conservative Christians Just Like Everybody Else, Except They Like Feeding Poor People. It’s this reflexive, defensive crouch: please don’t hit me, I’m a Person of Faith™!

To Sarah’s point, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a secular person, and it’s ridiculous that Democrats believe they somehow have to inoculate themselves against that charge. Yes, if you ask voters, they’ll say that they want their politicians to be religious people. I think what that means (admittedly without proof) is that they want to know that their leaders’ moral positions are rooted in something deeper than making it up as they go along. In any case, there’s nothing wrong with pols educating the electorate along the lines of: No, I’m not particularly religious. No, that doesn’t mean I’m an amoral psychopath. Deal.

To my point, though, faith outreach as it has been practiced misrepresents the spectrum of Christian belief. Obama has been eager to play up his evangelical creds while downplaying his connection to the scary scary church of Jeremiah Wright, a.k.a., the United Church of Christ.

It’s almost like it’s dirty filthy nasty to say that you’re a—gasp—liberal Christian, and I don’t mean in that way of being socially conservative but economically liberal way. The fact is that there are millions of Americans who can reconcile belief in Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity with sitting in a pew next to someone who’s gay or lesbian or transgender. Why Democrats and progressives can’t use that as Sarah says, to craft an “American narrative of their own, one that is just as forceful and unapologetic as the right’s,” I do not know.