The Religious Left’s New Script

Mark Silk reviews Changing the Script over at BeliefNet, or at least mentions it on his way to making a larger point.

Mark’s right, on two counts. First, Changing the Script is not a sufficient platform on which to build a sustainable religious coalition. It’s foundational (maybe even remedial) work meant to set a firm basis for proceeding. So the coalition- or movement-building remains to be done, as Silk points out.

He is also correct, I think, in his speculation that countering Islamophobia provides a plausible rallying point for religious progressives. Faith-filled lefties typically have been forces for tolerance, going back at least to the Civil Rights movement. They will undoubtedly be at the forefront of welcoming Muslims into a new religious establishment, much as Protestants grudgingly made space for Catholics, Jews, and more recently Evangelicals.

Given the recent drift of the GOP, it seems likely that battle will last well past the November elections.

But it’s not just Islamophobia. There are a variety of issues centering around identity and tolerance that will continue to motivate the religious left, such as it is. Immigration reform, for example, especially to the extent that it becomes a coded marker for integrating brown-skinned Spanish speakers into American society. That’s one pretty much everyone agrees on, departing from Jim Wallis and heading to points left. Even some conservatives are on board with it.

A more liminal issue will be extending acceptance of the queer community. Some people will want to put that at the forefront of the agenda, others will not. And of course there is plenty of unfinished business along the lines of racial reconciliation between blacks and whites in this nation. I have to admit, I have no idea how all of that will play out in the coming years.

In any event, if you want to hear more about all this, or about Changing the Script, stop by the Facebook page starting at noon Eastern time on Thursday. We’ll be holding an all-day discussion about the book and anything else you might like to talk about.

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