and remember: act natural

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 24, 2008

The Religious Right is what Lefties call believing Christians during an election year. Believers are generally loathed by the glitterati, but there's votes in them thar hills, and every four years, in order to score higher in the southern states, the Democratic leadership makes tardy and risibly lame attempts at church-going. It always backfires. The news footage of Hillary leaving church with her white-gloved hand clutching a prayer-book is as convincing as the famous shot of the senior George Bush tossing back a beer in that Jersey City tavern. To fake an interest, you need a trace of familiarity with your subject.

The current NCR has one of its seasonal "Me Too!" articles introducing us to the Sojourner's Jim Wallis for the twenty-seventh time and reminding us that government-funded health insurance is a faith issue also. It may be that the notion of a naive cynicism is a contradiction in terms, but there's something almost endearing in the Left's ingenuous willingness to let us watch them assemble the camouflage that is meant to fool us in November.

In the piece in question, the author assures us that "values outreach" used to be monopolized by conservatives, but more recently Lefties are coming to realize that they have values too. By early 2007 progressives turned a corner, we're told, and "the left began to remember its own religious history and recover the language of faith, formerly a hostage of the religious right."

NB: they don't say, "the Left began to recover its faith." They say, "the Left began to recover the language of faith." But if this faith were real, and not simply an election year ploy, they wouldn't speak that way. Genuine belief provides its own language and needs no secondary transfusion to find its voice. Nobody says, "I found Jesus! Now if only someone would coach me in the language of faith ..." What the author means to tell us is that campaign aides have pointed out that, e.g., Martin Luther King was a clergyman, and his biblical adjurations can be revived by candidates even in default of a personal history of religious observance or a concomitant commitment to church-going. With any luck, some of the more benevolent Christians might fall for it. The whole spectacle is like that of a five-year-old dressing up in an adjoining room for the benefit of waiting adults and crying, "Don't look yet!" while she struggles with cape and crown. In each case there'll be tears of disappointment unless we pretend to be taken in. So much effort, after all, went into the costume preparation.

The NCR piece centers on the Left's latest answer to James Dobson, a Pentecostal minister from Brooklyn named Leah Daughtry, founder of the Democratic Party's Faith in Action initiative. The Faith in Action initiative has the goal of preventing you orthodox folks from putting your faith into action, especially in the culture war issues, but Daughtry's prepared to do some Democratic values outreach by reaching out to your values:

"We all agree that we'd like to see fewer abortions. We'd like to see legislation that would help reduce the need for women to make that choice," Daughtry said. But she doesn't want the government making the choice for her parishioners.

Daughtry, who returns some weekends to minister to the members of her church, has moved for the year to Denver, the Democrats' convention city, just up the interstate from Focus on the Family's evangelical stronghold in highly Republican Colorado Springs. "Embracing the cultural diversity," she bought herself cowboy boots and judged donkeys at a stock show.

Cowboy boots. Right. I feel my pro-life dogmatism wobbling already. What about you?

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2008 8:11 PM ET USA

    Leah Daughtry is a Pentecostal? I thought she was on a parish Peace and Justice Commission!

  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2008 6:51 PM ET USA

    I think every issue is a faith based issue. Although pluralists would have us think otherwise.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2008 6:07 PM ET USA

    I'm not sure exactly what ratzinger intends to say, here: he seems to think he is being exhorted to weep for the religious right, rather than to snicker at the fraudulent pols of the religious left. But he is mistaken in implying that the heroic stance of the Catholic bishops shamed the evangelicals intotardily joining the battle against abortion. I was there -- and I remember my dismay when the Catholic bishops were "shamed" by media propaganda asserting "male celibates" had no business speaking against abortion. While the USCC floundered around trying to distance itself from evangelicals while searching for language neutral enough to deflect the press proaborts ("celebrate life!"), God in His Providence roused right-thinking evangelicals into taking public action. They have been great, and I love and thank them for it. If their support has not been unanimous, well, neither has the support of Catholics (consider NCR). God will reward them. Sophia

  • Posted by: - Feb. 25, 2008 12:13 PM ET USA

    Let's not get all weepy about the religious right. For God's sake, talk about cynicism! The majority of so-called pro-lifers in the evangelical sphere didn't even bother to join the movement until Catholics shamed them into it. And a good majority of the Southern Baptist convention still goes along with abortion. So enough already.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 24, 2008 5:04 PM ET USA

    The best thing about this one is your headline. Perfect!