Respecting the Right to Hold Religious Beliefs You Find Offensive (3)
Chip Berlet printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 02:18:00 PM EST

This coming Friday in Chicago the Yearly Kos conference will feature a track of workshops looking at the Religious Right that slipped into the conference schedule. In preparation, I am posting a series of tips and guidelines for challenging the U.S. Political Right. I will be discussing this next one at the panel on "What to do About the Religious Right. Here is the focus of this week's tip:

Be careful to respect people’s  right to hold opinions and religious beliefs that you may find offensive. Everyone has an absolute right to seek redress of their grievances. This is equally true when those grievances are based on religious beliefs. In an open and democratic society, it is important to listen to the grievances of all members of  society and take them seriously, even when we might be vehemently opposed to them. They do not, however, have a right to impose those beliefs on others.

This advice is from a Political Research Associates (PRA) document titled "Ground Rules and Tips for Challenging the Right." There are three sections--Do Your Homework, Stay Cool in Public, and Keep Organizing--each with several suggestions.

Here are the two workshops in which I am a participant:

Is the Religious Right Really Dead?

Aug 3 2007 - 1:00pm - Aug 3 2007 - 2:15pm

Every election cycle--and in between--pundits have declared that the religious right is dead. This roundtable will discuss the current status of the religious right, its power and points of leverage, its strengths and its weaknesses. Looking historically and into the future, what can we expect to be the future of the religious right?

Presenters will include: Chip Berlet, Talk to Action contributor, and Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates; Frederick Clarkson, co-founder, Talk to Action; Susan Thistlethwaite, President, Chicago Theological Seminary   -- and perhaps a surprise guest!

What to do about the Religious Right

Aug 3 2007 - 2:30pm - Aug 3 2007 - 3:45pm

Let's get over it. The religious right will be around for a long, long time. Why is this, and how shall we get our minds around this stubborn political fact? What to do about the Religious Right? The Religious Right is one of the most successful political and religious movements in American history. What should we be doing differently in response?  

Presenters are the same cast as above: Susan Thistlethwaite, Fred Clarkson, and Chip Berlet.

Fred Clarkson has kindly posted all the workshop information.

Several groups that challenge the Religious Right have developed policies for respectful criticism.

Faith in Public Life envisions a country in which diverse religious voices for justice and the common good consistently impact public policy; and those who use religion as a tool of division and exclusion do not dominate public discourse.

The 2004 elections brought a resurgence in religious advocacy for social and economic justice. Yet the Religious Right continued to dominate public discourse on issues of faith -- primarily targeting issues of abortion and homosexuality -- and virtually ignoring issues of justice and the common good.

Our faith traditions share the call to work tirelessly for justice and the common good, to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society. Final justice may come only from God, but we share a call to work toward that goal here and now. As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. famously said, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children! Our shared call to pursue the common good is rooted in our shared humanity and our equality before God, regardless of religious affiliation

A Resource Center For Justice And The Common Good


Here is another example:

DefCon: Campaign to Defend The Constitution. Because The Religious Right Is Wrong

DefCon: Campaign to Defend The Constitution. Because The Religious Right Is Wrong

DefCon is an online grassroots movement combating the growing power of the religious right. We fight for the separation of church and state, individual freedom, scientific progress, pluralism and tolerance, while respecting people of faith and their right to express their beliefs.



And don't forget Talk to Action that has this policy statement:

Talk to Action is a platform for reporting on, learning about, and analyzing and discussing the religious right -- and what to do about it. It is not a forum for discussion, dialog or debate with those who sympathize with or belong to this movement. There is an editorial framework for this site that is different than you will find on other major blog sites, so please read this carefully: We are pro-religious equality and pro-separation of church and state. We are prochoice, and we support gay and lesbian civil rights -- including marriage equality. Therefore, debates about the validity of abortion and gay rights are off topic. We understand that some people who share our general concern about the politics of the Christian Right may not agree on all of these matters. That's fine. Anyone who agrees with the purpose of this site is welcome to participate -- but bearing this in mind. It is our intention to take the conversation forward, and not let it be held back by debating what, in our view are or should be, settled matters of human, civil and constitutional rights. Similarly, religious debates are off topic, especially debates between theism and atheism. Finally, we are nonpartisan. While political discussions are welcome, -- even central to the purpose of this site -- we do not wish the site itself to be a platform that is necessarily for or opposed to any particular party.

So here are four groups, Faith in Public Life, DefCon: Campaign to Defend The Constitution, Talk to Action, and Political Research Associates (where I work) that are struggling to find language to challenge the Religious Right while at the same time respecting a person’s  right to hold opinions and religious beliefs that many of us find offensive. We will' talk about it more at the Yearly Kos workshop.


Ground Rules and Tips for Challenging the Right

Making Distinctions - Seeing Possibilities (1)
Recognize that the Right is a Complex Movement (2)
Respecting the Right to Hold Religious Beliefs You Find Offensive (3)
Decode the Right's Agenda on Your Issue (4a)
Ideology, Frames, and Narratives in Right-Wing Social Movements (4b)
How do Social Movements Gain Political Power? (4c)

Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst, Political Research Associates
The Public Eye: Website of Political Research Associates--- Chip's Blog




Display:
Recognizing that the underlying assumption of this website is "reclaiming citizenship history and faith," you still need to consider the position of many non-believers.

As an American citizen, taxpayer and voter who happens to also be a strong atheist, I respect the right of others to believe in whatever fairy tales they wish. Contrary to popular belief, however, this does not mean that I must respect the fairy tales themselves. The right to hold any given belief and the belief itself are not the same thing at all, although the two are unendingly conflated.

When atheists are accorded the same respect that believers in ludicrous bronze-age hero myths are (including the right to run for the highest office in the land), maybe things will change.



by Len on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 07:41:27 PM EST
On this site, faith, as used in the sub-title, simply means the right to individual conscience, as clearly prescribed in article 6 of the constitution and the first amendment. Atheists, and anyone who shares our concerns are welcome here.

That said, the site guidelines also call for people to treat one another with respect around here. To facilitate this, side-debates between religions; and between religion and no religion are off topic here. Characterizing the beliefs of others as fairy tales or "ludicrous bronze age hero myths" is pretty far from the spirit and the letter of what we clearly intend -- and are franky bannable offenses.  

Atheists are not the only ones who have strong views about the religious views of others,  as you know if you read this site.

Learning how to share information and analysis about the religious right and what to do about it in a respectfulf fashion is part of the purpose of this site. We recognize it is not always easy. We are discussing matters about which people have strong views -- and often even stronger feelings.  Sometimes people also need to learn to get over themselves as well.

That said, people who are unable to participate in a respectful fashion or stay reasonably on topic, eventually find that they are no longer able to post here.

part of showing respect to people on this site, is not to engage in religion baiting.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jul 31, 2007 at 04:14:33 PM EST
Parent



Respect is all well and good if you are truly dealing as equals. But the "'Religious' Right" is a political party that came out of the success of the civil rights movement that took away their open scapegoating of blacks to make up for their own sorry circumstances. Faux religious leaders decided to copy that success by gloming onto Gay's & woman's rights (they are too successful and may be even having too much fun) and the science underlying such progress. To those at the top of this movement it is political in fact but religious in fiction. The promotion of political goals are beyond mainstream religions who are lacking in customers, currently, and they are probably too rich compared to the religious right miserables, too (although Anton Scalia & his Opus Dei-ilk are rich & right wing). At any rate it is not an equal situation and in my view respect is not capable of bringing about a consensus-- this orange can't be compared to a lemon. Those that don't play fair win against those who do and, as in money, the bad drives out the good. dci
off
by lackawack on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 08:20:26 PM EST

is a form of behavior. Avoid shouting over them, or otherwise emoting. If they won't let you get a word in edgewise, just excuse yourself politely, saying that the other person apparently doesn't want a conversation, and you don't want a lecture, so let's call it quits. You should avoid name-calling, avoid expressions like "you people", avoid automatically assuming that they have a political or religious position "X" (eg, not all conservative evangelicals are wanting to bring on the end-times by military intervention in the mideast).

You should behave as if a third, neutral person is watching and judging manners of both parties. Remember, losing your cool and getting rude just perpetuates a stereotype of "Liberals just waiting to take away your Bible". You aren't bound to respect the content of their convictions, but you are bound to respect the other person as a person who has the right to convictions, however mistaken you believe those to be.

by NancyP on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 09:20:21 PM EST

don't think, in direct proportion to the degree of perceived threat. If you don't look and sound (tone, not content) like their stereotype of a Crazed Hellbound Liberal, but look and sound like an average neighbor or fellow congregant, they are more likely to hear what you say, and perhaps think about it.

Yes, it is difficult to be heard by many conservative Christians - the radio/TV preachers and their own pastors foster the concept of personal persecution , as does the intensely individualistic theology. The people who take the persecution trope seriously start out defensive and only get worse. Some of these people are likely unreachable. The less panicked may listen if approached with the behaviors of respect.

by NancyP on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 09:29:24 PM EST
Parent



I always make this distinction:  Respect(and/or tolerance) is directed at people, not their ideas.

It is helpful to remember this especially when in a discussion that could get heated.  Show respect for the person even when they are espousing a despicable point of view.  I had to do this recently when a co-worker of mine who I admire in many respects expressed his opinion that we need to level the entire Middle East and start over.  He also expressed the opinion that we need to scrap the Constitution, bring in martial law and crack down on 'terrorists' because the current method is not working.  These are his opinions even though he is a retired military officer who took an oath to protect and defend the constitution.

I responded with shock and horror and rebutted his positions as best I could at the same time respecting him as a friend.  We continue to be good friends.

by jjengele on Tue Jul 31, 2007 at 01:46:32 PM EST


What I notice, however, in extremely conservative religious broadcasting, is a complete inability to perceive respect. For many in the Christian dominionist subculture, disagreement equals persecution and results in maximum self-congratulation and high-volume howling.

by nogodsnomasters on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 05:03:37 PM EST

If a person wishes to believe anything for themselves from kissing cobras to a simple life of no mechanical gadgets, a life of rigid discipline, or a life of daily group sex, and communal farms. I have no problem with any of it, as long as they do not impose their life on mine.

They can kiss all the cobras they want, but if they want them to be free to roam the neighborhood as well, I have a problem. They can live a life of rigid rules for every waking moment, but if they insist that I follow those rules I have a problem.

One thing that society has not dealt with well at all is in defining just what in society is secular and agree that secular be the default for operating the society. We have done this in a sloppy half hearted way because the problems have mostly not been more than a bit of aggravation, but the sharp edge of that thinking has arrived and we must be less sloppy or lose a free and open society totally.

This web site has worked hard to make a distinction between a Christianity that can live well in a secular society, and one (however unchristian it might actually be) that cannot tolerate the presence, or even knowledge of, any alternative ideas.

The difference is not Theological, but a deep threat to the very nature of Society. If you wish to live among free range cobras there are places to do that, but America is not among them. The same is true for totalitarian government. You are entitled to believe anything, but there is a range of things that you can do acting on your beliefs is restrained, if it adversely affects those who do not share your beliefs.

I would very much like to see a document evolve that could define that. Advocating the overthrow of the American government is already a no-no in some directions, yet there are organizations that have that as their central thesis for years without so much as a comment in the MSM anyway, much less in District Attorneys offices.

However even beyond what should be criminal, if for no other reason than to preserve the non-criminality of all other possibilities, the many shades of gray need to be more generally understood and agreed upon in a more formal matter to preserve against such vigorous border shifting as is the agenda of those who would force everything to their totalitarian agenda.

Everyone has more tolerance for what they agree with than what they don't, so landmarks that anyone could recognize would seem to be in order.

by FreeDem on Wed Aug 01, 2007 at 11:32:15 PM EST


It gives me an idea...
_ _ _

Chip Berlet: Research for Progress - Building Human Rights
by Chip Berlet on Mon Aug 06, 2007 at 07:20:24 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (5 comments)
`Just Go Somewhere Else!': A Cavalier Dismissal Of A Serious Concern
A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
John Dorhauer Puts Christian Right on Notice
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer was a front pager here at Talk to Action years before he was elected General Minister and President of the......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Father Of Falsehoods: Why Ted Cruz's Dad Is Wrong About Prayer In Schools
Many misconceptions abound about the issue of prayer in schools, and some people persist in believing a lot of myths. One of the most......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
A Texas Size Conspiracy
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has recently been indicted by a grand jury for an illegal investment scheme.  He faces felony charges. Word has......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Are the Anti-Planned Parenthood Smear Videos... Investigative Journalism?
I have been glad to see journalism catching up with the anti-Planned Parenthood scam videos. From The Huffington Post to the New England Journal......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Liberty's Latest Ploy: What's Up With The Sanders Invite?
The announcement that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will speak at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Sept. 14 has left a lot of people......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Creeping Christian Rightism in the Democratic Party
The executive director of a DC group with deep roots in the Democratic faith outreach schemes of a decade ago, has a regular column......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Ghosts Over Mississippi
     Clinton, Mississippi is home to historic Mississippi College.  The Southern Baptist school is owned by the state Baptist convention in the Magnolia......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
The Cardinal's Gasbag: Catholic League Leader Rushes To Defend Dolan From AU Criticism
There is a thing called Godwin's Law on the internet. It holds that if an online argument goes on long enough, someone will drag......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Theocratic Politics of Raphael Cruz
"There's a relationship there that's unlike any in American history to my knowledge. We've just never seen anything remotely like this...   I believe......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
An Assassin's Motivation?
On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof quietly sat in the prayer meeting at African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina before he shot......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Christian Right Turns to Nullification to Counter Marriage Equality
Last year in The Public Eye magazine, Rachel Tabachnick and Frank L. Cocozzelli warned of the trend on the religious and political Right toward......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Historian Gerald Horne on Charleston, Church, & Slave Resistance
Professor Gerald Horne of the University of Houston notes the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church was at the center of Black resistance to slavery......
By Chip Berlet (1 comment)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (4 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (1 comment)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (4 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.