Speaking at Netroots Nation
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 06:45:14 PM EST
The annual gathering of progressive political bloggers, Netroots Nation is coming up August 1316 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Conference organizers are beginning to post the agenda.

I have agreed to appear on a panel. But I do not agree with the premises of the panel, "A New Progressive Vision of Church and State, as described. As a matter of fact, that is why I am going.

A New Progressive Vision for Church and State
date and time TBA

The old liberal vision of a total separation of religion from politics has been discredited. Despite growing secularization, a secular progressive majority is still impossible, and a new two-part approach is needed--one that first admits that there is no political wall of separation. Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief. But, when government speaks and acts, messages must be universal. The burden is on religious believers, therefore, to explain public references like "under God" in universal terms. For example, the word "God" can refer to the ceaseless creativity of the universe and the objective validity of human rights. Promoting and accepting religious images as universal will help heal culture-war divisions and promote the formation of a broad-based progressive coalition.

I expect that I will have more to say about this before and after the conference. But in the meantime, here it is for your consideration.




Display:
Well, you have your work cut out for you.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 08:08:16 PM EST

What a wholesale crock of b*s*

Who in their right mind came up with that one?

by RevDeb on Wed Jun 17, 2009 at 06:59:11 PM EST


I, too, wonder who the "progressives" that came up with this are. It sounds more like an insidious kind of hijacking to me. Once you let a "universal" God into politics, the majority God will quickly take over, leaving us with the God of the religious right. Damn, but this is really scary! Give 'em hell, Fred...

by phatkhat on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 01:48:32 AM EST

The very premise "a new two-part approach is needed--one that first admits that there is no political wall of separation. Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief"is so dumb it is not to be believed.

Certainly EVERYONE should be allowed to express their beliefs/ideas/visions, that is what the First Amendment is for. However, once one expresses a religious belief in the political arena it becomes a political idea not a religious one. It is open to criticism and the believer can not hide behind the notion their religion is being attacked when the proposed religious idea is criticized.

Should one be allowed to express their religious belief that homosexuals should be stoned to death and work in the political arena toward that goal and that idea not be severely criticized for advancing such a legal remedy for homosexuals even though it is their sincerely held religious belief?

Separation of Church and State should be absolute. Government should remain neutral in the matter of religion.

And people of faith should not try to get their religious beliefs made into laws.  Look what a mess people of faith got us into with Prohibition.

Look how long it took women to obtain the vote because most religions of the day taught a woman's place was in the home and she could not understand politics.

Religion brought about the Hayes Commission which censored what we could see in movies.

Religion through law kept our businesses closed on Sundays even though Sunday was not a "holy" day for a minority of Americans who possibly wanted to conduct business on Sunday.

The list of "sins" religion has tried to correct in society through law should be a new book for Fred or Rob to write.

If the idea of total separation has been discredited it is because of the lies told by the Right about America being a Christian nation from its founding and because most liberals (read Democrats) have been too cowed to refute these lies.

by JerrySloan on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 01:49:20 AM EST


There seems to be no end to historical revisionism. Given that the political class concentrates on controlling the electorate rather than representing it, it's not surprising they would latch on to religion to further their duplicitousness. dci
off
by lackawack on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 02:19:45 PM EST

This description is very odd, I'm not even sure I know what this panel is going to be about.

The old liberal vision of a total separation of religion from politics has been discredited.

I'm not sure anyone has ever advocated total separation of religion and politics, just church and state.  Most liberals still identify as theists, so I assume that some religious beliefs inform their politics.

Despite growing secularization, a secular progressive majority is still impossible, and a new two-part approach is needed--one that first admits that there is no political wall of separation.

America is becoming more secular, with fewer people saying they belong to any particular religious group and slightly lower church attendance.  A secular progessive majority is not possible because most people in America are not liberals/leftists or secular.  I'm not sure what a "political wall of separation" means.

Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief. But, when government speaks and acts, messages must be universal.

I'm not sure what "without criticism" modifies in the first sentence: the fact that voters shouldn't be criticize for proposing policies based on religious beliefs, or that the policies based on religous beliefs themselves shouldn't be criticized.  In a pluralist democracy, one can propose policies based on their religious beliefs, but one would hope those proposals could be criticized.  One would also hope that when the government speaks or acts, it would do so in a religiously nuetral way.

The burden is on religious believers, therefore, to explain public references like "under God" in universal terms. For example, the word "God" can refer to the ceaseless creativity of the universe and the objective validity of human rights.

This is weird.  "Under God" can't be put into universal terms, since belief in "God" isn't even universal among religious believers (for example, Hindus and most Buddhists).  Most theist who believe in God can't agree amongst themselves on what God really is or wants.  The second second sentence seems to refer to God in a pantheist sense, but I'm not sure.  I don't know if this is some stab at ceremonial deism or civic religion.

Promoting and accepting religious images as universal will help heal culture-war divisions and promote the formation of a broad-based progressive coalition.

I have no idea what this means.  Religious images healing divisions caused by the culture wars?  Are they serious?

Good luck to you, Fred.  You've got your work cut out for you with this panel...

-------------
"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Thu Jun 18, 2009 at 08:06:26 PM EST

This is just the panel description of course. The presentation by Professor Ledewitz is supposed to go for 20 minutes, with the rest of us offering critiques.

In the time I have, I imagine that I will be able to make and develop no more than two or three points.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 11:00:10 AM EST
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