Voter Mobilization by Religious Progressives
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 06:53:06 PM EST
There was a time, not so long ago, that religious progressives were told by Beltway Insiders to, well, shut-up about matters of sexual and reproductive justice.  A faux religious left had been manufactured that would handle this, thank you very much.  But as it turned out, many of us would not be silenced.  Time went on, and progressives at the historic Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) began to find their voices for reproductive justice as never before, focusing less on Washington-based "God talk" and more on living out their values via organizing and empowerment in the great tradition of religious social justice that was so integral to progressive advances in the 20th century.

The Christian Right has, of course, been very effective in the electoral arena for decades. And this year is unlikely to be an exception.  It is long past time that religious progressives who support reproductive rights, LGTB civil rights, and separation of church and state get better organized. This was one of the main arguments of my 2008 book, Dispatches from the Religious Left.  

And now it seems it is starting to happen.

I can't speak to everything that RCRC is doing, but voter participation has clearly been integrated into their organizing capacity. One result this election eve, is a new short video featuring progressive religious leaders you may never have heard of -- who but deserve a hearing.

all of the hateful rhetoric and shrill denunciations of freedom coming from "Religious" people, this was a refreshing and encouraging thing to view.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that there ARE other liberal Christians - people who wouldn't force their view on anyone, who respected the rights and person of the Other, and who reject proselytizing.  People who care more about how people are treated than about what they believe and think about their responsibility to others (to help, not to take away freedom).

I'm glad you put this up.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:25:56 PM EST

and I'm sure you'll be glad to know that Angela Ferrell-Zabala the RCRC field director who is in the video, is in Florida doing her thing.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Nov 05, 2012 at 08:41:02 PM EST

As one who has stood on the street and in policy arenas as a progressive Christian for all kinds of values including LGBT and reproductive rights, I am about fed up with the reception. Yes - I can get legislation passed. No I cannot get the media to give a damn, give us a hearing, print an Op-Ed, or even interview us in momentous situations. Right now the issue - THE issue - is indeed religious freedom under assault over birth control. But it is OUR freedom, not the religious conservatives' freedom, that is under attack. The institutions providing the coverage are TAX supported. They come under Civil Rights laws of equal accommodation. They want to be exempt so that their non or differently religious employees have only labor market relationships - the right to quit - not moral ones or even basic democratic ones. And they still want our tax dollars. Well. No. The Catholic Bishops are now the new George Wallace. You cannot have federal money and then discriminate against those who provide it. I don't care WHAT you believe - you have no right to use religion as the cover for depriving rights any more than you did depriving people of color of theirs. I am not and never have been silent on these issues, but it is the tree falling in the woods with no one there. If you cannot get heard beyond your immediate circle of friends, then you are not heard. Period. So if we are going to be heard, we must do so by acting together in ways that cannot be ignored. We who believe contraception and abortion are positive moral values have to stand together - sign on letters, demonstrations, Editorial Board meetings - whatever it takes - to make people understand WE ARE THE MAJORITY, and we will NOT take subordinate roles in our democracy.

by Churchlady on Tue Nov 06, 2012 at 12:46:54 PM EST
They threaten the freedom of every person here... women's issues are important but no more important than, for instance, LGBT issues or those of the pagan or atheist communities (or minority issues or disabled issues or...).

Whenever we put one issue above all others, we reduce our effectiveness and in essence tell the others that the persecution and harassment they face isn't as important.

Nobody should have a subordinate role in this democracy.  We have de facto second and third class citizens, and yes, some are de jure (the laws against gay marriage for instance).  There should be no "class" in a democracy.

by ArchaeoBob on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 10:14:04 AM EST

There is a need for individual issue reporting and lobbying, but I have noticed that there is increasing cooperation between progressive "single issue" organizations, to reflect the individual progressive person's tendency to hold progressive opinions on a wide range of issues. Intersectionality, to use the buzz word of the post-2000 progressive lingo.

It is worth pointing out that reproductive issues affect a huge percentage of  the population, women much more so than men due to the bodily autonomy aspect and the historical responsibility of women for any contraceptive effort. Men with common sense and respect for women also "get" reproductive issues. Publicising the difference between parties on this issue had a large effect on election outcome.

by NancyP on Wed Nov 07, 2012 at 12:02:29 PM EST

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