Crank Up The Outrage Machine

I know it’s an election year and, because of that, the campaign rhetoric is especially heated. I know that the religious right has a huge propaganda machine and they aren’t afraid to use it. And, I know that, somehow, the idea of compromise has become blasphemy to many Americans on both sides. Which, I also know, is the reason nothing gets done in Washington, most state capitols and even many local government councils and boards. A great example of this is the Wake County School board (scroll down to Diversity controversy for a short history of this sorry tale). In what’s supposed to a non-partisan position that makes sure that every child in the county get the best education possible, they’re too busy playing politics and running for higher office to do the job they were elected to. And, there’s about as much compromise here as in Congress. Much as I would like to lay this at the feet of the Religious Right, I can’t. The Christian Left seems just as invested in playing this game; one in which there are no winners and the people are the losers.

I suppose the Religious Right does bear some responsibility for the current situation. Under leaders like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and James Dobson, they learned that hot button issues can be manipulated to induce fear and that fear can make them money; lots and lots of money. These people sit atop multi-million dollar empires and wage a culture war against everything they think is wrong with America; with the misguided hope of returning to our status as a Christian Nation. There are two problems with this idea:

  1. The United States has never been and is not now a Christian Nation. This was unequivocally stated by one of founding fathers, John Adams, in the Treaty of Tripoli where he wrote “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…” Pretty clear, huh?
  2. Calling the United States a Christian Nation marginalizes almost a quarter of the population. Which not very Christ-like if you ask me.

So, what does all this have to do with the Christian Left? Well, the left in general has begun to adopt the tactics of the Religious Right. Over the past several months, I’ve received quite a few emails about petitions or containing calls to write or phone someone in congress or business about some position they’ve taken or some unjust act that needs addressing. The difference is that these communications from left-wing groups don’t play on fear. For what ever reason, fear isn’t that potent a weapon for the Left. Instead, they rely on outrage. Most of the emails and links I receive are designed to play on my sense of justice in some way. And, until I stepped back and looked at what was happening, it was very effective. The Christian Left is turning into a mirror image of the Religious Right. Don’t think so? One of the Religious Rights first rallying calls was “take back the faith” from the liberals who they felt were perverting it. Now, I see the same words coming from the Christian Left. The longer and harder you fight an enemy, the more like that enemy you become.

I consider myself a member of the Christian Left and grieves me to see a group founded with the best of intentions step away from the tenets of Christ, whom we all, right and left, follow. But, if we don’t want to become our enemy, we need to reconsider our tactics. What will it profit us we gain the world only to lose our souls?