Friday, July 3, 2009

Religious Left

For decades the Republican Party has attempted to position itself as the "Christian" party. A party that stood for "family values" unlike those "dirty heathen" Democrats. For some odd reason for a long time Democrats pretty much accepted this frame. In effect they ceded moral ground that was just sitting their for the taking. It is certainly not true that Republicans have a monopoly on the Christian vote as has been illustrated in many many elections over the years. So its heartening for me to see some left leaning Christian groups coming together to push for the Democratic agenda.

From, of all places, The Wall Street Journal:

Randy Brinson, a conservative political consultant in Alabama, has been fielding anxious calls for weeks from business interests across the South.

Their concern is massive ad blitz on Christian and country-music stations across 10 states. The ads, funded by a left-leaning coalition, urge support for congressional legislation to curb greenhouse-gas emissions -- by framing the issue as an urgent matter of Biblical morality.

"As our seas rise, crops wither and rivers run dry, God's creation cries out for relief," begins one ad, narrated by an evangelical megachurch pastor. Another opens with a reference to the Gospel of John, slams energy interests for fighting the bill, and concludes: "Please join the faithful in speaking out against the powerful."

Dr. Brinson tells his clients they are right to be worried. Such an aggressive political campaign by the religious left is unexpected, he says, and could prove powerful. "This is the first time I've seen a moderate group of evangelicals come together and do a coordinated campaign," said Dr. Brinson. He is warning clients: "You're going to hear a lot more of this."

Emboldened by what they see as a kindred spirit in the White House, progressive and liberal Christians are stepping up their political activism in a big way.

A religious coalition called the American Values Network spent nearly $200,000 placing the global warming ads. Some political analysts credit the campaign with boosting support for the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which narrowly passed the House last week.

The coalition plans to spend an additional $150,000 in the coming months to enlist pastors in Nevada, Arizona and Colorado to rally support in the pews as climate-change legislation moves through the Senate.

Another left-leaning religious coalition will begin airing scripture-citing radio ads in key congressional districts this weekend, calling for legislation to make health insurance more affordable. The coalition -- which includes Faith in Public Life, Sojourners and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good -- also is distributing an eight-page guide, full of Biblical quotes and health-care statistics, to encourage pastors to raise the issue in sermons.

Democratic lawmakers representing conservative districts say such efforts help them make the case to skeptical constituents that they aren't simply toeing the party line -- or turning into bleeding-heart liberals -- when they support President Barack Obama's calls for health-care and climate-change legislation.

"It's important for people to see that it's not just [Democrats] saying this is important, but people who are coming at it from a moral background," said Rep. Tom Perriello, a freshman Democrat who has come under fire in his rural Virginia district for supporting the climate bill.

I am sure that the timing is just coincidental but you have to admit that with the recent sex scandals involving GOP presidential hopefuls for 2012, these kinds of ads are pretty much right on time.

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