Dems get religion...

There goes that liberal New York Times carving out a prime spot on the Op-Ed page for a right-wing think-tank to launch an attack on Democrats.

Ari Melber hits the irony on the head: "It may sound absurd to spend December whining that liberals are too secular and start January complaining they’re too religious, but that is exactly what conservative writer Joseph Loconte did in a New York Times op-ed this week."

Before pointing out that Loconte himself has been a foot soldier in the "War on Christmas" idiocy, Melber distinguishes between legitimate use of religion by Dems to anchor policies in the moral foundations of the Bible and misuse of religion like "using taxpayer money to promote religion, pressuring schools to teach creationism and lying about bible banning to scare voters."

Rabbi Michael Lerner, whose Network of Spiritual Progressives was referred to in Loconte's piece, notes that this is likely to be the first of many attacks as "A major source of the political Right’s success in the past several decades has been based on its ability to corner the market on spiritual and religious issues. The Religious Right correctly understood that there is a deep spiritual crisis in the lives of many Americans..." (full disclosure: I was employed at Tikkun, edited by Rabbi Lerner).

Lerner also lists a number of distortions in Loconte's piece from the incidental ("Jim Wallis was not an organizer of the Berkeley conference to which he refers, but was one of the speakers at it") to the integral ("The fact that we had one of our fifty workshops specifically addressed to 'spiritual but not religious' people is singled out by Loconte in the article... as a way of signaling that we are not really religious at all. This is simply false. We are a movement of people some of whom fit into traditional religious communities, some of whom are struggling to change those communities to make them more spiritually alive, and some of whom are not part of those communities but nevertheless recognize that the empiricist/materialist account of the universe is inadequate and misses a fundamental dimension of reality").

Getting back to the electoral nitty gritty, Melber writes: "Both parties know that in 2004, the level of Americans’ religious observance determined their votes more than income, age or gender (according to the Pew Research Center). Looking towards the 2006 campaigns, if Democrats offer voters genuine thoughts on faith and God -- without the Religious Right’s hypocrisy or the Bush Administration’s constitutional violations – this could be the year to restore honesty in Congress and humility in political discussions of religion." (HuffPost, Tikkun)

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