Religious Left backs John Edwards, bloggers

I'm aware that the title of this post contradicts Politico's coverage of the flap over John Edwards' blogger-hires, which reads: "Edwards Blogger Flap Discomforts Religious Left." (Background on flap is HERE and HERE).

To support his assertion, Politico's Ben Smith cites a blog post from a lay Catholic Lawyer on a liberal site, "private conversations," the chair of the "National Democratic Ethnic Leadership Council" (wha?), and finally, waaaaaay down toward the bottom, a "careful" statement from the "Catholic Alliance," actually affirming Edwards' sentiments and decision.

It should be said that Smith's link to Melissa McEwan's blog actually sends you to a post teasing the religious right out from the religious left, connecting with the concerns and confusion that many experience over the diverse nature of American religious groups...

Smith also notes that Edwards' wife sits on the board of Call to Renewal, though that's largely a protestant evangelical group, with some Roman Catholic members.

Melinda Henneberger, in a post on The Huffington Post uses the aforementioned post from the Catholic lawyer to conclude that this incident may "risk the Catholic vote."

Whether one agrees with Marcotte's and McEwan's statements or not, whether one is offended or not, is not so much the issue. The issue is whether a hit-piece from a bigoted partisan on low-level employees is going to drive the public discussion -- and whether it's going to do so without context.

To say that you don't respect Donohue but that he may have a point here is to miss the point. To draw conclusions from individuals who don't represent organizations and to neglect both the provenance of a charge and its motivations is equally irresponsible.

In an effort to get closer to what "the religious left" -- those whose political work has been driven by their religious belief, and who've been at it for a while -- really think about this incident, I made some calls.

The first person I reached was Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice and a leading light in the religious left since before there was such a thing as "the religious left." She was well aware of the incident as she'd penned a letter to the Times (which they declined to publish... printed below) and she was overflowing with commentary on the hype.

She told me that Donohue was a "despicable" character and was deeply troubled that the New York Times found any charge emanating from Donohue and his Catholic League worthy of an article: "It's clearly a political hit from someone who opposes Edwards."

*Special thanks to Tim Simpson at the Christian Alliance for Progress.

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