February 15, 2007

Obligatory Post on the Edwards Bloggers

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 11:26 pm

I honestly don’t know of a single left-of-center political blog that hasn’t posted on the Marcotte/McEwan/Donohue/Edwards affair. Most left-of-center Christian blogs have posted at least once on it, if not several times. But not me. Until now.

(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go to technorati.com, search for “marcotte mcewan” and click on any link that comes up. Forgive me if I don’t bother with links in this post — there are so many good posts to link to, I can’t begin to do justice to them all, so I’m just going to write.)

Every time I started writing a post about this saga, I ended up spending my time reading other bloggers’ posts about it, until I wasn’t sure how I felt about it anymore. Or I no longer agreed with what I had just written. Either way, I wasn’t able to actually post about it myself.

Now that it has played out, presumably, to its end, and everyone has written their fill, I can finally write something about it without getting distracted. Of course, I’m way behind everyone else, but then I’m always way behind everyone else. If you’re still reading this blog, then you’ve accepted that fact, so I feel no need to apologize. Let me just say that, if I have a fault, it’s that I have to think (well, maybe over-think) through something before I can write about it. So sue me.

Why has this whole sorry affair attracted so much blog ink? Well, it’s about blogging, and bloggers, and divisive politics, the Christian right (of the worst sort), religious taboos, sex (kind of), and how we feel about public discourse of religion. It’s an ambiguous morality tale where all sides are right, but all sides are also wrong. In short, it’s perfect for blogging.

(Except for me, because of the aforementioned personality quirk.)

Bill Donohue is a reprehensible bigot — let me get that out first, lest anyone misconstrue where my sympathies lie. The idea that Catholics, or Christians in general, should aggressively defend themselves against anti-Christian speech (real or imagined) by getting people fired, yelling on cable news shows or mounting PR battles is entirely unbiblical and unChristian. “Blessed are the meek.” Sound like Bill Donohue to you? Me neither. “Turn the other cheek.” “They will know you by your love.” “Love your enemies.” Donohue has been so entirely co-opted by our divisive political culture that he is the poster child for how not to act like Christ. He is the anti-evangelist. Any unchurched person seeing him on television would decide that Jesus teaches us to be a bully, running around screaming at people we don’t like. He’s the anti-evangelist, losing souls for Christ.

On the other hand, I like the secular liberal blogosphere. I’ve occasionally read posts on Shakespeare’s Sister and Pandagon when linked to from some of the blogs I regularly read, and always found them interesting, intelligent and pretty funny. But, there is a definite anti-Christian thread through much of the left half of the blogosphere. Just think of Markos, Kevin Drum, Atrios, etc etc. — atheists, or at least agnostics, all. They’re not anti-religious (although many of their commenters are) but they talk about Christians, even liberal Christians, as though they have just discovered the platypus. We look funny, they’re not sure what all our appendages are for, or why we’re here, but they’re happy to let us go on doing whatever it is we do.

As you go deeper into the liberal blogosphere, however, the presumption arises that anyone enlightened, intelligent and reality-based enough to be a liberal must also be an atheist. The corollary to this is that anyone superstitious enough to be Christian must also be a whackjob. And unfortunately, the Christian right gives them plenty of evidence that this is the case. The distinction between a progressive, dare I say intelligent, Christianity and fundamentalism is lost on them.

Maybe just one link. Faithful Progressive has asked for respect from the liberal bloggers:

I’d like to see blogs move away from offensive Howard Stern like comments about religion. Maybe some of the big blogs will now pledge to at least limit such profane nonsense from both their posts and comments? Is that really too much to ask for a constituency that is, in all likelihood, bigger than the Netroots?

It would be great if bloggers complied with FP’s request. But I have a different view. We are not a constituency that has to be courted and cultivated to earn our votes and support. We aren’t about earning respect, or not directly anyway. If we are to be prophetic voices, then we will say and do what we are called to do regardless of any respect or lack thereof. We aren’t in this to be welcomed on the Democrats’ team, praised, appreciated or loved. Sure, it would be nice, but if the early Christians held on to their witness in the face of the Roman lions, surely we can stand up in the face of snarky comments about the virgin Mary.

So I figure we should let the blogosphere be the blogosphere, but just make sure we add our voices to the conversation. If we are good at proclaiming our message via our blogs, it will get through, people’s minds will be changed, we will have an impact on the national conversation and our leaders and their policies will reflect that. But more importantly, we will be doing what we are called to do.

In the meantime, though, I wish Bill Donohue would shut the f*** up.


  1. The blogger for Shakespeare’s Sister denies that she is bigoted against religion (she mentions in her blog that her parents are Lutherans.) She herself is not religious, and I personally think there is an undercurrent of contempt for faith that does seep through some of her posts. It isn’t overt, but I think it is there in small does. More unfortunately, some of commenters in her blog are overtly hostile to religion.

    I think she is a fairly mainstream liberal, and her blogger attracts lots of mainstream liberals. My political views are more radical than hers and those of her fans (my politics are more akin to a kind of Christian socialism than of liberalism, and I am more admiring of historical counterculture leftists like Abbie Hoffman than of establishment politicians John Edwards). But even though I am farther to the left than she is, I am religious and she is not. Stereotypes are really unfortunate.

    Comment by Mystical Seeker — February 16, 2007 @ 9:06 am

  2. I must admit complete ignorance of this situation you’re discussing, so you can take comfort in knowing that there’s at least one person further out of the loop than you are, Bob. 😉

    I must admit that as someone who belongs to neither faction of this age old argument (secularism vs. Christianity), I find the whole thing incredibly amazing. Its seems me that a number of (but not all) people on both sides are deeply invested in keeping such tensions between the two groups going. I sincerely wish that people on both sides would learn to follow a policy of “live and let live” more closely, and do their best to ignore those who might make unflattering comments about themselves — or at the very least, not allow themselves to get too sidetracked by them.

    In that respect, I think you’re advice is spot on. The best way is to keep speaking your mind and adding your voice to the mix.

    Comment by Jarred — February 17, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  3. It would be great if bloggers complied with FP’s request. But I have a different view. We are not a constituency that has to be courted and cultivated to earn our votes and support. We aren’t about earning respect, or not directly anyway. If we are to be prophetic voices, then we will say and do what we are called to do regardless of any respect or lack thereof. We aren’t in this to be welcomed on the Democrats’ team, praised, appreciated or loved. Sure, it would be nice, but if the early Christians held on to their witness in the face of the Roman lions, surely we can stand up in the face of snarky comments about the virgin Mary.

    Right on!

    Comment by Peace to all — February 21, 2007 @ 2:06 pm

  4. Comment by Andrew Cox — February 22, 2007 @ 1:36 am

  5. >

    YOU ARE SO ARROGANT AND PUFFED UP in your self-righteous marx-blinded liberalism. here’s something not lost on a fundementalist that’s apparently beyond your “intelligence”… “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know” – 1 Cor.8

    Comment by Anonymous — February 23, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

  6. Thanks for your insightful comments on this tough issue. I come across this problem all the time. I find about 90 percent of the Dem / Lib / Progressive community to be accepting of anyone that is humble and does not think of them as lesser people for not having faith, but there is a strong thread of anti-christian sentiment that has weaved through the movement. This is of course, what those on the Right use for ammunition and make people in their churches feel like they have no choice except to be conservative. So, I think that it is extremely important for progressive Christians to be vocal and visible in the movement. We need to embrace those leaders that encourage progressive faith (Jim Wallis, Barack Obama, etc.) and create new leaders that will change the political wind!

    Thanks again – and if you are willing – we would love to be added to your blog roll: http://www.christianityismore.com

    Also, I have cut and paste a comment that I have left on the http://www.huffingtonpost.com recently in regards to comments on a blog by Jim Wallis:

    Honestly, the comments on this blog are extremely disheartening. I have long been a proud Progressive Christian who believes both in Christ and liberalism, that the Bible tells us to love – not judge (matter of fact, it tells us to judge other Christians more harshly than non-believers), that social justice is a main tenet of the Bible – fighting for the widows and the orphans regardless of what religion they believe in. Those are the true tenets of Christianity, not to mention many of the things that liberals fight for: poverty, equality, caring for the sick, peace, etc.

    I am just as sickened by the way that Conservatives have perverted Christianity as you are – but that does not mean all Christians are evil. There are tens of millions of progressive Christians in this country and I truly believe many more than that once they know that that option is out there.

    For instance, I began attending a very Conservative Church about 2 years ago. It was a little overwhelming at first, but soon I realized that there were many in the Church that felt the same way as I did, they just were afraid to speak up – because they did not know that you could be both liberal and Christian.

    I began showing them the work of Jim Wallis and others and soon people seemed to be coming out of the wood work. I now know many people in the Church that I am attending that are trying really hard to break the hold that Conservative politics has on the Church, but with the attitude displayed here – it makes this work more difficult.

    Many Christians are sickened by Bush and the Right, but feel as if they have no choice because of the sentiment here. I am going to continue working in this direction and I know millions of others will as well (Ask Jim Wallis how many readers Sojourners has), but you can help us all out by welcoming us as you would all others.

    Many have argued that we think you are going to Hell, so why should you let us in… The fact is, that is not what most believe – for instance, I believe that who goes to Hell is completely God’s decision and not one that has anything to do with me. The Bible does not instruct us to judge who is going to Hell, instead it shows us to love all – the poor, the lepers, etc.

    Also, i think that if you want to find a way to stop the Right from guiding this country, you are going to need to let some Christians into the progressive movement, as we make up a majority of this country. And progressive Christians share your goals, so why not come together?

    Some of you have mentioned that there are not many of us out there – I disagree. Check out Sojourners statistics, check out the amount of people that read Wallis’ blog, then look at all of the other progressive Christian web-sites and tell me that they do not add up to a large portion of this nation.

    I myself, run a small progressive Christian blog site and get 10,000 unique visitors each month and growing ( http://www.christianityismore.com ), not to mention http://www.burnsidewriterscollective.com and a huge host of others! There are large sections of Evangelical, Catholic, Mennonite, and dozens of other Christian denominations that have enormous progressive wings.

    It is time that you embrace us – together we can win back the presidency from the idealogues. Let’s end this bickering and hatred now. We need to come together and win, so that 5 million people do not fall underneath the poverty line again, that the rich do not keep getting richer, that bigotry does not win, etc, etc.

    Well, the decision is yours, but I know this is what I pray for every day and will continue to pray for!

    Comment by ChristianityisMore — March 4, 2007 @ 7:31 am

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