Why aren’t more Christians progressive?

Trick question, there are lots of them who are. They don’t have Koch-money to amplify their voices or patrons on Fox News to nourish them, but they exist and it makes sense they would: there’s this one guy in the Bible whose words sound awfully similar to progressives today.

WaPo— When Jesus separates the “sheep and the goats,” the saved and the unsaved in Matthew 25:31-46, the only question that matters is whether someone cared for the “least of these,” the poor, the naked, the homeless and those in prison. Those being judged ask Jesus, “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

Jesus replies, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” How does the “Ryan budget” stack up by that measure of faithfulness?

Christians, I say to you, if you allow your faith and philosophy to be represented to the nation and the world by social conservatives yelling about Obama’s birth certificate, if you stand by and watch your beliefs undergo political amputations until they can be surgically fitted to the feudal corpus favored by Ryan-Romney, it will injure and possibly destroy your religion.

The conservative sociopaths writing the checks do not give a shit about abortion or gay marriage, they care about return on their investment. They’re investing now in hope of tax cuts and subsidies measured in the trillions of dollars tomorrow. And they won’t just use and abuse your religion to win what they want, they’ll use your religion up if that’s what it takes to cross the finish line.


  1. Didaktylos says

    My personal view is Christianity sold out to power and wealth when they accepted Constantine.

  2. unbound says

    I know a few christians who are otherwise very good people that do get caught up in the hype of the abortion / gay issues even though they are otherwise progressive.

    My question to them (which I have asked a couple) is where in the 4 gospels did Jesus pontificate so clearly on the issues of abortion and homosexuality that all other christian considerations are being largely ignored? As pointed out in the Washington Post article, Jesus seemed to have put out some rather strong guidance on what is supposed to be focused on.

  3. hexidecima says

    Jesus also suposedly said that those who don’t accept him as “prince” should be brought before him and killed (Luke 19). That doesn’t sound particularly “progressive” to me. He also said that the poor would be around always and it wasn’t a bad thing to waste money on him (Matthew 26). I’m guessing that’s probably the excuse for having multi-million dollar churches, temples, etc, “god likes money”.

    Since Christianity cannot be shown to represent only one ideal, progressive Christians cherry pick their religion to conform with something they are already inclined to do. Conservative Chrsitians do the exact same thing. The religion is already destroyed, assuming it ever was “whole” in the first place.

  4. d cwilson says

    Christians actually come in all political stripes. Unfortunately, the loudest ones have the most regressive views.

  5. octoberfurst says

    I know Christians who are progressive but the vast majority seem to be right-wing loons. They hate gays, hate abortion, believe in creationism, think the Anti-Christ is just around the corner and have no problem with school prayer–as long as it is to Jesus—or displays of the Ten Commandments in government buildings. They believe we are a “Christian nation” and that our society should be run according to the Bible. In many ways they are not different than Islamists.
    Virtually all Christian radio stations and TV programs are very right-wing. They denounce liberals and secularists on a daily basis and treat us as if we were Satan’s spawn. I don’t buy into the notion that progressive Christians aren’t being seen because of Koch money or funding by any other billionaire. I just think that the overwhelming majority of Christians in this country are just crazy right-wingers. The progressive voices are few and far between. (But I will admit that the progressive ones don’t get nearly the media coverage that the ranting righties do.)

  6. StevoR says

    These certainly do exist and include some admirable people eg. Fred Clark and the Slacktivist blog community generally – great examples of very progressive and intelligent Christian and likewise the Sojourners online / real life too group. albeit we won’t always agree on some issues.

  7. brucegee1962 says

    I was brought up in a very progressive religious family in the 70s, when it really seemed as if the church as a whole was taking the lead in many social justice issues. The problem was that, while the progressive Christians were working on the Sanctuary movement and soup kitchens, the Falwell-moral-majority types were buying up radio stations and politicians. There was a pretty fundamental disconnect — their goal was primarily to gain political power, rather than, say, helping the poor and needy like certain religious figures suggested.

  8. grumpyoldfart says

    Why aren’t more Christians progressive?

    Trick question, there are lots of them who are. They don’t have Koch-money to amplify their voices or patrons on Fox News to nourish them.

    I think the progressives are probably as unethical as the extremists. They are hoping the extremists will gain political power, and then they will move in and try to take control.

    What happened last time the Christians had political power? Oh that’s right:
    600 years of Dark Ages
    200 years of Crusades
    600 years of Inquisitions.

    [Good old days]

  9. Shplane, Spess Alium says

    The Jesus character as described in the Bible was a vile, authoritarian, racist piece of shit. That he is credited with saying a few good things does not change the fact that he also said just as many if not more insane and vile things. Jesus was horrid. If we’re willing to say that it’s a good idea to listen to Jesus about anything, at all, ever, it becomes plausible to listen to Jesus about Old Testament law or what sort of healthcare non-Jewish little girls should receive, or maybe even his ideas on self mutilation. Justifying anything, at all, ever, with the Bible is like trying to put out a fire by pouring napalm on it. It doesn’t help improve the world to justify religious delusion with this sort of argument. It just lets them say “SEE? EVEN ATHEISTS AGREE WITH JESUS!!!1!”

    What we should be saying is “You should help other people, not because your imaginary friend told you to, but because it’s the right goddamn thing to do. You shouldn’t vote for jackoffs like Ryan not because an ancient fictional character disagrees with him, but because he’s a fucking monster. Doing the right thing has nothing to do with religion, and in fact religion makes it a whole hell of a lot harder.” It might not be diplomatic, and it might not feel as good as pointing out hypocrisy, but it’s true. Religion might occasionally say a few good things, but even those are tainted by the utter horror that surrounds and engulfs them. It’s better to throw out the whole thing.

  10. says

    andMy mother is a religious conservative. She thinks gays are disgusting, even the ones we are related to, and uses a political candidate’s position on abortion as a litmus test when voting; I’ve seen her vote for someone she actually had less other views in common with because their more satisfactory opponent was not as strong an abortion opponent. She’s also very bought in on the ideas that government in general as a thing is not to be trusted and can’t ever do anything right, that “liberals” exist only as a group that hates her personally and wants to take what little she has away from her. She is firmly convinced that “the liberal media” lies about everything in a slant toward evil, depravity, and liberal thought (I don’t think she knows the term progressive).

    All of this and I really do not think she expects to gain from government. The problem, I think, is that she and others like her have accepted the wealthy conservatives’ fears on themselves as applying to ordinary people’s lives. If you are doing well financially, enough to be possibly affected by proposed higher tax rates on wealthy, It’s at least understandable to feel that you are the being targeted by “liberals” who want to take your money. If you are into really conspicuous consumption, or owning businesses that are damaging the environment, it would be understandable to feel attacked by environmental activism. So on and so forth. I think mom and people like her have taken the narrative but it doesn’t make sense in their lives because it doesn’t really apply to them.

    There’s also the way that othering is built into the a Christian doctrine, as currently constituted anyway. Christian life is all about fighting a war against the worldly culture. One always sees oneself as the minority, the oppressed, the martyr, the warrior. When your worldview is so profoundly skewed by seeing yourself as a minority in need of protection when in fact you are the majority who is not only privileged but doing the oppression, logical consideration of reality is much harder to come by.

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