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Wednesday 08 October 2008


Proclamations of the Red Queen

28th February 2008

Whose Great Awakening?

Posted by: Craig Young

catholic.jpgIn the United States, there has always been an intrepid small pocket of evangelical and Catholic leftists (at least on peace, anti-racist and Third World solidarity issues), many of whom are centred on Soujourners, a Washington DC based magazine. Insofar as the above issues go, I applaud their courage in going against the flow when it comes to speaking out against the nuclear arms race, conservative interventionist attacks on leftist Latin and South American states, opposing apartheid and domestic US racism, and other worthy causes.

I don’t agree with them on everything. I’m decidedly pro-choice on abortion, although I share Soujourners opposition to capital punishment and the nuclear and conventional arms races, and as for LGBT rights issues, they tended to be more evangelical than leftist in the past (although happily, they’ve recently devoted time to the Soulforce nonviolent direct action LGBT Christian youth organisation as they discuss sexual orientation and spirituality with students from fundamentalist institutions. ) I strongly disagree with their support for so-called faith based initiatives, which they’ve admitted are of variable quality, and mostly unsuccessful.

Still, there are some areas of agreement. After the death of Jerry Falwell and the continuous sleaze and corruption scandals that ended the US federal Republican ascendancy last year, and similar fundamentalist quagmires, Soujourners community leader Jim Wallis is hopeful that US evangelicals have finally started to transcend the stranglehold that the Republican Right has had on that religious constituency. It may be the case that the walls are finally starting to come down, and evangelical Christian can stop being a synonym for ‘right-wing biblical literalist who opposes every humane social and foreign policy known to humanity.’ However, given that Mike Huckabee hasn’t withdrawn from the Republican presidential nominee race, and that rabid social conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Anne Coulter are making snarling noises at John McCain if the GOP dares declare him their actual candidate, I wonder if Wallis isn’t being overoptimistic about the possibilities of reform and change amongst his religious constituency.

And in New Zealand? I’m sorry, but here, evangelical is mostly a synonym for fundamentalist. While World Vision does seem to be genuinely concerned with social justice and community development issues overseas, the major fundamentalist crusade is a sickening desire to restore the parental “right” to hit children with anything the parent desires.

Apart from the valiant Stimulus magazine, most so-called evangelicals seem to see nothing at all wrong with supporting welfare privatisation and completely fail to expose National to any critical evaluation of their economic and social policies. Granted, they seem to have lost interest in opposing LGBT rights, apart from a pack of ineffective feral geriatrics and rancid Calvinista leftovers from the disintegration of the Christian Heritage Party. Granted too, Pentecostalism is growing in New Zealand. However, so is adherence to other religious philosophies, as well as agnostic generic secularism, now the largest “faith” category in New Zealand.

It’d be great if the evangelical community stopped giving kneejerk support to negative right wing attacks on others human rights and civil liberties. But hey, not holding my breath.

Recommended:

Stimulus magazine:
http://www.stimulus.org.nz

Jim Wallis: The Great Awakening: Religion and Politics in A Post-Religious Right America: San Francisco: Harper Collins: 2008.

Tags: Politics · Religion

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