Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Relgious Right Doesn't Speak for Me

Why is it that the Religious Right pretends to speak for all people of faith when they’re so clearly speaking only for their particular sect? In today’s Washington Post, Richard Cohen explains his theory:

People of faith, you may rest assured, are people of their faith…I don't think a gay Presbyterian would be considered a person of faith, no matter how devout, nor, for that matter, a pro-choice Methodist -- say, someone such as Hillary Clinton. The category would certainly not include a Baptist such as Husband Bill or a Jew such as Chuck Schumer or, I venture to say, an Episcopalian such as John McCain, whose faith sustained him in a Vietnamese prison. As for a Roman Catholic such as Ted Kennedy, whose faith informs his liberalism, take it on faith that he would not be considered a person of faith.

Leave aside the Religious Right’s clear intentions to influence and remake public policy in their image—a lot of groups, even most, want to do that. What’s most disturbing to me, and I think many others, is their claim to represent all people of faith. Around 83% of Americans identify themselves as religious or spiritual. If one group represented us all, they really would have quite a mandate.

But the Religious Right does not represent all people of faith or even a significant number of us. They don’t even represent all Evangelicals--certainly not the good people over at Sojourners.

We could indeed use a little more faith in this nation. The belief that there is more to this world than just ourselves is vital to understanding our greater purpose. But I reject the Religious Right’s interpretation of scripture and do not consider it compatible with my own faith. How dare they pretend to speak for me, for us, for the legions of Christians who see Jesus’ message as one of love, charity, brotherhood and humbleness rather than one of condemnation, pride and ill will.

They have a right to influence our Government. But they have no right to claim they act in my name.


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