Brookings is indeed right; the religious right has swung the pendulum too far to the right creating the much loathed division, class and imbalance in the society. I am certain the right would acknowledge their rigidity causing the need for an aggressive change to restore the balance. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention; I would say imbalance is the mother of social change. Mike Ghouse
Texas Faith - After the Religious Right, will the Religious Left reassert itself with focus on economic justice?
The recent history of religious activism in our politics has been
largely about the Christian right. Robust new churches and growing
congregations are part of the success story of conservatives who have
focused on social and family issues. At the same time, something else
has happened. Young Americans today are less affiliated religiously than
any time in our history. Fully one-third of Americans under 30 are
unaffiliated with a formal religious group, according to Public Religion
Research Institute. One in five 18- to 29-year-olds say that religion
is not important in their lives, compared to only 10 percent of those 50
and older who say that.
A new report from the Brookings Institution suggests there is an
opportunity at the moment for the Religious Left to reassert itself.
How? By a concerted focus on economic justice.
The report, “Faith in Equality: Economic Justice and the Future of
Religious Progressives,” outlines big challenges for religious political
witness: growing secularization, divisions between religious and
secular Americans, our polarized politics and a weakened infrastructure
for many mainstream churches. According to a Brookings blog post: “The
Religious Right spoke to the country’s worries about social change. The
religious progressive movement speaks to the country’s desire for
economic change. The persistence of poverty, the decline of social
mobility and rising inequality all demand new departures in policy and
politics. There is wide room for social action but there is no consensus
on what form new approaches to poverty, mobility and opportunity should
There’s a counter-view, of course. Mark Tooley of the Institute on
Religion and Democracy says “Religious Left dead-end activism” has
contributed to problems, not solved them. “The old Religious Left is
mostly faded, having helped marginalize the once mainline churches whose
elites sustained it. Now liberal religious activism depends on
evangelicals falling away from the core of their faith.” Sounds like
Recognizing the virtue of helping the poor and promoting equality –
which no one disagrees with, at least in principle – is Brookings right?
Is the time ripe for an active push for social justice by the
Religious Left, including active government involvement, active church
engagement? And if so, would that actually stem our growing
secularization, help close divisions between religious and secular
Americans, and strengthen the weakened infrastructure of liberal
MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism and speaker on interfaith matters, Dallas
Brookings is indeed right; the religious right has swung the pendulum too far to the right creating the much loathed division, class and imbalance in the society. I am certain the right would acknowledge their rigidity causing the need for an aggressive change to restore the balance. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention; I would say imbalance is the mother of social change.
The right has made attempts to monopolize and manufacture a God that belongs exclusively to them; the story is same with right-wing Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and other traditions.
It is natural for humans, particularly the moderate majority to seek and see the world in terms of justice as the work of God. The bottom line of the work of religious masters was to create peaceful societies based on justice, so people can get along and adhere to certain guidelines for the safety and common good of all. Indeed that is the purpose of civil societies as well.
The right has gone too far, and has pushed the society to a greater degree of imbalance, and their opposition to equal pay for women, affordable care, and same-sex marriage has created ample energy in the left to bulldoze the right in the 2014 mid-term elections, as a self-balancing self preserving act. The progressives have to be as aggressive as the conservatives to restore that balance in the society.
The Muslim right in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iran have narrowed God to fit their version of what it ought to be; Malaysia’s right is pushing for legislation to exclusively own the name Allah for God, and preventing others from using the name. Indonesia is working on calling the Shia Muslims as non-Muslims. A similar percent of youth in those nations are sick of this extremism, and their rejection is taking different forms including the Arab Spring.
The Hindu right in India have cleverly adopted a new posturing in the guise of economic development, nearly half of India’s population is under 30, and we will know how many will fall into this trap when the election results, when the counting begins on May 16, 2014.
The Jewish right in Israel continues with settlements that are breeding a sense of injustice among the youth in Israel seeking justice.
Fully agree with the Brookings assessment that without aggressive opposition by the left, the right will dig in their heels and bring greater social injustice and turmoil.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a
writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work
place. He is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers
pluralistic solutions on issues of the day at www.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in
Standing up for others
and a book with the same title is coming up. Mike has a strong presence on
national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on
Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to
the Texas Faith Column at Dallas
Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and
several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work
through many links.