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Why my faith makes me liberal

| Thursday, September 3, 2020

When you read the Bible, what do you see? What do you feel? What lessons and stories do you take away? For me, entwined in the pages of scripture I find the bountiful love, compassion, forgiveness, hope, humility and generosity of Christ and the calls for all members of Christ’s community to live the same way. Now go watch the Republican National Convention and ask yourself the same questions: What do you see? What do you feel? What lessons and stories do you take away? Do you feel the same things that you do when you read the Bible? Did you see love, compassion, forgiveness, generosity and hope? I didn’t. Instead, I watched speeches attempting to prey on fear, hate and exclusivity. I watched a demigod and his disciples routinely reject Christian morality. And I watched them do it under the guise of Christianity. The Christian right acts like they have a monopoly on religion when in reality sometimes I’m not sure we’re even reading the same Bible. 

I am liberal because I am Christian. It is time for the religious left to reclaim the narrative that Christianity is not only compatible, but nearly congruent with progressive policies. Here are just a few examples of how my faith has brought me to the left:

Immigration: Jesus, Mary and Joseph were all immigrants. In the Gospel of Matthew, King Herod, threatened by the power of Jesus, promised to kill all the children under the age of two. Given advance warning of this act, the family leaves Bethlehem and travels to Egypt where they are able to continue to live their lives safe from persecution. But what if Jesus, Mary and Joseph tried to flee to America? If that occurred, America would deem the holy family ‘illegal aliens’,  capture them with heavily armed guards, separate Mary from her newborn son, lock Christ the redeemer in a cage and eventually kick them out of the country. Just what Jesus would have wanted, right? Please point out to me where in the Bible that treatment of refugees and immigrants condoned? I can tell you where it’s not:

Matthew 25:35: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Deuteronomy 10:19: “You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:34: “The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

I could go on and on. 

Economic Justice: Remember the passage in the Bible when Jesus went up to the beggar on the side of the road, looked him in the eye and told him to pull himself up by his bootstraps? No? Me neither. There are so many instances of Christ helping the poor, feeding the hungry and healing the sick that if I were to list all of them, I would essentially just rewrite the New Testament. God cares more about the poor than laissez faire economics, I promise you. How conservative Christians twist scripture into defending enormous income inequality will forever be a mystery to me. 

Social Justice: I saved the issue of social justice for last because right now in our country it is the most important. We are all God’s children. Anthony Huber was God’s child. He was our brother. Eric Gardner, Brionna Taylor, George Floyd and so, so many others were also children of God. They were our brothers and sisters, too. When racial minorities in this country are systemically oppressed, Christ is oppressed. When Black men are gunned down in the street by the police simply for the color of their skin, Christ is gunned down in the street. Where is the religious right’s outrage over their deaths? I only see their outrage over the protests — over the status quo being threatened. Jesus was a protester. He stood up to wrongful institutions and was eventually killed because of it. I see Jesus in the protests in Kenosha — fighting so that one day He will stop being gunned down in the street.

To me, being a liberal means building policies centered in the Christian morality of love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and hope.  Unfortunately, the religious right has decided to instead zero in on the issues of abortion and the supression of the rights of the LGTBQ+ community to the point that they hardly even recognize any other social or economic issues. They focus on sex. While this might be an overgeneralization, if you watched last week’s RNC you can see how I drew that conclusion. The Bible was almost never used to speak on issues of poverty, social justice, economic reform or immigration. But it was used every single night to attack the personal choices of women and liberties of the LGTBQ+ community. 

I urge the people, particularly men, on the religious right to stop attempting to control other people’s personal liberties. To address this issue more directly, if you are a male, and you find yourself telling a woman how to make reproductive choices over her own body, you have gone wrong. Put another way, you know that one friend we all have who is always saying something like, “people who don’t own guns shouldn’t be allowed to make gun control policy for everyone who does.” Ok, replace the word ‘gun’ with ‘uterus’ and repeat the same statement. The Christian right’s obsession with female reproductive systems is as creepy as it is confusing. I don’t know if it stems from some twisted form of overcompensation for something, but it is excessive and exhausting. 

To the greater Christian/Catholic community at Notre Dame: I urge you to become the compassionate, love-wielding and forgiving leaders as Christ directed us. To members of the Christian left, announce your faith and politics with pride. Let’s take back the narrative of the compatibility of Christianity and progressive values. As Christians, our morality and ethics derive from our faith — our politics should, too.

Clark Bowden is a senior Political Science Major. When he is not sleeping through his alarm or reminding people that he studied abroad, he can be found having heated political debates or watching the Washington Nationals play baseball. He can be reached at [email protected] or @BowdenClark on Twitter.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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