Friday, May 16, 2014

Religious Left on the rise, thanks to North Carolina


You've heard of the Religious Right, that corps of mostly Christian activists who say the Bible compels them to seek bans on same-sex marriage and abortion.

But did you know there’s a Religious Left? And its profile is on the rise – thanks, in large part, to what’s happening in North Carolina.

The most obvious example is Moral Mondays, those interfaith protests in Raleigh. They’ve become a model for left-leaning clergy around the country who say the Bible compels them to oppose legislation that targets the poor, minorities and gays and lesbians.

Also getting national attention: A group of Charlotte-area religious leaders who recently helped launch the first faith-based court challenge to bans on same-sex marriage. Their lawsuit claimed those prohibitions keep them from practicing their religion by denying them the right to marry certain members of their flock – same-sex couples – in their churches and synagogues.

The Religious Right has always considered North Carolina fertile ground. And its leaders include Republican-friendly North Carolinians, most notably Franklin Graham.

Now the national Religious Left is looking to the state for leadership. At the head of that Democratic-friendly line is the Rev. William Barber, who leads the state NAACP and is chief architect of Moral Mondays.

But in Charlotte, three members of the clergy – all women – have also emerged as grassroots leaders of the Religious Left:


  • The Rev. Nancy Allison, pastor of Holy Covenant United Church of Christ, is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.



  • The Rev. Robin Tanner, pastor of Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church, was among ministers willfully arrested during Moral Mondays.



  • And Rabbi Judy Schindler of Temple Beth El has spearheaded two trips to Washington, with Allison and Tanner, to marry gays and lesbian couples from Charlotte.


On May 3, they officiated at the weddings of six same-sex couples who’d been together for a combined total of 100 years.

All three clergywomen are members of denominations that have long taken the lead on progressive causes. The United Church of Christ, which is also a plaintiff in the same-sex lawsuit, ordained its first gay minister in 1972. The Reform movement in Judaism ordained the first American woman rabbi. And for more than a century, Unitarian Universalism has been a magnet for liberal activists, including two civil rights workers murdered by white supremacists in the 1960s.

“What you’re seeing now is the fruit of many years of labor,” Allison said.


Added Schindler: “I’m thankful our voices are being heard. We feel a call to share our passion for social justice and equality.”

PHOTO: (L to R) Allison, Tanner and Schindler



-- Tim Funk

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Social justice" = sanctimonious hypocrits

Anonymous said...

About time someone acknowledged the Religious Left. And it is not just these three women. It includes the leadership in all mainstream protestant denominations. PCUSA, for example, has long advocated for unabridged abortion rights, for single payer healthcare, and against Israel.

The Moral Monday protests were of course led by the religious left. Rev. Barber, whatever one might think of him, is a clergy member.

Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are the media's go-to voices for the black community.

If we are to be honest, liberal social causes are a religion to most leftists. They are using the pulpits to preach liberalism on a weekly basis. That explains, in part, the decline in attendance. Who wants to go to church to hear MSNBC?

Anonymous said...

Religion is the root of ALL evil.

Anonymous said...

The commentator above is telling the truth about the PCUSA folks. All that comes out of a very much smaller Presbytery is social justice. While our church has not left the denomination (yet) we greatly reduced our giving to the local Presbytery. I think their staff has been cut by more than half. People and/or churches are leaving,or are no longer active at an alarming rate. The next 5 years will probably see a major split.

Anonymous said...

Religious Left = Religious Heretics.

Anonymous said...

Religious Right = Modern-Day Pharisees

RobNClt said...

The religious left is a dying breed, not multiplying as the article suggest. People are leaving those (main line) denominational churches like they are sinking but don't tell these RELIGIOUS left people that.

That's not knew, they will always be Challenges to the people who are saved and born again. We don't claim to be a religion, we have a relationship the religious left or the media can not understand or even see. We will never make sense to them because they are all spiritually dead to God and alive unto the world and it's system of religion.

Those of us who KNOW the Bible is final authority and not our feelings, will continue to stand up against sin and call it just that, sin. The left will continue dressing that pig up and calling it a pretty person because it's wearing lipstick. One thing they should remember, a pig is a pig whether it's wearing lipstick or not.

Anonymous said...

Same old arguments to excuse sin has been around since the beginning of time. It's just about buying someones vote. The left are for anything that will gain them popularity. The truth has never been popular. Just ask the Lord Jesus Himself.

Anonymous said...

yeah, these lefties are crazy.

I mean afterall, its pretty clear Jesus spent all those years preaching hate, fear, bigotry, oppression of the poor, casting out of "sinners," etc.

Obviously Jesus was always wanting his followers to campaign against love, charity, acceptance, inclusion, helping the less fortunate, etc.

we must stop these pinkos who dont see it that way.

Archiguy said...

How refreshing. A group of the religious devout who actually believe in practicing what Christ preached.

The sanctimonious hypocrites who make up the religious right are so cocksure THEY know the will of God that they've lost their humanity, sold it for 30 pieces of silver.

If Jesus were to walk the streets of America today he would be appalled at the attacks on individual liberty, the attacks on homosexuals, the attacks on universal health care, the attacks on the poor and the marginalized - all done by the religious right in the name of God. That behavior is offensive to Him, if the New Testament means anything.

He would be offended that modern American Christianity has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party, subservient to every mean-spirited, nasty, regressive policy that belches forth from the RNC. One has only to look at recent GOP Senate candidate Mark Harris or Franklin Graham to see just how far from the word of Christ Big Christianity has retreated. THAT is why young people of conscious are leaving the church in droves, or not bothering to join in the first place.

It's good to see some real Christians for a change. People who "get it", and who understand what Christianity is SUPPOSED to represent. Good for them!

Anonymous said...

Religion is stupid.

Anonymous said...

The Bible is very clear about homosexual behavior (Lev 18), and about abortion (Thou shalt not kill.) Perhaps there's a difference in how the religious "right" and "left" view the Bible...the right sees it as Holy, Authoritative, Inerrant. The left is more likely to pick and choose which parts they like, reinterpret, see it as full of fairy tales written by men. Jesus did not embrace and condone sin, but said "Repent...Go and Sin no More." As for other comments here, since when do Republicans not take care of the poor, minorities, etc? Regardless of the lies put forth by some Ds, Republicans have always supported programs to care for those who can't take care of themselves, and support programs that expand job opportunities for those who can so that people can be independent.

Anonymous said...

Leftism is a religion unto itself. These clergy women are perfect examples of the culture influencing religion not the other way around. Love the sinner but not the sin. These women love both.

Anonymous said...

According to one writer, “the left is more likely to pick and choose which parts they like, reinterpret, see it as full of fairy tales written by men.” I assume then that writer believes in stoning a rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) and not eating pork (Leviticus 11:7-8) along with his concern about “homosexual behavior (Lev 18), and about abortion (Thou shalt not kill.)”

Anonymous said...

Anon at 2:43 PM... You actually quoted "thou shalt not kill?" OK - now show us the conservative / evangelical version of mental gymnastics to support capital punishment. Then tell us how that's not "reinterpreting" the same scriptures you are proclaiming as inerrant... We'll wait...

silicon28 said...

Good thoughts, well written Tim...

But you must have known what a firestorm it was going to kick off here in the comments, didn't you?

Anonymous said...

Social Justice=Marxism
It was started by the Soviet Union's disinformation campaign to undermine religion. That's not me saying that, that is the highest level spy to defect to the US during the Cold War.

Larry said...

The top achievement the Devil has ever achieved, is to make folks think he, and evil, do not exist.

Same with faith folks, make people think faith does not exist, by replacing it with something that is not so restraining to lifestyles.

Larry said...

Oh and is it not great to be told how Christians should act, by those who dislike religion so.

Rsims77 said...

Ugh, no wonder I find animals more compassionate and accepting than humans.

Adolf said...

People come first. Religion second. Those who get that simple concept are the reason we have the society we do, and not a theocracy like in Iran.

bobcat99 said...

I applaud these pastors for giving the Gospel an alternative voice to the fear and hatemongering that often passes for Christianity these days. But I believe, like the former Archbishop of Canterbury said, we live in a post-Christian world. Most conservatives are less interested in the message of Christ than in traditionalism and/or emotionalism. Our understanding of God has to change. There is no Grand Magician living just above the clouds who manipulates the natural order in our favor, if only we do His bidding. That said, humans have a deeply felt spiritual hunger. We just haven't found the next "thing" to guide us yet.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Bobcat99. To paraphrase my friends in the NRA, "gods don't kill people, people kill people", they just use gods as an excuse. And not just for killing, everything else as well.

Read the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount then try to reconcile that with the religious right.

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


The "blessed" that Jesus spoke of are the 47% now "...and so my job is not to worry about those people." according to Mitt Romney. The religious right continues to be an oxymoron.

Anonymous said...

No one will ever accuse Rabbi Judy of not having enough chutzpah! We will never agree on this and other philosophies, but I have to admire her nerve to put it out there and put her name behind it. Beth-el member.