I'm sure that many of you have heard about Daily Kos' new spinoff blog Street Prophets. It is "...an exploration religion and politics from the perspective of the Left", to quote Kos. The comment thread that follows this announcement is an insightful perspective into how the Left (or at least the Kos-commenting Left) views Christianity.
In general, the commentors are supportive of the venture and keenly point out that many morally conservative Christians have politically liberal beliefs. Others are outright hostile to religion in any form.
But what is so fascinating about this thread is that the general consensus seems to be that 'religion' is a good thing. People adopt religions because they help make sense of the world, cope with the travails of life, and provide a moral code for communities.
In the abstract, comparative religion-academic sense, this is true. But one doesn't often see in this thread the sense that one follows a faith because it is true. I don't know about you, but when I became a Christian, I didn't select Christianity from off the shelf at the Religion Store after comparison shopping the value of Hinduism and Shintoism. I accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior because his way was the only way that was correct.
After the last presidential election, the midst of liberal attempts to understand Red State mentalities, Mark Steyn wrote:
I loved those few days when Nancy Pelosi was ostentatiously dropping a soundbite from "Matthew" into every media appearance. Who is this Matthew guy she's on such chummy terms with? Matthew Meadows, Florida state representative for District 94? Matthew P. Denn, the Democratic candidate in the race for Delaware insurance commissioner?
No, turns out it's Matthew as in the Gospel according to. Big name in Jesusland, to use the new designation. A little too big, indeed, to be cited plausibly as evidence of one's acquaintance with Scripture. Anyone can refer in a vague way to Matthew. Had Mrs. Pelosi managed to rattle off a couple of verses from Philemon or Habakkuk, all over the vast Bush-voting swamp, millions of stump-toothed rednecks would have briefly stopped speaking in tongues as their jaws hit the floor. By the way, it's only two k's in the middle of "Habakkuk" — not like Amerikkka or John Ashkkkroft.
Anyway, after a week of trying to turn the Democratic whine into holy water, the House minority leader decided to chuck the saint-dropping. As the whole Jesusland thing suggests, her base isn't entirely on board with the outreach. And frankly the Democrats never do well when they try to square contemporary liberal pieties with religion. For one thing, they recoil from the very word "religion." Al Gore prefers to say, "Well, in my faith tradition . . ." As a rule, folks with a faith tradition tend not to call it such. At Friday prayers in Mecca, the A-list imams don't say, "Well, in my faith tradition we believe in killing all the infidels."
Emphasis added. Steyn observed that Leftist efforts to co-opt the Christian faith seem artificial and pretended, despite the uphill battles that some liberal Christians are fighting to make their political activity a reflection of their sincere Christian faith.* Or to be more blunt: they're faking it, and we know it.
Language reflects what we think. It is philosophically revealing, and through the communication choices that Leftists make -- referring to religion as a matter of personal taste and not absolute truth -- we can discern the secular ideological thread running through liberalism's current incarnation. Hopefully, liberal Christians will be able to excise it in the future.
*I feel their pain, to quote Clinton. Libertarians (bother uppercase and lowercase 'l') are, in general, secular -- if not hostile to religion. I've even been called clinically insane for believing in the supernatural. Regular readers know that this is true only for other reasons.
UPDATE: To clarify, I am not saying that Joel, Richard, Beth, and Dean are 'faking it'. In fact, I am saying the exact opposite.
What I am saying is that much of the recent embrace of faith by the secular left is fake.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff the Baptist adds his thoughts:
However when I see religion on the left, what they follow is not Christianity. It is Liberalism with it's Greater Good. The Christian aspects are just proof-texting and lip service. They've comparison shopped their ideologies and have realized that a few good bible verses might play well in Peoria.