10/28/2005 01:40 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Not Faith Based Liberals?

How did it happen that the only people in America who openly claim Faith Based Initiatives are Conservatives? How did they get to lay claim to Jesus’ intentions when His mysterious, koan-like parables have perplexed theologians for centuries? What commeds their moral assertions when Christ’s resounding message is to care for the least amongst us, and the last time I checked, the Republican Party was doing the most for those who already have the most? And why is it that those of us who work for progressive social change are embarrassed to talk about the faith that often inspires us? Why is it that Christianity has come to alienate so many of those who, in my opinion, are serving the downtrodden, challenging the oppresser, and acting as true shepherds of the earth, just as Jesus of Nazareth compels us? Why am I, as I write this, nervous about the way in which this acknowldegement of my own Christianity will be received by those who share my politics? And, most poignantly, why do I myself feel so frequently alienated by some of those who are equally inspired by our common faith? Is it possible that this faith is not, in fact, held in common? That our respective interpretations of what Jesus of Nazareth shared are so different as to have become, in fact, entirely different credos? In the September 15th issue of HARPER’S MAGAZINE, Bill McKibben writes brilliantly about THE CHRISTIAN PARADOX. He laments how the “Americanization of Christianity” has overlooked serving the needs of others, in favor of “God helps those who helps themselves.” Which, by the way, is nowhere to be found in the Bible. It was not said by Christ, but by Benjamin Franklin in POOR RICHARD’S ALMANAC, the first How-To Book for the aspiring Capitalist. America was founded by men who were profoundly inspired by their Faith. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were committed Unitarians. I am a Unitarian. Each week when I attend UU Church in Santa Monica, I am reminded that “church is where we come to practice what it means to be human.” The greatest fulfillment of human potential is through compassion. It is through love. It is through humility. The tenants of Unitarianism are tolerance, inclusion and respect. The cornerstone of Unitarian faith is doubt, which contextualizes moral judgment, creating the friction needed to polish the heart. When I consider our Constitution, I realize how closely it matches the Unitarian Principles. In my opinion, Unitarians have the MOST legitimate claim to Patriotic Faith. Yet those of us who follow a Liberal tradition (no matter what Denomination, no matter what Religion) are the last to assert either our Patriotism OR our Faith. Those of you who have read my prior entries know I have an Autistic son. Each day I serve my disabled child, who is in fact one of the least amongst us. Joining him in his challenges has become my daily spiritual practice. Serving him has lead me into serving the Autism Community as a member of Cure Autism Now Foundation. It has lead me to work for political candidates like Phil Angelides, dedicated to maintaining social services and strengthening our social fabric by enhancing every human life as a valuable thread. This service leads me back to my underlying faith, renewing and re-enforcing it. Isn’t it time that those of us who know our liberal faith to be as empowering as conservative orthodoxy speak out and speak openly, without embarrassment about it? And in so doing, speak to each other as well? I suspect there are more of us out there than we know. Maybe as many as the Religious Right have identified. Maybe as many as can swing an election.