It's the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at this writing. That means that it's the day in which we can return to forgetting about Dr. King's values or we can take a new stride in making Kingian principles tangible.
It will be interesting to watch which way the faithful but independent trend in their voting in 2012, because one thing independents like less than joining forces with either major group is to hear sermons about politics in church or synagogue.
Pledges to political principles have taken on the aura of confessions of faith. But Democrats and Republicans could find a way beyond the present impasse if they would just take seriously two principles.
Religious people need an ethic of voting that honors their tradition, including its views on specific policies, while also honoring that we live in a country built upon the notion that all people are entitled to the same respect.
Let me propose that we stop thinking about Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and secularists. Let us instead create a taxonomy of the fundamentalists, the tolerant observant and the enlightened.
We need a religion that doesn't give us childish tales but helps us use evolution and genetics to improve medicine, use biology to keep the Earth, our island home, in balance for the future and use physics to solve our energy problem.
If Christian traditions of progressive social criticism are to gain an audience beyond religious academicians and committed activists, they must intervene in policy debates with explicitly political arguments.