Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Which I Tell Digby & Atrios That They Are Wrong

Good Lord but there’s nothing I hate more than having to defend someone like Sharron Angle or Sarah Palin. I find them both repugnant. I do not support them in any way. But dammit people, when you attack someone’s religion out of your own secular ignorance, I just have to say something.

Look, I tried to hold my tongue last week when everyone chortled on the Twitters about how Palin said we need to pray for Divine Intervention to stop the oil spill. I was really hoping the Sharron Angle abortion-rape thing would blow over but then Digby did this post which got picked up all over the lefty blogosphere, from Atrios to Think Progress to the Huffington Post.


So here I go. Here’s the quote, pulled from a radio interview Angle gave back in January, in which she explains why she is against abortion even in the case of rape or incest:
MANDERS: So, in other words, rape and incest would not be something?

ANGLE: You know, I’m a Christian, and I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives and that he can intercede in all kinds of situations and we need to have a little faith in many things.

This has caused Digby and other liberal bloggers, people whom I respect and admire greatly and agree with pretty much 99.9% of the time, to raise the red flag:

On the other hand, Angle seems to see conception by rape and incest as something God purposefully directed and so the results of which are something the birthing vessel must embrace. That's a very disturbing point of view no matter where you come out on the issue.

This prompted Atrios to write:

But having the view that raped and impregnated women are all part of God's plan, well, interesting God you've got there.

Oh for Chrissakes, people. That’s not what she’s saying, okay? That’s not what Christians mean when they say “God has a plan,” and “have a little faith,” alright? I swear, are you folks being intentionally obtuse for the sake of scoring a cheap political point or are you really just that out of touch with the faith community that you don’t know what Christians mean when they say “God has a plan”?

I'm going with the latter only because this reminds me of the liberal uproar when Sarah Palin said people should "pray that there is a plan and that this plan is God’s will" regarding the Iraq War. Somehow that got twisted into “the Iraq War is God’s plan," but Christians know that’s not what she meant.

Look, no one is saying it's God’s plan for war or for a woman to be raped, or for anyone to be sexually molested. What they are saying is that even though these horrible things may happen, God has a plan to pull us through. God will make it right. God will create a blessing where humans create tragedy. That is what it means to say “God has a plan” and “have a little faith.” Every Christian regardless of their political persuasion knows what that means. Twisting the words around to make them horrible does not help your cause, it just makes you look like asses. It makes you look intolerant. And ignorant.

Look, liberals, I love you. I’m one of you. But for crying out loud, just leave the Christianity stuff alone, OK? When someone explains the religious basis for their policy views, how about saying, “your religious views may inform your views about national policy but I do not share your religious views. Therefore, I do not want you imposing them on me in the form of laws.”

Let me put it another way. When Sharron Angle says that she’s a Christian and believes God has a plan and people just need to have faith when something awful like rape or incest happens, it’s perfectly acceptable to respond with, “that is an excellent reason why you personally would not choose to have an abortion if you were raped or sexually molested. However, that argument does not give you the right to tell me what to do when faced with the same situation. You cannot force me to share your faith.”

I'm a political progressive and liberal Christian, and I do feel there is some truth to the conservative Christian lament that liberals are intolerant of Christianity. Honestly, I don’t know what it is with liberals and evangelical Christianity, because everyone was perfectly able to defend the Liberation theology of the black church during the whole Rev. Wright kerfuffle, and everyone is perfectly able to defend Islam and every other religion out there. But as soon as evangelicals express a belief about their faith people seem to go off the rails.

This is something liberals need to examine carefully because there are a growing number of liberals who are also people of faith. The “Moral Majority” is dead, there’s a whole generation of evangelical Christian kids who care about things like climate change and poverty and ending war, and attacks on peoples’ religious views to score a political point does not build a dialogue with these folks. It builds a wall.

I suspect part of the issue is most secular folks aren’t fluent in “Christianese,” the language of evangelical Christians honed over years of Bible study and Vacation Bible School and Christian radio and twice weekly church services and whatnot. I spent years in Christian music so I know what Christainese is. Heck, Michael W. Smith wrote a song about it. And look, going on the radio and saying "I believe God has a plan, which is why I'm against abortion" is a perfectly normal thing for a Christian to do, and it's a perfectly normal thing for a politician pandering to Christian voters to do.

Twisting that into "A-Ha! You believe God wants women raped!" is just wrong. It's bullshit. And if it's pissing me off, then it's got to be pissing off other people of faith, people with whom progressives actually have a lot in common.

So cut it out.