Defense of the Christian Liberal
October 12, 2002
By Frank Lovato
Traits I have observed in the behavior of many political
conservatives that irritate me is their absolute confidence
that they are "right" about anything and everything and their
misuse of the Christian religion to justify the inhumanity
of many of their words and actions.
I remember a line in the movie "Inherit the Wind" in which
the William Jennings Bryan character asks the Clarence Darrow
character, "Does right have no meaning to you?" to which he
responds, "No! Right has no meaning to me, but truth does."
Conservatives tend to act as if "right" were revealed to
them by a higher power and that everything they say is so
because they believe it is "right". "Truth" they are willing
to subvert and in many cases violate, to further their perception
As a case in point, W scares me. He is quoted as saying,
"I believe that what I believe is right." His own ignorance
and stupidity are an asset to him because study and the knowledge
gained from study might undermine his being "right". These
attributes make him currently popular with some of the American
public because they mistake ignorance for directness and stupidity
for single mindedness.
Willingness to examine one's position and to realistically
appraise it is the hallmark of a mature and educated person
and it seems most conservatives never reexamine their positions
because it might lead to the terrible prospect of being wrong.
In stark contrast, we liberals seem to always be questioning
and re-thinking our convictions and the reasons for those
convictions. Maybe that is one of our political weaknesses;
we think too much to always present a solid united front.
But yet again, maybe that is one of our greatest personal
The second thing that irritates me is the misuse of the Christian
religion by many conservatives to justify their position in
a political situation. It seems to be a planned conservative
strategy to couch themselves as "godly" and "religious" as
opposed to liberals who are "ungodly" or "non-religious."
The Clinton impeachment debacle is a case in point.
Under his leadership the country was running great but his
abilities were completely overshadowed by his "sins." Conservative
congressmen and senators went after him as if his sexual transgressions
were the most terrible of all crimes. But when their own conservative
leadership was found out to also be guilty of the same things,
it was passed off as no harm, no foul.
It was all right for them to sin because they were "godly"
people who made a small mistake but even as Bill publicly
confessed and asked for forgiveness, the conservatives pronounced
that he was not truly repentant and because he was "ungodly"
he must be punished for his sins. Even the FBI was so busy
trying to get him to lie to them that they completely forgot
the possibility that terrorists could be planning something
much more devastating than a little hanky-panky in the White
A very personal reason why this use of Christianity by the
conservatives annoys me so much is that I consider myself
a Christian and I am also very politically liberal. I firmly
believe a person who really tries to follow the teachings
of Jesus Christ would be much more likely to be a political
liberal rather than a conservative.
Despite all the religious trappings that conservatives are
so prone to flaunt, most look down on their fellowman especially
if he is poor or non-Christian and more so if he makes any
demands upon their wealth or time. I like to call these people
"Old Testament" Christians because they like to quote the
Old Testament and never the words of Jesus Christ as related
in the New Testament. I can very well see why they do this
because the Old Testament is absolutely full of death, and
revenge while Christ taught only life and peace. The various
parables of Christ as related in the New Testament teach love
and forgiveness and never revenge or war or judgment.
Christ taught us not to judge our fellowman but the Pharisees
(the conservatives of their time) ignored him because they
thought they had every right to judge others because they
were perfect since they kept all the Jewish laws and the "sinners"
did not. These present day Pharisees are not much different
from the old ones and in their "righteousness," they quote
the Old Testament because it justifies their lack of love
or concern for their fellowman.
When asked by one of the Pharisees which was the most important
of the commandments, Christ answered the most important was
the first commandment concerning the love of God but then
he likened it to the second about the love of fellow man.
Why did he do that? Because Christ knew it is impossible for
a person to love God and at the same time not love his fellow
man. Conservatives camouflage this lack of love by insisting
that their overriding concern is for having people take responsibility
for themselves and their actions. Noble sounding but it also
lets them off the hook for providing for the needs of others.
In a word, conservatives tend to be just plain cheap.
Looking after the poor and needy effectively is costly and
generally that means the use of tax money and to conservatives
those are fighting words. Help to the poor and needy can also
be provided through charity and conservatives are now introduced
a new wrinkle. They are now willing to provide government
funding for aid to the poor and needy through "faith based"
charities. Why are they now so willing to provide funds to
the poor and needy through charity and not through direct
If a person is beholden to charity, he has no say in how
assistance is administered or what that assistance entails.
Being a recipient of alms, he can only keep his mouth shut
and be grateful. If on the other hand the government were
the source of the aid, the recipient, by the fact of being
a citizen, would have a voice in the kind and administration
of the aid. That in a word is entitlement and that word causes
shivers to run down the spine of any true conservative. Government
assistance to the poor and needy through "faith based" charities
is just another way of disenfranchising them.
Liberals, whether or not they are Christians, are often more
Christian acting than the more vocal conservatives because
they are truly concerned about the well being of people and
do not rush to judge the righteousness of their fellow man.
The Bible has a passage that states, "Judge not least you
be judged". A very good idea but in any and every social controversy,
conservatives are there to judge who is right and who is wrong
and believe they have every right to do so.
Conservatives are also very quick to shed tears over the
death of innocent babies killed in abortions but not one for
the killer on death row. I am firmly against abortion but
I am also firmly against the death penalty. I my opinion,
it would seems that a true Christian society would be willing
if not eager to provide a means by which a killer could save
his soul and not prematurely end his life before he has had
every opportunity to repent of his sins. If he repents there
will be great celebration in Heaven and if he does not, the
responsibility is all his. Christian teaching holds that the
innocent un-born child and the hardened killer are both precious
to God and not one more than the other. But the conservative
is the first to defend the death penalty and cry out for revenge.
But as far as the abortion question goes, conservatives preach
about how every unborn child is precious and how each one
should be provided the maximum protection under the law. I
agree, but just ask them if the government should provide
funds to care for these children after they are born and for
their mothers who would provide them care, they immediately
fall back on the old line that it is their fault and they
should take responsibility for their actions. This is a win-win
argument in that conservatives can sound holy and still not
have their holiness cost them anything.
Sometimes I get the feeling that the thought of sinners writhing
in hell makes these folks really feel good. I read recently
about a minister picketing a theater performance of a play
about the homosexual young man that was killed in Wyoming.
He seemed almost elated to announce with absolute certainty
that the young man had already been in hell for two years.
That doesn't sound very Christian to me. What do you think
Jesus would say?
All these traits I mentioned are irritating but the most
dangerous to our American democracy is the conservative's
use of government to forward their religious and philosophical
views. They try to pack the courts with themselves, try to
pass legislation that aids them in gaining control of government,
and take every opportunity to label the opposition as traitors
or at best unpatriotic. And they are ruthless in their attacks.
Again remember the Clinton impeachment.
They use government policy to further their own strange interpretation
of scripture. They believe the United States should support
Israel. Not because of any affection for the Israelis but
because they believe the establishment of a Jewish state will
speed or assist their concept of the second coming of Christ
and ironically the conversion or elimination of the Jewish
They ridicule natural resource conservation because they
believe the imminent second coming of Christ makes conservation
of the environment unnecessary and even silly.
They espouse causes such as the anti-abortion movement because
it gains them the support of Catholic voters while still avowing
that the Catholic Church is the "whore of Babylon" and that
the Pope is the "anti-Christ". They cite their extremely literal
interpretation of the Bible as if it were fact and justify
their vile and often untruthful attacks on others as being
a service to God.
They ridicule Islam for its insistence that the words of
the Prophet Mohamed are the only truth while doing exactly
the same thing with what they profess are Christian beliefs.
I hope and yes even pray, that this is just a passing phase
in the political history of our country and that soon we will
wonder how a country supposedly based on the concept of freedom
and fair play can have drifted so far from this concept. The
mere suspicion of hostile intent and the possible possession
of weapons of mass destruction by another country (this time
Iraq who knows who will be next) are grounds to make war against
that country and encourage its citizens to overthrow their
Conservatives are turning our country that historically has
been a believer in the rule of law into an international bullyboy
who throws its weight around merely because he can. For a
time, we liberals have got to adopt one the traits of the
conservatives by standing united in our opposition to these
terrible policies that threaten the safety and virtue of our