“Clowns to the left of me
Jokers to the right
Here I am stuck in the middle with you.” — Gerry Rafferty
The debate over Abbott’s stunt with the migrants brought a lot of thoughts to the forefront. The standard response I have seen only usually comes from those that want to charge Greg Abbott with a crime. It seems they think he purposefully endangered their lives and they seem to be under the impression that this constitutes a crime. I don’t know where they would get that idea from.
Of course, the other standard fare is to point out of hypocrisy of it all. You have a group of people that strut around and broadcast how Christian they are, but they do stuff like this. We’ve talked a lot about low information voters a lot, but we haven’t talked a lot about low information Christians. The pews are full on Christmas day of people you don’t recognize. They haven’t been there before and they likely won’t be back next Sunday. You know what I’m talking about.
It’s a touchy subject. I don’t want to shame people that just came back to church because you want them to feel welcome and you want to see them again. However, these are the same folks that loudly announce they are Christian and have very little idea of what that means. They are the ones pulling the lever for a GOP that thinks they are the party of Christians and yet don’t have a whole lot in their platform that resembles the Christianity I know.
You see, this is the spot where I differ with most liberals and progressives. I am a devout Catholic and I am a committed progressive. I am not progressive in spite of my Catholicism. I am progressive because of it. Our Lord and savior was a refugee. This is not a symbolic or philosophical point. He was quite literally a refugee. When King Herrod aimed to kill him, Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt. An angel tipped them off and they were welcomed in an unknown land. Maybe welcomed is a strong term, but they certainly weren’t hassled and they weren’t bussed to Kenya because the pharaoh wanted to score cheap political points with his base.
Those that have read most of these know a few things. They know I care about issue framing. To put it simply, the phrasing you use to talk about issues matter. How you sell yourself matters. Most people consider themselves to be people of faith. They may be what we lovingly call “Chreasters” (Christmas and Easter) but they respond to language couched in those vague terms. So, when you jettison that from your political language and move away from that then they assume those values are foreign to your movement.
In order words, if faith is a bad thing and secular humanism is a good thing then I cannot support progressivism if I am a person of faith. In point of fact, I can and I should. If I pay attention to what Jesus taught us then I can’t help but be progressive. I can’t help but be in favor of making the immigrant or refugee’s life better. I can’t help but support policies that help the poor make their lives better. I cannot help but support disparate communities and groups of people. This is all a part of Christ’s message.
This isn’t to say that you have to be Christian to be progressive. You can believe in those things and follow any faith or no faith at all. That’s not really the point to all of this. The point is that most people do follow that or at least they think they do. Yet, if they sit in the pew only once or twice a year they won’t know that the GOP’s version of Jesus isn’t the real one. They will only know if you tell them. They will only know if you give them an alternative.