Thursday, December 3, 2009

A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO (Part 4 in a series)

This is the fourth part of a series designed to illustrate the progressive view on a wide variety of topics. It is presented so that conservatives, moderates, independents, and the apolitical will all have a better understanding of who we are and what and why we believe as we do. Again, I do not profess to speak for all progressives, but I think most of them will find a similarity between what I express here and their own beliefs.


There is a misconception out there that Progressives are anti-religion and simoly hate Christians. This is not at all true. Progressives believe in a large degree of individual social freedom. This includes freedom of expression AND freedom of religion. So long as the exercising of one's freedom does not hurt others or unduly infringe on their freedom or individuality, we generally oppose most restrictions on social freedom. This dedication to individual liberty means that Progressives respect the rights of all persons to believe, or not believe, as they wish; to join, or not join, a particular church or organization. We do not think a person's belief system should bar him or her from any type of employment or group.

Unlike theocracies, as in the case of Iran, where a specific religious belief dictates all law, modes of dress, and conduct, ours is a democracy, which gives its citizens the right of free action and expression within the structure of a broad legal framework. This legal framework is based in part on a long history of Judeo-Christian tradition. But neither the Jewish faith, nor the Christian faith (of any denomination), dictates or controls that legal system or the government it upholds. Unlike medieval Europe, we in the United States have no established state religion and instead follow a practice of strict separation between church and state. This wise measure prevents the occurrence of bloody religious pogroms and inquisitions which have arisen in other countries over the years. It is also an extension of what Jews and Christias alike believe was God's intention to give us all a Free Will. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus Himself even once advised those in the Temple to "give to Caesar that which is Caesar's, but give to God that which is God's." This notion of a separation between church and state is the basis for the banning of required prayer, or the display of religious icons, in public schools or government buildings. My own personal belief, and, I would think, that of libertarians and other true progressives, is that VOLUNTARY prayer in public schools, and the VOLUNTARY inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance", as well as mentions of "Christmas" and "Easter" should not be forbidden, as doing so restricts the rights of the religious to express themselves, and such expressions are not lengthy or disruptive in any case. But that is my personal view.

We Progressives believe that churches cross over an unacceptable line when they actively advise their flocks to vote for or against a specific candidate or party. After all, churches enjoy a tax-exempt status in this country, so we don't believe they should be biting the hand which gives them that freedom from taxation in such a way. Rather, since we believe that they, too, have the right of free expression, we believe their voice would be better directed at their flocks in terms of providing moral and spiritual guidance on issues as opposed to ideology.


Progressives do not believe there should be any discrimination against gays, lesbians, or transgender persons whatsoever. We believe it is wrong to deny anyone accomodation, employment, insurance coverage, hospital visiting rights, or anything else due to sexual preference. Unless engaged in disruptive or harmful behavior, or criminal acts with minors, we see no need to restrict those who are not heterosexual due to their private bedroom activities. After all, the state does not regulate or forbid dominant/submissive, blonde/redhead, overweight/underweight, tall/small, or any other type of physical and emotional relationship, so we believe the same standards should be applied here. And further, wee believe that what transpires in any bedroom between consenting adults is their business, and their business alone.

Progressives also believe in a woman's right to choice. We may not agree with her decision, but we recognize her fundamental and legal right to end an unwanted pregnancy as she chooses, without having to resort to old-fashioned, dangerous, back alley abortions. Being pro-choice, however, does NOT necessarily mean Progressives are pro-abortion.I personally hate abortion, and view it as the lowest act of personal irresponsibility when taken solely for matters of convenience or economics. Again, this is my personal viewpoint, and I do respect the legal precedent which has established a woman's right of choice. I only hope that each woman wishing to have an abortion would first give serious thought to the rights of her unborn child, and would make it a point for her and her partner to both engage in responsible sexual practices from that point onward, so as to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Here is where churches and schools should and could play a tremendously beneficial moral, spiritual, and educational role in the initial shaping of sexual attitudes, we Progressives believe.

By and large, we share the Libertarian belief that the state should stay out of people's bedrooms, and in most matters of personal behavior, and that the church should be kept separate from the state.



MadMike said...

I have never laid claim to being a Progressive, or a Liberal or Conservative for that matter. I pretty much evaluate each issue and make a decision based on the evaluation. I must admit, however, that from time to time my heart has overruled my head. On the religious issue I find myself disliking the entire phenomenon. I cannot abide the hypocrisy. I wasn't always like this. As a matter of fact my intense dislike of all things Jesus became more pronounced following the election of George Bush. No surprise there I guess. Great read Jack.

Jack Jodell said...

Thanks, MadMike. In my view, there is much to consider and little to dislike in the teachings of Jesus, but there is much to dislike in the actions and pronouncements of those who lie, cheat, steal, and wage war in His name!

Stimpson said...

Sorry, Jack, but I couldn't read much of this post as I think Christopher Hitchens summed up my view of religion with the subtitle of a book: Religion Poisons Everything.

Jack Jodell said...

And that is your perogative, my friend. But ours' being free countries, my point was that the religious community has a right to self-expression, but not control over others. You evidently didn't read far enough to pick up that point...

TomCat said...

Jack, you have hit the nail on the head. I am both a progressive, and a Christian, albeit an unconventional one. I honor the faith of those with different beliefs, and am tolerant of all beliefs, with one exception. Jesus was intolerant of the religious hypocrites of his day, who expressed their lack of authentic faith by their intolerance toward all who did not abide by their legalistic piety codes. I try to follow his example.

Due to your comment at PP yesterday, you have a prominent role in today's top article. Given your article today, your role there is quite hilarious. ;-)

Beach Bum said...

After all, churches enjoy a tax-exempt status in this country...

If everyone wised up and made me emperor that would the one of the first things I correct. The small churches I grew up attending have largely been replaced, at least for white people, with huge mega-churches with the pastor driving nothing less than a BMW, Lexus, or Benz.

Long story short much of these mega-churches while claiming helping the down and out from my observations spend an awful lot of money on high tech-gizmos and trips to very touristy destinations where missionary work can take on a different meaning.
If I had my way churches would be taxed like any corporation which at least in my view they seem to be more like now.

I personally hate abortion, and view it as the lowest act of personal irresponsibility when taken solely for matters of convenience or economics.

I feel the same way and have been blasted as being a closet pro-lifer when I mentioned the subject.

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you. It appears that we see eye to eye on quite a number of things, and we are both open-minded and tolerant people. That little surprise in point five at the end of your post today made me chuckle, and I responded in your comments section. Thank you, my friend!
Beach Bum,
Those mega-churches of which you speak are a relatively new phenomenon (within the last 35 years or so), and, in many cases, do seem to resemble for-profit corporations more than houses of worship. The Jim Bakkers, Pat Robertsons, and their ilk are a troubling lot, and you may have a very goods point there that those kinds of institutions should be taxed. But where does one draw the line between which churches should, and which shouldn't, be taxed? If we simply started taxing ALL of them now, I think there would be a fanatical and riotous march on the Capitol that would make the teabaggers look like they were comatose!

MadMike said...

OK Jack so what the hell? Where is the next part? I keep reading these time and again. I might use them if you don't mind. It is such good stuff!

Jack Jodell said...

Thank you for that kind compliment. I am flattered that you feel as you do about these, and please feel free to use whatever you want in this blog wherever you want. I'm not some kind of corporate pig who'll sue ya for copyright infringement or any such nonsense. :-)

I wish I had the time and energy to do daily posts, like you and TomCat and a few others are able to do. Maybe someday...

TRUTH 101 said...

Jesus is my Brother and God is our Father. I have no problem with them. It's the creeps that claim to know what they wnat and will do if we don't do as they (the creeps) say that I despise.

And no. I don't take The Bible literally.

And the hijacking of religion by the scum that preaches brotherly love and poverty then drives around in BMW's and live in mansions is the same as the republican hypocrites that preach fiscal responsibility and law and order, then pull the crap that Jack exposed.

Jack Jodell said...

I agree. A hypocrite is a hypocrite, and when they try and mold religion to justify their excesses, it is infuriating.