The press is still up in arms about how the election fell along moral, cultural lines rather than economic. My Google news search turned up thousands of stories. As I wrote yesterday, I think there certainly is a religious divide in America, although I would prefer to label it a worldview conflict. At a certain level, this conflict is between those who believe that God actually exists and those who don’t. (Atheistic New England college professors and New York journalists versus theistic Alabama and Utah business owning church-goers)
However, at another level, this battle is theological. A much larger part of the fight is not between worldviews (atheist versus theist) but between liberal and conservative theists. Almost everybody believes in God in this country. They just disagree over what He is like and what He desires.
Same sex marriage got voted down decisively in 11 states because I believe most people don’t think that God intended the family to operate that way. However, rather than fight that notion by saying there is no God, I just saw radical feminist and gay activist Patrica Ireland defending homosexuality on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes by saying that "Jesus never talked about it." She was making a theological argument. How great! At least on that level we can have an intelligent discussion. I only hope the culture war continues to be framed in theological terms. If this report in today’s LA Times is an indication, we just might be:
…liberal believers, meanwhile, found the results deeply disconcerting, but also saw them as a call to action. "This election confirmed that we are a divided nation, not only politically but in terms of our interpretation of God’s will," said the Rev. Robert Edgar, a former Democratic congressman and general secretary of the National Council of Churches. The Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State put it more starkly. "The culture war may go nuclear," he said, as "millions of Americans oppose the theocratic agenda of the Religious Right." The problem, said Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, is that too many fellow liberals are "trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the right." They need to shed a core belief that Bush voters "are fundamentally stupid or evil." The left, he and others argue, has to show the religious basis for its policy positions and not let the right define morality.
Bring it on – I can’t wait. If we can only get people talking about religion and religious belief in terms of which are true and which are false instead of which we like and which we don’t, the future may be brighter than I think.