Well, it’s early in the day, so I suppose anything is possible, but the staffer Jessalyn Pinneo of the Interfaith Alliance may have written the silliest thing I’ll read, not only today, but for a long time to come. Commenting on a Kathleen Parker column that essentially said that evangelical Christians shouldn’t live out their faith in the public square (apparently only liberal Christians are allowed to do that), Pinneo wrote:
Having large blocs of people with similar beliefs who vote together isn’t a bad thing – in fact, it’s one of the main ideas behind the democratic process. But having large blocs of people who think their common belief should be imposed by the government on everyone who doesn’t already agree with them is certainly not democracy, and is in fact the very antithesis of what the founders intended. [Emphasis in original.]
This is a genuinely extraordinary statement. If I don’t miss my guess, the election just concluded was, to at least some extent, about imposing beliefs on lots of people who don’t agree with them. Millions of people voted, whether consciously or not, for the Freedom of Choice Act, for federal funding of both abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, for a less confrontational approach to terrorism and terrorism-enabling states, for greater support of the United Nations, for massive spending on alternative energy and a refusal to expand domestic oil and natural gas production, for treating anthropogenic climate change as established fact, etc. Those are all debatable propositions, and many of them have a religious component, if one chooses to see them through that lens. (Ask Jim Wallis of Sojourners or Michael Kinnamon of the NCC whether he sees carbon output reduction or a greater role for the UN as merely matters of public policy and see what answers you get.) To think that elections aren’t about the majority imposing beliefs on a minority that disagrees kind of makes you wonder what the point of elections is. For that matter, why would people of like mind vote together if they didn’t think that it would make any difference to whether their beliefs got translated into public policy? I think it’s fair to say that anyone who could write something like that truly doesn’t understand what democracy is, or what it is for, but given the source, that really isn’t surprising.
The folks at the Interfaith Alliance and their co-ideologists on the religious left–many of whom are joyously looking forward to restaking their claim to influence in Washington with the arrival of the new administration–are consumed with the notion that the religious right is not only wrong about public policy questions, but that its very presence in the political arena is illegitimate. That’s an illiberal mindset that that suggests a strong authoritarian streak runs through the politically active religious left in this country. And they’re worried about a theocracy of the right?
UPDATE: Interfaith Alliance staffer Jessalyn Pinneo has left a comment that says that it was she, rather than the Rev. Welton Gaddy, who wrote the blog in question. And it turns out that her name was right at the top, which I completely missed (not the dumbest thing I’ve done today, unfortunately). I apologize for the error, appreciate her bringing my attention to the misinformation, and have corrected the post accordingly.