Senate Democrats, trying to round up any help they can in pushing an unpopular legislative agenda through Congress, have decided to ignore that pesky wall of church-state separation and ask for help from (HORRORS!) the “faith community.” According to Religion News Service:
Top Senate Democrats said Wednesday (July 28) that Democrats need the help of religious groups in overcoming Republican opposition to key pieces of legislation.
In a media roundtable hosted by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Democrats’ Steering and Outreach Committee, senators said the majority of “the faith community” is fully on board with Democratic policies on immigration, health care and clean energy.
What she actually means is the National Council of Churches, the leadership of the declining mainline denominations and liberal Jewish organizations, some Catholic bishops, and Sojourners. People in the pews, who are against the policies in question in percentages similar to the rest of the population, don’t count.
Senate Democrats said the progress they’ve made on economic recovery and job growth is due to the continued support of faith communities. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, cited a common thread of “economic and social justice” between Democratic lawmakers and religious groups.
What he actually means is that people like Jim Wallis and Michael Kinnimon give Senate Democrats coverto do what they want to do anyway. No one in Washington is under any illusions that liberal religious leaders can actually persuade anyone of anything, but they allow people such as Sherrod to say, “but the ‘faith community’ supports us!”
But as the Democratic majority faces stiff resistance from the GOP on other legislation — “a battle on every bill we have put forward,” Stabenow said — religious groups need to play a larger role in supporting those bills.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., highlighted the “strength in numbers” that faith communities have, and urged them to continue “pushing back” against Republican opposition.
Now, the truth is I don’t have any problems at all with Klobuchar, Brown, and Stabenow appealing to liberal religious leaders to help them with their agenda, any more than I have a problem with Republican leaders appealing to conservative religious leaders for help with theirs. None of said leaders have to help, and in doing so they violate no laws, much less the Constitution (whether from the standpoint of their theological commitments they should do so is another question entirely). I only mention it so say that if, say, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, and Tom Coburn had asked for religious leaders for help opposing comprehensive immigration reform, saving the Bush tax cuts, and repealing ObamaCare, Americans United and its ilk would be screaming to high heaven about the “Religious Right” and its efforts to destroy America as we know it and impose a theocracy straight out of A Handmaid’s Tale.