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June 8th, 2010
11:01 AM ET

Religious left airs Obama frustrations

The religious left, unhappy with the Obama administration, has organized a conference in Washington this weekend to call on the president to "Be the Obama that Americans thought we elected in 2008."

Led by Rabbi Michael Lerner, the event is officially called "Taking Back Washington From the 'Pragmatists' and 'Realists': A Strategy Conference for Religious and Secular Progressives," featuring the likes of evangelical minister Brian McLaren, Rep. Keith Ellison (one of Congress' two Muslim members) and Riverside Church minister emeritus James Forbes.

Here's Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives,  laying out his grievances in an e-mail today:

While Obama's constant compromising with the interests of Wall Street, huge corporations and the rich have allowed right-wingers like Sarah Palin and many in the Tea Party movement to present themselves as 'the new populists', we progressives face a very difficult problem: supporting Obama against a resurgent racism, hatred of immigrants, and militarism on the one hand, and yet recognizing that it has been the absence of a coherent ideological alternative to the Right that has caused the Obama Administration to look so lame to many Americans.

The Obama administration, for its part, has coordinated much more closely with newer, more centrist progressive religious groups - like Catholics United and Faith in Public Life, both formed after the 2004 election - than with the old-line religious left crowd gathering this weekend. Since the 2008 campaign, Obama's faith-based political operatives have worked on appealing to moderates who'd been previously turned off by the Democrats' perceived hostility to religion and by the party's pro-abortion rights stance, focusing much less on religious lefties.

Lerner & Co. are fed up with the Democrats' big tent faith strategy - and their protests are growing louder. Prominent religious left blogger Dan Schultz is publishing a book on the subject this summer. Will be interesting to see if Obama & Co. start listening.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Politics

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Reality

    Adoption is the better option. As is self-control!!!

    June 12, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  2. connie

    The Jewish holocaust was a horrible thing. The American holocaust is equally horrid. Millions of innocent people killed and accepted by our country. Of course there is forgiveness through Christ but the word is repentance. Jesus said: "Go and sin no more." Our country is in major trouble.....

    June 10, 2010 at 11:21 am |
  3. Reality

    I see labeling BO as the leader of the Immoral Majority did not go over well as my comments were deleted. This blog definitely has strange moderators. Or is any comment that someone reports as offensive is automatically deleted. Let us give that a try.

    June 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  4. Preacher

    Let me suggest to those Chrisitans who dare to live their lives according to the Bible, we are called to the ministry of reconcilliation and our approach to this issue should be addressed in Christian manner as should all our deportments.

    While remaining firm in our beleif that Gods way is always the right way. We must engage those who do not share our beliefs in a loving manner. Whether we agree or disagree with others on this issue or any other issue, we are commanded to love each other. Love will change more hearts than harsh words, laws, threats or any other evil acts.

    Let's stop protesting at abortion clinics and hurling insults at those who perform abortions, how has that worked so far? A better approach would be to show love and compassion for those who are wrestling with this issue by praying with and for them and reminding them that their are other options available to them. Show these women that they are loved by God.

    Finally, we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. In other words all of us have messed up whether the sin is over eating, stealing, lying, cheating, hating , lusting, etc. No sin is greater than the other. God is willing and able to forgive and restore..

    June 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
  5. Luke

    It is a tragedy that the people who are the most against abortion are the ones who would've benefited from it the most.

    June 8, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  6. Monica Gee

    I think abortion is a sad option and best avoided if possible Unfortunately, women sometimes find themselves pregnant and feeling desperate. It saddens me too that this has come down to a right for women and not an act of compassion. The reality too is that we do not know the experience of the embryo or fetus. How can we ? This is a case where it does not matter what you believe; it only matters what it true. And that truth is beyond our capabilities. I know many women who have had abortions. And, many women who are ashamed and very regretful of their decision after. I cannot think it right to change the abortion laws. I truly do just wish that we didn't need them.

    June 8, 2010 at 6:44 pm |
  7. lance

    liberal christianity, a plague just as bad as the fundamentalist.

    June 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm |
  8. Bandit346

    Abortion as horror in western culture goes way back before Our Lord and his followers. If you read the Hippocratic Oath, it is obvious that in ancient Greece, educated folk believed abortion evil. All reputable medical doctors used to take the oath. Obama is just the latest to jump on conservative Christians as being out of touch for opposing the slaughter of innocents. The One should complain about Hippocrates and western moral conviction.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  9. Catsitter01

    Hey Reality, As one of thos "non-parents" who made that choice, it was my choice and I will continue to vote and fight for the rights of other females to have that same choice. I guess you want to take me out and have me stoned as such an IMMORAL WOMAN. Just shut up, no one asked you to be born, it was a choice, pehaps even a mistake but here you are.

    June 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  10. Claes

    Yeah, better your righteous minority rules! After all we all agree that we are immoral and you're not and are happy to hand over power when we get that pointed out to us. You know, I see things differently, I think YOU are immoral. Abortion, according to me, is not immoral. Hence, I'm not going to agree that it's immoral, I simply disagree with that. The problem is that you don't just think there is a disagreement, you would be happy to outlaw my opinion if you get the chance to do so.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  11. Jim

    I wonder if the new silent moral majority isn't the moderates who, like me, are disgusted by the polarization of America that is constantly being stirred up in large part by the extreme left and extreme right religious zealots who dominate the media's attention and its presentation of the national dialog. Obama's promise was his stated intention to give the moderate viewpoint a voice. In my opinion that's what he has been doing much to the chagrin of the extremists on both sides.

    June 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  12. jonathan

    you saying 69 million Americans had abortions??? I didn't.. reality is there are rights to the women who for too long have had to bear the brunt of unwanted pregnancys..because of the instant abandonment by the other participants ....Right away you want this one issue to define a president. I don't.

    June 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
  13. jim

    I feel most people in America are really tired of both the far left and far right trying to dominate the conversation, no matter what the topic. If the President is to "stand up to someone" it should be based on sound principles not intractable ideology. I think most rational people don't care for abortion but also support women's rights and can see both sides of the issue. Perhaps that is why it is not a priority issue. Rather than advancing a particular ideology the President would be better served to outline a set of principles that guide his decision making and leave the application of faith to the individual and their relationship with God.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  14. Eric

    Religion has caused way more suffering historically than it has eliminated. If religion had any ethics, it would not take your money, but help you spend it on the truly needy. Instead of hindering science, it would support it and thereby support all the new technologies that save lives everyday. Instead of insisting that its bronze-age beliefs are correct, the world is flat, the sun revolves aroung the earth, they'd actually seek out truth and admit when its been wrong.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm |
    • jonathan

      Well now the bible does indicate that the earth is round in Isaiah 40:22...it is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth...
      Now how could Isaiah the son of amoz know that 26 hundred years ago 🙂

      June 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • VishaNu

      Perhaps, Eric, but you can only say that because religion in one form or another has been a dominating factor in most - if not all - societies throughout history and there have been and always will be members of society who deviate from the accepted beliefs of the majority.

      Do you think people who live in an atheistic society suffer less when they deviate from the long-standing folkways and mores of their environment? Maybe we should ask the oppressed citizens in the People's Republic of China.

      June 9, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  15. Don F.

    I fail to see the rationality behind the statement that "Mr. Obama's election is that he won it on the backs of 35 million aborted babies." Dead babies, not to be crude, don't vote and it is very unclear that they would have voted Republican if they had survived.

    While one can legitimately argue that abortion is in many ways a national tragedy one can not rationally argue that the Obama election was based or founded on it.

    June 8, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • jonathan

      What you say is true , however, the other side can only hear themselves talk.

      June 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  16. Scott

    Sadder yet is there are over a third of a billion people in the US. Roughly a quarter are under the age of 18 so that leaves a lot of non-voters. I think if everyone voted, you'd be surprised how big the majority is that disagrees with your views.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  17. Scott

    Thanks for the statement, Grace. That is true somewhat. I, however, don't think the Bible is our moral compass. You don't need the 10 Commandments to tell you it's wrong to kill, steal, cheat, etc. There have always been basic moral issues long before religions appeared, and only once we understand this will we move forward.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
  18. PeeYat

    Get a life. Leave abortion upto the woman...The world does not revolve around Christianity....Take a chill pill...

    June 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  19. Afi Grace

    As a Christian, I'll say this again; women were having abortion long before Obama became President; there are gays and lesbians in the Republican party and immorality was on earth before Obama became President. Christianity is a relationship with Christ not a political party.

    June 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
  20. dave

    only a small number of people felt abortion was the most important issue in the last election

    abortion is legal b/c of the Suprem Court and there is nothing a President can do about it (except for selection of Justices -- maybe - it was a Nixon appointee that wrote Roe v Wade) -- In this country no religion can write the laws

    June 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm |
    • jonathan

      you are so absolutely right but the other side CANNOT HEAR YOU!!!!!!

      June 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
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