The Atlantic’s Peter Beinart noticed something was missing from Beto O’Rourke’s March 14 video announcing his primary campaign for POTUS. Original thought? Coherent ideas? Self-awareness? Well, yeah, though as a left-winger, Beinert would never say it. No, it was something else.
What was missing was God.
Go ahead and shrug: The Democrats are the party of abortion and gay marriage and imagined constitutional “walls” between church and state — the Godless party — and for decades any religious talk they used was window dressing. All more or less true.
But window dressing matters. Every Democratic candidate through Obama tossed God into his or her appeals, maybe out of habit or to lull the “bitter clingers.” But they also regularly “invoked religion as a source of national unity,” Beinart writes. It had its uses.
Not anymore. “While white progressives once described religion as something that brought Americans together they’re now more likely to describe it as something that drives them apart,” according to Beinart, who points out that Bernie Sanders’s only campaign launch mention of faith was about “ending religious bigotry.”
Beinart cites unpublished Pew Research numbers saying that in 2016, a full 33% of Democrats had no religious affiliation. Beto and Bernie et al. don’t really have to bend the knee. Who’s going to complain, Pastor Debbie Mantrousers at the United Church of What’s Happening Now?
But our republic is built on compromise, and the dearth of believing Christians in one of our two major parties doesn’t bode well for deal-cutting. Just ask the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Beyond mere numbers, politics has rushed into the vacuum where religion should be. Citing another Pew study, Beinart writes that “Democrats who shun organized religion were more than twice as likely to have attended a political rally in the previous year than Democrats who identify with a religious group.”
Except progressive secularism is their religious group, and the state, in one form or another, is their deity.
The illusion of their own enlightenment would never allow them to admit it, but their pieties (some of which date all the way back to the 1960s!) are just as sacrosanct to them as ours are to us. If you’ve marched around D.C. with a “p***y hat” on your head, you really have no room to scoff at people who wear ashes on theirs.
And since every religion must be the One True Religion, the p***y hats want to convert or banish the ash-wearers. Again, ask the Little Sisters, or Hobby Lobby. Whatever else it may have been, the contraception mandate was a brutal exhibition of one religious group’s raw power over another.
What’s more, Marx got the “opiate of the masses” thing right. Christian humility is a brake on the inclination to remake the world every time a new letter joins the LGBTQ and sometimes Y conga line. Man and man’s condition can’t be perfected on this plane. Gratefully accept traditions, adjust them as necessary and keep on keepin’ on.
But the progressive secularist has no such governor. If someone gets his feelings hurt, the secularist is duty-bound to fire up the machinery of state to make it right. He believes fervently that he (or someone a little smarter who shares his beliefs) has the moral and mental authority to order the world as he sees fit. But, largely uninformed by history, theology, or a more rigorous guide to ethics than Oprah’s book club, his idea of order is arbitrary and ever-changing.
So yes, God’s gone missing from Democrats’ campaign announcements, and that should be troubling. Bernie’s worried about “religious bigotry.” So am I. I’m also worried about a religion that maintains that there’s no higher power in the universe than … Bernie Sanders.