It’s The Values, Stupid

Tikkun editor Rabbi Michael Lerner contributes a column to the April 24 issue of The Nation, in which he discusses the left’s “hostility to religion,” which he says is one of the main reasons people “who otherwise might be involved with progressive politics get turned off.” It’s certainly a noticeable trend in leftist discourse, this complete and utter distrust of religion. But why? Lerner speculates :

One reason is that conservatives have historically used religion to justify oppressive social systems and political regimes. But this can’t be the whole answer, since it’s not as if the left has never seen anyone misuse its own ideas to serve hateful and repressive purposes, from the Terror during the French Revolution to the Stalinist gulag in the Soviet Union. Another reason is that many of the most rigidly antireligious folk on the left are themselves refugees from repressive religious communities. Rightly rejecting the sexism, homophobia and authoritarianism they experienced in their own religious community, they unfairly generalize that to include all religious communities, unaware of the many religious communities that have played leadership roles in combating these and other forms of social injustice. Yet a third possible reason is that some on the left have never seen a religious community that embodies progressive values. But the left enjoyed some of its greatest success in the 1960s, when it was led by a black religious community and by a religious leader, Martin Luther King Jr.

So I am led to the conclusion that the main reason that underlies the left’s deep skepticism about religion is its members’ strong faith in a different kind of belief system.

Read on.

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