By Stephen Dick
CNHI News Service
Tennessee’s chairman of the Democratic Party, Roy Herron, raised the hackles of the self-righteous a couple of weeks ago when he wrote an op-ed piece in the Knoxville News Sentinel stating, “I am a Democrat because I am a Christian.”
Herron gave many personal examples of how Democratic policies have aided members of his family, from his grandmother’s Social Security and Medicare, his father’s GI Bill, the public education his family received and the policies that allowed the women in his family to flourish.
It’s great to see a Democrat come out and say this.
For too many years, religion was a province of conservatives whose only interest in God was to use Him to punish heathens who indulged in sexual activities.
The right set up its own take on God and the Bible and used it to beat up anyone who might deviate from their rigid, self-serving interpretation.
Turns out there was a whole lot more to religion that the narrow-minded right-wing version.
There was love and compassion and forgiveness and tolerance and acceptance, all anathema to the religious right’s bombast about our evil ways.
In the Bible, God said to love your neighbor as you would yourself.
Herron quotes this then adds that’s a far cry from the Republican friendly interpretation of the golden rule: He has the gold makes the rules.
The knives came out in some letters to rebut Herron.
What was interesting was the writers talked about personal responsibility toward the poor and unfortunate but growled that taxing them to help those people was wrong because the state is involved.
That’s a great conservative sleight of hand because it lets people off the hook by saying they should help others, but with taxes they not only should, they will.
And why would it make any difference where the help comes from?
If we are contributing to taxes that help others, we are contributing.
One letter writer endorsed Ayn Rand’s characters who created jobs and opportunities.
Surely the letter writer knows Rand was an atheist.
He should also know that those job creators have failed in their duties to help others by not providing jobs when capital and production warrant them.
If these faux Christians on the right truly think personal responsibility is so sanctified in the Bible, then they have to admit that the only way people can provide for themselves is to have jobs and earn decent salary, something the Randians of the world seek to deny them for their own gain.
The Bible is full of contradictions. Look at just one.
Galatians 6:5 says, “For each will have to bear his own load.”
Then Timothy 5:8 says, “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
What Democrats like Herron know and Republicans have yet to find out is that a person has to be consistent in his thoughts and deeds and not cherry pick biblical interpretations that suit their ideology.
This claim of Christianity by Democrats is long overdue.
For too long, the left has allowed the right to set the dialogue on religion, and that can be summed up as, “Sex and all its ramifications are bad.”
It’s time to put love, understanding and forgiveness first and not use religion as the right does, as a weapon against people who don’t look or act like Republicans.
Christianity wouldn’t be much of a religion if it punished people for being people.
It’s a celebrated religion because it accepts people’s weaknesses and pushes them to be better toward one another. You won’t find that in the conservative playbook.
Stephen Dick is an editor for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.