I believe the adoption of the concept of the separation of church and state that our government is founded upon is one of the most significant reasons we have had some success in trying to create a just society, though we have a very, very long way yet to go.
An article in the New York Times yesterday by Samuel Freedman, For Hillary Clinton and Democrats, a Public Shift Toward ‘God-Talk’ discusses how the Clinton campaign has used love and justice as connected concepts.
“Liberals have been more comfortable talking about justice than love,” Jennifer A. Herdt, a professor of Christian ethics at Yale Divinity School said. “What we’re now seeing is the recovery of an understanding of love and justice as connected to each other, this notion of love reviving the heart of democracy. Because democracy has a heart. It’s not just about your individual project. It’s about coming together.”
That is the very language Rev. William Barber used in his amazing speech at the Democratic National Convention. He said we need to be the “moral defibrillators” of our time, and “shock this nation with the power of love”.
In the article, Freedman says “On issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and aid to parochial schools, the Democrats have coalesced around separation of church and state.
The one contrary example in modern liberalism was the civil rights movement. No matter how much progressives might wish to play it down, that political effort was organized by members of the clergy, mobilized through churches and infused with religious language. In a 1962 sermon, “Levels of Love,” Dr. King based the quest for civil rights in agape’s command that humans should emulate God by loving others, even their enemies, however different in class, race, religion, and political belief.”
I recently wrote about the MPOLIS (Moral Political Organizing Leadership Institute Summit) I attended with Rev. Dr. William Barber, which was about organizing the faith community to launch the civil rights movement of our time. You will be hearing more about this soon.
As a beginning step, people are urged to sign the Higher Ground Moral Declaration:
Higher Ground Moral Declaration
We declare that the deepest public concerns of our nation and faith traditions are how our society treats the poor, those on the margins, the least of these, women, children, workers, immigrants and the sick; equality and representation under the law; and the desire for peace, love and harmony within and among nations.
Together, we lift up and defend the most sacred moral principles of our faith and constitutional values, which are: the economic liberation of all people; ensuring every child receives access to quality education; healthcare access for all; criminal justice reform; and ensuring historically marginalized communities have equal protection under the law.
Our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family.
We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values.