Ads in major religious magazines call on elected officals to reject the "Inside-the-Beltway" pragmatism and "being realistic" that has led Democrats in power to policies that conflict with the desires of their own liberal/progressive base and do not address the real fears that have given life to a racist and quasi-fascist mass movement in the U.S.
The Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP), an interfaith organization of religious and spiritual progressives chaired by Rabbi Michael Lerner and co-chaired by Cornel West and Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, has invited secular liberals and progressives to join them at a national strategy conference of liberals and progressives at the Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill June 11-14.
Calling upon secular progressives to overcome their religio-phobia (which has, according to the NSP, crippled the Left by alienating major sections of the population whose economic interests are better served by the Left but whose religious aspirations are often scorned by a liberal culture that demeans religious believers), Rabbi Lerner has invited secular humanists and atheists to form a "united front" against what he calls a "quasi-fascist" revival of know nothingism, racism, anti-immigrant hatred, homophobia, and militarism that is scarily resembles the dynamics of the 1920s Weimar Republic in Germany just before the Nazis came to power." Because Lerner believes that the Tea Party movement, already influencing the direction of the Republican Party, may lay the foundation for an outright fascist movement in the U.S., he calls upon secular progressives to unite with spiritual progressives to develop a strategy for progressives during the Obama years.
In ads that appear this week in The Nation magazine (secular progressive), and this month in Tikkun magazine (spiritual progressives), The Christian Century (Protestant liberal), and Sojourners (Evangelical liberal), the Network of Spiritual Progressives state boldly that "religious and spiritual progressives have the vision that secular liberals and progressives need."
The NSP is calling its conference "The Caring Society." Rabbi Lerner calls for Congress and the Obama Administration to adopt those words as a unifying theme, and to overcome their antipathy to a shared worldview or ideology. "Spiritual and political wisdom in the 21st century," according to Rabbi Lerner, "starts with Americans acknowledging to ourselves and the world that our well being as citizens of the United States depends on the well-being of everyone on the planet, and the well-being of the planet itself."
In the ads, the NSP puts forward a spiritually based analysis of contemporary American politics. "The 2008 elections revealed the great
yearning of a majority of Americans for a world based on
peace, social justice, generosity, environmental sanity, and
recognition that our well-being is tied to the well-being of
everyone else on the planet.
"That yearning is in danger of being discredited as
disillusionment and despair is generated by the Obama
Administration's failure to fight for that vision.
"We are all too aware of the way that people in both par-
ties have sabotaged much of the Obama agenda, but we