Photo courtesy of Work in Progress
Liberal: n. A proponent of liberalism, or the belief system which maximizes individual liberty through rights protected by law. Liberalism is characterized by pluralistic democracy, or government of, for and by the people with equal rights for all citizens, regardless of class, creed or race. Such liberal democracy believes in the right of the people to determine the nature of their collective government through open and fair elections. Liberalism believes in democratic government as opposed to government based upon appeals to authority such as the divine right of kings or claims by organized religion. Basic operating principles of liberalism include transparency, or the right to know and be informed of the workings of government and power, and the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Such rights include the individual having the right to make her own decisions regarding her beliefs and body without undue interference from the state. Liberalism stresses the rule of law taking precedence over rule by force, and the free marketplace of ideas and goods.
Synonyms for liberal include big-hearted, bounteous, broad-minded, free-spirited, generous, nonconformist, open-minded, progressive, selfless and tolerant. Besides conservative, antonyms include buttoned-down, conformist, conventional, customary, formal, materialistic, orthodox, rigid, resistant to change and square.
The synonyms for liberal best describe Jesus. That is not to say, by any means, that people calling themselves conservatives automatically display all of the traits characterized by the antonyms. Many conservatives are generous and free-spirited for example. After all, an authentic American conservative is a bleeding-heart liberal compared to reactionary conservatives in fundamentalist theocratic societies. Moreover, western liberals certainly don 't have a monopoly on positive personality traits. Truly, too many so-called contemporary liberals can display many of the antipodal traits of liberalism. There are leftists who can be downright fundamentalist.
Of course, I am referring to an ideal continuum in talking of liberals and conservatives. In realty, nobody fits 100% into any conceptualized standard. People are far too complex to be easily pigeonholed or written off into categories that they have to fit by definition. How much more true this is when we consider how we have pigeonholed God through our limited conceptual abilities. So, since we can 't apparently agree on God and politics, can we at least agree to civilly disagree and let live? Or, is that too liberal?