The religious left is easy to ignore, for reasons that are hard to fathom. While a protest by Fred Phelps is instantly recognized as having something to do with religion, probably because he’s so well associated with homophobia, how many people know that one of the plaintiffs in the recent landmark marriage equality case in California was The Rev. Troy Perry (founder and former moderator of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches)? Oh, and he’s also the guy who performed the first public same-sex marriage in the Untied States, way back in 1969. Oh, and the MCC underwrote the filing fees for the case (and the lawyers worked pro bono).
How many people know that religious folks, including a student from my alma mater, are still going to jail for protesting at the School of the Americas?
How many people know that Christian Peacemaker Teams are still working in Iraq, Palestine, Colombia, the Mexican border, and elsewhere to give the oppressed and underprivileged what they need to survive?
How many people know that Catholic Worker Houses are still providing communities around the United States with tens of thousands of meals every week, along with toiletries, blankets, transitional housing, other needed items, listening ears, and connections to social services?
How many people know about the Center for Progressive Christianity or The Christian Alliance for Progress and their work on progressive issues like economic justice, peacemaking, environmental stewardship, and LGBTQ equality? Of course, those are just Christian organizations, but there are progressive organizations and movements in every religion.
How many people know that the church, the synagogue, the mosque, or the temple in their neighborhood is running a homeless shelter or a food pantry or a free clinic? While we’re at it, how many people know how much of the budget of their local religious community goes towards supporting those in need? How many people know that the person standing next to them at their last protest or rally was a member of a religious community?
It would be far too laborious a task to list everything that those in the religious left do, because it gets done everyday and in a variety of ways. The religious left is made up of bloggers and activists and lobbyists and front-liners. We write, we call congress, we ladle out soup. There are religious people involved in every aspect of the broader progressive movement – sometimes for the same reasons as the secular people involved, sometimes for different reasons.
So why don’t people know? What do we do about it?
I’ll get to that over the next few weeks.
Minor Update: Since this is a post in a series, I suppose I should link it to the previous post.
Kind of Important Update: Fixed the links.