What We Can Learn From Evangelicals’ Failures … and Successes

Posted on November 20, 2011 by

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Editorial Note: This following was originally published on tikkun.org in January 2010.

By Harriet Fraad

Conservative evangelical groups create a collective vision and connection while celebrating capitalist success as God’s blessing. They provide some of what people desperately need and the Left ignores, such as strong verbal support for important work in the home and a focus on the hard work of child rearing. Conservative evangelicals  manage to accomplish this while sex role stereotyping that labor, as well as opposing every form of non-church-based material support that actually allows families to stay afloat. They typically oppose single-payer health plans, Head Start for all, sex education (unless abstinence-based), family planning, maternity and paternity benefits, minimum wage hikes, etc. In the end they cannot deliver the support that families need. The savior they pray to has not saved them from financial and personal desperation and divorce.

Evangelicalism’s reduction of morality to personal morality and particularly sexual morality has an embarrassing side effect. Googling “evangelical scandals” results in 3,729,000 hits in five seconds. Evangelical scandals have resulted in reduced credibility. There is now an opportunity for the wider ethical spiritual morality of the community associated with Tikkun and left-leaning evangelicals connected to Sojourners who develop their social, economic, personal, and political morality, and who see political activity as an expression of morality taken into the world. We on the Left have an opportunity to champion our own moral, ethical, and spiritual vision to Americans who desperately need both morality and hope for a better world. Evangelical promotion of the centrality of personal connection and family gives the Left an opening to advocate material and psychological support for all kinds of families. The Left urgently needs a family program to address the mass breakdown of U.S. homes and families.

The evangelical groups can, ironically show us what we are missing. The failure of evangelical morality, which excludes social, economic, and political morality, may create an opening for a much-needed left-wing program of social, political, economic, and personal ethics and morality for which many hunger.

Editor’s Note: Harriet Fraad is a psychotherapist-hypnotherapist in practice in New York City. She is a founding member of the feminist movement and the journal Rethinking Marxism.  For forty years, she has been a radical committed to transforming U.S. personal and political life.

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Posted in: Freelance