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Vol. 4, No. 3, 2005
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Robert J. Lewis
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Dear Mr. Moyers,

Those of us who tend toward secular, liberal world-views have had a nasty shock since the year 2000. We have discovered, to our rising alarm, that we may be a minority in this country. Poll after poll has demonstrated statistics that personally stagger me - the number of Americans who oppose gay marriage and abortion, who believe in a literal Virgin Birth or the coming Apocalypse. The prominence of fundamentalist Christian activist groups, and the media attention they have garnered since the recent election, have all fueled these fears to an alarmist pitch.

Nevertheless, I believe that giving in to these fears, and taking stands against the rising Christian movement, is the wrong direction for the Democratic party. And not merely for practical reasons, such as winning elections. When we look at these shocking fundamentalist groups and the accompanying population polls, it is easy to falsely "connect the dots," as you say in your article "No Tomorrow." For example, you point to a poll indicating that one third of Americans believe in the rapture index and draw the conclusion that the majority of these individuals would be unlikely to support legislation protecting the environment for future generations. This position, however, fails to account for the complexity of the average person's beliefs about God, society, right, and wrong. Christian activist groups would like the rest of the world to believe they control the beliefs of their fellowship with an iron fist. This is simply not true. 80 percent of Americans may check off a box on a form to say they believe that Mary gave conceived a child through divine intervention, but look how many of those same Americans have sex before marriage, divorce their spouses when their marriages fail, and curse when the skies open up and they've left their umbrellas back at the office. People are more interesting than herd-beasts that follow blindly the voice of the loudest (or most photogenic) shepherd. They form their own ideas of what is good and what is true. Some of these ideas come from the teachings of their Pastors, and some come from their families, social groups, and own life experience. I imagine that if the poll had asked directly about people's beliefs in the importance of protecting the environment, you would find a striking inconsistency with their answer to the question about the coming end of ages.

The thing I most fear is that these interesting, complex individuals of faith will not be given the choice to express their true beliefs in future elections. The more this "culture war" is framed as a battle of extremes, the more people will be forced to choose based on what they most fear, rather than what they most desire. And by setting ourselves up as those who portray Christians and their beliefs as a dangerous out-group, a group that makes extremist and irrational choices (rather than a group frustrated about a lack of good choices), liberals and Democrats may lose the opportunity to speak loudly for all the values we have in common.


Lara Kammrath,
New York, NY

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