(This piece originally appeared on December 20, 2010. Given the Obama Administration’s recent decision to force Catholics to fund contraception against their religious beliefs, I thought I would repost this, as it remains all too timely.)
Yesterday I read this piece on how Democrats gave up trying to reach out to people of religious faith. I didn’t know that Democrats had seven people working on the faith-based outreach efforts in the 2008 election cycle, or that they made small but measurable inroads among evangelical voters (to go along with their inroads among theoretically conservative pundits with a fetish for well-creased pants legs). In the 2010 election cycles, those seven staffers were down to one.
But missing from the article is the most obvious reason for the decline of religious voters in the Democratic Party: the naked contempt liberals exhibit for religious believers. This contempt can be found in pretty much every online forum where liberals gather.
In the liberal worldview, believers are bitter people clinging to guns and religion. They’re rubes and dupes who believe in an invisible sky wizard, and are to be made fun of at every chance with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They just can’t help but feeling contempt for those inbred redneck freaks of Jesusland.
There’s a double-standard liberals seem to apply when judging professions of faith: When they come from Republicans like George W. Bush or Sarah Palin, they’re a sign that they’re morons, when they come from Democrats like John Kerry or Barack Obama, they’re a sign they’re canny politicians. Democratic insiders just naturally assume than any expression of faith on behalf of a Democratic office-seeker is just for show, and they don’t really believe any of that God nonsense.
Not all liberals have this contempt, but I suspect that it is the default attitude of those staffing liberal organizations and congressional offices: We, the enlightened few, must somehow find a way to dumb down our message about the wonders of Big Government enough so even those ignorant religious hicks can understand it. It’s hard to make your case to people who fill you with contempt. But more and more, contempt for people who don’t believe in the virtues of big government seem to be the only thing holding the left together. Well, that and divying up the spoils.
Of course, not all believers are considered equal. Though the urban secular atheists who make up the core of modern liberalism theoretically have the same attitude toward all religious faiths, their true animosity is generally reserved for Christianity in general, and evangelicals and Catholics in particular. (Muslims are exempt for this contempt, due to the Religion of Peace™ now being at apex of Identity Politics Victimhood, and their tendency to decapitate critics seems to provide a powerful deterrent to liberal criticism.) After all, they’re the ones clinging so bitterly to guns and religion, and therefore thwarting liberal dreams election after election.
Keep in mind that I myself am not a religious believer; as an agnostic, I have no God in this fight. But I’m a great believer in the social utility of religion.
If liberals actually wanted to reach out to religious believers, they might want to start by substituting respect for naked contempt. How likely is that? Well, for an answer, you might look to the fable of the frog and the scorpion…