Is There a Religious Center/Left? Or, What Would DuBois Do?

Since we're on DuBois week, whom Ed Blum has memorably portrayed as a member of the prophetic religious left, it's a good time to consider whether there is now a religious center/left. I've often asked students that, and given my stock response -- that there probably is, but it's scattered and disorganized and has little influence, as compared to the well-organized and extremely effective religious right. Likely my response is tainted by being here in an evangelical/conservative mecca such as Colorado Springs, but it's also just from observing who has been able to get things done on a national level, and who has not.

Increasingly I'm beginning to think that my stock response is wrong, as evidence of religious center/left organization seem to be cropping up in a number of places -- in evangelical attacks on the religious right by scholars such as Charles Marsh (Wayward Christian Soldiers) and Randall Balmer (Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament), in conferences, in political speeches such as that recently given by Barack Obama (speech text is here, while Amy Sullivan gives an astute analysis of it in Slate), in surveys that have documented the disproportionate media attention given to the religious right (see Left Behind: The Skewed Representation of Religion in Major News Media), and in blogs such as Generous Orthodoxy (and many others as well, I'm sure). Younger evangelicals, when polled, express admiration for Bono and concern for global warming.

What would DuBois do? Yes, I know -- which Du Bois? But I'm guessing he would have been heartened; these are the sentiments and the kind of folk who created the NAACP and carried forward racial reform long before anyone had heard of Brown or the Board of Ed. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be able to capitalize politically on this sentiment, or whether this "sentiment" can be organized into a force to be reckoned with. Who will be the Dobson of the religious center/left?


John Fea at: July 5, 2007 at 4:50 PM said...


Great post. I found your blog on the Cliopatrial blogroll and have enjoyed reading it so far. --John

Paul Harvey at: July 5, 2007 at 5:55 PM said...

John: Thanks! Please spread the blog address to Am. religious hsitory folks, and let me know if you have any interest in contributing to the blog -- Paul

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