Religion and Progressive Politics
The presence of religion in U.S. politics is extensive. There is no shortage of preachers promising salvation. Some tend to be strongly conservative and promote a right-wing agenda. But there is a counter-tradition from the progressive side. It goes back to Dorothy Day, the Berrigan brothers, Martin Luther King, Jr., to the present with Sister Helen Prejean struggling to end the death penalty and Father Roy Bourgeois fighting to close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, a major training center for Latin American tyrants. They see justice and peace as fulfilling social gospel injunctions. Their activism stirs controversy and debate. There’s an interesting quote which captures some of this. A Brazilian archbishop once said, “When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
Robert Jensen is professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of Citizens of the Empire, The Heart of Whiteness, All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, and Arguing for Our Lives.