This Week’s Mtg: What Is “Liberal” Christianity?

This was my idea.  I persuaded Steve Mather to do the introductory remarks [See end of post for his recommended background readings].  Steve is the  minister at a Coronado church, so we’re in good hands.  “Liberal” Christianity can mean different things, of course: Theologically liberal, politically liberal, personally liberal (child rearing, sexuality, etc.).  It’s Steve’s show, so we’ll see what he has in mind.  Lace will be there, too.

I wanted us to do this topic specifically because I’m always frustrated by the distorted or just plain absent discussions of American Christianity in the news media.  The subject is either ignored (maybe due to the media’s unfamiliarity with or indifference to religion, as we discussed on February 3), or focused obsessively on the religious right.  Both distort.

In fact, according to this chart from the Atlantic Monthly/Pew Center, when viewed along the two dimensions of their (1) cultural values, and (2) economic values, Americans can be grouped into 12 spiritual or religious “tribes:”


Religious right: White evangelical Protestants with traditional beliefs and practices

Heartland culture warriors: White non-evangelical Christians with traditional beliefs and practices

Moderate evangelicals: White evangelical Protestants with moderate beliefs and practices

White-bread Protestants: White mainline Protestants with moderate beliefs and practices

Convertible Catholics: Non-Latino Catholics with moderate beliefs and practices

Religious left: White Christians with liberal beliefs and practices

Muslims and Others: Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious groups not otherwise categorized

Seculars: Voters with no religious affiliation, beliefs, or practices

Jews, Latino Christians, black Protestants, and the spiritual but not religious are self-explanatory


See, in sheer numbers, the religious right does not dominate as much as our political dialogue makes it seem they do.  There are many, many American Christians who are in the middle or even can be described as in the “religious Left.”  That’s why I wanted to have this topic.  We need to talk about the other side: Liberal people of faith.

We’ll let Steve do his thing.  But, here are a few links related to progressive Christian political activity:

  1. Bill Moyers and three scholars discuss the relevance today of the Social Gospel.
  2., a progressive group.
  3. Sojourners: “Christians for justice and peace.”  See their full-page ad, “What Would Jesus Cut?”opposing Republican budget cuts to the children, the poor, and the vulnerable.

[UPDATE:  Steve recommends as background the following:]


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