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The Left Eats Its Own: NYT Profile Shows Deep Rift Between Christian and Secular Progressives

On Sunday, The New York Times published a story about the religious Left on the front page, suggesting a resurgence of Christian liberals in politics. But buried deep in the report was a stunning admission: religious liberals are at loggerheads with "secular fundamentalists," and the Democratic Party fears to promote religious voices in its ranks.

"Most progressive religious leaders I talk to, almost all of them, feel dissed by the left," the Reverend Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners, told the Times. "The left is really controlled by a lot of secular fundamentalists."

Yes, The New York Times printed a quote describing liberals as "secular fundamentalists." This statement did not even come from a conservative, but from a liberal evangelical Christian who has been active on the Left since 1971.

Wallis argued that "one party has strategically used and abused religion, while the other has had a habitually allergic and negative response to religion per se" (emphasis added).

That a long-time liberal like Wallis described the Republican Party as "strategically using and abusing religion" should come as no surprise — the real bombshell is his attack on the Democrats.

The Times reporter, Laurie Goodstein, tacitly admitted a growing gulf between religious liberals and secular progressives.

"As Republicans cemented the Christian right as a cornerstone of the party's base, Democrats moved in the opposite direction, so intent on separating church and state that they recoiled from courting religious blocs of voters," Goodstein reported, summarizing remarks from a former Democratic senator and presidential candidate, Gary Hart.

During his 1988 presidential campaign, Hart recalled being asked, "Why don't you talk about your religious background more?" His answer? "I don't want to be seen as pandering for votes."

Goodstein noted that "political appeals based on religious beliefs continue to carry risk for Democrats, given the growing numbers of Americans who claim no religion: Secular voters overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and younger voters are far more secular than older voters."

This side remark was actually a huge admission of the fundamental problems facing any attempt at a religious Left.