The backlash was inevitable.
Last week, the Democratic Party filled its quadrennial convention with references to gods, appeals to gods and even the claim that gods are working for the Democrats. Well, that’s not entirely accurate; actually, all of the many references to gods during the Democratic National Convention were references to one, single, provincial God: the Abrahamic God of the Bible. That involved a fair amount of exclusion of Americans whose religious identity just doesn’t fit within the concept of an Abrahamic God. Americans who’ve been told they no longer fit inside the shrinking Democratic Party tent are understandably upset.
But even within the Abrahamic religious boundaries squabbling has broken out as members of various religious traditions and sectarian denominations ask why their religious viewpoint hasn’t been represented, or why on earth those other chaplains got a chance to get up stage. Take the Catholic News Agency, which is outraged — outraged!! — on behalf of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput because he was not invited to bless the Democratic National Convention in a benediction of his very own:
Democratic Convention’s non-invitation of Archbishop Chaput an “insult,” Democrat says
…Raymond Flynn, former Democratic mayor of Boston and former ambassador to the Vatican during the Clinton administration, said not inviting the archbishop to pray or speak was “a serious oversight.”
“Chaput is one of the most respected leaders of the Catholic Church in America,” he said, according to the Washington Times. “His record is a strong commitment to social and economic justice and the principles of the Catholic faith. He’s also a strong patriot.
“Pro-life Democrats who are proud Catholics like myself feel this is an insult to our values… The party should be aware there are strong pro-life people who are politically successful,” Flynn continued.
The fact that the bishop—an ardent pro-life Catholic—is committed to defending the unborn may not sit well with liberal Democrats who do not share his conservative views. As he put it, “I am trying to convince people that they should not be embarrassed at being Catholic and not buy the supposedly American notion that people should shelve their faith when they enter the public square.” In an era when moral absolutes have been relegated to a lesser role in society, the omission of Archbishop Chaput is an outrage to many conservative Christians—Catholic and non-Catholic alike—who do not embrace the moral relativism in our society.
Then there’s Peter S.’s response to a mushy-mouthed half-protest against humanist exclusion at the DNC by Greg Epstein:
This is a bunch of liberal horse-squeeze.
Religions differ radically from each other in their basic beliefs on God and the meaning of life and what comes after death. These beliefs govern to some extent the follower’s actions in this life. Some of these religions are subversive, violent, controlling, and militant. This is not acceptable.
If you want to be all-inclusive (which I think is a mistake) there should be at least some standards held by all in order to participate or the whole concept will break down. IE: denounce violence, freedom of speech, gender equality, no bondage/slavery, etc.
Well, I guess that would exclude all the religions based on the Old Testament then, Peter. But Peter and Brian and the Catholic News Agency are all following the same impulse: seeing that the Democratic Party decided to invite some religious sects into the political fold, they began a fight over which sects would garner the DNC stamp of approval and which would would be ostracized. The result was not a demonstration of religious inclusion, but rather a scuffle over the boundaries of religious exclusion.
The lesson from the DNC experience this year is clear. Want to start a religious civil war in America? Then by all means turn government into an instrument of religious proselytization. The mitres will be doffed and the crescents will be drawn before you can shout “Our Father who art in…”