I think Amanda’s take on Amy Sullivan’s denigration of the term pro-choice is pretty dead on. But something else about that interview bothered me, and it was Sullivan’s need for religious validation from political figures and parties. In the interview, Sullivan says:
When you write off Catholics and evangelicals as not your voters, you’re stereotyping. When you make fun of John Ashcroft or George W. Bush for praying, you are giving off a sense that there’s something wrong with that. That there’s something ridiculous about people who spend their mornings with prayer. And we’ve seen this in the polling data as well: When we ask people if they think Democrats are friendly to people of faith, only 29 percent think that now. And those numbers were in the high 40s and 50s a few years ago. So whether it’s a result of Republican spin or failures the Democrats have had themselves, the end result is they’re being seen as hostile to faith and they’re not getting all of the religious voters who really should be with the Democratic Party.
To the extent that many Democrats–including religious Democrats–feel uncomfortable with religious displays by political figures, I think it revolves around the related issues of validation and exclusion.
I don’t need or want a political figure to validate my religious beliefs. On the contrary, as a member of a religious minority (and here’s where the post title comes in), I feel very uncomfortable when politicians do this, because, almost certainly, they are excluding (or invalidating) other religions, even if they don’t realize it. Granted, a non-denominational “Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub! Yay, God!” type of prayer wouldn’t bother me (although I don’t really see the need for one in a politically-related setting), but it would probably bother many atheists, who would feel excluded. From personal experience, this sort of exclusion feels awful. And, most importantly, unless you feel the need for religious validation from political figures (and that’s just fucking stupid), it is not necessary.
That’s ultimately what bothers me about Sullivan. Protestant Christians have been the theological default setting in the U.S. (while at the same time, some claim to be discriminated against. Go figure…). Now that they’re not, they get to join the rest of us religious minority types. If every time their religious beliefs and practices will not be granted special ‘supraecumenical’ status (even when they’re actually quite sectarian), they think they’re being discriminated against, then they’re going to have a very long next couple of decades.
Welcome to Minorityville.
Update: Amanda has more.