Skip to comments.Mike McCurry: How My Party Found God (Democrats)[Reports from an alternate universe]
Posted on 12/26/2008 2:24:21 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
Liberals have practiced secular politics since the 1960s, but with the ascent of Barack Obama, the left discovered it can actually keep the faith.
When I was a high school kid in 1969, my church youth group leader took a bunch of us to Berkeley in the aftermath of the Peoples Park uprising so we could soak in the café scene and experience some of what he was witnessing as a young seminarian at the Pacific School of Religion. The rigid establishment was being overthrown in politics and the church and something new in activism was being caffeinated. It would be a long time before that bundle of hormones would sit still again for Bible study.
For the progressive left, social activism grounded in faith and theology crested in the 1960s. Martin Luther King Jr.s Letter from Birmingham Jail was maybe the high water mark a Biblical-based sermon addressed from one black preacher to a group of his white, Southern peers, calling for a radical transformation of perspective on the main social issue of the day.
That history needs to be remembered because faith-based social activism on the left largely disappeared for a generation in the aftermath of the 1960s. Various movements flowered the antiwar, feminist, and environmental movements and the action in the streets helped stimulate enormous social change. But organized religion in the Catholic and mainstream Protestant denominations began its slow, steady decline in the midst of the social turmoil.
For me, and maybe for many religious kids of the 60s, the church lost relevance the more it became a surrogate in the movement for social and political change. Why go to church to learn how to seize political power and change the established order? The more the debates in the pews became secular and political, the more the congregation left the sanctuary in order to put belief into practice.
The result was a long dormancy in which many Democrats became uncomfortable with open expressions of faith. Conservatives became the ones who invoked God and the Bible in the name of their narrow social-political agenda. Their majority was moral and their coalitions Christian and they married faith and political activism in the tradition we now call wedge politics.
The liberal faithful fled the scene in favor of latte and Tim Russert on Sunday mornings. Organized expressions of faith were rare at Democratic party gatherings. When I worked at the White House in the mid-1990s, I would not have dreamed of sharing my beliefs on faith with my colleagues. Our prayer and spiritual life was furtive even though we were all drawing on it to make it through rough and trying days. I sat next to George Stephanopoulos for a whole year on the campaign trail in 1996 and never discussed the moral turmoil he writes about in his book, All Too Human. More than once, I inadvertently interrupted Rahm Emanuels weekly session with his rabbi as they studied the Torah (yes, that Rahm Emanuel), but it never occurred to me to pull up a seat and join in the conversation.
All that is changing now. In Barack Obama, Democrats have put forth a man of strong religious faith who is comfortable connecting his spiritual life to his public role as a policymaker. Obamas campaign benefited from a determined effort which started during the 2004 campaign and accelerated since to reach out to communities of faith and let them know that Democrats are their brothers and sisters.
Measuring the political impact of this faith outreach is tricky. It is still true that the more religious Americans who vote are more likely to be Republican and conservative. And it is still true that for most evangelical Christian voters, Democrats are off limits because their leadership does not believe that abortion is an unlawful taking of an innocent human life and that homosexuality is not a sin.
But the real measure of how Democrats succeeded in reaching out to the devout is located in the margins. Indiana is not a state that a Democrat could have carried without connecting in an authentic way to deeply religious voters. In places where Democrats organized real outreach to mainstream Protestant and Catholic congregations, the share of Obamas vote went up compared to the percentage John Kerry won in 2004.
Connecting to religious people was pretty simple. More than three-fourths of all voters describe themselves as religious, and they are easily interested in how a candidate talks about his or her spiritual life and what it means as they think about the big issues of the day. During the primary season, various forums allowed candidates like Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others to profess their Christian faith and witness to the ways they are called to fulfill scriptural mandates to care for the least, the last, and the lost. None of the witnesses those candidates gave was phony: all of them, especially the new president-elect, seemed genuine in describing what the gospel news of Jesus requires them to do as humble servants of God.
So where does this all aim once we inaugurate our new president? For starters, President Obama will need to fulfill promises he made to care about those who suffer at home and around the world. The media and conventional pundits may not know that Obama pledged to end childhood hunger in America by 2015 but a lot of religious people will remember. Those who have volunteered as missions to the poor in developing lands will remember Obamas promise to double foreign assistance. Those who believe that humankind is uniquely endowed by a Creator God to be stewards of that creation will watch very carefully to see what the new administration does to meet pledges on global climate change. And probably most important: all faith communities believe that war is a violence against Gods promise of shalom and ending the violence of war in favor of the diplomacy of peace will be a critical measure.
Many Democrats are rediscovering the connections that exist between the moral teachings of religion and the things we must do to create a community of the common good here in America. Our nation is entering hard, troubled, and painful times. Its not a bad thing that the Democrats who are about to inherit positions of power have had a Great Awakening about how their own personal faith speaks to the needs of a dispirited nation in need of a big lift.
Mike McCurry was press secretary to President Bill Clinton 1995-98 and is now a Washington-based communications consultant and a graduate student at Wesley Theological Seminary.
Title: A bill to protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] (introduced 4/19/2007) Cosponsors (19)
Related Bills: H.R.1964
Latest Major Action: 4/19/2007 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Jump to: Summary, Major Actions, All Actions, Titles, Cosponsors, Committees, Related Bill Details, Amendments
SUMMARY AS OF:
Freedom of Choice Act - Declares that it is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to: (1) bear a child; (2) terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability; or (3) terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect her life or her health.
Prohibits a federal, state, or local governmental entity from: (1) denying or interfering with a woman's right to exercise such choices; or (2) discriminating against the exercise of those rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. Provides that such prohibition shall apply retroactively.
Authorizes an individual aggrieved by a violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief, including relief against a governmental entity, in a civil action.
- Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
TITLE(S): (italics indicate a title for a portion of a bill)
- SHORT TITLE(S) AS INTRODUCED:
Freedom of Choice Act
- OFFICIAL TITLE AS INTRODUCED:
A bill to protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.
COSPONSORS(19), ALPHABETICAL [followed by Cosponsors withdrawn]: (Sort: by date)
Sen Baucus, Max [MT] - 4/19/2007
Sen Bingaman, Jeff [NM] - 4/19/2007
Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 5/2/2007
Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 4/19/2007
Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] - 4/19/2007
Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] - 4/19/2007
Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 4/19/2007
Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 6/13/2007
Sen Lautenberg, Frank R. [NJ] - 4/19/2007
Sen Lieberman, Joseph I. [CT] - 4/23/2007
Sen Menendez, Robert [NJ] - 4/19/2007
Sen Mikulski, Barbara A. [MD] - 4/19/2007
Sen Murray, Patty [WA] - 4/19/2007
Sen Obama, Barack [IL] - 5/11/2007
Sen Sanders, Bernard [VT] - 4/25/2007
Sen Schumer, Charles E. [NY] - 4/19/2007
Sen Stabenow, Debbie [MI] - 4/19/2007
Sen Tester, Jon [MT] - 4/23/2007
Sen Whitehouse, Sheldon [RI] - 6/6/2007
Committee/Subcommittee: Activity: Senate Judiciary Referral, In Committee
RELATED BILL DETAILS: (additional related bills may be indentified in Status)
Bill: Relationship: H.R.1964 Related bill identified by CRS
The actual contents of the bill are as follows:
S 1173 IS
1st Session S. 1173
To protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 19, 2007
Mrs. BOXER (for herself, Mrs. MURRAY, Ms. STABENOW, Mr. BINGAMAN, Mr. MENENDEZ, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. SCHUMER, Mrs. CLINTON, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Ms. MIKULSKI, Mr. BAUCUS, and Ms. CANTWELL) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Freedom of Choice Act'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following:
(1) The United States was founded on core principles, such as liberty, personal privacy, and equality, which ensure that individuals are free to make their most intimate decisions without governmental interference and discrimination.
(2) One of the most private and difficult decisions an individual makes is whether to begin, prevent, continue, or terminate a pregnancy. Those reproductive health decisions are best made by women, in consultation with their loved ones and health care providers.
(3) In 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut (381 U.S. 479), and in 1973, in Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113) and Doe v. Bolton (410 U.S. 179), the Supreme Court recognized that the right to privacy protected by the Constitution encompasses the right of every woman to weigh the personal, moral, and religious considerations involved in deciding whether to begin, prevent, continue, or terminate a pregnancy.
(4) The Roe v. Wade decision carefully balances the rights of women to make important reproductive decisions with the State's interest in potential life. Under Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the right to privacy protects a woman's decision to choose to terminate her pregnancy prior to fetal viability, with the State permitted to ban abortion after fetal viability except when necessary to protect a woman's life or health.
(5) These decisions have protected the health and lives of women in the United States. Prior to the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, an estimated 1,200,000 women each year were forced to resort to illegal abortions, despite the risk of unsanitary conditions, incompetent treatment, infection, hemorrhage, disfiguration, and death. Before Roe, it is estimated that thousands of women died annually in the United States as a result of illegal abortions.
(6) In countries in which abortion remains illegal, the risk of maternal mortality is high. According to the World Health Organization, of the approximately 600,000 pregnancy-related deaths occurring annually around the world, 80,000 are associated with unsafe abortions.
(7) The Roe v. Wade decision also expanded the opportunities for women to participate equally in society. In 1992, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (505 U.S. 833), the Supreme Court observed that, `[t]he ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives.'.
(8) Even though the Roe v. Wade decision has stood for more than 34 years, there are increasing threats to reproductive health and freedom emerging from all branches and levels of government. In 2006, South Dakota became the first State in more than 15 years to enact a ban on abortion in nearly all circumstances. Supporters of this ban have admitted it is an attempt to directly challenge Roe in the courts. Other States are considering similar bans.
(9) Further threatening Roe, the Supreme Court recently upheld the first-ever Federal ban on an abortion procedure, which has no exception to protect a woman's health. The majority decision in Gonzales v. Carhart (05-380, slip op. April 18, 2007) and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood Federation of America fails to protect a woman's health, a core tenet of Roe v. Wade. Dissenting in that case, Justice Ginsburg called the majority's opinion `alarming', and stated that, `[f]or the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health'. Further, she said, the Federal ban `and the Court's defense of it cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court'.
(10) Legal and practical barriers to the full range of reproductive services endanger women's health and lives. Incremental restrictions on the right to choose imposed by Congress and State legislatures have made access to reproductive care extremely difficult, if not impossible, for many women across the country. Currently, 87 percent of the counties in the United States have no abortion provider.
(11) While abortion should remain safe and legal, women should also have more meaningful access to family planning services that prevent unintended pregnancies, thereby reducing the need for abortion.
(12) To guarantee the protections of Roe v. Wade, Federal legislation is necessary.
(13) Although Congress may not create constitutional rights without amending the Constitution, Congress may, where authorized by its enumerated powers and not prohibited by the Constitution, enact legislation to create and secure statutory rights in areas of legitimate national concern.
(14) Congress has the affirmative power under section 8 of article I of the Constitution and section 5 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution to enact legislation to facilitate interstate commerce and to prevent State interference with interstate commerce, liberty, or equal protection of the laws.
(15) Federal protection of a woman's right to choose to prevent or terminate a pregnancy falls within this affirmative power of Congress, in part, because--
(A) many women cross State lines to obtain abortions and many more would be forced to do so absent a constitutional right or Federal protection;
(B) reproductive health clinics are commercial actors that regularly purchase medicine, medical equipment, and other necessary supplies from out-of-State suppliers; and
(C) reproductive health clinics employ doctors, nurses, and other personnel who travel across State lines in order to provide reproductive health services to patients.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) GOVERNMENT- The term `government' includes a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, or official (or other individual acting under color of law) of the United States, a State, or a subdivision of a State.
(2) STATE- The term `State' means each of the States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and each territory or possession of the United States.
(3) VIABILITY- The term `viability' means that stage of pregnancy when, in the best medical judgment of the attending physician based on the particular medical facts of the case before the physician, there is a reasonable likelihood of the sustained survival of the fetus outside of the woman.
SEC. 4. INTERFERENCE WITH REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH PROHIBITED.
(a) Statement of Policy- It is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child, to terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability, or to terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect the life or health of the woman.
(b) Prohibition of Interference- A government may not--
(1) deny or interfere with a woman's right to choose--
(A) to bear a child;
(B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
(C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; or
(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.
(c) Civil Action- An individual aggrieved by a violation of this section may obtain appropriate relief (including relief against a government) in a civil action.
SEC. 5. SEVERABILITY.
If any provision of this Act, or the application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, or the application of such provision to persons or circumstances other than those as to which the provision is held to be unconstitutional, shall not be affected thereby.
SEC. 6. RETROACTIVE EFFECT.
This Act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.
Title: To protect, consistent with Roe v. Wade, a woman's freedom to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8] (introduced 4/19/2007) Cosponsors (109)
Related Bills: S.1173
Latest Major Action: 5/4/2007 Referred to House subcommittee. Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.
Rep Abercrombie, Neil [HI-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Ackerman, Gary L. [NY-5] - 4/19/2007 Rep Allen, Thomas H. [ME-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Arcuri, Michael A. [NY-24] - 4/19/2007 Rep Baird, Brian [WA-3] - 7/11/2007 Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Berman, Howard L. [CA-28] - 4/19/2007 Rep Blumenauer, Earl [OR-3] - 4/19/2007 Rep Boucher, Rick [VA-9] - 4/19/2007 Rep Capps, Lois [CA-23] - 4/19/2007 Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] - 4/30/2007 Rep Carnahan, Russ [MO-3] - 7/16/2007 Rep Carson, Julia [IN-7] - 10/22/2007 Rep Castor, Kathy [FL-11] - 4/23/2007 Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] - 4/23/2007 Rep Clay, Wm. Lacy [MO-1] - 4/20/2007 Rep Cohen, Steve [TN-9] - 4/19/2007 Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] - 4/19/2007 Rep Crowley, Joseph [NY-7] - 12/5/2007 Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] - 4/19/2007 Rep Davis, Susan A. [CA-53] - 4/19/2007 Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4] - 4/19/2007 Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] - 5/2/2007 Rep DeLauro, Rosa L. [CT-3] - 7/11/2007 Rep Ellison, Keith [MN-5] - 4/19/2007 Rep Emanuel, Rahm [IL-5] - 4/19/2007 Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17] - 3/31/2008 Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14] - 5/10/2007 Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17] - 4/19/2007 Rep Fattah, Chaka [PA-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] - 4/19/2007 Rep Frank, Barney [MA-4] - 4/19/2007 Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8] - 6/21/2007 Rep Green, Al [TX-9] - 1/28/2008 Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] - 4/23/2007 Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] - 4/19/2007 Rep Gutierrez, Luis V. [IL-4] - 1/22/2008 Rep Harman, Jane [CA-36] - 4/19/2007 Rep Hastings, Alcee L. [FL-23] - 5/2/2007 Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Holt, Rush D. [NJ-12] - 4/19/2007 Rep Honda, Michael M. [CA-15] - 4/19/2007 Rep Inslee, Jay [WA-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Israel, Steve [NY-2] - 4/23/2007 Rep Jackson, Jesse L., Jr. [IL-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Jackson-Lee, Sheila [TX-18] - 4/19/2007 Rep Johnson, Henry C. "Hank," Jr. [GA-4] - 6/12/2007 Rep Jones, Stephanie Tubbs [OH-11] - 9/4/2007 Rep Kennedy, Patrick J. [RI-1] - 1/28/2008 Rep Kucinich, Dennis J. [OH-10] - 4/19/2007 Rep Lantos, Tom [CA-12] - 4/19/2007 Rep Larsen, Rick [WA-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] - 4/19/2007 Rep Lewis, John [GA-5] - 5/3/2007 Rep Loebsack, David [IA-2] - 4/19/2007 Rep Lofgren, Zoe [CA-16] - 5/3/2007 Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18] - 4/19/2007 Rep Maloney, Carolyn B. [NY-14] - 4/19/2007 Rep Matsui, Doris O. [CA-5] - 4/19/2007 Rep McCarthy, Carolyn [NY-4] - 4/23/2007 Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4] - 4/19/2007 Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7] - 4/19/2007 Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3] - 4/23/2007 Rep McNerney, Jerry [CA-11] - 6/6/2007 Rep Meehan, Martin T. [MA-5] - 6/14/2007 Rep Miller, Brad [NC-13] - 4/19/2007 Rep Miller, George [CA-7] - 5/2/2007 Rep Mitchell, Harry E. [AZ-5] - 5/23/2007 Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4] - 4/23/2007 Rep Moran, James P. [VA-8] - 4/19/2007 Rep Murphy, Christopher S. [CT-5] - 4/30/2007 Rep Murphy, Patrick J. [PA-8] - 9/9/2008 Rep Napolitano, Grace F. [CA-38] - 6/21/2007 Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC] - 4/20/2007 Rep Olver, John W. [MA-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6] - 1/22/2008 Rep Payne, Donald M. [NJ-10] - 4/24/2007 Rep Price, David E. [NC-4] - 6/6/2007 Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] - 4/23/2007 Rep Rothman, Steven R. [NJ-9] - 4/30/2007 Rep Ruppersberger, C. A. Dutch [MD-2] - 1/29/2008 Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39] - 4/19/2007 Rep Sanchez, Loretta [CA-47] - 5/21/2007 Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9] - 4/19/2007 Rep Schwartz, Allyson Y. [PA-13] - 10/15/2007 Rep Shays, Christopher [CT-4] - 4/19/2007 Rep Shea-Porter, Carol [NH-1] - 4/23/2007 Rep Sherman, Brad [CA-27] - 5/3/2007 Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28] - 4/19/2007 Rep Solis, Hilda L. [CA-32] - 4/19/2007 Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13] - 4/19/2007 Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13] - 4/19/2007 Rep Tauscher, Ellen O. [CA-10] - 6/18/2007 Rep Thompson, Mike [CA-1] - 4/19/2007 Rep Tierney, John F. [MA-6] - 5/3/2007 Rep Towns, Edolphus [NY-10] - 4/19/2007 Rep Tsongas, Niki [MA-5] - 2/12/2008 Rep Van Hollen, Chris [MD-8] - 5/2/2007 Rep Velazquez, Nydia M. [NY-12] - 6/6/2007 Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20] - 4/23/2007 Rep Watson, Diane E. [CA-33] - 4/19/2007 Rep Waxman, Henry A. [CA-30] - 4/19/2007 Rep Weiner, Anthony D. [NY-9] - 4/19/2007 Rep Welch, Peter [VT] - 5/21/2007 Rep Wexler, Robert [FL-19] - 4/19/2007 Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] - 4/19/2007 Rep Wu, David [OR-1] - 4/23/2007 Rep Wynn, Albert Russell [MD-4] - 4/23/2007
Rep Porter, Jon C. [NV-3] - 4/19/2007(withdrawn - 4/23/2007)
Let's begin with this ... what god supports abortion?
Mike McCurry: How My Party Found (our) God.....Barack Obama.
In a similar way, if a candidate or politician ‘gets’ the 2A, then it is reasonable that they can be trusted to respect the rest of the Constitution. If not, they're apt to poison the well we all drink from with their weak-minded blubbering interpretations of our national liberties and safeguards.
Mike McCurry is about the only Clintonoid not offered an administration post by Obama,... at least until now.
So, uhh, how many times has this man of “strong religious faith” gone to church since he got elected?
If the Obamanation can offer this demograph faith and family, then this demo will be hard pressed to vote against him. The faith will be faux faith of course, nice sounding terms, but in practice really nothing more than feel-good talk and “programs”. The family will be economic support for their wife and kids via union protected jobs or WPA like make work. And who can blame them?
Selling free-market principles and faith that has failed to deliver much in fixes to our social problems (gay marriage, abortion, secular schools) is a difficult task. Of course in the long run it will fail, but it is all about the next election isn't it ....
So in a mere 7 years, the messiah will end childhood hunger when we have had this problem for eons
Is Black Liberation Theology truly a religion? Frankly, I haven't seen any true evidence that President Soetero is religious in any way. Going to church each Sunday doesn't make one religious, especially a nutty, hate-filled BLT church.