Baptists & Religious Left?

Beliefnet is an online offering which describes its mission as “to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness.” This is the beginning of a recent Beliefnet column written by Tony Campolo, professor emeritus at Eastern University and the founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education:

“Recently, I met with a group of religious leaders who have become increasingly disturbed by the alliance between evangelical Christians and the Republican Party. … The meeting was joined by the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine; Father Richard Rohr, a well-known Catholic writer and speaker; Brian McLaren, a leader of the emergent church movement; the Rev. Dr. Cheryl J. Sanders, a prominent African-American pastor; the Rev. Noel Castellanos, a strong voice in the Hispanic community; and several other outstanding Christian communicators. The purpose of this gathering was not to create a religious left movement to challenge the religious right, but to jump-start a religious movement that will transcend partisan politics.” (bold-face mine)

Earlier this year, former presidents Clinton and Carter came up with the idea for a “gathering” of Baptists other than those connected with the Southern Baptist Convention, which Carter described as having presented a negative image to the country and from which he split over doctrinal differences some years ago. The convocation – New Baptist Covenant Celebration—will be held in Atlanta January 30-February 01. One of the featured speakers is – guess who – Campolo. Six of the 12 other main speakers are politician Baptists (or should that be Baptist politicians?), four democrats – Carter, Clinton, Bill Moyers, Al Gore – and two republicans – Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley. Does Campolo’s statement sound a bit like snake-oil in light of this development?

Graham and Grassley are the token republicans, but it’s a lead-pipe cinch that this is a democrat gathering. Actually, Graham is running for reelection next year, so he may be using the NBC at least somewhat, as well as being used by the cagey Carter/Clinton team. Grassley has just been investigating televangelists, so the plot thickens.

According to the New Baptist Covenant Web-site, the Atlanta clambake is to be attended by some 20,000 Baptists representing groups/institutions of some 20 million Baptists, all of them (well… most of them) well-meaning and accepting the celebration for what it’s described to be on its Web-site, with the keyword being “unity.” The effort was hatched at the Carter Center last January.

Among the 81 attendees at that meeting was James Dunn, Executive Director Emeritus, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. This is the same man who was on the board of the far-left Clergy Network hatched in 2004 by the Rev. Albert Pennybacker and having, as explained on its Web-site, the goal of defeating George Bush. Partly bankrolled by the George Soros organization, it was made up of clergy whose churches are tax-exempt organizations.

The presence of Dunn in the NBC Celebration represents the failure of the Clergy Network in 2004 but also represents the fact that the whiners about a perceived coupling of the so-called Religious Right with the republicans (a fiction, since values was the issue and republicans happen to like those of conservative Christians) are making a genuine effort to structure a Religious Left…and what better place to do it than in an institution conceived by two consummate politicians – Carter and Clinton?

The plot thickens in the fact that the celebration will occur in Atlanta just as the conventions of the three large African-American Baptist denominations end, with an invitation already extended to those Baptists to participate in the C/C convocation. It thickens more in the fact that the celebration will take place less than a week before super-Tuesday, probably still a crucial date by then for Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s not hard to guess who will campaign hard for Clinton. The irony lies in the fact that the African Americans, always manipulated by democrats, may go for Obama, something not thought about last January before Obama announced in February.

One would have thought that the so-called mainline denominations would be considered the backbone of the Religious Left; however, these groups, as they’ve wrestled with the “liberal” questions concerning homosexuals for decades, have been withering on the vine. The Atlanta “celebration,” especially with folks like Campolo and Dunn involved with slick politicians, could be the introduction of the new Religious Left, notwithstanding that it will be made up of Baptists, albeit of the moderate/left genre.

For Carter, it could also be his answer for his exile from the Southern Baptist Convention of 16 million members, whose policies will not tolerate same-sex unions, for instance, something which Carter favors as being state-sanctioned but surely will not mention in January, since even most leftist Baptists won’t go for that. The presence/glorification of Nobelist Gore, in whose honor there will be a luncheon, may backfire, since the claim that global warming is caused by humans is being systematically disproved by reputable scientists/climatologists. In other words…FRAUD.