© 2012 John Casimir O'Keefe

A Response to: “You Can Be A Christian Or A Liberal, But Not Both”

I don’t make it a habit to write a rebuttal to other people’s articles. I usually have a “live and let live” mindset; especially if the author is a rampaging Conservative. I have found that most of the time debating with a Conservative about faith issues, or any issue, is like beating your own head with a baseball bat – not fun, full of pain and just plain silly. But in this case, for some reason, I felt the need to comment and help the author (Doug Giles) see the light, so to speak. Over all, Mr. Giles is wrong on many levels; too many to truly address in one single article, because he tends to overstate his ideas. One of the things I believe he gets wrong, right off the bat, is the idea that all Liberals are secular at heart, and he could further from the truth.

I think the reason I felt moved to write this is because Mr. Giles decided to make a very bold, and inaccurate opening statement, “Can a Christian be a Liberal? Short answer: no…There is no way a Christian can buy into progressive/big government ideology and be faithful to the bigger-than-Dallas teachings of Scripture and expect to continue enjoying his hard-won religious liberties.” While there are many things wrong with this statement, for me, that statement seems to be a statement that is less truthful and more, shall I say, twisted. Why? Well, first of all it assumes that all Liberals who follow the teachings of Christ are calling for “big government.” The term big government has always seemed strange to me, because as a Liberal follower of Christ I don’t seek big government. I seek a government that is big enough to keep our political society in check. Big government is not a Liberal idea; it is, however, a term that Conservatives like to us to show just how evil they believe Liberal followers of Christ to be. I have always found iot interesting that Conservative are quick to say that Liberals desire big government when they desire just as big a government. While Liberals followers of Jesus desire a government (size does not matter) based on addressing social needs, Conservative Christians, on the other hand, seek a big government based on law enforcement and military might; they confuse the teachings of Christ on peace and forgiveness with the principles that “might is right.” Liberals desire to feed and care for the people, Conservatives seem to desire to control and incarcerate people. But I wonder, does the term “big government” describe Liberals, or does it show the fear Conservatives have about being called into accountability?

His statement, “expect to continue enjoying his hard-won religious liberties” is rather disingenuous, at best, and, at worse, it is based more on an “American Patriotic Faith.” You see, he, like most Conservative, tie their faith the events that happened 200 plus years ago on battlefields in New England, while I connect my “religious liberties” to an event that took place 2000 plus years ago on a hill just outside of Jerusalem. What I find interesting is that Conservatives are quicker to quote Ben Franklin, and slow to quote Jesus of Nazareth.

Conservative Christian’s desire to create legislation that will direct all areas of lives – who you can marry, how you deal with your body, who you can and cannot talk with and what you can and cannot think. Mr. Giles specifically brings up the idea of a women’s right to choice. This may cause Mr. Giles head to explode, but here goes… as a Liberal follower of Christ I am both prolife and pro choice (I can just picture his head spinning at this point). You see, as a follower of Christ I believe all life is sacred; I refuse to take a human life. In that, I don’t believe I, or anyone, can, or should, develop legislation that removes a women’s right to make the decision for herself. I don’t believe I, or anyone, has the right to mandate their religious views on another.

Mr. Giles adds, “For the “Christian” to lean politically to the left means that he must blow off huge chunks of the Bible and replace Scripture with the make-believe notions of PC’s malleable “Christ.” Only after torturing Scripture can the Christian then fit current Liberalism into his supposed relationship with God.” I would love to know what “huge chucks” he is talking about, because it seems to me the topics he selects to defend this statement are a few lines at best, and those lines are open to interpretation, and therein lays the rub. You see, for many Conservatives one must interpret the scriptures as they desire; any deviation from that interpretation is seen as heresy. I don’t know about you, but my Jesus is anything but malleable. The Jesus I follow challenges me on a regular basis to live my life in grace and forgiveness. He calls me to forgive those who have harmed me, and to extend to them the grace of his love. The Jesus I know confronts me, challenges me, demands from me, and wrestles with me and mostly he calls me into a relationship with others while working out my journey of faith. My faith is relevant, and addresses my life in the circles of society. I have never felt closeted in my faith, or felt that the government is striving to stamp out my faith. Because my faith is in me, so no one can tell me what I think is wrong. While my faith guides me, I can’t force others to follow the path I walk. This, I believe, is the main difference between Liberals and Conservatives. Conservatives desire that everyone follow the way they do, and if you don’t you are tagged a heretic, or worse. For the Conservatives, the idea of “go and make disciples” is seen as “go and force everyone to follow the way we do.”

Being a Follower of Christ does not mean I skip “around the maypole” nor does it require that I wear “rose colored glasses.” It means I look at the world around me and see what I can do to make the changes that need to happen, to address the problems we face as human. My faith invites me to walk in the culture and become the incarnation of Christ to others. Because my faith is alive in me, it fills every part of my being; I can’t compartmentalize my faith. This means, my faith walks with me as I vote, as I work, as I interact with others. This causes me to love and care for others in deep meaningful ways. The problem is not with how I see my faith as a Liberal, but how Conservative see their faith, which I have found to be a systematic redefining of the teachings of Christ to fit some twisted political agenda.

In this, I do not seek to have a “Christian government.” What I desire is a government served by followers of Jesus. Conservatives desire to create legislation to demand changes on the individual while giving Corporate America a free ride. Their desire is the force people to think like them, while I see Liberals as striving to change the heart of the people to see the need for a common good. Conservative are under the misconception that we all need to bow to the “Judeo-Christian principles that formed the rock-solid foundation of this great American Experiment.” Those I know who are Liberal followers of Jesus bow only to Christ, and not some mythical, twisted “American Experience.”


  1. Amy
    Posted 2012/08/04 at 5:31 am | #

    Right there with you John. I am both liberal and christian and do not feel in any way that there is a contradiction in that. (Any more than in any other part of my life.) What I hear in the original article is an unwillingness to bend, and what I hear in yours is that willingness to be flexible, not in a way that compromises what you believe but in a way that allows all of us to move forward together.

  2. Ryan
    Posted 2012/09/08 at 4:59 pm | #

    I know blaspheming the GOP is the unforgivable sin but how come no one ever wants to argue the flip side of this. Everyone always believes their political views are in line with Gods but what about the guy who says I’m doing what’s right regardless. I’m doing the Christ-like thing rather than the conservative thing or the liberal thing. While the liberals have their foundations in helping everyone it’s still at the cost of others. There is no “share the wealth” mentality among the rich. It seems the liberals have a history of take from the poor and give to the poorer. Fine if you’re the bottom rung of the ladder. They aren’t addressing poverty, just redistributing it. The conservatives on the other hand try to huddle together and pat each other on the back while cutting shady deals. But The conservatives want more people working because it means more taxes paid. The parable of workers (Mt 20:1-16) falls in line with a more liberal viewpoint. And despite the Pharisee attitude of abstaining from the dregs of society. Christ embraced the low, the sick, the hurting, the murders and prostitutes.

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