Religion and Reproductive Justice Resolution

WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE LIBERATORY POTENTIAL OF RELIGION, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME ARE FULLY COMMITTED BOTH TO THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE & WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

Resolution submitted by David A. Hacker
The world’s sacred texts provide some of the strongest support for the dignity of labor, the need for social fairness and the ability of humanity to achieve its highest aspiration. Nevertheless, religious people have felt alienated from the Left, as their values seem to be ridiculed and dismissed as ignorant, superstitious, and narrow-minded. This is especially true of evangelical Christians, devout Catholics and Orthodox Jews. Too often, as Rabbi Michael Lerner has pointed out,the Left viewsreligion as just as much a problem in American culture as guns and anti-immigration sentiments,” commenting on the remarks by then Senator Barak  Obama in his Democratic Party Primary Campaign in April, 2008 to a prosperous audience at a San Francisco fund raising event for his campaign. There he commented on the “bitterness” he saw among the White ethnic working class and lower middle class voters in Pennsylvania, which causes them to oppose immigration and cling to guns and religion. According to Rabbi Lerner, “seeing religion as a substitute gratification grabbed on to by people who are otherwise oppressed is an insight that has been part of liberal and progressive culture for at least 150 years. Unfortunately, Senator Obama, like many in the liberal and Marxist traditions of the past 150 years, got it wrong—because he identified the needs that are being systematically denied as purely material, thereby falling into theIt’s the economy, stupid’ mistake of the Left.” Rather, Rabbi Lerner continued, “in the research we did for ten years at the Institute for Labor and Mental Health we found that it was not only material, but spiritual deprivation that was at the heart of much of the pain that Americans experience today. That’s why even at the height of American prosperity in the Clinton years, a powerful resurgence of right-wing religious forms was providing an avenue of  expression for people whose needs were being ignored by the liberals in the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party, and even in parts of the liberal churches. Similarly, the revival of a religious Left has not gotten much traction to the extent that it adopts the liberal political and economic agenda and makes it “religious” by finding some useful Bible quotes to back up the peace and justice planks of the Democrats. Valuable as that may be, it too misses the deeper pain that has led people to embrace right-wing religions.
As a result these Americans have become prime recruiting targets of the conservative movement, which has resulted in the rise of the Christian Right, who often find allies in supporting various social issues among devout Catholic and Orthodox Jews, who then end up voting Republican in presidential election. The fact that they made up a large segment of the vote that elected Donald Trump president in states such as Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, despite his obvious vulgarity is a reality that cannot be ignored.
The later two groups are often called “Reagan Democrats,” as they were once a central part of the Democratic Party majority New Deal coalition, but switched over to the Republican Party, when they found their religious and social values to be more comparable with that being espoused by RonaldReagan in 1980 and 1984. However, many of these “Reagan Democrats” came home to the Democratic Party in 1992 and 1996 in electing and re-electing Bill Clinton president in reaction to the economic recession of the George H.W. Bush Administration and Barack Obama in 2008 while suffering under the worse economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s that was blamed on the second Bush presidency. But in 2016, they turned around again and voted for Donald Trump.
Yet, it was these very groups that was central to the Socialist Party’s success in the
first decades of the 20th Century. It was evangelical Christians that form the basis of the Socialist Party mass membership and electoral support in Oklahoma during those years. The SP had its highest percentage of the total vote in that state before the First World War. It was Roman Catholics in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that rallied behind the Socialist Party and helped elect two mayors and many city council members in that city. Finally, it was Eastern European Orthodox Jews, living on New York City’s Lower East Side, that elected and re-elected SP candidate, Meyer London to Congress.
Then, in the 1930s and 1940s, these groups were a major segment of FDR’s New Deal coalition, along with Blacks, and white progressives in the North. True, Southern evangelical Christians were the segregationist Dixiecrat portion of the FDR coalition. But White ethnic Catholics form the backbone of the CIO and were central to the New Deal Coalition. And of course, Jews of all denominations rallied behind FDR. The Southern aspect of the coalition broke away after 1948, but the rest of the majority New Deal coalition stayed firm, with the exception of the Eisenhower years, up to Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in 1964. In fact, this formed the basis of the SP strategy, developed by Max Shachtman and Michael Harrington, known as realignment.
Realignment did occur in the US. The Southern Democrats-Dixiecrats did leave the DP and became Republicans. It was assume then that this would assure permanent majority status for the Democrats after the civil rights revolution gave back to African Americans in the South the right to vote. The vision of the Shachtmanites and the SP majority in the 1960s was a Democratic Party and democratic Left made up of the labor movement, including ethnic white workers of both sexes, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, I.E, the entire civil rights movement, middle-class liberal to progressive reformers, the feminist movement, etc. Most of all, White and Black workers would be united in supporting universal programs that would benefit every working class and middle class American. (We hope that you notice that we emphasize ethnic and often devout Catholic white workers of both
sexes as a basic part of this progressive coalition, because it has been the loss of ethnic white male voters to the Republicans, and many ethnic white women as well, that has severely weakened the Democratic Party and the desire for a democratic Left majority coalition that elected Trump.)
These “Reagan Democrats” left the DP, when as, stated above, social and cultural issues replaced economic and class issues as core aspects of the program of the DP and the Left, as a whole, after 1964. One of the main issues that have divided working class Catholics and evangelical Christians from the DP and the Left has been the controversial issue of abortion. The SDUSA, did not take a position on abortion until 1991, when the AFL- CIO passed a pro-choice resolution. Prior to that, the SD separated itself from other group on the Left by maintaining that the abortion issues was divisive and would alienate Catholic workers in the labor movement. The revived SDUSA decided to resume this position that was taken by our organization before 1991. We knew that it would alienate a majority of the Left. We specifically understood the objections of feminists, for whom this issue they consider to be central to women rights. We also consider ourselves to be a pro feminist’s organization which is devoted to supporting the reproductive health of all women. But we also recognize that many ethnic Catholic working class men, and specifically women, who would be attracted to the DP and the wide left and progressive movement, because of its economic positions, have turned away from us because of our position on abortion. As hard as it may be for the majority on the Left to accept, these working class men and women see their pro-life or opposition to abortion position as being central to both their political and religious values.
Accordingly, we want the SDUSA to be the one organization on the Left that welcomes members who refer to themselves as pro-life or pro-choice and doesn’t interfere with their personal beliefs, or compromise them by making them abide by a public position on the issue. Of course, in their other political activities, outside of the SD, members are free to be involved on all sides of the issue of abortion and reproductive rights.
Rather, we want to provide a supportive environment for both sides to finally meet and work on developing social democratic economic programs which would result in alleviating the social and economic conditions of women that cause a large percentage of abortions. We believe that the issue of women’s reproductive health goes beyond the controversial topic of abortion. We must move away from the polarization nature of this debate, which has existed since the 1970s, that has only benefited the political Right in this country, and concentrate on the vital issues of women’s health care that can united
moderate elements on both side of the abortion question. Therefore SDUSA endorses a program of Reproductive Justice for Women, specifically targeted to poor and working class women of all races and nationalities.
These issues that Social Democrats, USA affirms, are the following:
1, Public access to pre and post natal care and maternal health, through universal health care.
2, Comprehensive sex education.
3, Equal access to contraceptive devices for women of all classes.
Nevertheless, Social Democrats,USA also believes that it cannot ignore the assault on women rights that has been taken place in many GOP dominated state governments and the new Trump Administration in limiting the number of clinics that perform abortions and ending funding for Planned Parenthood, where abortion is only around 8 percent of the services provided at their clinics. As long as legal abortion is still the law in this country, it is vital that these institution. be allowed to operate, especially in poor and minority communities where their services are most needed. This is also an issue of Reproductive Justice.
Therefore, to achieve its highest aspirations, SDUSA embraces religious faith not as an interest group” within a larger movement, but as fundamental to the creation of a better world. It should be noted that our former Executive Director was a devout Catholic, while the our former National Co-Chair of the SD and current Honorary Chair is an Orthodox Rabbi. At the same time, we also welcome secular or non-religious members and share their conviction that that the United States should maintain its tradition of the separation of Church and State. Thus, while we embrace people of religious faith and the liberating message of the mainstream of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, as well as the Eastern religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, etc, we oppose extremists or fanatics of all faiths, who seek to undermine the
church/state separation and repress the equal rights of women and the LGBT community.
______________________________________________________________________
                Special Note On The Resolution
There are two models for our position. The first is the “Come Let Us Reason Together” document adopted by a group of moderate Evangelicals and the Third Way, a Washington think tank for moderate or corporate Democrats, which is reprinted at the end of this resolution. While the SD rejects their pro-corporate positions, we can still find great merit in this 2008 document as a vehicle to bring together to the SD members who have different positions on various divisive social issues.
The second model is the concept of “reproductive justice” that is being endorsed by growing number of feminists of color in place of the term “pro-choice.”    One of the major supporters of the “reproductive justice position is Dorothy Roberts, a professor of law and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the book, Killing the Black Body.  She maintains that the term of “reproductive justice will “take the focus that has been on an individual woman’s right to choose and place it on the social conditions that are necessary for women to have true equality and freedom and well-being. And that requires more than protecting the legal right to choose. It requires social change.”  In essence, she adds, “justice, creating a society where all people have the resources and the social conditions they are entitled to. Healthcare, education, housing, food, freedom from state violence, all of these are required for women to have real reproductive freedom, but it requires justice. And so, we would then see reproductive justice as linked to  the movement for universal healthcare, to the movement for economic justice, environmental justice, Black Lives Matter. All of these movements are connected to reproductive freedom because they all are directed to creating a more just society.”
In addition, there are several comments reprinted from readers of The American Conservative, responding to an blog post by Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian, that was very critical of President Donald Trump, but saw the Democratic Party as wanting “to do as much damage as it possible can to social and religious conservatives.” They reflect the views of people who might back the progressive economic program espoused by Democrats, but are also socially conservative. Could a Resolution such as this document reach them? Most of us would probably be repelled by from some of their language. But should we just write them off?
.
The Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda is a common ground agenda that
charts a new path forward by uniting key Evangelical and progressive leaders behind
specific policy recommendations on some of the most divisive culture issues of our times:
abortion, workplace rights for gay and lesbian people, torture, and immigration reform.
POLICY:
Reducing Abortions Through Common Ground Policies
Common ground on abortion means reducing abortions in America through
policies that address the circumstances that lead to abortion: preventing unintended
pregnancies and supporting pregnant women who wish to carry their pregnancies
to term, as well as increasing support for adoption. This approach involves the
following policy tracks:
1.
Preventing unintended pregnancies.
Prevention policies include grants for sex
education (age-appropriate, medically accurate and complete
contraceptive information with an abstinence emphasis) and support for teen
pregnancy prevention programs, including after school programs and
resources to help parents better communicate with teens, and increased
access to contraception for low-income women.
2.
Supporting pregnant women through to parenthood and support for
new families.
Support policies include expanding Medicaid coverage of
pregnant women and S-CHIP coverage of children, prohibiting pregnancy from
being classified as a pre-existing condition by insurance providers, and
providing support for pregnant and parenting students who are in school.
3.
Increasing support for adoption.
Adoption support policies include
expanding adoption tax credit assistance and supporting optional adoption
services at group homes for pregnant and parenting women.
.
And really, the Democrats could pick up voters like Ryan Booth and Rod Dreher for more than just a massive reaction against what a lunatic Trump is… with some really rather modest adjustments.
Of course they’re not going to put “Overturn Roe v. Wade” on their platform, and in my opinion they shouldn’t, for at least two reasons. (I don’t believe Supreme Court decisions are proper fodder for presidential votes anyway). BUT, at THIS point, recognition that the pro-life viewpoint is a legitimate moral stand that has a place in the public square, and some women would benefit from hearing it, would be enough. Not to satisfy the pro-life movement, but to win acceptance from a fair number of pro-life voters, who of course, have the right to continue advocating for a change in the law.
There is an opinion piece up on the TAC web site supporting single payer for good conservative reasons. As long as their is some “play in the joints” as the justices like to say, it could win overwhelming support.
And cool the jets on LGBTQWERTY. I think we just about all agree that a qualified gay engineer should not be fired for being gay, a gay couple should not be harassed while shopping for groceries at the local supermarket, and gay marriage has enough popular support that its here to stay. Now, just back off on keeping a diversity of viewpoints in education, and drop that loony stuff about integrating locker rooms, and we can all settle down.
I suspect though, that the Democratic leadership sees nothing but “The people are going to come back to us and see that we were right all along.” Socialism anyone, if we promise to stomp on social liberalism while we’re at it?
  • Matt says:
“I believe the Democratic Party today wants to do as much damage as it possibly can to social and religious conservatism.”
I don’t agree with this; it treats the Democrats as too monolithic. It also overlooks facts on the ground. The Dems’ new “Better Deal” policy proposals have zero to say about the culture war hot button issues. Where’s the damage to social and religious conservatism in that?
I’m an agnostic liberal who has concerns about the rapid politicization of transgender issues, the stifling (and potentially dangerous) political climate on college campuses, the difficulty of balancing personal rights with social cohesion and the durability of enduring institutions (including religious ones). I don’t want to damage conservatism, I want it to be a reasonable alternative to policies on the left. But now we don’t have that — we have cutting taxes as the solution to every problem, climate change denial, and a complete unwillingness to account for the fiascos of the last GOP administration, foreign (Iraq) and domestic (the Great Recession). The Democrats didn’t do this to conservatism — these are self-inflicted wounds.
If people of good faith on both sides of the political divide could actually talk about things instead of adhering to the left/right divide we would be much better off. Alas, our respective echo chambers (right wing media on the one hand, college campuses on the left) make this increasingly unlikely. What’s a classic political liberal who enjoys a personally conservative lifestyle (married 16 yrs, 2 kids, wife is a stay at home mom, etc.) to do?
So with that as background, all I can say is that I agree that HRC was a deeply flawed candidate, and I was not thrilled about voting for her. I was also concerned that she would kowtow too much to the far left/SJW wing of her coalition. But what DJT is doing to the GOP and the country is so damaging on so many levels that I can’t honestly entertain the argument that he was a legitimate alternative.
Alas, “Publius Decius Mus” was right about the Flight 93 Election. Only his piece wasn’t written from the cabin, it was written from the cockpit.
  • bacon says:
Mr. Dreher says he believes “the Democratic party wants to do as much damage as it possibly can to social and religious conservatism”. RD, I’m a lifelong Democrat as are many of my family. Other family members are social and religious conservatives. I have never wanted to do damage to them or to any other group of conservatives, nor have any of my relatives or acquaintances. Maybe in your part of the South it’s different, or maybe your incessant, obsessive focus on every little thing you see as not in accord with your idea of a proper god fearing society brings forth such a reaction from otherwise relaxed liberals. But there are plenty of us out here who have regular contact with our conservative friends and acquaintances and that contact will be more important in our ongoing relationships than your screeds.
[NFR: That’s you. You’re not running the party. I would vote enthusiastically for a pro-life, pro-religious liberty Democrat who rejected identity politics. Y’all have driven those people out of your party. It’s a shame. — RD]
Surly says:
As a Christian liberal (yes we exist) I welcome you and Ryan to the party and I hope you can help us find decent candidates who want to focus on infrastructure, antitrust and jobs programs and who will stop kowtowing to the sexual minority drama queens who make up 3% of the population but make approximately 97% of the noise. And for pete’s sake–why not trade Medicare for all for a strict prohibition on abortion after the first trimester-life of the mother or extreme fetal defect being the exceptions. We have already seen a dramatic drop in unplanned pregnancy rates and in abortion rates where there is free contraception. I say let’s make a deal with the pro lifers–shut up about contraception and we’ll accept legal limits on abortion.
  • Potato says:
Of course they’re not going to put “Overturn Roe v. Wade” on their platform, and in my opinion they shouldn’t, for at least two reasons. (I don’t believe Supreme Court decisions are proper fodder for presidential votes anyway). BUT, at THIS point, recognition that the pro-life viewpoint is a legitimate moral stand that has a place in the public square, and some women would benefit from hearing it, would be enough. Not to satisfy the pro-life movement, but to win acceptance from a fair number of pro-life voters, who of course, have the right to continue advocating for a change in the law.
There is an opinion piece up on the TAC web site supporting single payer for good conservative reasons. As long as their is some “play in the joints” as the justices like to say, it could win overwhelming support.
And cool the jets on LGBTQWERTY. I think we just about all agree that a qualified gay engineer should not be fired for being gay, a gay couple should not be harassed while shopping for groceries at the local supermarket, and gay marriage has enough popular support that its here to stay. Now, just back off on keeping a diversity of viewpoints in education, and drop that loony stuff about integrating locker rooms, and we can all settle down.
Oh no, the voice of reason! We could….we could… talk to each other!! Compromise even! Crazy talk, Siarlys.
This right here is the path forward out of the jungle we seem to have found ourselves in, into something sensible that we can all live with. Of course if you go onto this path you will find Siarlys Jenkins there, and me, and maybe five other people, period.
Meanwhile the pro-aborts are still back there insisting on a woman’s right to “abort” a perfectly healthy nine-month baby, the pro-life people are still opposing all contraception, the religious conservatives want to re-criminalize gay sex and the LGBTQWERTY peeps are tirelessly working to abolish the entire concept of gender.
Oh my people.

 

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