We are particularly offended by the suggestion that the opposite of the Religious Right is the voice of atheism. We are appalled when “people of faith” is used in such a way that it excludes us, as well as most Jews, Catholics, and Muslims. What could be more bigoted than to claim that you have a monopoly on God and that anyone who disagrees with you is not a person of faith?
So we ask our neighbors on the Religious Right to take note: We are religious Jews, gathered in Houston to study, pray, and commit ourselves to God. And yes, we are generally liberal in our politics. But our liberalism flows directly from our religious commitments.
And we worry that you don’t understand what this means, or what it means for anyone to be a liberal religious believer.
What it means is this: that we bring a measure of humility to our religious belief. We study religious texts day and night, but we have no direct lines to heaven and we aren’t always sure that we know God’s will.
It means believing that religion involves concern for the poor and the needy, and giving a fair shake to all. When people talk about God and yet ignore justice, it just feels downright wrong to us. When they cloak themselves in religion and forget mercy, it strikes us as blasphemy.
It means that “family values” require providing health care to every child and that God cares about the 12 million children without health insurance.
It means valuing a child with diabetes over a frozen embryo in a fertility clinic, and seeing the teaching of science as a primary social good.
And it means reserving the right for each person to prayerfully make decisions for herself about when she dies.
It also means believing in legal protection for gay couples. We understand those who believe that the Bible opposes gay marriage, even though we read that text in a very different way. But we cannot understand why any two people who make a lifelong commitment to each other should be denied legal guarantees that protect them and their children and benefit the broader society. We cannot forget that when Hitler came to power in 1933, one of the first things that he did was ban gay organizations. And today, we cannot feel anything but rage when we hear about gay men and women, some on the front lines, being hounded out of our armed services. Yes, we can disagree about gay marriage. But there is no excuse for hateful rhetoric that fuels the hellfires of anti-gay bigotry.
Now that's one of the best statements of faith I've ever read. More, please.