To take on the religious right, progressives need a religious left

Assuming leftism to be inherently antagonistic to organized religion does a great disservice to both the history of progressive movements and modern progressivism itself, as collective belief provides both a program and a passion essential to anti-oppression movements. In many ways, the political is made more significant when intertwined with the spiritual, as belief supersedes political motivation in pursuit of a world vision that is exalted as the will of God. In the words of Dr. King: “Religious obligations are met by one’s commitment to an inner law, a law written on the heart. Man-made laws assure justice, but a higher law produces love.”

Beyond politics, perhaps what we lose with the decline of collective belief more than anything is this notion of radical love, one that extends beyond identity politics or civic obligation. As I consider the generational decline of organized religion, I imagine the good collective faith can still achieve. These days, when I participate in a climate march or donate money to organizations like the Trans Women of Color Collective, I do so as much out of religious obligation as a political one. Beyond a tendency toward compassion and empathy, religion has ingrained in me the notion that I am indeed my brother’s keeper; that another’s well-being is inextricably bound up with my own.