I am a Democrat.
Even more…by most metrics I’m a progressive or liberal Democrat. There I said it.
My Facebook friends won’t be surprised by this. I haven’t hidden my political orientation but I’ve also never really come out publicly and said it. There is something pressure inducing about the prospect especially as one who is on the job market this year. Anyone who watches politics knows that evangelical and Republican are almost synonymous. That makes it all the stranger when you are an evangelical and not a Republican.
I remember in my first year teaching at a Southern Baptist college several of us went to a friend’s house for Thanksgiving. One of the theology professors said something derogatory about Democrats. My wife and I looked at each other and then told him we were Democrats. One of the funniest things ever was to see him back peddling. To be fair, he is a good guy and we became good friends. It is just that within evangelical circles one is assumed to be a Republican.If evangelicals are Republicans, or so it is assumed, how did I end up as a Democrat? Part of the answer is that I come from Democratic stock. My father, Cruz Reynoso, was an important figure in the Chicano Civil Rights movement, he was the first hispanic on the California Supreme Court, Vice-Chair of the US Civil Rights Commission, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton. So to an extent, political involvement was a part of my upbringing. I had a friend remind me, a couple of years ago, that during the 1984 campaign, when I was in 6th grade, I organized a recess dodgeball game where Walter Mondale supporters challenged Ronald Reagan supporters. I know… really nerdy for an eleven year old!
The political side though is only one part of the story. My mother was a Baptist from the hills of east Tennessee. I was raised in a very conservative rural Southern Baptist church. I’ve spent most of my life in Southern Baptist Churches. When I lived in NYC, I even was a member and taught the youth at an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. So, it isn’t that I only had exposure to the liberal Democratic worldview. I am very familiar with the conservative perspective and I love many people who hold that perspective. Among my siblings, we have all maintained Democratic affiliation but some siblings do comment that the Democratic party does not represent their views and they call themselves a “Conservative Democrat” or an “old-fashioned Democrat.”
How can you be a Christian and a Democrat?
I know this will leave some with questions. How can you be a Christian and a Democrat? What about this issue or that issue? In the coming weeks I will try to answer those questions. A few weeks ago, I had someone on Facebook send me a message which included:
I grew up in a typical republican southern baptist democrat demeaning family. And I’ve not spoken with many evangelical democrats. So I’m curious about what exactly are your democratic views.
I told this person that I was actually going to blog about this and this post is the beginning of that process. But, he isn’t the only person. I’ve had people ask me about specific issues such as how can I support Bernie Sanders considering his stance on abortion. For some it is the bearded woman syndrome and they just want to look at what to them is strange and bizarre. But, I think for most they genuinely want to understand how a Liberal Democratic perspective is at all consistent with my faith.
When I first started this blog I wrote in the about section:
Honestly, as an artist and art historian it is a bit nerve-racking to put my faith “out there” for the public to see. Religion and contemporary art have a very uncomfortable relationship, sometimes with good reason (from both sides). Finally though, I conceded that transparency is one of my core values and as such this blog seeks to be transparent.
Something very similar can be said about evangelicalism and the Democratic party. They have a very uncomfortable relationship; but, transparency, or one could say authenticity or vulnerability, is a core value of mine. This is what I am. This is what I believe. And, I will, in future posts, try to explain why I believe the way I do. For some I am a curiosity, for some an embarrassment, for some a danger. But for others, maybe I can be a light, someone who has questions and seeks answers and follows where those answers lead even if it is not within the traditional evangelical package.
I’m a Liberal Democrat. But, neither the Democratic party or the progressive “agenda” own God. Neither does the Republican party or conservatism. Each of them is correct only so far as they reflect the heart of God.
As a final note. I’m a Liberal Democrat. But, neither the Democratic party or the progressive “agenda” own God. Neither does the Republican party or conservatism. Each of them is correct only so far as they reflect the heart of God. I know good faithful people who are conservative Republicans. Reasonable people can come to different conclusions.
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