Why Progressivism and Religion Don’t Go Together

Leftists want government to do the work of God — transform human beings into perfect creatures

“Progressivism has always been premised on the notion that man has a changeable nature and thus is able to achieve perfection during his time on earth. As a result, progressives consistently maintain that government is responsible for transforming men and women into perfect creatures.”


Anyone watching the Democratic leaders in the months since Donald Trump was elected president will likely agree: The party is in nearly complete disarray. There is less consensus, however, about exactly why Democrats are having such a difficult time defining themselves in the post-Trump electoral landscape.

Democratic candidates have fallen in special election after special election this spring, most recently in Jon Ossoff’s nearly four-point loss to Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s sixth district, despite the historic $23 million Ossoff raised and the extra millions poured into the race by the national Democratic party.

In the wake of that demoralizing defeat, some have suggested that the party’s top leadership is the main issue, and Democratic politicians in the House have begun openly grumbling against minority leader Nancy Pelosi. Others on the Left believe that Democratic candidates have been losing because they’ve stayed too close to the center, rather than endorsing the increasingly progressive policies some voters desire. Still others have posited that the underlying issue is the party’s dismissive attitude toward religious values and even organized religion itself.

While the problems afflicting the party must stem from some combination of these factors, Democrats’ scorn for religion should be their biggest concern. That scorn is compounded by the party’s sudden and dramatic swerve to the Left on key social issues — abortion, contraception, religious liberty, and marriage, to name a few — in a quest for votes from far-Left, progressive Americans.

Just after the election in Georgia, historian Daniel Williams wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times titled “The Democrats’ Religion Problem.” In it, he suggested that Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign might offer the party a way of reaching religious Americans. He writes:

“Mr. Sanders’s non-Christian background may have hurt him in the South; he did poorly among African-American voters, despite his consistent civil rights record. But he did what few other secular candidates have done: He won a sympathetic hearing from conservative evangelicals with a speech that gave a religious grounding for his economic views, complete with biblical citations. When Mr. Sanders spoke at Liberty University, he did not pretend to share evangelical Christians’ faith, but he showed respect for his audience’s religious tradition.”

Williams concluded by arguing that Democratic politicians must convince religious voters that they are not enemies of faith, and they ought to do so by “grounding their policy proposals in the religious values of prospective voters.”

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