Friday, July 21, 2006

Faith and Social Justice Caucus controversial in the NDP

I've been following a story that's going around in left-wing circles. From what I understand the NDP's unofficial Faith and Social Justice caucus is looking to seek official recognition at the NDP's convention in Quebec City (September 8-10th).

Although this recognition has not been granted yet, (socialist) Muslim activist Tarek Fatah has already left the NDP over this.

Here's the resolution original resolution for convention(from a post from October 2055):

WHEREAS the "religious right" has dominated the discussion of faith and politics by appropriating the language of faith, especially in the mass media and Parliamentary circles;

WHEREAS the NDP, with deep roots in the principles and values of the social gospel, seeks to promote a just society where no one is left behind;

WHEREAS many in social justice movements, who share these same values, are inspired by faith; yet feel marginalized as though the faith that sustains their passion for justice must be separate from public policy and the political domain;

THEREFORE we move that the NDP form a "Faith and Social Justice Caucus" open to interested Canadians of all faiths that will:

i) provide a forum for people of faith interested in social justice who are committed to the social democratic values of the NDP,

ii) provide an avenue for networking with civil society allies, partners and individual Canadians to comment on legislation and public policy from a faith perspective.

Note that this resolution has been revised to take into accounts the concerns of people like Tarek Fatah.

Some of the hoi polloi on the left-wing message boards are unhappy about this development.

Dagmar at Bread n Roses writes:
The only benefit to the Faith caucus is that it got rid of Tarek Fatah. But now that that is done, time to get rid of the faith caucus. They can go join the Christian Heritage Party or the friggin Social Credit Party or whatever. Religion should stay out of the NDP. I'm not against candidates telling people of various faiths what they want to hear to get their votes at election time, but to make it a permanent fixture...? Come on...

In the same forum, Sparqui says:
I too am strongly against official recognition of a religious caucus within the NDP. There have been religious sorts who managed to separate their past lives as preachers from their present role as politicians (Douglas, Blaikie). I'm sure their personal convictions have guided their general political views but that's not the same as having religious values dictate policy.

How does that work? You have convictions, you let them influence you, but you don't let it dictate policy? So what if you believe God is in favour of legal abortion? If you support legal abortion, how is that not religious conviction driving policy, in the eyes of NDPers?

And what about if you think God requires the State to support the poor with social programs?

Sounds like a double standard to me.

Fern Hill writes
This is a really, really BAD idea. Yes, there is a long history of progressive religious people on the Left. But this is not the time to go backwards. We, the Left, should not be jumping on this bandwagon -- because that's what it is and looks like. This is the time to say very loudly -- religion is private, politics is public. Period.

Yeah, I'm a Catholic in private, in the closet, and ashamed, but in public, I'm a raving atheist. Nice sense of integrity. I thought the personal was supposed to be political!

Some are supportive of the caucus.

Jeff House at babble writes:
Somehow, having a faith and justice caucus in the NDP is so very terrible that the author just has to go and join Bob Rae's campaign.

The idea that a faith and justice caucus has to be an accomodation with fundamentalism, as he claims, is just tommyrot.

Scott Piatowskis in the same forum says:
None of the advocates of the caucus are socially conservative, and none of them are opposed to same-sex marriage. Frankly, Bev Desjarlais was about "it" when it came to NDPers fitting into either category. As an athiest, I have no problem with anyone who decides that they share NDP values because their deity leads them there. If people falling into this group want to have a caucus, more power to them.

Anyhow, I'd like to keep an eye on this story. It could be interesting. I heard that Monia Manzigh is supposed to head it, and that she opposed SSM. This was on the old thread, so maybe it's not true, but I'm just putting it out there.

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