This week, things look bad. A new pope, the promise of a Senate smear campaign against liberals as anti-religious. Leaders from the National Council of Churches and various thinktanks prepare statements condemning the movement in advance, preaching "tolerance." The weakest possible defense. Bob Edgar of the NCC writes:
"This campaign, which they are calling 'Justice Sunday,' should properly be called 'Just-Us' Sunday."
Hold on. Religious moderates need more than weak puns and a doctrine of tolerance to reclaim the country. They'll need a clear articulation of our values, principles, history, means of working; we need to shout out loud that the so-called Christians on the Radical Right have splintered from conversation already. The Religious Right is out of communion with us, the moderates of America.
In Arizona and Florida and California and Masschusetts, the Religious Left is slowly rallying. But they're going to need cover.
Everyvoice.net's computer guys reported last week that their conference site had been hacked by the Religious Right. Small words and phrases were changed to subtly alter the meaning of the site content.
Timothy is right: people in communion have an obligation to settle their differences as patiently as possible, waiting decades through process before storming away. This is one reason that so many American and European Catholics remain Catholic despite the current state of that church. But when a group leaves communion -- forgetting Timothy themselves, flaunting hatred and the politics of smearing -- they've already turned their back. Moderates and liberals can't turn the other cheek to someone out conversation. Not every fundamentalist has left the conversation utterly, not every Southern Baptist ignores the moderate at the table and shrieks hysterically. But one Religious Right is doing so loudly, powerfully, nastily. The virulent faction of the Religious Right -- the one orchestrating smears -- doesn't deserve Timothy, let alone Jesus. They deserve to be slapped.