Secretly being liberal.

(I don’t write about politics that often because it’s not a topic I can write about very well. There are so many good political blogs that I tend to avoid it. Plus, political comments usually get really ugly, really quickly. But my friend Rachel is going to change that. Today, she checks in with a funny look at the secret life of Christian liberals. Enjoy.)

Last month, Jon Acuff wrote a piece for about Christians treating secular media like Satan’s newspaper. A faithful reader of both SCL and The New York Times, I laughed along until about midway through the article when Jon joked that Christians are “pretty sure Fox News is baptizing people in their lobby,” at which point I completely lost my sense of humor.

It is an unspoken rule among liberals that only one Jon is allowed to make us laugh about Fox News—and it’s Stewart, not Acuff.

But how was Jon supposed to know? He’s an evangelical Christian, which means he is statistically obligated to have only one liberal friend.

So as a Christian and an occasional democrat…(yes, we do exist)…I’ve decided to be that friend, offering SCL a brief list of stuff liberal progressive Christians like:

1. Calling ourselves “progressive” instead of “liberal’

The word liberal (like evolution and sex) carries with it negative connotations in the Christian subculture, and is often used in the context of play-by-play accounts from a pastors or Sunday school teachers about the dangers of competitive slippery slope sliding. Progressive is better. People like Jesus and Donald Miller are considered progressive. Progressive communicates the fact that we’re not headed down, but forward…and just a little to the left.

2. Assuming our daily fair-trade latte from Starbucks makes us committed to social justice

I may drive a gas-guzzling clunker to Wal-mart to buy a trunk full of out-of season fruit, but I’m certain that the steam pouring off of my free trade Cinnamon Dolce Latte is a sweet aroma to God.

3. Agreeing with the Democratic Party on everything except abortion

I am one of many progressive Christians in the unhappy predicament of supporting things like health care reform and environmental stewardship, while remaining steadfastly pro-life. To compensate for our insecurity about this situation, we progressives like to try to one-up conservative pro-lifers by noting that we’re also against the death penalty and war. This does little to actually advance the conversation, which usually ends with people yelling at one another about who is being more judgmental. Sorry about that.

4. NPR

To borrow a metaphor from a friend, we progressives are pretty sure that Ira Glass is mystically distributing the Eucharist through the airwaves during “This American Life.”

So, what would you add to the list? What else do progressive Christians like? (Conservatives, please don’t say “going to hell,” as it kinda hurts our feelings and messes with the whole Christian unity thing.)

(Rachel Held Evans is a liberal progressive Christian from Dayton, Tennessee, home of the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Her first book, “Evolving in Monkey Town” officially releases with Zondervan in July, but is currently available on Amazon. She blogs at

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  1. taborrr says

    Recently I have been feeling the same way. I used to be conservitive, but now I find myself falling in the middle. I still have my objections to certain things but there are quite a few things I am more proggresive about. Great piece!

  2. cpsappington says

    I don't understand how being a proponent of bigger government makes anyone more like Christ. James 1:27 says that "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world." So why do liberal or progressive Christians believe that the government should take care of the needy when its our job? Christ didn't command the Roman empire to look after the poor. It is our obligation, as individual Christians and as the collective church. It is not Christlike to demand a larger centralized government to forcibly take more (ie in taxes) to care for the poor. That's not charity.

    • R. Montgomery says

      “Big government” is a loaded term, which itself comes from the political realm and is promoted by people who principally want to pay lower taxe–mostly by shrinking their relationship with their neighbors. It is safe to say that few of us would want smaller government for ourselves, so that we don’t enjoy the same constitutional rights as others, or receive the same benefits of American citizenship as others.

      But more to the point, governments exist to carry out justice and to care for their own people, as well as to be responsible neighbors to other peoples. Listen to any of the prophets like Amos, or listen to Jesus in Matthew 25. Nations have no right to exist unless they take care of the poor and behave in just ways.

      Shall we “shrink” our governmental ethics down to the point of the letting American nationalism and American power for power’s sake, be the only reason for the US government to exist? I believe that all power and all blessings stand under the judgment of God, and in how we treat our neighbors and in how we use our blessings to bless others, we stand under God’s call and judgment.

      If we can find a way to care for the poor without taxes, great. But until we find a better way, we Christians have to remind all Americans that nations that ignore the poor stand in danger of falling themselves.

      • Steve says

        It’s funny (meaning ironic) how the Bible also says the government “carries the sword…” (liberals and progressives don’t often like that part of the quote) “…to administer justice.” Wow, that sounds like law and order stuff. Let’s see, what do you do with a sword? Oh thats right, put it on a statue for show – to make it look like we mean business. Failing to act justly has consequences, whether it is failing because our government is over weight and bloated or if people do not act for themselves and help our neighbors in need (both are parts of the same problem – and one leads to the other).

  3. Kris Hanson says

    Okay, so as a liberal, here are the things I love:
    -Donald Miller
    -Saying how biased Fox News is
    -Derek Webb
    -Sometimes using profane language then when someone gets offended I say, "Maybe you should get that offended over poverty in Africa and not cuss words."
    -Jim Wallis
    -Stephen Colbert, especially because he is Catholic, so he's kind of like us
    -Supporting the Ground Zero Mosque
    -Calling Rush Limbaugh homophobic, then procedding to meantion all of his failed marriages and prescription drug addictions
    -Feeling bad after your conservative friend called you judgemental for passing judgement on Rush Limbaugh, although you still think he's a jerk

    • steve says

      The people that inspire me the most are Ed Shultz, Keith Olberman, and Randy Rhodes….the radio talk show hostess.

    • Be Progressive says

      I love it! And as to the previous comment about Christians being responsible for taking care of the poor; nice to see but in reality it doesn’t work. If it weren’t for government programs we would have ‘the poor’ dying all around us. Remember our Forefathers words: “Promote the general welfare.” (And yes, Limbaugh is a jerk and Beck is a delusional fanatic.)

  4. says

    With ya 100% on the #3 thing. I find it very hard in elections to voye because I feel voting for a democrat who is very openly pro-abortion is against what I believe in, yet I agree with them on most other issues. Along with the fact that I feel supporting a republican might just one day destroy my own personal life if they decide to cut funding to the drug treatment program I’m in. It presents a hard time for me. I become one of the people who just doesn’t vote.

  5. cherise says

    I am so sorry to have to leave this blog after reading this post. If you know history, you know that progressivism and the idea behind it stems from the belief in evolution and all things changing. It began with Darwin. It does not lie in the unchanging truth in Christ. To allow the government to constantly grow and take more from its productive citizens to support an ever-growing number of unproductive citizens is stealing – straight up. I, like so many other conservatives, am committed to taking care of my neighbors by volunteering, tithing and giving to charities, but no where in the Bible does it instruct the government to demand that of its citizens. This country was founded by Christian men escaping an overreaching government and to use the Bible to guilt Christians into going back to that is a twisting of the Truth.

    • Eric says

      It is erroneous to say that this country was founded by Christian men. Maybe a few, but a great many would identify as deists. Deism is a long way off from Christianity.

  6. says

    Rachel, I will be quietly giggling about this until I wake.
    Though I am sad that Anderson “Silver Fox” Cooper’s hair didn’t make an appearance on this blog post.

  7. Gabbi says

    BAHAHAHA!!! I LOVE this! Growing up in Seattle, i seemed pretty conservative (in comparison), but i’ve just recently moved to Bible-belt Florida. I’m now convinced i’m a hippie communist. *amused snort* But yeah, TOTALLY love this post! xD

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