Right-Wing Religious Fanatics.
--Religious Bigotry in America.--

 

Percentage of Americans who view it as important for presidential candidates to be strongly religious: 70%The Pew Research Center--September 20, 2000

All this bitter backlash in the blogs and media about "right-wing religious freaks" and the "Religious Right." What’s it all mean? Seems like all the bitterness is coming from the left-leaning Anarchists. What started all this nonsense and what are the facts behind it?

Religious activists in the 19th and early 20th century helped end slavery; supported women's suffrage; brought about Prohibition; and supported the rights of workers to organize into trade unions. More modern inheritors of this social gospel were also vigorous agents of change and resistance, propelling the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. As recently as the 1960s and 1970s, left-wing religion was a force to be reckoned with. "We had the feeling that we were getting somewhere," recalls the Rev. William Sloane Coffin, former chaplain at Yale University and one of the patron saints of mainline religious activism. "We criticized American practice in the name of American ideals."

But today liberal religion is seen as a spent force, says Mark Tooley, a researcher for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank. The religious left comprised denominational leaders and tended to be elite, as opposed to grass roots, he says. Today's religious right is younger and more vigorous, drawing its support from growing charismatic and nondenominational churches. "The religious left was mobilized and excited by the civil- rights movement and by the anti-Vietnam War movement, and has had difficulty finding equally passionate causes to replace those," he says. "The religious right has abortion, homosexuality and church-state issues that have energized them over the past 25 years.

There's no sign that any of these issues are going to go away anytime soon. "Evangelicals who previously voted Democratic because of economic issues are trending Republican because of cultural issues, Tooley says. "But at the same time, most of those people are still, by and large, not activists by nature. They are largely middle-class, suburban people who are not drawn to the same kind of economic wedge issues that would excite the religious left or liberal evangelicals. "Nor are they willing to follow their spiritual leaders on other issues. For instance, opposition to the death penalty, globalization and the Iraq war by Roman Catholic bishops and mainline Protestant leaders has failed to generate grass-roots support. The Rev. Thomas Wenski, coadjutor bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Fla., admits to some frustration. "There are Catholics that don't pay attention" to the pope and the U.S. bishops on these issues, he acknowledges. "Our culture is very individualistic," he says. "That virtue of solidarity for the poor and the powerless that the pope often speaks about needs to be emphasized."

Percentage of Democrats seen as "friendly towards religion" dropped from 42% in 2003 to 29% in 2005--Pew Research Center; Aug. 30, 2005

 

HOW THE LEFT WAS LOST

There are a variety of explanations for the virtual collapse of the religious left in America. Some believe its members never recovered from the divisive period of the1970s, when the movement split into "identity politics." After working together to break down old barriers, the unified movement headed in diffuse directions: affirmative action, feminism, gay rights and multiculturalism. Others think the left was simply outmaneuvered and out-organized by the right. Savvy religious conservatives decided it was a mistake to see political involvement as something "unclean" for so many years, conceding the field to liberals by default. And the perceived excesses of the 1960s galvanized conservative Christians into action. Access to religious television enabled leaders such as the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell to build the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority political movements. The religious left had no comparable figures.

Religious conservatives "plugged into the issues of personal morality as the touchstone for Christian faithfulness," says the Rev. Fred Morris, executive director of the Florida Council of Churches. That got a good response from Middle America, "who were by that time scared by what they saw as a shifting of values. "This shift climaxed in the presidential election of 1980. In a show of political sophistication and pragmatism, evangelicals chose Ronald Reagan - who was divorced and rarely attended church - over Jimmy Carter, a born-again Christian and Sunday school teacher. Experts say the eclipse of the religious left by the religious right also may reflect the decline of mainline denominations and the rise of evangelicals in the 1980s - both politically and theologically.

THE POWER FAILURE

For many old activists, this is the winter of their discontent. Skeptics say the cold reality is that you can't build a mass political movement on nostalgia. Americans today live in a high-stress, fiercely competitive work environment, which tends to reinforce a certain degree of self-centeredness. No Democratic candidate or liberal religious leader has offered a credible plan for reversing globalization or even ameliorating its impact. Much of the social safety net was eliminated during the boom years of the 1990s. With no simple answers to big problems, there is a pervasive feeling of powerlessness - and frustration.

In November 2003, a group of liberal and moderate religious leaders from mainline denominations announced the formation of a new organization that is trying to fill the gap, calling itself the Clergy Leadership Network. The group's goal is to become what some called a Christian Coalition of the left. Founders include Coffin and the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches. They are a Who's Who of veterans of the civil-rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. The Rev. Albert Pennybacker, a Disciples of Christ minister, heads the new organization. Backers say they want to offer an alternative to the "partisan God" embraced by the GOP, and to turn their loose-knit group into a "coalition of conscience. "The odds against the new group are long. I don't think it's going to go very far," says Tooley. "Its leaders are largely retired, mainline Protestant leaders. It would have better prospects if it had enlisted pastors of large black churches, or a few liberal evangelical pastors or more Catholic clergy and bishops. It just doesn't seem to have plugged into the more dynamic and growing parts of American religion."

THE LONG ROAD BACK

Still, there are faint signs of life - and youth - in the religious left, according to Jim Wallis, of the Washington, D.C.-based Sojourners community. Founded in 1971, the group is a Christian ministry whose mission is "to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice." Wallis considers himself a theological conservative, pro-life evangelical - and a radical social activist.

Unlike many evangelicals, he believes that religious concern for the poor and the powerless should be motivated by justice, not by charity. Wallis says he has many requests from young evangelicals to join his community, which focuses on economic and social justice. When he and others like him, including Tony Campolo, another radical evangelical, carry their message to heartland churches, the response is positive, he says. It may be the case that the baton of social justice has passed from liberal, mainline Christianity to evangelicals. "I agree that liberal religion is in decline, but I don't agree that social justice is in decline in the church," says Wallis. The problem with most mainline denominations, he says, is more theological than ideological. "If you don't have a real Bible-based, Jesus-centered faith, then all you have is upper-middle-class, affluent Americans who are not going to be your primary constituency for social justice," he says.

In battles around the country for a "living wage," mainline ministers make a political mistake when they frame the debate in secular terms, talking about "fairness." A more effective strategy, Wallis says, is to rally evangelicals with verse from the Bible, especially prophets such as Isaiah, who spoke out forcefully for fair payment for those who labor. However, there is little evidence so far that even that strategy moves believers.

Earlier this year, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley enlisted the support of the state's ministers to realign the tax structure to bring it in line with Christian principles. The measure was defeated - decisively. Nevertheless, Wallis is optimistic about the future of liberal religious activism. The call to social justice, Wallis says, "will - and is - attracting a whole new generation of evangelicals and lots of Catholics, along with mainline Protestants who again want a more vibrant, personal faith."

William Sloane Coffin, whose collection of speeches and sermons, Credo, has just been published, says he is impressed with Wallis' brand of evangelical Christianity. "That's exactly where it should be," he says. "The more orthodox the theology, the more radical the politics. There are two great biblical imperatives: to pursue justice and to seek peace."
----Article from fortwayne.com

According to Steven Waldman, former National Editor of US News & World Report and the National Correspondent for Newsweek, he and other Liberals are: just as moral as Conservatives, most are religious, and family values are revered. On the reverse, he states, Conservatives don't want a Religious dictatorship. He goes into detail on the finger-pointing accusations made by the right and left wings towards the other side. This from: beliefnet.com

A 62 percent majority thinks President Bush strikes the right balance in how much he mentions his religious faith, and nearly as many (58 percent) believe the president’s reliance on religion in policymaking is appropriate. --- The Pew Research Center -- July 24, 2003

Yet according to Tompaine.com, which is "the best Progressive insight and action-all day", “an overwhelming majority of Americans consider themselves to be religious. Yet according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, people who attend church more than once a week vote Republican by 63 percent to 37 percent; people who seldom or never attend vote Democratic by 62 percent to 38 percent.
This disparity should concern Democrats if not as a matter of faith then as a matter of politics. More important, it should concern anyone who cares about the role of religion in public life. By failing to engage Republicans in this debate, the Democrats impoverish us all. By declining to discuss "religious topics" openly, Democrats allow Republicans to define the terms of the debate.”

The problem with some of the negative press about current Religious activism is that some liberal outreaches listed as “outreach ministries” are not Liberal by name. WSJ had a list with the following possibilities: prisoners and their families, woman-to-woman counseling, troubled teens, immigrant outreach, literacy, the newly unemployed, and pregnant single women.
And it has been said by some that such outreach ministries falling under the faith based help, are not Liberal at all. This is because the essence of Liberal outreach and caring is that the government should do the outreaching and caring. That being said, then it is absolutely wrong for private persons or organizations to help anybody deemed less fortunate. Because if private parties help, that is charity which is demeaning and a violation of human rights whereas when the government does it, it is an Entitlement. The recipient has rights to the aid. The newly established Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiative, is bridging the gap between the Liberal and liberal outreaches.

A few Religious Left web sites:
http://religiousleft.blogspot.com/
http://www.therightchristians.org/
--where religious progressives gather.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/religiousleft/
http://www.tcpc.org/
---The Center for Progressive Christianity
http://www.faithfulamerica.org
---an online community of people of faith who want to build a more just and compassionate nation.
http://www.sojo.net
---Christian ministry whose mission is to proclaim and practice the biblical call to integrate spiritual renewal and social justice.
http://liberalslikechrist.org/index.htm
---If Jesus of Nazareth was anything, he was an extraordinary friend of the downtrodden, definitely a Liberal...

Other links: http://religiousleft.bmgbiz.net/progressivelinks.html

Favorable views of Muslim-Americans have risen from 45% in March to 59% today, even though 40% of the public think the terrorists were motivated at least in part by religion when they carried out the Sept. 11 attacks.-- The Pew Research Center--December 6, 2001

Those that seek to remove any reference to religion from our society are not tolerant of religion at all. This is not too obvious to those that do it. Forest-Trees.

Rachel Buchman who worked for WHYY in Philadelphia, an NPR affiliate, called the offices of the Web site laptoplobbyist.com to express her outrage over an e-mail the group sent to her opposing special rights for homosexuals.
"You're evil, horrible people. You're awful people," she said, identifying herself only as "Rachel." "You represent horrible ideas. God hates you and He wants to kill your children. You should all burn." Hmmm. Sounds tolerant to me…

President Carter was referred to in the press in the 1970s as the “1st born- again President”. A Democrat religious politician? As president, he continued to preach at Sunday School and always said grace before meals, even at state dinners with foreign leaders. “God has been evoked loudly from the White House", said Rosemary Hollis of the Royal Institute for International Affairs according to the BBC News.
Sound familiar? Why no backlashes from the press back then about President Carter? There was no Internet as there is now. But if there was, do you suppose there would be the same critique of President Carter that we see of President Bush? Was President Carter trying to set up a Theocracy like President Bush is being accused of? I never heard that in the press in the 1970s. So does that mean the backlash from the media is only towards Republicans? I’m not sure.
President Reagan is quoted as saying, “I am born again and I am a Bible believer.” Dr. Ben Armstrong, former National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Executive Director, said of Reagan, “[Reagan] was really interested in Christianity and classified as a born again evangelical. While his words (about his faith) were not as articulate as Jimmy Carter they seemed to be very real.” President Reagan was a Republican. The press never made any problems for him.
In "God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life," Paul Kengor writes that Reagan's faith in God not only shaped his character, but nearly every aspect of his presidency.
Charles Henderson of About.com quotes the book, “[Reagan] made [Christian, religious] statements all the time, [but] most of the time ... there was simply no media coverage of it when it took place. I don't know if the reporters didn't care about it [or] didn't think people would be interested in it." Henderson adds, “Perhaps the secular press had not yet fully become aware of the importance of religion within American public life. Ronald Reagan is personally responsible for drawing the connection in the public mind between conservative politics and evangelical Christianity. Today, for many millions of Americans the word "Christianity" itself has come be mean ‘Conservative.’” (Hmmm. Sounds like there is a personal attack against President Bush and the Republican party.)

You would think that the former President Carter, being a born-again Christian, would be compassionate towards other politicians that openly admit their religious beliefs. But alas, Carter has also become jaded and polarized. According to President Carter, if you vote and you’re religious, then you are a Fundamentalist and a member of the Christian [Religious] Right. He forgets past history and his own life as well. Full interview here.
Pejman Yousefzadeh at yclipse notes that President Carter “excoriates ‘conservative Christians’ for supposedly thinking that those who disagree with them and their religious beliefs are "subhuman," and then goes on to display the same kind of arrogance and condescension towards his political opponents that he accuses them of displaying. Notice the sly but blatant connection between Bush and his policy towards the Middle East and end-time Christians in general--without showing any evidence whatsoever for any connection between the two. It's very reminiscent of the equally smarmy attempt to connect Bush (a Methodist) with end-time Christians by the BBC. Carter, of course, commits the fallacies of guilt by association and composition in his answer. And of course, he isn't challenged on it. The whole thing is reprehensible.”
President Carter says, “You [meaning himself] spent so much of your career working toward a reasonable, peaceful solution to violence and strife in Israel and Palestine.” And, “…it has resulted in these last few years with a terrible, very costly, and bloody deterioration in the relationship between Israel and its neighbors.” So on a side note, it can be argued that the policy that was carried out between the US, Israel, Palestine and the Middle East from the 1970s until 2000 built the foundation for 9/11. It solved little for the peace they were seeking. It can also be argued that one should not sit back and not strive for peace, as well.
What makes no sense here is that Carter pointed out that not a violation of the Israel/Egypt treaty had ever been broken. [Treaty here] And this covers Israel/Palestine in what way? If the Palestinians did what Egypt did (accept a negotiated agreement and actually abide by it) this conflict would have been over many times since that point. Plus remember Carter's outrageous efforts to prevent the use of force to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. Carter lobbied members of the UN to vote against an authorization of the use of force to remove Iraq from Kuwait. And he actually wrote letters and made phone calls to other heads of state trying to convince them to vote against a resolution authorizing force to enforce UN resolutions ordering Saddam to leave Kuwait. But we are off subject now…

President Carter concludes that all support for Israel (since him, of course) is directly attributed to, “traditionalist evangelicals’ strong support for Israel, based on the New Testament prophecy that the reconstruction of the ancient kingdom of David will usher in the “end times” and the Second Coming of Christ. [Current US leaders are] strongly influenced by ill-advised theologians of the extreme religious right, has pretty well abandoned any real effort that could lead to a resolution of the problems between Israel and the Palestinians.” So we should pigeonhole all conservative Christians as Fundamentalists. Interesting. And the proper focus of attention according to President Carter: “And Christ reached out almost exclusively to the poor, suffering, abandoned, deprived -- the scorned, the condemned people -- including Samaritans and those who were diseased. The alleviation of suffering was a philosophy that was enhanced and emphasized by the life of Christ. Today the ultra-right wing, in both religion and politics, has abandoned that principle of Jesus Christ’s ministry.” Yclipse also points out that, “Carter disregards the fact that Christ was not trying to run a government, and that the government is not engaged in a religious ministry. The lesson? Like the phrase ‘original intent’, Christian values can be flexibly used to support any stance you might wish to take.” Doh! Now that’s funny.

Pew Research Center, September 2000---
Support for giving government funding to religious organizations: Democrats favor it by 61%.
Support for allowing religious organizations to apply for funding: Democrats favored it by 74%.
Both of these figures are higher than the support from Republicans. Yet the hard thing to figure out is that when asked which political party is more concerned with protecting religious values, 50% of the Democrats interviewed said that it was the Democratic party. Only 22% said it was the Republican party. So I assume the people that are complaining about President Bush’s religious affiliation are the 22%. And the ones saying the Bush administration is turning the US into a theocracy are the 22% as well. They must certainly have a loud voice, because I hear this nonsense quite a bit.

It is interesting to note the political affiliation of past religious activists. Most were Democrats until the late 1970s (even the Neo-Conservatives were Democrats until that time). Makes you wonder about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. You cannot find 2 people that remember him in the same way. And it seems like everyone says that his or her personal fight and beliefs were started by Dr King.

I found an interesting article here. It’s from the Black Coalition of Minnesota. They explain that Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and even Frederick Douglass were never the political conservatives Republican pundits say they are. They quote a study from Sherri Smith, assistant professor of communication arts at UAH. "They don't say the system or the government should take care of everyone. Thus, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others are erroneously labeled black conservatives."

Another article from Marcus Epstein is titled, Myths of Martin Luther King. The author gets most of his info from the book, I May Not Get There With You: The True Martin Luther King. This book’s author is black leftist Michael Eric Dyson from Columbia University. I don't mind a fresh insight to a younger generation at all. But how can Dyson compare Tupac Shakur to Dr. King? Is there a comparison between a great civil rights leader who advocated nonviolence and universal love, with a hip hop artist who made a living off a culture that glorifies drugs and violence? And for that matter, how can a professor born in 1958 even spell Tupac Shakur? Maybe his grandkids turned him on to the music? Anyway, Dr. King's memory according to Dyson, has been flawed from biographers, conservatives, and cultural pundits who have molded King's myth to fit their own political agendas. But at the same time he himself misuses King's teachings to attack the conservative elements of the black church. He describes King's philanderings as a moral slip, and then he attacks the black church for being against premarital sex. While Dyson is certainly entitled to his own views about premarital sex, it most definitely does not apply in a book about King, a man who never voiced support for anything of the kind. Was Dr. King really a racially conscious closet Marxist?

So Epstein reasons that the myths are that Dr. King:
1) Did not want only equal rights, but special privileges and would not have opposed affirmative action.
2) Was not an American patriot, who tried to get Americans to live up to their founding ideals.
3) Was not a Christian activist whose struggle for civil rights is similar to the battles fought by the Christian Right today.
4) Was not an anti-communist.
5) Did not support the free market.
6) Was not a conservative.
7) And wasn’t a plagiarist.

The Affirmative Action argument is common. It's based on the fact that Dr. King had said that people should be colored-blind about jobs and treatment of people in everyday life. Saying that he would be against Affirmative Action is pure conjecture. Saying that he would be for Affirmative Action is also pure conjecture. Those old enough to have marched with Dr. King remark that King may have been against it for a long-term solution, but would have certainly not been against it as a remedy in the short-term. One such man has these thoughts here. This was a man who marched and rubbed elbows with King and those around him.

Robert Woodson, former Vice President of the NAACP, points out, "Dr. King spoke out against the violence of the Ku Klux Klan, but he also spoke out with equal vigor against the retaliatory violence of the Black Panther Party. As a consequence, when Dr. King also confronted conventional wisdom, he realized in the early 1960s that race-specific solutions alone are not going to deliver for all blacks. He realized that the civil rights movement was basically a middle-class movement in that for many of them who were locked out of the doors of opportunity, race was not the barrier, that economic opportunity had to follow. But we saw the decline of the black community occur precisely at a time when we had the greatest opportunity. When the doors were opening up, instead of saying to black America, "Open the doors now and initiate self-help efforts to propel you further than you were," we told our young people, "Because of past discriminatory practices, you are society's victim and you have a right to restitution. You have not only a right to a level playing field and a right to opportunities, but you have a right to ten percent of the trophies." And as a consequence, this whole idea of victimization began to occur.

Remember, up until 1959, only nine percent of black families had illegitimate children, and 13 percent of white families in 1959 had children where the mother never married the father. When poverty programs began to unleash their evil message, we saw a dramatic decline and the nine percent went to 60 percent."

The anti-religion set always has negative things to say about Dr. King. Usually they hate the fact that anyone religious would endorse King. And today those are from the Conservative religious side (and we all know how much the left abhors the Religious Right). Of the few bigotries left in this country, religious bigotry is one of them. There is little proof against King's Christian relationship with God. But if you say nothing, it looks like there is no evidence (ala Michael Moore). Dr. Philip Wogaman has some insightful thoughts here. And his word should be as good as gold. He is the leader of the Foundry Methodist Church in Washington. And that's where the Clinton's attended during the 1990s. Dr. Wogaman traveled to Selma, Ala., in 1962 to organize voters, he learned about more than civil rights and nonviolence. What the fresh-faced young minister saw in Martin Luther King Jr. and the black churches was a faith so strong that he realized he hadn't known Christianity until then.

Not all who took part in the civil rights movement shared King's religious foundation. Once, young whites from San Francisco rolled into Selma and began to protest loudly and militantly, stirring the town precipitously, recalls Wogaman. Then, in a late-night prayer meeting, an older black man stood up and spoke with unearthly eloquence about liberation. Turning to the Californians, he said, to the best of Wogaman's memory: "I don't know why you are here, but if you aren't here because of God, you don't belong."
"The deep religion in that single comment turned everything around, morally," Wogaman says. "The climate changed. The kids became good soldiers and saw a lot more in the methods of Martin Luther King."

Robert Woodson has some enlightening facts here. "Dr. King also used as the basis of his message the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. King believed that everybody was capable of enjoying God's redemptive powers. He did not attack his enemies. Like Abraham Lincoln, he believed that the best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend. Many of the civil rights leaders who have followed him no longer refer to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the basis of their message. Instead, they have embraced poverty programs. Instead, they have secularized the movement."

He says of those who speak against Ronald Reagan and the Communist issue: "It was Carl Rowan who characterized Dr. King as a communist, not Ronald Reagan."

Many still argue about Dr. King being a Liberal or a Conservative. If you look at the message he gave and say the same thing today, you can see where the argument comes from. Dr. Bill Bennett points out at the same meeting with Robert Woodson that, "...there is a point to that: If you said in 1968 that you should judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, that you should be color-blind, you were a liberal. If you say it now, you are a conservative. It is in that sense that Martin Luther King today is a conservative." So the message has changed hands, not the messenger. Dr. Bennett continues, "If King's statement is true, it doesn't matter who says it. If it is true, it is true. Indeed, everyone should say it. Everyone of all races should say it."


UPDATE 7-2006:

The NYT had a story about the Spiritual Activism Conference in May of 2006. The entire story is in pdf here. Religious liberals came together to discuss “taking back religion from the conservative Christians.” A very noble effort. However, there were problems during the proceedings. A few clippets from the NYT article:

Turnout at the Spiritual Activism Conference is high, but if the gathering is any indication, the biggest barrier for liberals may be their regard for pluralism: for letting people say what they want, how they want to, and for trying to include everyone's priorities, rather than choosing two or three issues that could inspire a movement.

Chuck Carlson of BreakPoint notes:

Never mind even setting policy goals; some conference members were afraid that singing hymns might be enough to upset some members. Instead of coming away with a clear set of objectives, the conference members mostly came away frustrated.

Ironically for a group that prides itself on tolerance, it seems the only thing the conference could agree on was its opposition to the “religious right.” But frustrating as it was for them, the group had to concede that the “religious right” is a lot better at getting things done. Beliefnet suggests this was because “religious conservatives are willing to argue there is one correct view on policy issues.”

Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean made an attempt to add religious tones to the image of the Democratic party. He was a guest on Pat Robertson's TV show, "The 700 Club". The NYT reports that "Mr. Dean alienated gay and lesbian supporters of the Democratic Party by misstating the party's platform on same-sex marriage."

The Conference members collectively admitted that it would take years before liberal believers could match the savvy and strength of conservative Christian groups. That should have not stopped the strength of the Democrats. The majority party. The tolerant "Party of the people". They should collectively undertake to stand up and take back the government for the people. But Rabbi Lerner, the editor of Tikkun, the progressive Jewish magazine, noted that all members there should,

[D]efine progressive faith, rather than have politicians do it. He said research begun years ago showed that Americans were experiencing a deep spiritual crisis but that only conservative Christians had responded to it, with an agenda that he said "backs the ethos of selfishness and materialism in our society." "They get away with this because the left isn't even in the relevant ballpark," Rabbi Lerner said. When people on the left "hear talk of a spiritual crisis, they think it's some kind of New Age flakery or a code word for homophobia, sexism and racism," he said.

He speaks the truth. How many from the far-Left, Anarchists, are anti-Religion and anti-"Religious Right"? And how much of that rubs off on those who are only liberal voting Democrats? The truth of this is summed up in a reply to a comment from Tony Campolo. From the NYT:

Mr. Campolo, the Baptist minister, explained to the participants in a seminar that many people on Capitol Hill were religious, and that to reach them and to establish authority, liberals should rely on the Bible.
"You have no right to be a spiritual leader if you haven't read Scripture," he told the group. "People in Congress respect the Book, even if they don't know what it says. If we don't recognize this, we don't know squat."
A young man with long hair and a tunic challenged Mr. Campolo.
"I thought this was a spiritual progressives' conference," he said. "I don't want to play the game of 'the Bible says this or that,' or that we get validation from something other than ourselves. We should be speaking from our hearts."

There you have it. Validation from ourselves simply means you make up your own god. Christians may interpret the Bible differently; apply it to life differently; and may have arguments over exegesis. But the Bible has to be the ultimate authority. Chuck Carlson quotes Dorothy Sayers, the great English writer,

“In the world it is called Tolerance, but in hell it is called Despair, the sin that believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and remains alive because there is nothing for which it will die.”

Carlson notes:

This kind of so-called “tolerance” can never bring people together, but only as we saw in Washington, pull them farther apart.