The Demons We Are Warned Against.
Demons walk among us. They even hide among us. They disguise themselves at times as friendly, or pitiful, creatures to ensnare us. It takes constant vigilance to detect them and stern resolve not to fall for their blandishments.
That is the meta-message of conservatives.
Foremost among the demons to be feared is the black male criminal, essentially indistinguishable from any man of color from adolescence through elderly dotage.
There are others, though. The Queer. The Bitch. The Lazy Poor. The Intellectual. The Irresponsible Young. The Bureaucrat. The Muslim. The Atheist. The Prisoner. The Illegal Immigrant.
The conservatives thinks of these as demons, because they have no purpose other than to cause destruction and damage to the social fabric. There is no compromise to be made with them, because they are not just people with a different set of interests and needs. Compromise with them is a compromise with evil, and a foolish mistake. Have you lost your mind?
The purpose of conservative discourse is to convince us that these demons are real and among us.
But if the purpose of conservative discourse is to demonize, the purpose of liberal discourse is to humanize.
The work of public ministry for liberal religion is to humanize our culture. It is an infinite demand revealed to us by our history and a cause worthy of our lives' dedication.
The remarkable turn of public opinion about marriage equality over the last 5 years shows the possibility. That is the nation in motion, changing before our eyes, faster than we can imagine. We have a great opportunity now. I believe that liberal religion can have the social impact on the nation in the near future that the evangelicals had in the 80's and 90's.
Humanizing the culture takes place on many levels.
It is fighting the policies that flow from demonization: mass incarceration, punitive regulation of women's reproductive lives, cruel deprivations of the poor, foreign wars.
It is challenging demonizations in daily life: the exclusions and aggressions.
It is challenging demonization in our personal lives and in the terrain of our own thoughts. It is building institutions for worship that inspire.