Faith 2016 News

DNC platform: Plenty for religious progressives to love

A choir performs before the start of the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 25, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Mike Segar

(RNS) The 2016 Democratic National Convention party platform includes much that religious progressives from multiple faith backgrounds might like. Approved Monday (July 25), it calls for expanding LGBT rights, combating climate change and narrowing the income gap. Here are some of the hot-button social proposals:


READ: GOP platform: Plenty for evangelicals to love


Marriage

The platform explicitly states support for the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage. It also states opposition to state laws that would discriminate against LGBT people — a swipe at legislation that requires transgender people to use certain bathrooms and allows businesses to refuse to serve LGBT people on the grounds that to do so would violate the owners’ religious beliefs.

“We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate,” the platform states.

Abortion

Democrats state their support for a woman’s right to control her reproductive status in several parts of the platform. “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion — regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured,” the platform states.

It goes beyond that, pledging to work to overturn the Hyde Amendment and the Helms Amendment, which restrict the use of federal funds for abortion, and to fight Republican-led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Notable is what’s missing from the party platform — a religious liberty exemption on abortion. By comparison, the 2012 DNC platform allowed physicians and other medical professionals to excuse themselves from performing or assisting in abortions if to do so would violate their religious beliefs.

Religious minorities

The platform promises that Muslims will not be barred from entering the United States, one of Donald Trump’s most controversial campaign promises.

“We reject attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States,” the platform states. “It is un-American and runs counter to the founding principles of this country.”

The platform calls out what it terms “Trump’s vilification of Muslims,” calling it a violation of “the religious freedom that is the bedrock of our country. … The vast majority of Muslims believe in a future of peace and tolerance.”

The rights and protection of Muslims and other religious minorities are also addressed in a section on values. “We are horrified by ISIS’ genocide and sexual enslavement of Christians and Yezidis and crimes against humanity against Muslims and others in the Middle East,” it reads. “We will do everything we can to protect religious minorities and the fundamental right of freedom of religion.”

The U.S. government’s relations with Native Americans takes up a couple of pages of the platform and includes an acknowledgment that “past injustices” have harmed their various cultures, including their religions. And it includes a promise to allow tribal religions to maintain and pass on traditional religious beliefs, “without fear of discrimination or suppression.”

Israel

Like the Republicans, the Democrats believe Israel has a right to exist and defend itself. The Democratic platform also holds that Palestinians have a right to a state and self-governance. As for Jerusalem, sacred to Christians, Muslims and Jews, the platform states that it “is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel, an undivided city accessible to people of all faiths.”

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

41 Comments

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  • The Democratic Party continues its Leftward drift, November should tell us if a plurality of Americans are O.K. with that.

  • Luckily nobody does. But the GOP has stated on numerous occasions that they are indifferent to the idea that children need access to food, healthcare and education.

  • You need a period rather than a comma after “drift”. Re “November should tell us if a plurality of Americans are O.K. with that.”, it seems that other factors are significant in voter choices beyond overall leftwardness or rightwardness of platform, including personal attributes and issues of the candidates. Your proposed conclusion would not be a solid one.

  • No Christian does, but, unlike the Repubs, the Dems support women’s rights of conscience and religious liberty. And Spuddie gets it right. — Edd Doerr

  • The Dems are vastly preferable to what the GOP has become. Abe Lincoln must be spinning in his grave at the party’s sinking to the level of Trump and Pence. Try this haiku —

    Combine arrogance
    With ignorance and — Voila! —
    Trump Republicans.

    Edd Doerr

  • “We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate,”

    Absolutely. This platform supports individual religious freedom, just like the constitution does. You can be a Mainline Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, evangelical Christian, snake handler, Muslim, atheist, Wiccan, J Witness, or any other belief in the USA. You cannot use your belief, or lack thereof, to control or harm anyone else.

  • Repealing the Bill of Rights, repealing constitutional religious liberty for all “Mainline Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, evangelical Christian, snake handler, Muslim, atheist, Wiccan, J Witness, or any other belief in the USA.” Good job, Democrats.

  • That description. “Religous Progressive” would describe Jesus. So, to me, it certainly is not a contradiction of terms.

  • Religious progressives are actually very interested in economic justice issues and it is here that people of faith who are progressive might be most pleased with the platform.

  • Kevin, I think that Kevin is a man’s name, so if you are male, you will never become pregnant, therefore you should not weigh in on the subject unless you are an OB/GYN and then you must tell your patients of your objection to abortion so if they can go to a different physician. Frankly if you are an OB/GYN and feel as you do, you are in the wrong profession..
    Frankly, a fetus is not a “baby.” No one is killing “babies.”

  • Most people who say that they are Republicans want to cut the safety nets that would allow a poor woman and her child to live in dignity.

  • Umm, no, the Jesus of the Christian myths died and rotted away thousands of years ago. Nothing “progressive” at all about following a set of crazy old myths like that now. Love your mustard trees and your flat-round earth too -uh huh, that’s your “progressive”….and how does your silly book of fables say the world was populated again? And how do you think diseases spread? Try on some modern science for a change.

    My statement stands, and your myth-following supports it.

  • Good job spuddie. That has been my argument AGAINST Republicans for decades, while being an evangelical Christian. I personally am not for abortion, but if you are going ot legislate against it, then you must legislate for access to food, etc for all. Never see a Republican doing that. And I certainly think/believe that Jesus would. He has an amazing way to address that.

  • My attitude on the subject is that you can’t talk about a fetus without first discussing the woman attached to it.

  • My punctuation is generally pretty good, but I’ll accept your correction. I don’t think I proposed a conclusion. The evidence of a Leftward drift seems apparent enough in the Democratic Party, and the question of whether most Americans will endorse that (at least in the short term) should also be apparent based on the election results. Issues and attributes are germane, but don’t these generally reflect the underlying philosophy of the contestants? Since we’re talking about the office of the Presidency, we’re usually talking about a mandate from the people.

  • Yes, as I have vainly tried to illustrate to Spuddie, a fetus is precisely a baby, and sufficient numbers of physicians and biological scientists have declared it so to suit me.

  • The umbilical cord is a material distinction between fetus and baby. Babies are born.

    When talking about a fetus, you should discuss the woman first as the two are physically inseparable. Failing to do so makes any discussion on the subject a dishonest waste of time.

    Meaning the anti abortion crowd has no problem attacking the rights and personal intimate life of a woman. They just don’t want to think about it or say it out loud.

  • Edward, I agree with you. But IF you insist that that baby be born, then you must also want that baby to have a decent life, therefore it follows that you would want to vote in legislation that allows that woman AND HER BABY that you have insisted has the right to live, be able to live so that baby can grow up healthy, strong, and with adequate mental capacity provided by food, shelter, education, etc. What I see from the Republican prty, is that they drop all support of that baby long before it is born. Consider limiting access to healthcare by banning funding to Planned Parenthood and other women’s health clinics.

  • ” Since we’re talking about the office of the Presidency, we’re usually talking about a mandate from the people.”

    Or at least a mandate from five unprincipled but aggressively partisan and activist members of a Republican dominated Supreme Court…

    That constitutes a mandate to lie to the Congress, and kill hundreds of thousands of Asians.

    -dlj.

  • It is that very physical inseparability that should give a woman pause before she embarks on a purely selfish and destructive act. But I thought we had finished this argument; my fault for replying to Judgeforyourself37, and citing my earlier remarks to you.

  • Your comment seems off point, and at present the Supreme Court is hardly dominated by Republican nominees. The Chief Justice appears quite centrist, Scalia is gone, Kennedy is to the Left of the Chief. That pretty much leaves Clarence Thomas as a single “aggressively partisan and activist member.” And the Court has had little or nothing to do with any administrations conduct of foreign policy, your whole argument is a series of non-sequiters

  • Since it’s not clear to me, please inform what my conclusion was, beyond the (potential) leftward drift of the nation. My point was we shall have to wait and see whether my mere surmise will prove correct. That is manifestly not a conclusion.

  • It’s only your opinion that it is a purely selfish and destructive act. One which belies an indifference to what women actually go through with such decisions. Plus such opinions don’t mean that women lack the rights to make any such decisions.

  • Modern science grew in Christian Europe because Christians believe in a world of order ruled by a rational mind. The real modern myth is that the universe came from nothing, that organic, sentient life arose from inorganic matrial, and then (and then!) self-assembled to produce all of life. Lol. The best part is that this myth teaches that man is nothing but matter in motion, so reason doesn’t even exist on this account, and makes truth relative, and science impossible.

  • They have the right because it has been codified in law, such does not make the right to choice in law a morally defensible position

  • Time you learned some science, stu​pid ign​orant little Chrissie. Science doesn’t claim what you claim it does.

  • False, Chris. Science grew IN SPITE OF Christianity, not because of it. You christian AS​SHOLES persecuted scientists many, many times.

  • I’m not weaseling, nor am I usually accused of being a wimp, rhetorically speaking. I simply don’t get the distinction your are attempting to make. Unless, in the end, you are inferring that I have concluded that the Democratic Party is drifting further Left. In that event, my conclusion is that it appears so. O.K.?

  • It also means they don’t have defend that position to you. Claiming moral high ground is not the same as claiming a right over something.

  • Perhaps not, but anyone who is intellectually honest also desires to fight from a position of a solid ethical footing. The Law is infinitely malleable, Each of us has the right to fight for the laws that reinforce their particular judgement, they may not prevail, but the right remains. Even Supreme Court decisions hardly remain settled law as many such rulings end up nuanced and massaged at a later date. Wait for the bell, the next round will soon be along.

  • Are you on some kind of feedback loop? You make the same charge over and over with no attempt to clarify your remarks despite the fact that I have admitted to being slightly mystified as to what your point is.

  • My point was abundantly clear, wimpy weasel Edward. It was very specifically stated, as was your flawed conclusion. Read above, again, until you get it.

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