For the Religious Left, delaying the New START treaty would be sacrilege.
The U.S. Senate is on the verge of ratifying the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia. Supporters praise its guarantee of U.S. inspections of Russian strategic weaponry. Opponents fear it may inhibit development of U.S. anti-missile defenses, among other issues. The least persuasive supporters of START are perhaps the Religious Left, most of which favors NO U.S. weaponry, and nearly all of which has for decades elevated the process of arms control to totemic status, including the nuclear freeze debacle of the 1980s.
In typical fashion, the Religious Left squealed with holy indignation when U.S. Senators Jim DeMint and Jon Kyl suggested delaying any vote on START until after Christmas. Both suggested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s proclivity for pushing major legislation through on the eve of Christmas, such as Obamacare last year, was less than ideal for thoughtful debate. DeMint wondered if the Christmas logjam of legislation weren’t even “sacrilegious.” But for the Religious Left, which tends to view its political agenda as almost sacramental, any suggestion of START’s delay is itself sacrilegious.
“For two senators who have steadfastly opposed this on political grounds to now use Christmas to justify their position is a cynical manipulation of religion in the worst possible way,” complained Sojourners chief Jim Wallis. “It is this manipulation of the Christmas season that is truly sacrilegious.” On cue, Wallis insisted there is “no more appropriate time of year for the Senate to pass a treaty that promotes peace and good will.” For the Religious Left activist, START is the “kind of gift that is worthy to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace.”
Unmentioned, of course, is that Wallis is a pacifist who opposes ALL armaments for the U.S. His kind of Christmas, presumably, would entail America’s unilateral disarmament, with or without sanctioning treaties, or equal disarmament by potential aggressors. Wallis is hardly a suitable poster boy if START is portrayed as safeguarding U.S. strategic interests.
The National Council of Churches (NCC) even disseminated a news release ostensibly defending Christmas’ honor from the supposed assault from Senators DeMint and Kyl. And the release carried the endorsement of numerous left-leaning Mainline Protestant church chieftains, like the Presiding Bishops of the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran denominations, not typically renowned as experts on strategic weaponry. But they are evidently experts on what is politically suitable at Christmas. "If anything this time of year should be an encouragement for our leaders to work harder for peace on earth in response to God who wills peace for all," pronounced NCC chief Michael Kinnamon. Apparently, “any delay” in ratification would undermine the Christmas spirit. Senators DeMint and Kyl seemingly are Grinches for even suggesting a postponement. Or maybe they are more akin to the inhospitable innkeeper who turned away Joseph and a pregnant Mary on the first Christmas Eve.
Leftist nun Simone Campbell, head of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, was even more rhapsodic about START’s purportedly deep ties to Christmas. “There is no better way to honor this central moment of our faith than to pass this agreement,” she insisted. “No better way” to honor Christmas? Evidently, the biblical angels who announced the birth of Baby Jesus to the shepherds outside Bethlehem also included their adamant support for arms control. Sister Simone declared of START: “It is in keeping with our effort to embody the message of Jesus in this holy season, and it is good for our nation and the world.”
Evangelical Left activist Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, who heads the “Two Futures Project’s” advocacy for eliminating all nuclear weapons, was equally indignant over Senators DeMint and Kyl. “The attempt by New START opponents to use Christmas for tactical political advantage is profoundly offensive,” he bewailed. The anti-nuke polemicist warned that “the cold-blooded use of religion as a political weapon dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ and harms the evangelistic integrity of his church.”
Of course, the Religious Left is primarily about exploiting religion as a political wedge. For the Religious Left, God’s Kingdom is mainly about expanding Big Government, promoting global governance, and seeking an ephemeral global utopia without weapons, poverty or pollution, governed only by good will and warm sentiments. For Religious Leftists, Bible stories are mostly for redrafting into political allegories and for exploitation as weapons against political opponents.
In truth, the Christmas story does not provide any direct guidance on START or most other political issues. Neither the Wise Men, nor the shepherds, nor the Holy Family, nor the Angel Gabriel, provided arms control counsel, or other detailed political advice, for the 21st Century. For people of faith, Christmas is primarily about reconciling fallen humanity to a loving God.
As utopians, Religious Leftists do not typically believe humanity needs divine salvation and instead they believe world harmony is achievable through legislation. START may or may not serve U.S. security interests, protect freedom, or advance the cause of peace. Reasonable people, including senators, disagree. And reasonable people should agree that the Gospels offer no direct talking points on this arms control treaty, or virtually any other sacred political cause of the Religious Left. Christmas and its message will proceed with or without START.