Apologies to Avery at southern Gospel music blog averyfineline.com for letting down my guard against the red/blue-state myth that the major media pundits seem to thrive upon.

(Keep in mind, though: I gratefully noted here the data showing that the United States is divided into shades of purple, not red and blue.)

Avery offers a more thoughtful assessment than my original, of the dichotomy between fundamentalist moral values and non-fundamentalist moral values in the Kirk Talley case. But I do not believe that non-fundie values are necessarily secular, nor any less pietistic. If anything, I’d say the opposite might sometimes be the case: Nonfundamentalists like me can be very pietistic or idealistic, while fundamentalists can be brazenly opportunistic, favoring a subjective and convenient pragmatism over moral principle.

While some post-election blue-staters view red staters as Neanderthals, I do not think I do. For starters, I came of age (spiritually and intellectually) in Dayton, Ohio, among Marianist Catholics. My college campus had its share of conservative Protestants whose moral and religious values were of the southern-gospel variety. With them I mingled, fellowshipped, and exchanged Amy Grant albums. I shared their moral concerns, but became disillusioned mid-college when their moral values stopped growing even as I discovered a broad range of moral concerns — economic fair play, local poverty, various prejudices, human rights, local and political ties to U.S. WMD — that were being violated by these same people. I agree with Avery that the value set affirmed in sg testimonies is juicer — sexier — than the social Gospel, but not inherently so.

I perceive leaders of the religious right to be appealing to Neanderthal values when they scare their followers into opposing science, opposing critical thinking, and opposing mutual tolerance, the last item being a necessity for the survival of any community — or nation.


Thanks to Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune for the link.

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