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Sunday, May 24, 2020

New Book Explores What it Means to be a Christian and a Democrat



              

If Jesus were alive today, would he:
-Feed the poor, or give tax breaks to the super rich?
-Comfort the old and infirm, or cut Social Security?
-Care for God’s Creation, or slash environmental protections?

Would he live in a red or blue state?

In this provocative and insightful book, Jesus Rode A Donkey: Why Millions of Christians Are Democrats, 5th Edition (Clovercroft Publishing May 5th, Trade Paperback, 253 pages, ISBN: 978-1950892143, $16.99), author Dr. Linda Seger, a theologian and a Quaker, explores what it means to be a Christian and a Democrat as we approach a sure-to-be historic 2020 election.

“Being Christian and a Democrat are not mutually exclusive,” asserts Seger, Th.D. “My book reveals the close relationship between Democratic policy and Jesus’ teachings and the many ways in which the values Jesus espouses in the Bible correspond to the values Democrats call their own.”

The idea that American Christians vote strictly Republican crumbles as readers peruse Seger’s careful study of both parties’ platforms. Jesus Rode A Donkey reminds the reader that Jesus and the prophets had a radical, progressive message that calls individuals and nations to feed the hungry, help the poor, heal the sick, free the oppressed, and to love our enemies. The Democrats embrace these values.

Jesus Rode A Donkey explores:
·         Where the two major parties stand on key issues that Christians value.
·         What role religion can play in politics.
·         How Christians can support a Democratic platform that includes abortion and LGBTQ civil rights, which some may say are prohibited in the Bible.
·         Misinterpretations of Scripture that have led to bad theology and immoral policy.
·         The misperception that Republican Christians represent the political views of all Christians.
·         Which party is better positioned to bring us peace rather than another war.
·         Why Christian democrats need to fight global warming.
·         How to bridge the great political divide.

“The public needs to understand that Republicans do not have the corner on Christ,” says Dr. Seger. “They have actually lost their moral authority and moral compass since 2016 by not speaking out against unchristian, immoral behavior from our government.”

Jesus Rode A Donkey is a well-researched, soul-searching, and clear-eyed look at America’s Christian values and how they impact policy. It also makes a strong case that the Democratic platform clearly reflects Christian values.
             
For more information, please consult: www.jesusrodeadonkey.com.

below is an interview with Seger, who is  represented by the PR firm that I work for:

1.      What is the premise behind Jesus Rode A Donkey, 5th Edition? Jesus Rode a Donkey is designed to give a voice to Christian Democrats and to shed a light from Scripture and Christian theology on important issues that determine what kind of country we have and what kind of values we espouse. I added two new chapters in this fifth edition–” Welcome the Stranger" which focuses on those who are "the Other", such as the immigrants. The other chapter is called "And what about Trump?" which looks at Trump's actions and words and calls him to account for his so-called Christianity which is espoused by some evangelical spokespeople who believe he is one of the greatest Christian presidents. That assessment must not be allowed to stand without challenges! 

2.      Linda, what inspired you to write about what it means to be a Christian and a Democrat?
Originally this book was an assignment from a publisher in 2006. The publisher asked me to write a book that would be titled, Jesus Was a Democrat and I said I couldn't write that book because I think that Jesus was an independent. I was interested in exploring this because I was getting very tired of the Republicans claiming they had the corner on Christ. I was a Democrat and a Christian with theology degrees and an experienced writer which is what they were looking for. I became fascinated with the issues and with the differences between the Republican and Democratic platform. And I became more and more convinced that most Democratic policies were more in line with the teachings of Jesus. 

3.      How do we even properly categorize or define who a Christian is or what a Democrat believes? Although definitions of Christians and of Democrats can be fairly broad, there are core principles that each of them follows. Democrats historically believe that part of the work of government is to protect those who don't have the money or power to protect themselves. Democrats have supported looking out for "the least of these" in our society, supported equality which means workers’ rights, equal rights for women and others, caring about the poor and middle-class - and working toward perfecting those ideals. Many of these are also Christian values – caring for the least of these, respecting women and the marginalized and outcast of society, trying to heal the body and the spirit. These are the values of democracy, Christianity, and of Democrats.

4.      You were raised as a Republican in the 1950s. What swayed you to realize the Democrats are more aligned with your faith? I grew up in a Republican family during the 50s when everybody liked Ike. My mother moved over to the Democrats before I did as a result of the influence of her Lutheran minister during the Vietnam War. I became a Democrat as a result of the influence of the Quakers around 1970 and as a result of my years in seminary where I became more aware of social justice issues. Both my mother and I were also very much influenced by my uncle, Dr. Norman Graebner, who was a renowned professor of American history/American diplomacy at the University of Virginia and a Democrat.  When he was a guest professor at Stanford, Diane Feinstein was one of his students. This book is dedicated to him.

5.      Why is it popularly believed that the Christian Right is with the Republicans and the Atheists and Agnostics are with the Democrats?  There are many misconceptions about voting patterns by Christians. It is thought that most Christians vote Republican. Not true. Between 75% and 80% of white evangelicals vote Republican. But over 90% of black evangelicals vote Democrat. Around 50-70% of mainstream Protestants and Catholics vote Democrat. (United Church of Christ, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians).  Over 90% of Quakers (I’m a Quaker) vote Democrat – although we are quite a small group. Atheists, Agnostics, Jews, and “other” and “none” tend to vote Democratic because they find a home in their openness to diversity.

6.      Which party challenges or supports religious freedom in America? Democrats have been far more open to the separation of church and state and to religious freedom and religious rights regardless of what spiritual path people follow. Our country began with a lack of religious freedom – people could be jailed or killed for not following the rules such as not going to church on Sunday. Religious freedom was won by people such as Baptist Roger Williams in Rhode Island and Quaker William Penn in Pennsylvania. Republicans, and certainly under Trump, have been more apt to deny religious freedom to others who are not evangelical Christians, such as Muslims, more progressive Christians, or nonwhite Catholics. There are many Republicans who believe that it is not possible to be a Christian Democrat.

7.      Does either party have the inside route to moral authority? It used to be that the Republicans believed they had the moral compass and the moral authority. They sold that idea.  But since 2015, Christian Republicans have lost their moral authority and their moral compass. They are silent before the most heinous actions. They swear their allegiance to Trump and treat him as an idol. They stand by silently while children are put in cages, while thousands die as he holds back aid for coronavirus patients, while he lies and spreads hate through his words and actions. They kowtow and are beholden to this fool of a president. (Yes, he fits the biblical definition of a fool!) Neither party has the corner on Christ. But Republican Christians have lost their moral authority - perhaps for generations. 

8.      How can Christians support the Democrats when people interpret the Bible to oppose gay marriage and abortion? There is nothing in the Bible about abortion. Nothing! The Republican Party platform in the 1980s and 1990s chose to emphasize this issue because they felt it could help them capture some of the voting blocks that had leaned Democrat in the past.  There are fewer than 10 verses in the entire Bible on homosexuality and most of those verses relate to decadent sexual practices between unequal power relationships – such as an older man taking advantage of a boy or a young man taking advantage of a wealthy older man. The only verses very specifically against homosexuality as a sexual act are in the Holiness Codes from 3000 years ago and we no longer follow most of the other rules from those codes.

9.      What are the biggest hot-button issues of the day – and why do you believe the Democrats are more compassionate and tolerant? Evangelical white Christian Republicans generally consider the hot button issues of the day to be abortion and LGBTQ rights. I know several Republicans who will determine their vote based only on both of these issues or one of these issues. Democrats consider the hot button issues to be climate change, health care, equal rights and creating a more peaceful world through understanding the many conflicts in our world. Democrats tend to focus on issues that equalize the playing field and take care of the suffering and often marginalized, and those who need the care and protection that can only come from the government. Our response comes from compassion and empathy.

10.  Are more Democrats speaking publicly about their faith than they used to? Is this a political strategy or a reflection of a shift? In this 2020 election, Democrats have been more open to talking about their faith. Democrats are a very diverse group, so have tended to not talk as much about their faith partly because of their respect for other spiritual paths. Republican Christians tend to talk about themselves as “believers” – meaning they believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They put the emphasis on belief systems. When Democrats talk about their faith, they are more apt to talk about how their faith has influenced them – by moving them to more socially conscious policies or because it has helped them through tough times. Most of the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates have church affiliations - there is no church affiliation of either Donald Trump or Mike Pence. 

11.  So, if Jesus were alive today, what would he do about immigration, poverty, health care, or the environment? Jesus always cared about and took the side of “the least of these” -  the widows and the orphans and the oppressed and the children and those who are suffering and those who are sick. And since nations are to follow religious values, we can be sure that Jesus, who was a refugee and an immigrant in Egypt, would care about the suffering of the children in cages and the people fleeing for their lives, just as he and his family did. He is the great healer and he would heal others. His father God created the world and he would care for this gift of Creation that has been given to all of us. As Judge, he would confront and seek Justice. 

12.  What would you say to first-time voters who want to adopt political values that are in line with their faith? Voters need to recognize that their value system needs to come out in public policy. There is a direct relationship between people who believe we should love our neighbor and love our enemies and policy that deals with diplomacy, reducing conflict, recognizing the suffering in the world and realizing that some suffering can only be dealt with through national policy, not just through churches and individuals. Look carefully at the issues. Look carefully at Scripture. Pray. Ponder. Don’t just vote Republican, or Democrat, because your parents did and your minister told you what to think, and look carefully at the good that will be done by particular laws and policies.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

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