Skip to content

Hug a tree for Jesus

With the election looming and voter turnout up across the board, the youth vote has attracted its fair share of attention. Harvard University’s Institute of Politics reports that for the first time since Richard Nixon was in office, young people are turning out to vote in high numbers. Perhaps more interesting than sheer volume is how we youngsters are voting and why.

The study, released in April, said 37 percent of young people listed religion as “a very important part of their lives” and 45 percent expected it to “become more important as they grew older.” But traditional “religious” issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and stem-cell research aren’t as popular with the younger demographic. The idea of voting for morals or family values doesn’t mean what it used to. Hallelujah

As a religiously affiliated youth voter myself, I am overall more concerned with poverty, social justice, and the environment as moral causes than any others. This is also a reflection of the Democratic Party affiliation of the majority of the 18-29-year-old age group, reported by the Pew Research Center. It’s not that abortion and homosexuality aren’t worthy of attention or thoughtful discussion/legislation, but for too long these two issues have defined the religious movement. I’m proud to be part of a generation that is broadening our moral focus and redefining what it means to be a politically-active religious citizen.

We can talk all day about when life begins and what rights women have, but as long as people are poor and scared and uneducated, we won’t stop abortions. We can obsess over homosexuality and the theories of sexual orientation, but how can we love like Jesus when we don’t even treat people who are different than us like people?

My hope for my generation and the emerging religiousity in America is that our votes will speak about a great love for all people and a concerted effort to make life better in this country. I hope issues like the environment won’t fade into merely a trendy interest, but will manifest into a dedication for alternative, clean energy and a renewed zeal for conservation.

I think criminal justice is another neglected Christian issue that has seen an increase in popularity with the restorative justice movement. The religious right may not be famous for hugging trees or fighting for prisoner’s rights, but I believe the religious left could be. And maybe, we can even stop using terms like left and right to describe and divide ourselves. I’ll try to work on that.

4 thoughts on “Hug a tree for Jesus”

  1. Reading those linked articles makes me wonder: What does defining, for instance, education as a moral issue actually mean?

    Also, there's never been a time when people have not cared about things like the environment, social justice (though I'm sure you'll find differing opinions on what this means), and poverty. Everyone cares about these things, they just differ (vehemently) on the best approach.

    The danger is that those in power will use their position to force their version of morality on the entire population.

  2. natetheokay said:

    "The danger is that those in power will use their position to force their version of morality on the entire population."

    Isn't that exactly what the religious right does when they try to outlaw abortion and gay marriage? Are they not trying to force their version of morality on the entire population?

    Both sides try to pursue what they think is morally right, obviously, but the difference is that many on the "left" want to give people the means to make the moral choice if that is what they choose to do, while the "right" wants to simply make their version of morality the only choice by law.

    I don't agree with abortion, but I do agree with St. Amant in that so long as people are poor and uneducated, abortions are going to continue to rise.

    If the "right" really wants to stop these things that they feel are immoral, they need to start focusing on the cause rather than the effect.

  3. "while the "right" wants to simply make their version of morality the only choice by law."

    What about the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Catholics for Choice, and other pro-abortion religious groups. I never hear pro-aborts lamenting how they are trying to make their version of morality the law.

    "If the "right" really wants to stop these things that they feel are immoral, they need to start focusing on the cause rather than the effect."

    Who said they aren't working on the cause? Pro-lifers do plenty to help before and after kids are born and to promote abstinence, the only perfect solution.

    And since abortion kills an innocent human being, one can protest abortions without having a moral obligaton to do more (even though pro-lifer do much more) – see Pro-lifers don't care about kids after they are born? for more.

    "Isn't that exactly what the religious right does when they try to outlaw abortion and gay marriage?"

    That is amusingly worded. You act as if oxymoronic "gay marriage" has been legal for hundreds of years and these nasty religious people are trying to change that. One doesn't need religion to argue against legal recognition of these unions. For one, they don't meet the definition of marriage. Never have, never will. Also, the gov't has no incentive to regulate unions that by nature and design do not produce the next generation and which by definition can NEVER provide a mother and a father to a child.

Leave a Reply to natetheokay Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.