A Look at the Importance of the “Liberal Christian”

liberalchristianDespite what many right-wing “Christians” might have you believe, there are millions of Christians who refer to themselves as liberals, progressives, Democrats or any number of things besides “conservative Republican.”

Anyone who follows my writing knows that I’ve written quite a few articles expressing my opinion on what I believe is the fallacy of the “right-wing conservative Christian movement.”

If you haven’t had a chance to read them, here they are:

To summarize my opinion on the issue, I don’t believe most Republicans are Christians.  In fact, I don’t believe most of them follow Christianity.  Instead, I believe they follow some hybrid perversion of faith and politics that I call “Republicanity.”

But that’s not what this piece is about.  This is about the importance of “liberal” Christians.  Now I put the word liberal in quotation marks because I don’t mean some new form of Christianity that’s liberally based.  I mean liberal as in Democrats, progressives or liberals who are Christians.

Now I understand many liberals aren’t religious — in fact, many are atheists — but they should support liberal Christians too.  Not because I believe they should convert—everyone should believe whatever the heck they want, it’s their business.  Rather, it’s because even if you don’t believe in God, Jesus or follow any kind of faith whatsoever, what “liberal Christians” believe Jesus stood for transcends anyone’s religious ideology to the basics of how we should act as people.

As humans, we shouldn’t have to believe in Jesus Christ to feel that it’s important that we:

  • Help the sick
  • Feed the hungry
  • Defend those who can’t defend themselves
  • Help the needy
  • Accept each other
  • Not judge one another
  • Love one another
  • Help the poor
  • Treat people with kindness, not apathy

I don’t believe these are traits of Christians, these should be traits of humans—period.

And these are traits that we, as “liberal Christians,” fight for everyday.

I battle, almost daily, to take my faith back from those who’ve co-opted it so they can manipulate millions to vote against their own interests by using a handful of quotes about homosexuality to conjure up some fear that somehow God cares more about same-sex marriage than someone starving and sick on the streets.  By the way, homosexuality is a subject Jesus Christ spoke about exactly zero times.

A group that I’m sure many reading this will have heard of (if you haven’t, you should check them out immediately) which fights this battle every single day is The Christian Left.  They, like me and millions of others, are sick and tired of people saying they worship a man who stood for love, hope and acceptance—with hate, fear and judgement.

This is why I think the “liberal Christian” is vital for this country.  Not because I believe that with faith we’re more important than anyone else, but because millions of people do consider themselves Christians and millions of those people represent the belief that Jesus Christ epitomized the goodness inside people that we should all exemplify.

And even if you don’t believe in any kind of God, the symbol of what Jesus Christ represents, according to the “liberal Christian,”  is something we should all be able to come together and agree upon.

Because being a good person isn’t tied to a faith, any kind of religious book, a denomination or singular person—it’s something we should all strive to be no matter what we believe.  And that’s something “liberal Christians” represent.  If true Christians would take back their faith from these fear mongering radicals on the right, the animosity between people of faith and no faith wouldn’t probably even exist.

Imagine how much more we could accomplish as a society if millions weren’t manipulating a faith to promote hateful, and ignorant, political ideologies?

That’s why I believe the “liberal Christian” is vital for the liberal/progressive/Democratic movement.  Again, not because they’re more important than anyone else, but because they can truly represent a faith that can bring people together—instead of tearing them apart, as Republicans have done with their perversion of Christianity.

Because it’s true, Christianity has been taken over by the ignorant evangelical right-wing “Christians” who have discovered that it’s easier to manipulate millions with fear than build them up with hope.  That anger makes for a better tool of control than love.  That it’s easier to divide because of our differences than unite in spite of them.

However, I’m determined to put an end to that.  Because I believe it’s time real Christians take back their faith from those who don’t even know the meaning of the word “Christian” and damn sure don’t follow Christianity.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Lisa

    Good article I agree 100 % and I am Mormon and vote Democrat. Nicely written

  • sandra1947

    This is so true!! I have long thought this and now refuse to let “right wing conservative Christians” tell me that I cannot be a Christian because I’m a Democrat. God will make that judgment not them. And as President Obama has said more than once “that’s above my pay grade” and will continue to try to live by the true Christian tenets you mention in your article.

    • JonesRobynj

      I stand with you Sandra.

  • Kate

    I agree…however…the right-wingers have been at it for so long it is easier to allow the church to continue dying rather than fight for progression in the pews…

  • Melania Gulley

    posted this on my wall and the only answers I got were from an atheist
    friend. I am also Atheist.. k.. here is my food for thought point of
    the day because its been bugging me for some time. The right wants
    freedom of religion and the ability to pray in school. Now logically if
    that is allowed they would have to allow any religious groups within a
    school the same rights. Here’s the rub.. What about Islam and Satanism?
    they are both religions. You may not like their teachings but … It is
    freedom of religion? Just a thought also i forgot to include Wicca. The
    fact that none of my so called Christian or religious friends even tried
    to post a reply is very telling I think

    • JonesRobynj

      On the issue of prayer in school. No one is forbidden from praying in school. However in order to preserve every person’s rights under the first amendment, it is important that no religion can and shouldn’t be represented in a publicly funded program. Individual religious worship is the responsibility of the parents, not the state. As you pointed out, if they did, which religion would be pushed on these children? It can not be allowed for the state to teach any kind of religious dogma because of the diversity of our culture. We do not live in a theocratic society and that is why the separation of church and state is explicit in our constitution. Each and ever person in our country, by law, has the right to worship the way they want to. There are NO exceptions. So, in short, if I child needs some personal time to worship, he can do so in private and silence. You don’t have to speak the worlds in order to be heard by who you are worshiping. See my post here for more.

    • Carolyn Gollaher Holloway

      They are quite weird about the religion thing, I posted a meme about Jesus being a liberal and I almost got death threats.

    • Denise

      Liberal Christian here. I don’t care if you pray to Jesus, Allah, Satan or Yoda. Just don’t cram it down the throats of others and we can all get along.

    • jeczaja

      You are right. I have been pointing this out for years to my fellow Christians-and they get it! I also told them anyone can pray silently anywhere, any time and they can test it next time they are in a school.

  • Lee Maiden

    The religious right hurt people, take their money, and many other bad things that don’t follow the teachings of christianity.

    What people don’t understand is that Atheists DO things to help people not just pray about it.

    The A in Atheist stands for Action.

    The things you list;

    Help the sick

    Feed the hungry

    Defend those who can’t defend themselves

    Help the needy

    Accept each other

    Not judge one another

    Love one another

    Help the poor

    Treat people with kindness, not apathy

    Are things we do without religion, we are good without god.

    I am a Liberal Atheist Democrat, I am an Honorably Discharged disabled Veteran.
    I put my life on the line everyday to protect the rights of ALL people, not just the select few that the right-wing religious think are entitled to.
    They are hurting this country and its people.
    I served so that people could have freedom of and from religion.
    Which is what this country was founded on, they were running FROM a religion that was controlling them.
    All people are created equal, I have friends that are Gay, Lesbian, Straight,
    They are all my friends and they are all equal to me.

    • Melania Gulley

      thanks for your service Lee.I have noticed that religions tend to put conditions on who is and is not a good person based on a belief in an invisible deity. They all tend to judge and some to just outright hate which at least with Christianity always puzzled me because after all Their God was supposed to be a merciful, loving God.. Something most of them don’t even really try to emulate

      • JonesRobynj

        I agree with you to much. I’ve heard it said that the most spiritual person is an atheist. They have a much clearer view of what our lives should encompass.

      • jeczaja

        Good examples above of atheists claiming moral superiority over believers. Please re-read the article.

      • willietrohut

        I think you have not gotten the meaning of the article. This is divisive. Please, this is what we are trying to stop. Thank you.

      • Brenda Porter

        I can’t speak for other belief systems, but as one who tries (but doesn’t always succeed) to follow the teachings of Christ, I’m here to say he was the last one to judge others and hate wasn’t a word in his vocabulary or his actions. Shamefully, it’s the ChINO’s (Christians in name only) who hold themselves above others, whether they are poor, or don’t live in the best part of town, are a different race, or are less educated.

  • Linda

    Amen! I’ve been saying this for 20 years now. The right wing conservative “Christians” practice some of the most unChristian behavior that I have ever encountered. They hate with a passion anyone that does not believe what they believe. When my self professed Christian neighbors banned my 6 year old daughter from playing with their children 20 years ago for daring to bring up kissing in their home, I had to tell them that if that was Christianity I wanted nothing to do with it.

  • JonesRobynj

    I am an ordained minister. The reason I became a minister was to fight against this right winged dogma that has nothing to do with what I believe God wants for us all. I absolutely do not care if someone is a Christian or not. I don’t care if someone even has a faith. I believe in all of the actions that this article outlines and anyone who really is a little higher on the consciousness scale and loves peace between humans, will serve us all. If one believes in Christianity, they KNOW that Christ did anything BUT teach hate, prejudice, and apathy. Jesus was a liberal and a radicle for his time. He fought the good fight to show us that he wasn’t the only one who could follow this path, that we could as well. So those of us on the left, that want to be true Christians, have to follow the opposite path than those on the right, in order to restore the direction that is in line with what we are here for.

  • Quinn Stilletto

    Religion is undoubtedly divinely inspired but is, at the same time, completely man-made.

    • jeczaja

      Religion is man’s attempt to codify the spiritual impulse. As such it has both venal and transcendent qualities.

  • JonesRobynj


  • Sandbur

    Actually Jesus did say something on homosexuality, only that there is no word in Ancient Hebrew, Koine Greek or Aramaric for homosexuality or homosexual so the word “eunuch” was used as a man who did not have sexual relations with women.

    But Jesus said unto them, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to
    whom it is given.
    For there are some EUNUCHS WHO WERE SO BORN FROM THEIR MOTHER’S WOMB, and there are some eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it”. Matthew 19:11-12

    • jeczaja

      Eunuchs were understood to be lacking testicles and hence lacking sex drive.

  • Susie Glockenspiel

    Your attitude and remarks seemed more concerned, not with a person’s spiritual beliefs, but with whether or not they are democrat or republican. They pretty much smack of the “if you don’t believe like I believe, then you are not Christian (or what I believe a Christian should be)” – a mindset of which you are pretty much accusing the republican Christian. It is true that RELIGION should never be confused as CHRISTIANITY. Religion is man-made, whereas Christianity is the belief that Jesus died for our sins (because we cannot – on our own merit – even hope to get into Heaven). Furthermore, he died for ALL sins of ALL people – I have never been able to find in the Bible where it refers to any sin for which he did not die. With regards to Atheism, Satanism, Wicca, Islam, Hindu, etc – again, we’re talking “Religion”, but only Christians are attacked for being “religious”. I am a Christian (nondenominational – incidentally, my pastor, as well as much of my church, is gay). I am also republican (not happy, by any means, with the republican party, and even less happy with the democrat party). As an afterthought, I love how it is just assumed that Christians are not a giving group. What a laugh.

    • willietrohut

      I think the gist was how the moniker of believers calling themselves “Christian” was highjacked by the “right” and made to appear that nobody else can be a true believer. I have run into it a lot. People I know who are “right wingers”, southern baptist and many others, have often put forth the idea that you cannot be a Christian if you are a Democrat. This is what i have taken away from this essay, that they are not the only “Christians”, that there are many of us who are in fact Democrats, and they have no right to steal that from us as they try to do. This theft of my spiritual beliefs by these people on the conservative right wing side is an abomination. Who do they think they are to say I cannot be a Christian if I am a Democrat. That is what this article speaks to.

    • Sherri G

      Maybe they are “attacked” (your word not mine) because other religions RESPECT the rights of others and DON’T SHOVE their beliefs down other’s throats, try to FORCE their beliefs into our secular laws, judge them as automatic sinners if they are not “Christian” and believe in the respect for other religions as valid as well. With “christians”, they are so “holier than thou” that they actually believe their religion, and only their religion, is the ultimate and correct one. THAT is why people don’t care for “modern christians or christianity”.
      I have a diverse belief system from many points of the world and am saddened when folks are so narrow-minded that they can’t see what is really out there.

  • DoctorButler

    I’m tired of wealthy scumbags hijacking The Bible.

    Their behavior is neither Christlike, nor American.

    They’re snakes.

  • RosemaryPeppercorn

    I don’t know who you are, Allen Clifton, but I love you. Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking for decades.

  • Grace Kraybill

    As a middle-of-the road liberalish citizen and a conservative Christian, I read this message with great interest. And hope. I completely agree that “conservative Republican” has NOTHING to do with any religion, despite too many Christians who like to equate the two.

    I must admit that as a conservative Christian (you know, I believe the Bible is God-breathed and believe in the whole thing,) I can count the conservative Christian Democrats I know on my fingers. And maybe a toe or two. I regret that so many of my brothers and sisters spend so much time spewing forth about homosexuality and that many of them are not very pretty about a lot of things. But then, I must admit I am also quite ugly. Too often. As a Christian, left-middle-or-right, one must know that about oneself, too. It is our depravity that takes us to the feet of Jesus. If you see Christianity as just about how we live our lives on earth, as you say, that’s not just Christianity, but other faiths, too. But that isn’t all to Christianity, because the essential element of the faith, is a promise of becoming Christ’s eternal heir. That, I have in common with the religiously conservative. Politically and socially, I disagree quite a lot with these same religiously conservative brothers and sisters. But then, I disagree a lot with my religiously liberal brothers and sisters.

    My point is that if you identify yourself as “Christian,” we are united in Christ. Whether I like it or not; whether you like it or not.

    So that hope with which I read your post was quickly dashed, when I read several disparaging remarks directed very broadly at “conservatives,” and then this final statement:

    “…I believe it’s time real Christians take back their faith from those who
    don’t even know the meaning of the word “Christian” and damn sure don’t
    follow Christianity.”

    Wow. That was incredibly judgmental, angry and divisive.

    • JonesRobynj

      Dear Grace. You, as the rest of us, have every right to believe what you like. I have believed as you believe now and far be it from me to dispute what you say. We all have our own reality. I would like to submit this to you. If you believe that there is a superior being in charge of everything that goes on in this world, then to me we are living under the whims of a dictator. In my belief, it doesn’t matter what you believe really. We who believe it is time to take back Christianity are not being judgmental any more than what your belief dictates. We as human’s, naturally have to judge what our existence means and how we matter in this world. In my view, God is a gentleman/lady and will never push him/herself on us. God gave us discerning consciousness and being part of this God, we have been endowed with making and creating the world we want to live in. It is us who has all of the control, because being of God we are the creators with him/her. The true meaning that Christ had for his church, is nothing like what is being mascaraed as Christianity today. We live in and with all spirits in an all inclusive universe. Belief is merely a process that is ongoing and should never be viewed as something that stays the same. If you believe that it is, then that is the place your soul is in on it’s path. If all you believe is what is in the Bible, then you have surrendered yourself to ignorance. You have not surrendered to the ongoing process God has given you to remember where you have been in this vast never ending cosmos I believe that was created by him/her. We are all on a journey and being open to new things does not mean that you have deserted God, just that you have embraced him. If in your belief, you declare that God is the all knowing, the Alpha and Omaga, all that is, and the Father of All Creation, then you must also know that we can not know it all. That there is so much more than we can even comprehend. Even when we die, we will still be learning. This too shall pass and the truth will set you free. As for me and others that believe that Christianity has been hijacked, then it will be a glorious fight to win back our own individual faith and know that we can practice what ever any one of us believes. After all, this fight is about more than Christianity isn’t it?

  • jeczaja

    Thank you for this. I am a Christian and a lefty in Deepsouth, where I saw so much fear among fellow believers in 2008 I realized they had been hijacked. I also realized I had somehow become the enemy! Very sad. On the other hand, I encounter lefties who mock faith, driving Christians away. No one wants to hang out where they are despised. Bit of a “tolerance” deficit there.
    Its just the Pharisees again>WTJO? (What Ticked Jesus Off?) Not sinners. Religious leaders who abused their authority to exploit those they were supposed to serve.

  • Disgusted

    It is a tragedy that in the United States you have to hide your religious beliefs. Ironic isn’t it??? You are not allowed to be a Jew, Christian, Muslim without someone making a moral judgment of you….I am a Christian whose BF’s are a Muslim and a Jew….You supposed liberals and conservatives can’t get along with anyone and get NOTHING done in this country because you are so busy pigeonholing people…Our religious communities do NOT judge who we help…The people we take food, clothes medical help to and find shelter for on the streets NEVER ask us if we believe in anything…they just say thank you…Get off you ass quit writing this uneducated drivel and help someone

  • Var Enyo

    To those who say it’s been hijacked; it’s true and it was no accident. Groups that started forming in the 80s for the right wing started replacing pastors who disagreed with them. It was easier to control people who were hearing the message from the pulpit. Today, I think we are reaping the rotten fruit of this with people who only care about themselves and are for destroying the earth since ‘they’ are going to be magically picked up before the trouble starts.

  • katherine norton malek

    Excellent article as always. I would count myself among liberal Christians. For the purpose of spreading such an important message, I submit that “liberal Christian” be replaced with “progressive Chritian”. “Liberal” has become almost a dirty word in our current culture. It shouldn’t be but “liberal” is almost brand poisoned at this point, thanks to the likes of Fox & right wing religious zealots. “Progressive” connotates forward thinking and moving ahead. It has a more positive connotation.
    Thanks for another interesting read.
    Sincerely, A Progressive Christian

  • Madison Blane

    “Because being a good person isn’t tied to a faith, any kind of religious book, a denomination or singular person—it’s something we should all strive to be no matter what we believe.”
    Amen from this Atheist! And on this we can truly agree!!
    Supporting the ‘in-group’ and embracing fear of the ‘other’ is detrimental to one’s own path as well as the path of others. And at the very minimum we should all seek to do no harm.