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Marilynne Robinson and the Absence of a Religious Left

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The first thing you need to know about Marilynne Robinson the essayist is that she is not Marilynne Robinson the novelist.  As it strives to approach human souls and the demands of doubt that grace, predestination, and the possibility of free will place on the human mind and self—that is, the soul—the spirit and prose of her fiction is always generous yet honest.  The essay, by contrast, sharpens her prose toward weaponry more than beauty.  In The Givenness of Things, released in October of last year, Robinson takes aim at her intellectual opponents and slips in the knife with a polite, Midwestern smile.

The effect startles when her focus is limited strictly (or even primarily) to contemporary politics.  Here, her wisdom is merely conventional, or what passes for conventional on university campuses.  As her generosity evaporates, her tone verges on the mean-spirited, accusing the American right, in effect, of clinging bitterly to their guns and their religion—a surprising move, given that she clings quite lovingly to her own religion and writes with more understanding than any of her contemporaries about the dignity of “small” lives in middle America.  Such passages are marked by their infelicity, the over-reliance on and over-use of freshman English sentence construction: “It seems [to me],” “It is interesting [that],” “It is important [to note].”  Where generosity departs, so, it seems, does her muse.  (I suspect that they are coterminous.)

Yet her alignment of conventional campus progressivism with what is, in essence, a work of Christian apologetics is markedly unconventional and precisely why the argumentative turn of her last three volumes of non-fiction is notable.  “I had always thought that the one thing I could assume about my country,” Robinson writes, “was that it was generous.  Instinctively and reflexively generous. … [O]ur saving grace was always generosity, material and, often, intellectual and spiritual.  To the extent that we have realized or even aspired to democracy, we have made a generous estimate of the integrity and good will of people in general, and a generous reckoning of their just deserts.”  This generosity, rapidly evaporating, was largely the work of religious liberalism—not always, but frequently, in the form of a Religious Left.

For Robinson, liberalism denotes neither individualism nor left-of-center policy preferences.  In rooting its definition in nineteenth- and twentieth-century thought, we err.  Mill and Friedman looked to Smith and Locke—who in turn, she argues, looked to the King James Bible, where “liberalism,” rightly understood, emerges as generosity.  On the left and the right, she sees the ideology of the individual, of the impermanent demands of fad and the economics of identity; anti-humanism all around.  It is no surprise that her discussion of rights-based politics comes in an essay titled “Fear”:

Our first loyalty in this country is to the Constitution, so if the case can be made that any part of the Bill of Rights, for heaven’s sake, is under threat, then the whole edifice is imperiled.  And what is a patriot to do in the face of such peril?  Carry, as they say, just to assert the right.

Her point here is not that rights do not matter, or that the Bill of Rights is silly, but that a politics defined entirely by the talk of rights—by the talk, that is, of me and mine—and that does not consider the for what good of those rights is one that will live in perpetual fear.

Generosity insists that we are obligated toward one another, as neighbors, as fellow citizens, as fellow humans—and that the fulfillment of these obligations establishes the foundations of the good society.  The Bill of Rights, we might say, exists because it enables Americans to be generous.  Robinson’s politics may be progressive, but she is old-fashioned in this way.  She believes in definite as well as indefinite pronouns, in the simultaneity of subjectivity and objective truths, in the existence of goodness, good, and the good.

On these terms, the boiler-plate politics of the first half of The Givenness of Things give way to an elegant defense of faith.  “I have spent all this time clearing the ground,” she writes after 221 pages, “so that I can say, and be understood to mean, without reservation, that I believe in a divine Creation, and in the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit, and the life to come.  I take the Christian mythos to be a special revelation of a general truth, that truth being the ontological centrality of humankind in the created order, with its theological corollary, the profound and unique sacredness of human beings as such.  The arbitrariness of our circumstance frees me to say that the Arbiter of our being might well act toward us freely, break in on us, present us with radical Truth in forms and figures we can radically comprehend.”

The hallmark of this belief—and of the religious mind as distinguished from the certainty of the economic and/or Darwinian mind—is doubt.  Doubt is a religious necessity because the possibility of doubt comes from the possibility of sin, of truly erring, from the recognition that “We alone among the animals can sin . . . Or, to put it another way—we are the only creatures who are, in principle if seldom in fact, morally competent.  Responsible, or at least answerable.”  Religion teaches good, which teaches its obverse, sin, which teaches doubt, which teaches grace, which teaches generosity.

But the religious right and the religious left alike have abdicated this responsibility.  The Givenness of Things is, in many ways, an apologia targeting the American left, a reminder that Christianity is not synonymous with the Republican Party, an invitation to see progressivism’s secular certitudes for what they are, another faith founded on a leap, and to consider whether there might not be room again for the doubt and generosity of liberalism rightly—religiously—understood.

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Where The Givenness of Things calls on (otherwise secular) progressives to remember liberalism and humanism, the polemically-titled When I Was a Child I Read Books (2012) targets Robinson’s co-religionists.  Liberal and conservative Christians, she holds, have made parallel errors of judgment in their shared rejection of the figure of Moses and the meaning and importance of the Old Testament.  In their turn toward the politics of austerity, politically conservative Christians have merely accepted the ahistorical depiction of Puritan colonists as severe killjoys, true believers who saw no room for doubt alongside belief.  In focusing on the Bible as a compendium of Don’ts for constructing a good society, the religious right has come to ignore the true purpose of the Old Testament, “a model for true social justice and an ethos to support it.”

Yet one suspects that Robinson never had high expectations for the Christian right to begin with.  Her deeper frustrations are with her fellows on the Christian left, which, openly sharing the views of the Old Testament she attributes to the right, has not merely abandoned it, but repudiated it.  In doing so, it has turned its back on the single best model for its societal vision—the articulation, through the figure of Moses, of the ethos that can guide a living politics, rather than that, through Jesus, which subverts a broken one.

She pulls no punches:

 [T]o reject it [the Old Testament] is one thing, to denounce it is another, and to misrepresent it in the course of denouncing it is another still. … Since Friedrich Nietzsche seems to be on every curriculum, unshakably canonized for all his deadness, whiteness, and maleness, I need only mention his familiar theory that Judeo-Christianity was foisted on Europeans by vengeful Jews.  I have never seen anyone else even speculate as to how it has come about that we consider ourselves victimized for having made inappropriate use of someone else’s scriptures.  Yet this sense of victimization is everywhere — it is even proposed in certain of these books that the Old Testament predisposed us to genocide.

The Christian Left does not merely disown the Old Testament and the intellectual framework it offers, but blames it for the failings of its own cultures, its own adherents, its own (to quote another of Robinson’s titles) “absence of mind”—and in so doing joins a long and disreputable tradition of Christian (and pre- and post-Christian) anti-Judaism.

As an outsider to this intra-familial argument, I nodded along.  When the Christian Left, after all, blames theological conservatism and/or opposition to particular political policies on Leviticus alone, either ignoring or rendering somehow pre-Christian the influence of Paul, claiming  that such opposition is as ridiculous as not eating shellfish, or not wearing garments of mixed wool and linen—well, as someone who avoids both treyf and shaatnez, I hear the venomous spitting of the word Pharisee and shudder.  Robinson’s critique is not quite Emmanuel Levinas’ lament that “the Pharisee is absent,” but she shares his desire for “a religion for adults” founded on the very difficulty of a freedom aligned toward covenantal ends.  This means, in practical terms, not rejecting the vision of Moses (which entails, to her mind, rejecting the vision of Jesus), but in the difficult examination of the ways in which the enactment of the society it calls for in the twenty-first century might require a different articulation of generosity toward sexual minorities.  To do otherwise is to prefer the easy way, that pretends to skirt doubt, and ultimately weakens the faith.

A purely secular left—or a Christian left that abandons Jesus’ indebtedness to Moses to enshrine him as a pure iconoclast—possesses, she writes, only “virtue of the kind Jesus described as tithing mint and cumin—a devoting of much attention to minor things.”  On, in essence, the self in isolation rather than the self in community—a defining solipsism found across the political spectrum.  This is the attitude, like the foisting of blame onto Moses and his five books, that “displaces ethical responsibility away from Christianity or modern civilization” and “excuse[s] oneself and one’s own from ethical responsibility by any means at all.”  What are all these modern rights, all these American freedoms for?  If they are not for the fulfillment of the Mosaic imperative to “open wide thy hand”—what Robinson calls “the absolute biblical imperative of respectful generosity”—then they are for nothing at all.

At a time when the right preaches libertarianism and the left liberation, when both revel in a shared animosity toward the burdens of obligation and the voters of both parties are driven by fear of having become the “losers” of the twenty-first century’s zero-sum civilization games, it is easy to imagine Robinson alone in the wilderness, an idealist.  But Robinson’s fiction is characterized by both grace and realism—and, she asserts, so is her biblically- and Christianity-inspired vision.  Far from fantasy, grace, the final essay of The Givenness of Things argues, “is a higher realism, an ethics of truth,” the most genuinely radical alternative to capitalist individualism and its Marxist/socialist inversions that “can only marvel that we are not quite as grasping as everyone else.”  Well, not quite everyone else, she continues, laying out with care the corrective offered by grace, by Moses, by Jesus, by a politics of biblically-infused generosity.  I will step back and offer her the last words:

Well, not the people we know, really, but those hordes out beyond somewhere who collectively exude this toxic atmosphere.  Those nameless wage-fallen others who somehow make Wall Street Wall Street and are overweight besides.  Truly, I am sick to death of presumptive contempt of the only human souls most of us will ever have any meaningful relationship with, who offer the only experience of life in the world that most of us will ever have occasion to ponder seriously, that is, respectfully and compassionately, that is, with grace.


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J.L. Wall is a native Kentuckian in self-imposed exile to the Midwest, where he studies literature and over-analyzes Leonard Cohen lyrics.

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55 thoughts on “Marilynne Robinson and the Absence of a Religious Left

  1. The religious left is not ‘missing’ and, if anything, dominates the colleges, the denominational apparat, and the seminaries in just about any confession you care to name outside the Eastern churches, the minority Lutheran and Presbyterian sects, certain Catholic dioceses, the Southern Baptist Convention, pentacostal sects, and a scatter of others. I’m puzzled reading this whether it’s the poster’s disorientation or his subject’s which generates this nonsense.

    While we’re at it, the ‘religious left’ would be those who’ve been suborned by the agents of the cultural matrix in which they live. Ideally, they would be missing.

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  2. This might be David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism thesis. Nirenberg argued in his recent book that Western ideologies have always constructed a version of Judaism to argue against even if this constructed Judaism has nothing to do with actual Judaism. Christian liberals who create a false dichotomy between the loving Jesus and kind New Testament against the hateful Pharisees and the hateful Old Testament/Torah are continuing this tradition. They are also adopting a line of argument that existed in Christianity for thousands of years and long before current left or right arguments would make sense.

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    • This might be David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism thesis. Nirenberg argued in his recent book that Western ideologies have always constructed a version of Judaism to argue against even if this constructed Judaism has nothing to do with actual Judaism. Christian liberals who create a false dichotomy between the loving Jesus and kind New Testament against the hateful Pharisees and the hateful Old Testament/Torah are continuing this tradition.

      Erm, not really. What has happened is that Christian ‘conservatives’ have decided that God *is* hateful, and are using the Old Testament/Torah as *evidence* of that.

      And the ‘Christian left’ (I think a much better term would be ‘non-hateful Christians’.) are attempting to fight that idea, so ends up arguing that *that* God was hateful, but then became less hateful. Which is…bad religion, but is not Anti-Judaism. Judaism is not even a *part* of that argument.

      It’s actually kind funny, in fact. Most Americans, especially conservatives, think Jews are generally ‘liberal’. (Which is pretty accurate *politically*, although I find it astonishing how much that has become synonymous with certain *religious* beliefs.) So you can get some hilarious cognitive dissonance by pointing out that *Jews* apparently don’t agree with their interpretation of parts of the Old Testament/Torah.

      In fact, as everyone hopefully remembers, I always point out that the Torah does not work the way certain Christians seem to think it does, and you can’t really go sola scriptura there. Because that’s not how the Jews do it, and, presumably, they would know! And Jesus probably would have said something if people were doing it wrong…and in fact, he did.

      Now, this ‘constructed Judaism’ *does* often end up being assumed as ‘Judaism’ in studies of Jesus, I’ll grant that. But I’m not sure there is anyone who assumes that Jews 2000 years ago think the same way as Jews now. (Although I have no idea if that’s what David Nirenberg is arguing, as I’ve never read his stuff.)

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      • This reminds me of a movie that came out years ago (Holy Crap! It came out in 2001!) called “Trembling Before G-d“. It was about homosexuals in the (or “an”, is probably more accurate) Orthodox Jewish community who were trying to reconcile their faith with their sexuality.

        When I first heard about it, my joke was something like how the sequel would be about Orthodox Jews who loved bacon cheeseburgers. Now? Well, I still think that the joke is funny but I also now know that sexuality probably shouldn’t be reduced to mere appetite and, at age 28, I probably wouldn’t have been able to grasp that concept particularly.

        Anyway, there’s a lot of wrestling within the community even now and there’s room even within Orthodox Judaism to be cool with homosexuality. The Religious Left seems to be doing the Lord’s work here.

        (Be sure to also check out the sequel “A Jihad for Love“, a treatment of homosexuality within Islam. Maybe there is hope for all of us yet.)

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  3. The author as described by the poster sounds like a tiresome party of one, and also given to trading in commonplace observations as if they were original insights.

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  4. “The hallmark of this belief … is doubt.”

    I disagree.

    If Christians in the country actually had doubts about their faith and the intersection of their faith with politics, as opposed to merely claiming that they have such doubts, the last few weeks of activity in the Governors’ mansions across the Old South would have had a very different outcome.

    It’s funny. I was raised strongly Episcopalian, then (a) lapsed and (b) got much more interested in science when I had to start hiring scientists and engineers as part of practicing law. From what I’ve seen, the doubting mind these days is far far more likely to be found among scientists (whether secular or having faith) than among just about anyone else (including SoCons like R Dreher).

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    • If Christians in the country actually had doubts about their faith and the intersection of their faith with politics, as opposed to merely claiming that they have such doubts, the last few weeks of activity in the Governors’ mansions across the Old South would have had a very different outcome.

      How?

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      • For example, someone who has doubt about the scope of Christ’s message about love could be expected to be more tolerant of those who have found love in same-sex relationships and who have formed same-sex marriages.

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        • ‘Tolerant’? That’s not what’s at issue. Movement evangelicals and Una Voce Catholics tolerate all manner of things. What’s at stake is what sort of legal recognition and the claims various parties can make on employers, landlords, and governments.

          Leaving aside the sugar plum sales pitch re male homosexuality or lesbianism, the communicant who’s immersed in Bible studies (in an evangelical congregation), or a portfolio of materials (in a Catholic Church) is not likely to use the term ‘love’ (which refers to a multiplicity of phenomena) as if it were properly summarized in the usage your employing.

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  5. If you read the Jewish Bible without a Jewish mind than Hashem comes off as an authoritarian with some moments of tenderness. Even if they aren’t really that religious or learned most Jews have inherited something of the Jewish way of looking at the Jewish Bible that was developed over thousands of years. The first Christians looked at the rituals of the Jewish Bible and saw useless things to be disregarded because they wanted to live in simple holy communities. Something of this ideal remains even as Christianity grew more complex and people grew more secular. The Pharisees thought this was nonsense because to them the ritual laws reinforced the ethical laws and maintained the specialness and separateness of the Jewish people. Plus God said so, so you have to do it.

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      • “You shall not deal harshly with any widow and orphan” or “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” or the entire book of Jonah, where I think God is at is most compassionate in the entire Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cannons, and many other sections show a Hashem that is full of love and wonder. He frequently extols Israel to choose life over death and peace over war. In other parts of the Tanakh, God is fiercer and harsher but you can still see that God works for ethical purposes.

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            • Dum de dum de dum de dum.

              The understanding in the main body of Christian though locates justification with belief and extends salvation as a consequence of Christ’s atonement. It does not compel people to take up the offer. One is saved by seeking and maintaining states of grace, something which is not absolutely precluded absent belief but something one does not expect without it.

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            • And Christ damns you to hell forever for not believing in him.

              No he doesn’t.

              Here’s a fun piece of homework: Find a single version in the bible that says that non-believers end up in a place of eternal torment. Because there’s not one.

              In fact, here’s the only two places in the bible (Well, plus Revelations, that’s complete gibberish.) that mention some sort of torment after death:

              Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’ -Matthew 25:41-46

              ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’ -Luke 16:19-31

              To summarize, here is how to get sentenced to ‘hell’ (Assuming such a place is real and these aren’t *parables*, which, uh, they are.) according to the *actual Bible*: Do not feed and cloth the needy.

              That it. That’s the only way to end up in Hell, according to the Bible. Do not feed and cloth the needy. End of story.

              (Revelations 20:11-15, if anyone cares, says that ‘all were judged according to what they had done’, but does not spell out what that might be. But belief does not appear to be any aspect of it.)

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  6. There is a religious left but it often seems to be dominated by Christianity as you note and views things through a Christian lens. This is very difficult to do when the left broadly views respect for the dissenting view and freedom of consciousness as being important. The Christian Right at least can be more honest about their feelings on non-Christian religions.

    One thing I have heard is a fairly common thought/expression in Evangelicalism is “Religion is man’s search for God. Christianity is God’s search for man.” I can’t tell you how off-putting and assuming I find this phrase to be. There are plenty of people on the left who are sincere and practicing Christians but it does require a lot of side-stepping of hundreds of years of Christian thought on whether one needs to believe in Jesus or not to avoid hell.

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  7. The Religious Left is post-Christian and they reserve the term “religious” for the hillbillies who still talk about “Jesus” using more than two syllables.

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    • I rather imagine that one of the most useful religious tools is the whole “You Will Be Judged” thing. Not necessarily in an afterlife, mind. Just that there is a measure, this measure is an objective (to God, anyway) measure, and you *WILL* be held up to it.

      In the absence of a deity, the judgment seems to have been replaced by something similar to twitter. Which kind of removes the whole “aspirational” component from the equation, leaving only the part where people want to avoid the stick.

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      • Thinking about this some more, I’d say that SJWs are obvious next steps in the whole religion thing. Cultural enforcers who do their best to convert the heathen, purge the infidel, and otherwise make sure that their religion spreads better than other religions.

        I admit to thinking that Christianity Without a Deity is doomed to failure but, so far, it seems to be taking off. My suspicions about, say, moral nihilism or being torn apart by internal contradictions haven’t really come to fruition. (YET! the back of my brain yells. YET!)

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        • I’d say that SJWs are obvious next steps in the whole religion thing.

          Are they different in kind from neoreactionaries? Or any other contemporary-with-historical-roots ismatologists?

          I think it’s all just a bunch of people latching on to something to believe in*, myself.

          *Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that.

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          • I don’t know.

            Neoreactionaries tend to idealize some variant of something that already happened. “You know the Pre-Vatican II Catholic Church? We should do that!”

            And then they get surprised when the Priest is facing the wrong way or something. “ENGLISH! DO YOU SPEAK IT???”

            The SJWs, by contrast, want to do new things. Through happenstance, sometimes these new things happen to overlap somewhat with old things that were abandoned as part of progress in the past. (See, for example, some of the attitudes that get called “neo-Victorian”.)

            I suppose that both are yearning for an idealized version of something, be it the past or the future (and both are wearing rose-colored blinders that prevent them from seeing that they’re a lot more likely to get an actualized version of it) but it feels different in kind.

            There seems to be a lot of similarity in degree, of course.

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  8. Marilynn Robinson sounds like she is striking some of the same note more fluidly and eloquently) as I have been recently (not surprisingly since I am one of those religious leftists)

    Namely that the fixation with rights as ends unto themselves is meaningless, and that the proper goal of politics and theology is an enlargement of the human spirit and an embrace of generosity.

    I would agree with the assertion that in the absence of generosity politics becomes overtaken by fear, and that this can’t possibly yield a good outcome.

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    • “Namely that the fixation with rights as ends unto themselves is meaningless, and that the proper goal of politics and theology is an enlargement of the human spirit and an embrace of generosity.”

      How do you propose to do so in a religiously neutral way? One of the big things I have noticed about religious leftists like Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig is that they have the same assumptions on the centrality of Christianity as the right-wing theocrat fundies but sort of know that this is a no-go for left politics in general. Why should non-Christians be required to view things from a Christian point of view?

      I also am starting to grow tired at a lot of politics for being inchoate and this is on the left and the right. There is a lot of vague spiritualism on the left and railing against hyper-consumerism with the idea that we are all being driven miserable by a small cabal of evil, elite, corporations who compel us to compete for material goods. I find this probably wrong. What if most people just like material goods because they like the idea of a comfortable life instead of spending 12 to 14 hours of backbreaking labor in the fields?

      I don’t get the nirvana fallacy that the far left and the far right has for rural/pastoral living and wanting everything to be like the Shire.

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      • True enough, that we tend to see the world through our own parochial perceptions.

        I don’t know that there is any such place as perfect neutrality.

        The premise that humans possess rights is just a secular creedal statement, supported by nothing but faith.

        I suppose the closest we can get to neutrality is consensus, where everyone’s views get a fair and equal hearing, and everyone walks away feeling like they got a deal they can live with.

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        • everyone walks away feeling like they got a deal they can live with.

          I’ll make a Rawlsian out of you yet!

          That last bit can be seen as the essence of liberal neutrality. So, if you achieve neutrality, you’ve got something everyone can walk away feeling like they can live with it and vice versa; when everyone can live with the terms of cooperation, you’ve achieved liberal neutrality.

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      • I consciously only picked figures I am aware of.
        I know there is a longstanding Jewish left, I just don’t have enough familiarity to start bandying their names around.

        It would be like a white rapper sporting dreadlocks, and you know how those SJW bullies get!

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      • Why is that a problem? Leaving aside Mormons, minority religions comprehend maybe 4% of the population. I doubt you’re going to find many Muslims in the religious left (as opposed to the cultural-political left). Are Hindus and Buddhists qua Hindus and Buddhists politically engaged at all? As for Wicca, it may be a business or an affectation. It’s not a religion any more than Kwanzaa is.

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  9. If one is interested in scholarship that supports the economics the religious left may wish to endorse, Eric Nelson is doing some cutting and reliable research. I blog about it here at my other blog.

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  10. It would be appropriate for the Religious Right to express some empathy for the Pharisees, as they were a group of traditional believers who are unfairly and ignorantly demonized by an unsympathetic mainstream media. I am not, however, holding my breath.

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  11. The thing is, yes, if your definition of “The Christian Left” only includes academics or people who post a lot about faith on the Internet in a progressive way or get to write articles for magazines or newspapers and your sympathies are of a more old fashioned sort, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

    But, there’s still plenty of I guess you could call it, Old Testament based liberalism on the Left. It’s just going on in Catholic dioceses in Arizona, old Baptist churches in North Carolina, and probably even some Lutheran congregations in Midwest somewhere.

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    • Plus, the role of the predominately African-American churches in ‘the Religious Left’. And the still open question of where the increasing number of Hispanics that are converting away from Roman Catholicism will wind up politically, as their kids get to prime voting age.

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