Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Street Prophets boss/religious-left agitator Dan Schultz has a piece up on Religion Dispatches slamming religious progressives for raising concerns over abortion in the Democratic healthcare reform proposals, a story I broke here last week. They're playing right into the Christian right's hands, Schultz alleges, threatening to stop reform in its tracks. Schultz also has words for yours truly:
Posts like this raise many questions. Namely: How many times will the Religious-Industrial Complex go to the same well? And: how many times will US News & World Report blogger Dan Gilgoff dutifully write up the latest iteration of this same threadbare press release for them without bothering to evaluate its premises?
...Given that opinion is split on the priority given to the abortion issue even with the religious progressive coalition, why is it that Dan Gilgoff is reporting this story as if all the liberals were upset? It's not like he hasn't spoken to religious pro-choice advocates, myself among many others. He knows where to find us.
My defense: First, I didn't report that all religious liberals were upset. To wit:
Progressive faith leaders and organizations are pushing hard for healthcare reform along the lines that President Obama has articulated, but some of the most prominent have grown concerned with the House healthcare bill's provisions for abortion coverage in the public health insurance plan [italics added for emphasis].
Why didn't I include the voices of pro-abortion rights religious groups in the piece? Simple: I haven't seen evidence that they're influencing the national conversation on healthcare reform, let alone having an effect on the policymakers driving the process.
The religious progressives that precipitated my story last week have shown that type of influence. Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, which I cite in my piece, are in contact with the White House and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They're helping to influence the policymaking process and the national conversation on abortion in healthcare reform.
Stephen Schneck, a left-leaning Catholic scholar whose abortion concerns made it into my piece, has advised the White House on Catholic issues, including around President Obama's recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.
Faith in Public Life, another progressive group that has privately expressed concern about abortion in healthcare, has also demonstrated influence. It organized a recent conference call on healthcare that featured none other than the president himself. (None of these groups or figures sent out press releases about their abortion-in-healthcare concerns, as Schultz claims. I got the story by talking to sources.)
The hard-core religious left hasn't shown the kind of influence, in Washington or out in the country, demonstrated by the more moderate religious progressives who provoked my piece on abortion in healthcare. I know where to find proud religious leftists, as Schultz says. But that doesn't mean they deserve ink.