Did you know the political terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ originated in France? After the French Revolution, the 1789 French National Assembly met to prepare drafts for the new constitution. During debate a deep division surfaced. How much authority should be granted to King Louis XV1? The anti-royalists sat to the left of the presiding officer.
In the 1790s, newspapers began making reference to the progressive ‘left’ and the traditionalist ‘right.’ The terminology spread to English-speaking countries early in the 20th century. Parliamentary seating follows that tradition. In America Democrats and Republicans sit on the opposite side of the House and Senate chambers. The same in Canberra.
Left-wing beliefs are liberal. They believe society is best served with an expanded role for the government. People on the right on the other hand, believe the best outcome for society is achieved when individual rights and civil liberties are paramount and the role — and especially the power — of the government is minimized.
Famous left wingers are Barack Obama, Karl Marx, Warren Buffet, Einstein, Bob Hawke. The right wing list includes Rupert Murdock, Ronald Reagan, George Washington, Winston Churchill, Malcolm Turnbull.
The two groups have diverse attitudes to social issues, abortion, the death penalty, gay rights and even religion. Most on the right believe standards like the ten commandments should be reflected by government. According to the right the Bible is the guideline for abortion and gay marriage. The left wing believe in secular government applied by the separation of church and state.
It is very hard to make this analysis hard and fast, as there will be those on either side who defy definitions. Nevertheless the election of US President Trump unleashed unprecedented displays of right wing support and violently expressed protest. The two sides are passionately opposed to one another.
In the heat of the moment these Rick Warren words are enlightening. “The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is – you can walk hand in hand without seeing eye-to-eye. And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, poltically, religiously, economically in our nation. ….What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences…in fact, the Bible tells me in 1 Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.” – Rick Warren.
The Christian Left emphasize James chapter 1, verse 27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and keep oneself, unstained from the world.” And James Chapter 2, verses 15,16 “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? “
The website christianleft.org says this: “Based on the Word, The Christian Left believes it’s obvious that the primary message of Jesus was love -- Love for God, and love for our fellow men and women.”
Many analysts have a negative view of the Religious Right, which they closely link with President George W. Bush, Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz.
The rebirth of the right in America, they report, was sparked by the Roe v Wade abortion legislation, and the banning of school prayer in Engele v Vitale. Notable Americans on the right include Billy and Franklin Graham, James Dobson, John Hagee, Chuck Norris and Sarah Palin.
This internet comment is interesting: “In Australia, the Christian Right dominate in much of northern Queensland, and the infection has also spread into parts of suburban Brisbane as well. It is also rather prevelent in suburban Sydney, New South Wales, particularly in the western parts of Sydney. The Religious Right is also prevelent in South Australia, particularly in suburban Adelaide, as well as parts of Western Australia.” (nationalwiki.org). Note the word ‘infection’?
David wrote: “Look, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity.” (Psalm 133, verse 1) Sadly it reads more like the fanciful words of a poet, rather than a fact.
John said: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father also loves the child fathered by him. By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, because everyone who is fathered by God conquers the world.” (1 John chapter 5, verses 1-4)
I am amazed how easy it is for Christians to disagree. Years ago I sat with a group of leaders to discuss discipline for two teenagers. We talked and even argued for almost two hours. After some heated and passionate exchanges the penny dropped. We realized we were expressing our approach through our ministry gifts – Evangelist, Pastor, Teacher. One wanted repentance, another preferred counseling and the other went for Bible study. We were all correct. We just had to agree with all the Bible, not just our preferred bits.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: email@example.com)
Ron Ross previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html