Don't make such blanket generalizations. I agree that most rural Americans can't, but many may live 5-6 miles out of town, like I did for 20 years, and this is a reasonable commute for someone who is committed to it.
Part of solving the climate crisis before us is expanding our view of what is possible. Does it make more sense to pay too much money for our automobiles and spew pollution, or to try something different, help the planet, stay in shape, and deal better with stress? I have either exclusively or partially bicycle commuted for 6 of the last 10 years. It isn't that hard, if it is plausible, which, I acknowledge, it isn't for everyone. So don't pooh-pah bike commuting. When fuel prices keep going up, you will see a lot more of us. Just keep an eye out.
And I agree, every cyclist should wear a helmet.
1) Prison Dharma Network. Involved in teaching meditation to prison inmates. Wonderfully non-dogmatic, compassionate organization.
2) Shambhala Meditation Centers- These people would be far less accepting of a theocracy than the average American.
The historican peace churches- such as meetings of Friends- some of the most progressive people I know, certainly not into the theocratic thing. In fact, Friends are so anti-hierarchy that they are not officiated by a pastor- all members have equal voice and speak when moved to do so.
Just because many religions (generally western and monotheistic) have become associated with control and power does not mean that religion inherently lends itself in that direction.
I never said I supported privitization of education. I don't. I am no anti-governmnet liberatarian type, as you'd like to cast me.
Social services have had a serious problem since before the Reagan admin- they have had a problem forever. A problem with social services and mental health that I have seen is one of entitlement over responsibility. Yes, I agree that this sounds like a right wing talking point, but I believe it comes from a different place. I support more- much more- funding for social programs. The delivery, though, must encourage accountability. Not accountability to a beaurocracy- but to community members. When services are being delivered in a relevant way by compassionate friends and neighbors, they are more effective. Money helps and is essential- but it only does so much. Money and compassion- that's the ticket. And like it or not, many church groups are much better at the compassion thing than are beaurocrats.
Anyway, I find it interesting that I have come down on this side on this issue. Before the last few years I would have never dreamed of it. I absolutely see your point. In this intstance, though, based on my experience, I respectfully disagree.
I'm not going to look it up, but I have worked for many non-profit groups that get govt. money and assistance. My current program, a 501(c)3 non-profit, gets money from CO senate bill 97 to treat youth in the juvenile justice system. If we were a FBO we would not have access to these funds. We also recieved, though not currently, Americorps volunteers, the equivalent of two full time staff members. Not to mention medicaid contracts. We get lots of support, financial and otherwise, from a local workforce center- a government program. I could keep going.
Not all religious people are dogmatic. I say this as someone raised without religion, who has struggled my entire life with the topic, and have tended to view religious organizations very derisively.
But I have seen them at work, I know many members, and they often do good work. How is giving help to deeply concerned citizens not supporting the notion of caring for our people? There are some groups already doing it who do a really fucking good job.
So your question is really whether we should care for our fellow citizens or whether we should have our government do it, I guess. It is definitely my experience, as one who has spent a decade in the social-service non-profit sector, that private non-profit organizations, which include but are not limited to faith based organizations, are way more effective than government programs.
Your absolutism is the problem. If you said most instead of all I would probably agree with you. It is a big difference, not simply semantic, because there are compassionate, relatively non-dogmatic faith based groups out there doing very good work, and they do not deserved to be included in your blanket slander.
Your anti-religiousity is quite dogmatic. I believe one of the key attributes of a progressive is the ability to think flexibly. Giving money towards an organization serving a vital public need, if in exchange the organization is required to accept certain rules, is not a terrible breach of church/state. It is a pragmatic approach to improving people's lives. This is, I believe, a goal of the progressive movement- to make people's lives better. Now, I think debate over this is very important- people may disagree, but this absolutely is appropriate for a progressive blog.
I am as liberal as they come, am not particularly religious (lean Buddhist) and work in social services. I support ideas that help people. Not every religious group is Focus on the Family.
You say "Churches tend to help 'the deserving' only. And they proselytize continuously." Very bold, very blanket generalization. The fact is, there are many faith based groups that work very hard to make peoples lives better. They are uniquely effective because they know their communities, they have a huge pool of volunteer help in the form of their congregations, and they are often, in my experience, motivated by intense compassion. I fear we on the left are so reactionary against the right-winged fundamentalist bastardization of religion that we fail to view many faith based orginizations as the outstanding social assets they are, in deserve of support.