The title ‘liberal’ has not changed

Recently, after I cited a Bible verse about a liberal man, someone responded with a snide comment about “how the meaning of the word liberal has changed. I don’t believe it has.

Across the political spectrum there are conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans, liberal Republicans, conservative Democrats, moderate Democrats, and liberal Democrats. There are also Libertarians and Independents, as well as a host of other political categories, over 1000 in America alone.

Rigidly extreme thinkers want to limit that to only two categories, conservative Republican and liberal Democrat. They put themselves in one and label everybody else as the other. ‘All you people’ then become the enemy to be reviled, despised, hated, and harassed. And since there are now only two possibilities, they see no need to use the full description. Now you are either a Liberal or a Conservative.

Everyone has an opinion about where to place the blame for this political divide, and there is plenty to go around on all sides. But I can summarize where I believe the heart of the problem lies by sharing a quote from the Rev. Wayne Flynt, an ordained Baptist minister who is considered one of Alabama’s pre-eminent historians. In a Washington Post interview during the election, Rev. Flynt said, “The idea that moral hypocrisy hurts you among evangelical Christian voters is not true, if you’re sound on all of the fundamentals. Being sound on the fundamentals depends on what the evangelical Christian community has decided the fundamentals have become. At this time, what is fundamental is hating liberals, hating Obama, hating abortion and hating same-sex marriage.”

If evangelical Christians have decided that being a moral hypocrite is acceptable as long as you hate liberals, hate Obama, hate abortion, and hate same-sex marriage, then there is indeed a word that has changed in meaning, but it isn’t the word “liberal.”

Patricia (Patsy) Sheppard

Tar Heel