Columnist: I’m a progressive

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Larry Summerour

Contributing columnist

You often hear people gladly proclaim that they are conservatives. They evidently think this is something to be proud of.

In the past, the conservative label has been something I have respected. However, I no longer would consider myself to be a conservative. I am proud to be a progressive.

American conservatives in the 1950s and ’60s were racists and segregationists. If it had not been for progressives like Martin Luther King Jr., blacks would still have few rights. Fortunately, many white progressives joined Dr. King and others to promote integration.

Conservatives were responsible for the stupid war in Vietnam. They erroneously assumed that this was primarily a war about communism. We now know that it was foremost a civil war between the north and the south in Vietnam.

As a young man, I remember conservatives berating anyone who disagreed with them about Vietnam and civil rights. Conservatives came across to me as being so closed-minded that they were not willing to question their narrow preconceptions.

As we look back in history, conservatives were the ones who gave us the Christian crusades, the index of forbidden books, the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants, the Salem witch trials, the death of Joan of Arc, the foolish belief that certain races are superior to others, the antiquarian assumption that my personal religious beliefs are superior to all the others.

Progressives today believe that women do have the same constitutional rights as men. My own church, the United Methodist Church, has no problem with women in leadership positions in the church. In other words, women are not second-class citizens.

When I lived in Cleveland, Georgia, there was a church where women didn’t even have the right to vote concerning church matters. The pastor of that church told me many times that he was proud to be a conservative.

Contemporary progressives profess that all law-abiding Americans should have the same rights under our great Constitution. This includes minorities like homosexuals. Thankfully, things are changing in America.

Young people generally favor sexual orientation rights more than older people. As older people die out, things will change even more.

Progressives are not against the rich. They only believe that those who are blessed financially should pay a lot more in taxes. I paid a lot of money in taxes — state and federal — April l8. Why? Because I did well financially in 2015. If you paid a big tax bill for 2015, just be glad you were in the top 30 percent of Americans in wealth.

When it comes to science, progressives believe in climate change and evolution. I am totally convinced that God did not create this universe in six 24-hour days. Instead, He created over millions of years. In fact, God is still creating.

The world has prospered primarily because of progressives. Some of those progressives are Freud, Darwin, Galileo, Pope John XXIII, Washington, Lincoln, Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Copernicus, Jesus, Hume, Derrida and Einstein. These and countless other progressives are the people I admire most.

Larry Summerour of Troup County is a retired pastor who enjoys political commentary.