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Wall Street Panjandrums vs. People of Faith

July 1, 2008, 4:10 pm | By FPL

The high priests in the Wall Street Church of Corporatism have issued forth another op-ed fatwa against the majority of Americans who connect their faith to our environment.

In today’s Wall Street Journal piece, “Global Warming as Mass Neurosis,” editorial board member Bret Stephens rips into the faithful:

A second explanation is theological. Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature. Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” That’s Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.

And surely it is in keeping with this essentially religious outlook that the “solutions” chiefly offered to global warming involve radical changes to personal behavior, all of them with an ascetic, virtue-centric bent: drive less, buy less, walk lightly upon the earth and so on.

So radical, that idea to consume less and walk more. I guess that would baffle the car service elite.

If he wants to attack folks who care for creation as being “awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society,” I can think of tens of million Americans who would accept that critique.

Furthermore, this op-ed shows that the men who wield the most control on the market are more than happy to pay lip service to our religious values, except when, as during the fights over abolition or now over climate change, the results would mean a few less million in their pockets.

The heads of the Wall Street Journal call Americans “Biblical” and “radical” if they drive less, buy less, and walk more. Talk about sophistry. The deniers are not only content to dismiss science, now they attack Americans for their religious values and private decisions over consumption. That’s not even good faith in markets, that’s panjandrum presumption.

With gas prices only going up and American bodies suffering for lack of exercise, once again it’s clear whose health and wealth the Wall Street hoodoos are willing to prey over to make a buck. As market-driven foreclosures escalate, oil speculators spin, and global temperatures rise, look out gas conserving, frugal shopping, radical walkers. To the Wall Street Journal Global Affairs editorial expert: we’re the real problem

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Rabbis For Human Rights: Social Justice

July 1, 2008, 9:30 am | By FPL

“A short film highlighting the work of Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR). Rabbis for Human Rights-North America was founded in 2002 by a group of American rabbis inspired by the work of Israeli rabbis committed to defending the human rights of all people in Israel and in the territories under Israeli control: Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, young and old, rich and poor, citizens and foreigners. RHR-North America is the only rabbinic association in North America dedicated to human rights for all and which represents more than 1,000 rabbis of every Jewish denomination across the U.S. and Canada.”

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Debating the Divine in Public

June 27, 2008, 1:33 pm | By FPL

The Center for American Progress released a new book, Debating the Divine

Religion in 21st Century American Democracy, arguing for some fresh approaches on religion in American public life.

David Hollinger, the Preston Hotchkis Professor of American History at the University of California, Berkeley, argues in his essay for a strong civic sphere in which democratic national solidarity and civic patriotism trump all religious loyalties. He asserts that religious ideas are too often given a pass and argues that they be critically scrutinized.

Eboo Patel, a scholar and activist who founded the Interfaith Youth Core, calls in his essay for the vigorous participation of religion in public life, founded on principles of religious pluralism. He argues that religious voices, in all their particularity, have a legitimate and important role to play in public debate. And he spells out ways in which interfaith collaboration is strengthening civic and political institutions.

Melissa Rogers examines how the tradition of religious freedom can help define the role of religion in current civic debates. Melissa Rogers serves as visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School. She previously served as the executive director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life in Washington, D.C. Previous to her leadership at the Pew Forum, Rogers served as general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty based in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Rogers was recognized by National Journal as one of the church-state experts “politicians will call on when they get serious about addressing an important public policy issue.”

The iconic public square where Americans of the past used to gather to debate the politics of the day is long gone from most cities and towns, but the spirited conversations that once defi ned these places–both in myth and fact–are alive and well today. The topics of our current political and cultural conversations range from the mundane to the profound, but a recurring theme has to do with religion and politics–in particular, whether religion should be a force shaping our public policies and our common civic life.

Of course, this is not a new conversation. Contrasting views about the role of religion in public life predate our nation’s birth–from the Massachusett s Bay Colony, where officials collected taxes to support the Puritan church and compelled att endance at its services, to the Founders who disestablished religion from the state and drafted the Constitution without mention of God.

In recent years, these conversations have been heating up. Invectives fly back and forth as opponents stake out mutually exclusive claims on behalf of truth, fairness, and the American way. Listening to each side, one is hard-pressed to tell whether we are a God-saturated, intolerant, anti-intellectual theocracy–or a severely secular nation that punishes the practice of religion and banishes God altogether from our laws, policies, and public life.

Debating the Divine: Religion in 21st Century American Democracy aims to turn down the heat and turn up the light. Because the issue of religion in public life is complex, encompassing theory, history, and practice, we purposely did not set up a narrowly-focused debate in which each side shot at the other, and the side with the fiercest arguments and most adherents won. Instead, we have chosen to examine the many facets of the issue in a thoughtful way, in hopes of finding new insights and, perhaps, common ground.

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Does Dobson Speak for Latino Evangelicals?

June 27, 2008, 10:24 am | By FPL

The Fidel “Butch” Montoya, blogging at the Latino Evangelical, writes:

One of the biggest concerns about the news media covering religious news and issues of Evangelicals revolves around the central fact of who actually represents the point of view of this large diverse group.

The on-going controversy and questions as to whether the Religious Right is dead or is irrelevant to the issues of the 2008 Presidential election continues to generate more questions and interest in the mainstream news media.

This election year we have seen a resurgence of new voices raising concerns and wanting to be heard. Many members of the Evangelical sector of the Church have tired of being aligned with the voices of the Religious Right and in particular of Rev James Dobson.

In Colorado, a diverse and cross cultural interfaith group of religious leaders are tired of being misrepresented by Dobson and his cohorts at Focus in the Family and have formed “We Believe Colorado.” We Believe Colorado has committed to work together on issues of common interest and to represent faith groups not aligned with the dying breed of the Religious Right leadership.

A question continually bought up, “Is why does the cable and network news media think that Rev. James Dobson speaks for the majority of religious and value voters?” That is one question We Believe Colorado can answer. Dobson and company do not speak for the new voices of religious leaders fighting for justice and righteousness and who have no interest in taunting our faith as a wedge issue.

Read More Here.

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Mega-religion and the environment

June 26, 2008, 9:07 pm | By FPL

The Weather Channel’s Forecast Earth talks with Evangelical leaders about the “greening” of God’s people. This 8 min. clip features Dr. Joel C. Hunter, author of “A New Kind of Conservative” (Regal) and senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed and Richard Cizik, governmental affairs director of the National Association of Evangelicals.

The June 30 New Yorker has an article (not online) by Frances FitzGerald on “The New Evangelicals: A growing challenge to the religious right.”

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