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Faith and Community Leaders in Missouri Rally After Ballot Setback

September 11, 2012, 1:12 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Last week Missourians were dealt a disappointing blow when they learned that a massive legal assault from corporate interests had succeeded in keeping initiatives to cap payday lending rates and raise the minimum wage off the ballot this November.

But the community leaders who have been working tirelessly on these issues — including a large coalition of diverse faith leaders — are not giving up. After hearing the news last week, they held a rally on Main Street in Kansas City to send a message that they’re continuing the fight for economic justice in their state.

Here’s a video from their event:

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Faith Leaders to GOP Governors: Don’t Reject Medicaid Funds

September 10, 2012, 4:56 pm | By Nick Sementelli

People of Faith for HealthcareToday, a diverse coalition of national and state faith leaders held a press teleconference urging GOP governors to stop obstructing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion plan that will provide healthcare to millions of uninsured, low-income Americans if fully implemented.

Despite the fact that the expanded coverage will save their states billions of dollars in uncompensated care costs, nine Republican governors have indicated their intention to reject the tens of billions of dollars in federal assistance offered to their states by the law.

As FPL executive director Jennifer Butler said on the call:

Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid will save lives and alleviate suffering for poor families without straining state budgets. It’s unconscionable that politicians would even consider refusing to accept it.

Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK and “Nuns on the Bus” fame added:

I call on all governors to expand Medicaid coverage in order to save thousands of lives. My strong support of Medicaid expansion comes out of my pro-life stance because it is the right and moral thing to do.

Other call speakers included Melissa Boteach, Director of Half-in-Ten; Rev. Linda Hanna Walling, Executive Director of Faithful Reform in Healthcare; Rev. Rayfield Burns, Pastor of Metropolitan Missionary Baptist, Kansas City, MO; and Elder Marco A. Grimaldo, CEO & President of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Listen to the call here.

Supplementing the call is a letter expressing the same sentiment and signed by nearly 100 national and local faith leaders. Read that letter and see the full list of signers here.

The call and letter come in advance of the release of the United States Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage data on September 12th, which is expected  to show that millions of Americans who would be affected by this expansion are suffering for lack of access to affordable health insurance.

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Cardinal Dolan Says No to Values Voters But Yes to GOP Convention

August 23, 2012, 2:09 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Cardinal Timothy DolanThis week, over 18,000 Faithful America members signed a petition asking USCCB President Cardinal Timothy Dolan to turn down an invitation to appear at the Values Voters Summit — the annual gathering of Religious Right figures and right-wing politicians. The signees were particularly concerned that in this election year, Dolan’s appearance would amount to an implicit endorsement of Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan at what essentially will be a Republican campaign event.

Today, the Archdiocese of New York confirmed to Bold Faith Type that Cardinal Dolan will not be attending the Summit. Archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling said the Cardinal’s office did not even receive an invitation as far as they could tell, but that His Eminence would not be going either way.

Unfortunately, Dolan appears to be turning down a pseudo-partisan electoral event for the real thing, agreeing to give the closing Benediction just after Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention next week.

Dolan’s office is attempting to qualify his appearance as “not an endorsement” but simply a “priest at prayer.” Unfortunately, at a time when the Cardinal has presided over a highly-politicized national campaign against the current administration, called VP candidate Paul Ryan a “great public servant” who he is “anxious to see…in action,” and walked back his own conference’s criticism of the Catholic congressman’s draconian budget plan, Dolan doesn’t need an official endorsement to send a loud and clear message.

This hyper-partisanship represents a real split from the recent approach of the Catholic Church in America, which has taken pains to stay above party politics. Past leaders have recognized that Catholics fall across the entire political spectrum and direct engagement with electoral efforts of any one party runs the risk of alienating millions of adherents who identify with the other.

Dolan’s decision to do exactly that, at a time when Americans and Catholics are more deeply politically polarized than ever, exemplifies just how far the American bishops have gone in uniting church hierarchy with Republican politics.

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WORLD Magazine Admits to Putting Ideology Over Accuracy

August 20, 2012, 2:06 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Marvin OlaskyIn an amazingly honest op-ed last week, evangelical WORLD Magazine editor Marvin Olasky addressed the publication’s handling of the controversy surrounding David Barton’s discredited writings. Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies was recently pulled from the shelves by publisher Thomas Nelson after its rampant historical inaccuracies received widespread attention.

Historians have been calling attention to Barton’s shoddy, misleading work for years but have largely been ignored or dismissed as biased by conservative media. Outlets such as WORLD have only acknowledged these critiques because conservative Christian scholars have finally started echoing Barton’s longtime critics in the scholarly community.

Olasky’s op-ed addresses this inconsistency but does not apologize for it!

Left-wing historians for years have criticized Barton. We haven’t spotlighted those criticisms because we know the biases behind them. It’s different when Christian conservatives point out inaccuracies. The Bible tells us that “iron sharpens iron,” and that’s our goal in reporting this controversy.

To be clear, Olasky is admitting that he summarily dismissed legitimate criticisms of Barton’s work for ideological reasons, yet he defends that decision by maintaining the attack on these scholars as the “biased” ones.

Olasky’s preference for judging scholarly qualifications by ideology instead of accuracy is also evident in his continuing faith in Barton’s credibility.

David Barton should not be, nor does he want to be, defended as if he were inerrant: If his history writing does include some inaccuracies, I trust he’ll make corrections.

What Olasky fails to acknowledge here is that we’re not just dealing with minor blemishes; almost the entirety of Barton’s body of work is based on a sloppy, willfull distortion of history to suit his partisan political ends.

It’s certainly possible for a religious magazine with an ideological point of view to meet standards of journalistic integrity. But Olasky’s oblivious editorial misses the mark.

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Deal Hudson and Paul Ryan vs. The U.S. Catholic Bishops

August 14, 2012, 2:09 pm | By Nick Sementelli

Analyzing the Catholic dimensions of the 2012 Presidential race now that Paul Ryan has joined the Republican ticket, Catholic conservative Deal Hudson attempts to minimize the critique of Ryan’s budget plan levied by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Hudson decries that media who covered the critical letters from the USCCB failed to note that they came from only two bishops, suggesting that their concerns only represent some bishops, not all.

That’s the same defense Ryan employed when questioned about the bishops’ rebuke earlier this year. Unfortunately for both Ryan and Hudson, the conference definitively shot down their excuse.

Responding to reporters who inquired about Ryan’s apparent discrepancy in understanding, the USCCB said:

“Bishops who chair USCCB committees are elected by their fellow bishops to represent all of the U.S. bishops on key issues at the national level. The letters on the budget were written by bishops serving in this capacity.”

While there might be individual bishops who disagree with these committees’ criticisms of the Ryan budget, they (and Hudson and Ryan) do so as dissenters from the official position of the U.S. Catholic Church.

Photo from the National Catholic Reporter

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