There has been a growing outcry within the religious community over the administration’s policies. I asked organizer Jeanne Herrick-Stare if the use of torture by the administration has eroded the moral conscience of religious America. She disagreed saying, “Far from being eroded by the administration’s actions, the U.S. religious community is awakening to the true horror of the actions being perpetrated in the name of the American people.”
“Moral beliefs are not determined by polls, or manipulated by the results of focus groups,” Jeanne added. “Moral beliefs are the bedrock tenants, the immutables that guide our conduct in stressful, difficult, fearful times.”
Just this week, Washington Post reporters uncovered that in developing a new interrogation policy for the war on terror, Vice President Cheney intentionally encouraged the circumvention of the Geneva Conventions. For NRCAT these interrogation methods have one name: torture, plain and simple. With new scandalous revelations surfacing about the Bush administration’s interrogation policies, NRCAT siezing the moment to rally people of faith who proclaim that torture is an affront to the dignity of each human life.
Progressive Islam (sheep are for Eid) writes about a new organization. From the press release:
The progressive Muslim movement in the United States took a significant step forward as a diverse collection of activists, organizers, and academics gathered at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, May 15-17, for the first conference of Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV, website: www.mpvusa.org). Coming together in fellowship, they joined in communal devotion, shared the various personal, intellectual, and spiritual journeys that brought them there, discussed how to formulate their positions on political, social, and cultural issues and how to interact with other progressives and other Muslims.
This evidence does show the evangelical base of the GOP is in Bush’s camp, yet a further look shows a more complex picture. The 44% of evangelicals supporting embryonic stem cell research in 2006 was an increase of 18% over 2002. Note to Mitt Romney: If Bush’s veto is a pander to evangelicals, it is a strategically poor one. That group of voters is split on this issue and moving leftward.
Thirty years ago whenever a Baptist organized a campaign to preach in Baptist churches, he was preaching to save souls. That was before Fundamentalists organized political campaigns to “save” their denomination and “Southern” culture. Scarborough was a leader among the young pastors who set aside the revivalist tradition of preaching to revive and save souls and took up preaching to mobilize resentment against the imaginary “liberals” who were supposed to be teaching in Southern Baptist seminaries.
None of the current presidential candidates have seriously challenged the Christian Right, but it is noteworthy that Obama mentioned the Christian Right in a recent speech at a United Church of Christ gathering in Iowa.
The Rev. Chuck Currie posts from the UCC’s General Synod. He explains how a decentralized church organization “still speaks” with a prophetic voice.
At God’s Politics, Jim Wallis writes: “Shane Claiborne and The Simple Way community are a good example of the old adage, “Be careful what you pray for.” Evangelicals like to pray that Christian young people will learn to love Jesus and follow in his steps. Well, that’s exactly what this community has done. They believe that by plunging deeper into what the earliest Christians called “The Way”–the way of Jesus, the way of the kingdom, and the way of the cross–they rediscover the biblical reversal of our social logic, accepting that the foolishness of God has always seemed a little nuts to the world.”
Five media memes in the American struggle between the “common good” and the “culture war.”
+ Common Good: Opening salvo, why the struggle matters, with special bonus common good message at the end.
+++ Culture War: Falwell lives! This week the culture war comes out swinging, led by Alan Keyes and Pastor Rick Scarborough as they launch their “70 weeks to save American crusade.” Anyone who still mixes “America,” Christianity and “crusade” must be channeling Falwell. One negative: Alan Keyes speaks French and “studied Spanish” which might lead to Tancredo creating a rearguard. On the other hand, Scarborough wrote a book entitled: Liberalism kills kids. The culture war turns into another children’s crusade. . .
+++ Common Good: Religious leader Desmond Tutu and land mine activist Jody Williams write about working together for the common good of Darfurians. Both have received the Noble Peace Prize and both are tired of the political rhetoric. They write: “we are dismayed that despite much rhetorical concern in many world capitals, little has been done to end the conflict, now in its fifth year.” Apparently in some places, more than liberalism kills. They note:
“Hundreds of thousands are dead, hundreds of thousands are in refugee camps in Chad, and millions are displaced inside Darfur. Rape, endured by countless thousands of women, continues to be used as a weapon of war. Thousands of villages have been razed, crops and livestock have been stolen or destroyed, and water has been polluted in a scorched-earth policy of ethnic cleansing carried out by Khartoum and its allied janjaweed militia.”
+ Culture War: Ok, cute video, but it misses the point that there are common values that we all want to protect.
+ Common Good. Over at mania411 (pop culture since ’96) Dan Martin relates a story in an attempt to understand the role of the religion for the next national election. “Driving during 2004 I would often pass a gaudy, and perhaps tacky, electronic sign for a mega Church flashed in bright lights a message that helped swing Ohio and the Electoral College into Bush’s column. The message flashed in bright forty foot tall lights “Vote the Bible.” In an interesting short post, Martin analyzes three common good organizations: Sojourners, The Presbyterian Church USA, and Catholics for the Common Good. And he leaves us with this conclusion:
“Splintered would be the best word to describe it. Many left leaning politicians are uneasy about aligning with people of faith, and some are outwardly hostile. Beyond the remnants of the Civil Rights movement very few ordained ministers are present and visible in progressive causes. Jewish Americans have often supported Democratic positions and policies, but the foreign policy situation in the Middle East has muddied those waters. Roman Catholics are historically firm supporters of labor unions, living wages and social advancement via statecraft, but abortion has largely destroyed what was once a cornerstone of the New Deal Coalition.”
While there may be 70 weeks to take back America, there’s also 70 weeks to take back faith, which might just be better for the good of all.