The Rev. Deb Haffner speaks biological truth to Bill O’Reilly

July 25, 2007, 4:56 am | Posted by

Rev. Deb writes:

I actually enjoyed myself. Mr. O’Reilly was surprisingly pleasant to me (must have been the collar and not wanting to yell at a minister), and I was able to make my points, even as he was talking over me. I wanted listeners to know that sex education in the younger years was about such sexuality topics as bodies, family roles, gender roles, sex abuse prevention — and that it set a foundation for education in upper school. I wanted people to know that parents, schools, and religious institutions all have a role to play in sexuality education, and that religious denominations support public school sex education.

Here’s her Voicing Faith Speakers Bureau page.

add a comment »

Minimum wage jumps 70 cents

July 24, 2007, 11:40 pm | Posted by

The minimum wage jumped 70 cents today, to $5.85 per hour. After two more hikes, it’ll reach $7.25 in 2009. Let Justice Roll, a coalition of faith, labor and community groups, fought hard for the increase, the first in a decade. The group has also organized efforts to pass minimum wage increases or living wage laws in 21 states, from New Hampshire to California. Their work is indispensable to the movement to end poverty in America.

Progress is always worth rejoicing over, but we need to keep in mind that $7.25, let alone $5.85, isn’t a living wage for even a small family. The minimum wage hike will put money directly into the pockets of the working poor, but not enough to lift them out of poverty (see table 1.1 in the linked report). Until we ensure that every job provides a living wage, we’re effectively legislating poverty.

I’ve seen the effects of an inadequate minimum wage. When I was a teacher, one of my colleagues and I bought a winter coat for an 8th grade student after I saw him wearing a t shirt and no jacket on a 35-degree November day. His mother had a full-time job cleaning a hospital, but she could not afford to keep her rapidly growing son warm through the winter. It is sad and outrageous that we tolerate such deprivation in a nation as wealthy as ours. We can’t relent in the effort to end poverty, even on a day of good news.

add a comment »

Faith questions loom large in CNN/Youtube debate

July 24, 2007, 10:48 am | Posted by

At last night’s CNN/Youtube presidential debate, Youtube-savvy Americans from around the world took over asking the questions, and proved to be edgier and more straight-forward than your typical media host. Candidates responded to questions about Darfur from American relief workers on the ground, health care from a cancer patient, the Iraq war from the father of a fallen soldier. Faith was a hot topic, too. A North Carolina minister asked John Edwards about the morality of using religious justification for opposition to same sex marriage, and the debate closed with questions about religion’s place in public life.

See Edwards’ explanation, the NC pastor’s response, and Barack Obama’s thoughts on the issue:

See answers from Joe Biden, Barack Obama and John Edwards’ statements on the influence of faith on politics and politicians:

What do you think of how they answered the faith questions? What do you think of the faith questions CNN chose to air?

add a comment »

A fast to end causeless hatred

July 24, 2007, 9:14 am | Posted by

Today, in the Jewish calendar, Jews marks the 9th day of the month of Av (Tisha B’Av). Tisha B’Av memorializes the destruction of both the First and the Second temple (among other catastrophic tragedies of Jewish history including the Spanish Inquisition and so forth). Traditional Jews will read from the book of Lamentations and remember the destruction that separated the Jewish people hundreds of years ago.

Rabbi Avraham Isaac Kook declared: “The Temple was destroyed because of causeless hatred; it can be rebuilt only by causeless love.” Many contemporary progressive Jews use Tisha B’Av as a 25 hour hunger strike for justice, to end the meaningless hatred that divides and conquers us — to reunite all people in a spirit of peace and social justice.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center notes that “other traditions affirm a similar pattern of despair and hope. — Christians believe that the Crucifixion’s despair on Good Friday is followed by Resurrection three days later. Shia Muslims believe that the appearance and hiding-away and someday reappearance of the Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam, is deeply connected with extreme persecution of the Shia.”

There are numerous actions that people of faith can take on Tisha B’Av to work towards an end of causeless hatred, including:

-Ending the Genocide in the Darfur Region of Sudan

-Passing the Mathew Shepard “Hate Crimes” legislation to help combat violent bigotry against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity

-Working towards an end to racism against immigrants.

In the words of Arthur Waskow – “TOGETHER we will TAKE ACTION to calm the bitter weather. ”

add a comment »

8 video questions on faith for tonight’s debate

July 23, 2007, 2:37 am | Posted by

The first of the CNN + YouTube debates is tonight. There are 2977 video questions and although thirty seconds does not really allow for much depth, there still are some provocative and diverse questions — much broader than the religious right’s binary contractions of the past decades. Below I have selected eight representative videos that deal with faith and domestic policy, international moral authority, and the separation of church and state. One of the best questions is at the end.

Sandy, from Oak Park, IL, wonders: In the 1960′s Martin Luther King reminded us that it is a good idea to “love your enemies,” and he showed us in word and deed. Do you believe that “love your enemies” is still good advice today? If so, how would you apply it in Iraq and in foreign policy?

From Monty Knight, an evangelical pastor and head of his local Americans United for the Separation of Church and State chapter.

Cathy asks: “Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine has said “Budgets are moral documents.” How would your budget be apportioned to reflect your moral values?”

Vanderbilt student Zach Stearns from Louisville, Kentucky, is heading off to Ghana to set up a medical clinic with his family. His question is, what specifically can we do as a nation to show that we have any moral authority in the world?

Fernando, a student at Washington U compares the religiosity of Lincoln and Bush 43 and asks. . .

Zennie Abraham, Oakland, CA, asks for some definitions that are right on the money

Tess, from Greensboro, NC, notes that the civil rights movement was liberal and asks: “Why do you allow the opposition to define and disparage the term ‘liberal?’ How will you respond when called a liberal?”

And an essential question, Jeremiah Pasternak, Rye, NH, and Rockland, ME, asks: would you go against your religious beliefs for a net positive effect on the country?

add a comment »