The Religious Working Group on the Farm Bill (RWG) is a coalition of sixteen Churches and faith-based organizations: Bread for the World, Church World Service, The Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, Lutheran World Relief, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, NETWORK, Progressive National Baptist Convention, and Together For Hope: The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Rural Poverty Initiative.
The reason that such a massive coalition formed is because 2007 represents a critical moment in U.S. agricultural policy.
But perhaps you’re not a farmer, so how does the farm bill affect you?
Daniel Imhoff is a writer and researcher on issues related to food, the environment, and design. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books including Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World (Watershed Media/Sierra Club Books 2005); Farming with the Wild: Enhancing Biodiversity on Farms and Ranches (Watershed Media/Sierra Club Books 2003).
The group is also urging Congress to address the negative impact current U.S. agricultural and trade policies have on people living in impoverished countries around the world. . .
Church World Service and Oxfam America is especially concerned about recent unprecedented levels of market consolidation in agriculture which make competition unfair and leads to greater poverty in the U.S. and in the developing world. Production controlled by a limited number of corporate interests eliminates market transparency and creates an environment ripe for price manipulation and discrimination. It creates an atmosphere where supply and demand are controlled by the same actors. To remedy this problem, CWS recommends that stronger competition policies with reliable enforcement mechanisms are included in the 2007 Farm Bill
Enjoy Bill Moyers’ For America’s Sake speech delivered at NYU’s Kimmel Center. Throughout this speech Moyers argues that retelling the American story drives progressive politics to common goodness. He says:
“the nation must confront the most fundamental progressive failure of the current era: the failure to embrace a moral vision of America based on the transcendent faith that human beings are more than the sum of their material appetites, our country is more than an economic machine, and freedom is not license but responsibility–the gift we have received and the legacy we must bequeath.”
That sounds a lot like the good kind of faith in public life to me.
Over at TPM media, Dan Gilgoff notes a fresh trend in conservative American politics, what he calls the New New Right.
A growing observation, it is increasingly borne out in Pew polls and on the campuses of evangelical colleges. To wit it is the broadening base of the conservative base. As the old leadership of the religious right ages and kids grow up beyond their mega church, their interest moves away from the usual issues and toward a new alignment of faith-informed issues. These include Darfur, creation care, and even health care.
Gilgoff places the origins of this shift as emerging in 1998 with the movement for freedom from religious persecution. He writes:
“The expansion of the evangelical political agenda beyond hot-button domestic issues is owed largely to the work of a Washington insider named Michael Horowitz, who happens to be Jewish. A White House lawyer under Ronald Reagan, Horowitz continued to be an influential Beltway legal thinker into the 1990s. From his perch at the conservative Hudson Institute, a think tank, Horowitz’s work revolved mainly around promoting tort reform. It wasn’t until 1995, when he and his wife hired a live-in housekeeper who was an Ethiopian-born Christian evangelist, that he began to pay attention to the issue of international religious persecution.”
This led to the International Religious Freedom Act which was signed into law by President Clinton. Noting how this shifted the some religio-political alignments, Gilgoff adds:
The religious freedom coalition that emerged around the law has reconstituted itself to lobby successfully for a flurry of other human rights laws, often in areas that have received scant attention from secular human rights organizations. These include 2000′s Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which imposed sanctions on countries that failed to crack down on human trafficking for forced prostitution and labor, and 2002′s Sudan Peace Act, which established a framework for negotiating the end of the twenty-year civil war between the Sudanese government and southern rebels (though it has obviously fallen short of achieving that goal). “Clearly, the driving political force that got these bills through Republican-dominated Congresses and the administration,â€ said [David] Saperstein, “was the strong, assertive voice of the fundamentalist Christian community.â€
Playing with shifting identity, Union Theological Seminary PhD candidate Rev. Gabriel Salguero explores generous orthodoxy and seeks to define himself over at God’s Politics. He writes: “I grew up as a Pentecostal pastor’s kid, serve as a Nazarene pastor, have an M.Div. from a Reformed seminary, and am doing doctoral work at Union Theological Seminary in New York.”
Mainstream Baptist notes that a vice-president in the Southern Baptist Convention signed a declaration of support for a convicted abortion doctor killer.
Buddhist chaplain Danny Fisher interviews the venerable Dr. Yifa.
At Talk to Action, Reagan’s Assistant General Counsel speaks out on separation of church and state.
JSpot writes on Disclaiming and Reclaiming; Gay Rights in Leviticus: “On April 24, 1999, six months after the murder of Matthew Shepard, I was in synagogue, about to chant the infamous verse from this week’s Torah portion, Leviticus 18:22: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination.â€ I suddenly realized that in good conscience, I could not simply chant the words without making any comment.”
On the genocide in Darfur PoliticsTV provides exclusive interviews with Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism and Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals. In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls “it outside the circle of civilized human behavior.”