Focus on the Family President James Dobson paired his attack on National Association of Evangelicals VP Richard Cizik for speaking out about the need to fight global warming, with a reassertion for his desire to protect the poor from those who would seek to combat climate change.
Once again, pretty much the only time we hear about Dobson’s passion for protecting the poor is when he’s attacking other evangelicals on global warming.
Where was Dobson and his passion for helping the poor, for example, when he took issue with Christians for protesting federal budget cuts to programs for those most in need? From the Washington Post at the time:
“It’s not a question of the poor not being important or that meeting their needs is not important,” said Paul Hetrick, a spokesman for Focus on the Family, Dobson’s influential, Colorado-based Christian organization. “But whether or not a baby is killed in the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, that is less important than help for the poor? We would respectfully disagree with that.”
“We ask,â€ Dobson and the other pro-family leaders wrote, “how is population control going to be achieve if not by promoting abortion, the distribution of condoms to the young, and, even by infanticide in China and elsewhere? Is this where Richard Cizik would lead us?â€
It’s no coincidence that this attack comes with the National Association of Evangelicals board about to meet in Minnesota. Here’s the money line from a letter signed by Dobson and allies:
“We implore the NAE board to ensure that Mr. Cizik faithfully represents the policies and commitments of the organization, including its defense of traditional values. If he cannot be trusted to articulate the views of American evangelicals on environmental issues, then we respectfully suggest that he be encouraged to resign his position with the NAE.â€
The work of evangelicals like Cizik is one of the most encouraging stories of faith in public life today. It’s crucial that the American public understands the kinds of internal pressures that leaders of principle like Cizik confront every day.
Just recently the first U.S. religious group to meet with an Iranian president in Iran since the revolution in 1979 returned with assurances from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran “does not intend to develop nuclear weapons” and that he is willing “to enter into direct, face-to-face talks with the United States government.”
“Even with this tragic history we have visited upon Iran for the past 55 years, there is an amazing depth of appreciation and love for the U.S. people,” said Jim Winkler, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the denomination’s social action agency. “There have been lots of contacts between Muslim religious leaders and Christian leaders from around the world–and with American Christians–over the years, but this was considered to be significant because it was attached to meetings with government leaders,” Winkler said.
The Weekly Standard writes: The delegation was organized by the Washington, D.C. lobby offices of the Quakers and the Mennonites and is a follow up of sorts to a meeting that several dozen religious officials, including Winkler, had with Ahmadinejad in New York last October. This time, the group will also meet with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who spoke at the Episcopal Church’s National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. in September.
Besides Winkler, the Quakers, and the Mennonites, the delegation to Iran includes representatives from the National Council of Churches, Sojourners (Jim Wallis’ evangelical-left group), and Pax Christi, a liberal Catholic group.
“We are making this trip hoping it will encourage both governments to step back from a course that will lead to conflict and suffering,” explained a Quaker official, Mary Ellen McNish, general secretary of the American Friends Service Committee. But the delegation acknowledges that Ahmadinejad’s unsavory positions may have to be confronted.
Over at beliefnet, Sojourners COO Jeff Carr went on the trip and blogged on the journey. Reflecting on the Iranian Hostage Crises, he writes:
“I don’t think I have ever realized how traumatizing those events were for me, and how seared into my memory and psyche they are. How they serve as a filter, even today, 28 years later, to the way I (and I surmise many other Americans) see Iran. It is the narrative that informs my thinking about Iran today and the relationship between our nations.”
Iranian born Reza Aslan speaks about the future of U.S./Iran Relations. At the World Affairs Council, Reza notes:
The strategy of the United States over the past two and half decades to contain Iran has only strengthened the hand of the country’s clerical regime and made full democracy a more distant prospect. It is time for a new approach, one that could curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and force Iran out of its economic isolation, leading to the regime change that the U.S. has been striving for since 1979.
Gary Hart talks about God and Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics. In this new and sure-to-be controversial book, Hart takes the religious right to task for their assumption of political power, noting that they are both defining faith too narrowly and failing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In the process, Hart identifies the proper role of religion in democracy.
“Apropos of absolutely nothing, and sure to tick some people off: the Democratic party’s so-called religion problem is a phony one in the sense that Democrats do and always have had many people with strong faith and religious practice. But there is some truth to the notion that there is some division fierce indepence among Dems as to the question of how much energy they should expend reaching out to socially conservative religious voters. (In FoxWorld, those are the only “people of faith” who really exist.)”
Ok, does Bill McKibben sleep? Here he is at Beliefnet & Sojourners‘ God’s Politics blog. Is it just me living on the left coast and subscribing to Mother Jones (good blog post on evangelicals and Romney here), but does a new article by Bill show up somewhere every week single for you, too? The Gospel vs. Global Warming
Mainstream Baptist says that freedom is what keeps him still Baptist.
Wow, former president of Iliff School of Theology and Pacific School of Religion now barely retired Christian theologian Delwin Brown is blogging a really sharp theology of Progressive Christianity. He points out how it’s more than just anti-religious right or even how it’s different than liberal Christian theology:
The liberal failure to keep the distinctive resources of the Christian inheritance at the center of their reflection was rooted in another failure, one common to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The liberals “forgotâ€ that human beliefs and practices, individually and collectively, are fed and formed by our distinctive human histories. In other words, the liberals were seduced by “modernism.â€ Modernism is the idea that there is one truth grounded in the nature of things in such a way that thinking individuals can have immediate access to this truth through reasoned analysis of contemporary experience, without any special dependence on inherited resources. It is the idea that we don’t need history in the pursuit of truth; we can go right to the truth by thinking clearly now. The point is not that “history is bunk,â€ as Henry Ford once claimed. Rather it is that our varied histories, traditions, ancient texts and the like have no special role in guiding and testing contemporary life.