What’s new in the neighborhood?

March 28, 2007, 1:19 pm | Posted by

Faithfully Liberal scores an interview with Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Q: How will faith play a role for the 2008 Democratic candidates during the primary and then for the eventual nominee for the general


A: The ever growing scandals in the Bush administration has helped to weaken the authority of the Christian right. It is hard to claim to be on the side of righteousness after the war in Iraq, Katrina and the treatment of veterans. Moreover, none of the Republican candidates have as yet captured the passion or commitment of the religious right.

In contrast, the religious left is growing in strength as they have joined with the right on particular policy questions. And, a number of the Democratic presidential candidates have hired staff to conduct outreach to the religious community. My hope is that my book–Failing America’s Faithful and similar books will help to shift the debate from a narrow morality to one that is more inclusive with a greater attention to the common good.

Along with Keith Olbermann, JSpot takes umbrage that DeLay compares himself to the Jews in Germany by associating the people who disagree with him with Hitler.

The Rev. Chuck Currie remembers former Sen. Thomas Eagleton who cared about faith and politics and stopping war.

And the Pastor Dan, of the Street Prophets notes the trouble for Christian theologians that supported the Iraq war on the basis of just war theory.

Weighing in on that, Dr. Bruce Prescott of Mainstream Baptist calls Richard Land the Court Priest for the War Denomination. And he gets some angry comments. . .

And with a Street Prophets diary, kingdomemariner notes the power drunkeness of not-so-focused-on-the-family James Dobson.

Racking up the comments, Amy Sullivan blogs again at God’s Politics, quoting polls showing that Republicans don’t own evangelicals.

Eamon takes on the myth of abstinence-only education.

City of Brass notes the new Islamophere blog.

Catholics United for the Common Good calls for small farmer support.

Danny Fisher remembers the official Buddhist chaplain for the 1984 Olympic Games.

The Rev. Debra W. Haffner just got back from the National Religious Leaders Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Provoke Radio has a show on Corporate Social Responsibility: Beyond the Bottom Line.

Independent Catholic priest Even the Devils Believe saw Into Great Silence and loved it.

Power to the churches — Philocrates gives you “this week in UUworld.org”

Here’s a little scripture comic from Radical Torah.

Check it out! WoodMoor Village is getting ready for his Faith in Public LIVE blog exchange with the Rev. Eric Elnes.

A bona fide invitation to engage in a conversation about public discourse and religion. Cool, eh? Since this semester I’m teaching RHET365: Rhetoric of Religion, this conversation dovetails quite well with the curriculum and with my own scholarly interests.

What might I be able to contribute? I ask because, as I hinted at above, and as I make clear in my about pages, mine is a non-religious voice. I identify more readily as atheist and deeply agnostic, certainly as “Zen Humanist” or “Post-Humanist” whatever that might mean (I’m well aware that a post on that is seriously needed). Again, what might I bring to this exchange? Mostly questions. To be sure, goodwill, compassion, kindness, and good looks too… ahem (sorry, I can’t take myself too seriously). Persistent questions about how we might best live together with all our comprehensive views, identities, and dispositions in plural democratic society. I believe in building bridges, and these conversations can help in that regard. Moreover, my ethical inclinations, as well as my academic/scholarly interests come together precisely around questions of the formative power of public discourse, especially religious discourse, and also on questions of political thought and democratic life. I’m always intrigued by arguments about democratic deliberation.

Over at CrossWalk America, the Rev. Eric Elnes writes: “Starting Thursday and continuing for the next several days, we’ll be conversing on how to account for America’s religious diversity in talk of religion and progressive politics. ”

It’s coming tomorrow. . .here.

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Get to know: PICO’s campaign to Cover All Children

March 27, 2007, 3:31 pm | Posted by

Teaming with 53 partners as national as Working Assets and as local as Rev. Heyward Wiggins of Camden Churches Organized for People (in pic), the mega-organizers of PICO have launched a campaign to Cover All Children.

They write: “PICO, a national network of one thousand religious congregations and schools in 150 cities and 18 states, has been working on a step-by-step campaign to expand access to health care to uninsured children. This is part of the campaign for SCHIP reauthorization. SCHIP is a lifeline for 6 million children whose parents cannot obtain family coverage at work. Already PICO federations in California have helped develop county-level programs to cover all children in half the counties in California.”

PICO’s Road Map for Covering all Children as part of SCHIP reauthorization includes enough funding to protect children now enrolled, without putting Medicaid at-risk; incentives for states to expand eligibility and reach out to eligible children; support for innovative outreach programs; policies that cut red tape to increase enrolment among eligible children; and incentives to increase workplace coverage. All this by 2012.

And here’s the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families which states: “SCHIP and Medicaid have been resoundingly successful in providing health care to children. Despite the success, more still needs to be done to cover the remaining 9 million children in America who are uninsured. The SCHIP Portal is a resource for those involved in the efforts to reauthorize SCHIP and finish the job of getting children covered.”

Here’s how people can get involved.

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PBS’ NOW: NCC talking to Iran (link to VIDEO)

March 26, 2007, 1:50 pm | Posted by

Aired this weekend, PBS’ NOW focused on the 13-member team from the NCC which met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, top officials in the government, and several of the ayatollahs who have a powerful influence on government policy. “When political leaders mess up, religious leaders ought to be here to go and build up the people, build up relationships, and bring the conversation up the high moral ground,” said one of the U.S. delegates, Rev. Dr. Shanta Premawardhana, who represented Episcopalians, Methodists, Evangelicals and dozens of other denominations.

The Associate General Secretary for Interfaith Relations, National Council of Churches USA, Rev. Dr. Premawardhana has received criticism from Rabbi James Rudin of the American Jewish Committee, who called the visit “An Exercise in Spineless Christian Diplomacy.”

On his blog, Premawardhana recently responded:

“Ahamdinejad told us he is not building nuclear weapons because Iran is an Islamic country and Islamic Scripture forbids them. Ayatollah Ali Khamanei has issued a fatwa against such weapons. On the other hand, as a signatory to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), he said, Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy.

Rudin, rather than seize the slight ray of light that is in that statement, would disregard that comment and continue as if Iran is building nuclear weapons. And to what end? Would he encourage President Bush to attack Iran? Would he encourage Israel, which unlike Iran is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to use its nuclear weapons against Iran?”

If you have a few minutes, the video, available here from PBS, is worth watching just to see the kids trying out their English on a Mennonite delegate, and then half-heartedly chanting “Down with USA” while smiling.

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What’s new in the neighborhood?

March 23, 2007, 1:23 am | Posted by

Faithful Progressive asks: Is the US ready for the Christian Left? And then answers, Doesn’t Matter, They’re Here.

He comments on an In These Times article, which notes:

left leaning Christians have been regularly attracting bigger and more passionate crowds than the Christian right recently. In St.Paul, MN, Jim Wallis had much a much bigger crowd in back to back nights than James Dobson. ‘One of the Dobson organizers came over and told me, ‘If they make us keep focusing on just two issues [abortion and gay marriage], they’re going to lose all of us,’ he says. But some people I know actually take the ministry of Jesus seriously. This can lead to some very radical and even lefty behavior.”

Retired seminary president Del Brown is blogging a book defining progressive, as opposed to liberal, beliefs. He writes, “Christianity did not begin with the Bible. It began with Jesus of Nazareth as he was understood and proclaimed by his followers.”

Catholic Media Report notes: Iraq Diaspora is ‘Humanitarian Crisis’.

Speaking of. . .Eamon quotes the Pope on the Iraq war: “War cannot be decided upon, even when it is a matter of ensuring the common good, except as the very last option and in accordance with very strict conditions.”

Quaker blogger, Gathering in Light, just bought a bunch of books for a Fuller Theological Seminary class on emerging church as social movement.

Johnny’s Cache is heading down to the OC for the One Voice to End Slavery event. Watch the One Voice video.

Over at the Christian Century blog, Theolog Debra reads former New Republic editor, Peter Beinart’s book. She writes: “Beinart’s confession to being “intoxicated with the revolutionary potential of the United States” reminds us to be skeptical about notions that the U.S. is somehow an exceptional nation with a exceptional mission in the world.”

Faithful Democrats’ Jesse Lava notes who really supports the troops.

“And so it’s natural that, to conservatives, the phrase “I support the troops” signifies a profession of faith — faith in the mission that the troops are undertaking. It means avoiding saying things that might, in the short-term, be construed as demoralizing. And it means pretending — eternally, one suspects — that this war is still winnable. To progressives, supporting the troops means something far more profound. It means treating them with the love and respect they deserve. It means doing what we must as citizens to protect them. It means honoring the sacrifices of generations past by enjoying our liberties at home and refusing to spill more blood abroad unless it’s truly necessary.”

JSpot praises John Edwards. As does the Rev. Church Currie. And so does Xpatriated Texan, who’s going all the way.

Do you have thoughts about The Evangelical Vote? Well, Street Prophets’ Pastor Dan does and writes, “I wish I could believe that the conservative megachurches are ripe with progressive converts, but the numbers simply don’t bear that assertion out.”

OT or Hebrew Bible? Weigh in here with Cross and Flame, a Street Prophets diarist.

WoodMore Village says fire the AG AG.

Navroz Mubarak 2007. Islamicate notes that “the holiday is now hybrid. Little bit of Zoroastrianism, little bit of Iranian nationalism, little bit of Islam, little bit of 21st century style globalization.”

And finally set your TiVo. The NCC Interfaith blog notes that the Iran delegation will be featured on PBS’ Now this weekend.

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Get to know: One Franciscan Voice

March 22, 2007, 2:12 am | Posted by

Last week, members of Franciscan dioceses and orders gathered in Washington, D.C. to form a new Center for Action and a broad-based Franciscan Family Commission for Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation. More than 130 leaders and social justice and peace representatives from the Franciscan provinces, congregations, Secular Franciscan Regions, and Ecumenical partners approved the new initiative in Baltimore last week.

The move represents an unprecedented effort within the Franciscan family to focus combined resources on social justice and peace advocacy. With the Center for Action, the Franciscan community – which comprises tens of thousands of Franciscans in the U.S., and the millions whom they serve – hopes to effectively influence social policy in order to transform the world.

Vision Statement

We Franciscan brothers and sisters, Religious and Secular, from throughout the United States, gathered together in Baltimore, Maryland, to discern the possibility of a unified Franciscan Voice for justice. With great concern for dehumanizing issues in our society, we recognized trends contrary to our calling as followers of Christ. We see that we have the power to effectively advocate for the redistribution of resources, the responsible care for creation, and the healing of relationships within the Franciscan Family, the Church and society. To these ends, we commit ourselves and call all members of the Family to speak with one Franciscan Voice to effect the transformation of national social policy. By walking with our brothers and sisters who are poor and marginalized, we intend to advocate for peace and to reaffirm the dignity of all creation.

This is a notable step in the development of the Catholic social justice and peace movement. The Center for Action will provide Franciscans with a powerful voice on a wide array of issues, such as war, oppression, poverty, and the global climate crisis.

To find out more about the Franciscan community’s efforts, visit their web site at www.hnp.org.

Bonus: Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, speaks beautifully about his faith and how he is utterly humbled by mystery. Listen to him on NPR’s This I Believe.

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