Gary Hart talks about God and Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics

March 1, 2007, 5:54 am | Posted by

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.

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What’s New in the Neighborhood?

February 28, 2007, 9:00 pm | Posted by

City of Brass posts here over at Street Prophets on the Carnival of Brass and real time carnivals, azizhp writes: “Let’s forge links between other blog communities of faith whenever we can.”

JSpot‘s Mik Moore notes Antisemitisms. The Real and the Not so Real.

Chuck Currie blogging for the UCC, notes that kos gets the language of religion and politics wrong.

Pastor Dan has all kinds of good stuff:

analysis of the Supreme Court case Hain vs. Freedom From Religion Foundation.

A lil’ Curtis Mayfield. Gotta have peace y’all. . .

And this zinger, Southern Strategy in which he writes,

“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.

And then over at Talk to Action, he writes about the SBC and oral contraceptives.

On that topic, independent Catholic priest Chris at Even the Devils Believe opines on HPV and moral narcissism.

The Rev. Deb Haffner wonders what’s the deal with that idea in the Times piece about Norquist seeking secondary virgins for public office.

UU blogger Philocrates asks: what are you afraid of?

Jus Soli to Jus Sanguinis, multiethnic Johnny’s Cache takes on the Texas attempt to redefine what it means to be American.

Velvateen Rabbi writes about eternal light.

What the definitive understanding of Islam? Check out the massive reading and watching list at Islamicate.

Whispers in the Loggia writes on JPII. The Goat Rope tackles the Canon of Conservative Thought.

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 “forgot” 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.” 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,” 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.

And Beatitudes blogger Sara Miles makes it into the SF Chronicle and says that “the altar does not belong to the church.”

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Conservative reactions to the Christian right’s search for a candidate

February 27, 2007, 1:34 pm | Posted by

Sunday’s NYTimes included a David Kirkpatrick article about a secretive meeting of conservative Christian leaders including Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and Grover Norquist. They were meeting, as usual, to discuss American politics but this year the mood is different due in part to the difficulty finding a GOP candidate that represents their issues correctly while also being able to actually win in ’08.

In “Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate,” Kirkpatrick writes:

“But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election.”

USNews adds this choice quote,

“‘I’ve never seen more disillusionment at this point in the election in 30 years,’ says a source close to the Council for National Policy, which prohibits members from discussing meetings with the media. ‘There’s a revolt out there, a feeling these top three are being pushed on us by Republican leadership in D.C.’”

In light of this dismay, here’s a roundup of what conservative blogs are saying.


Over at conservative community blog Townhall, Kevin McCullough writes:

True conservatives are in a bind in 2008, at least so far…

But as the super-secretive Council for National Policy broke camp this weekend the New York Times picked up on the chance to highlight all the “lack of consensus.”

And to their credit – made some very valid points…

Waimea notes his Republican bona fides, but after reading the article states, “This is why I cannot support the conservative wings of the Republican party. . should they take over the party, drives me away from being a Republican.”

With a quote on her sidebar from Jesse Helms, Little Old Lady writes:

I don’t consider myself a member of the Christian right of Jerry Falwell, I am a Christian and a right winger and I am having as difficult a time with a candidate as they seem to be. Though I am not having as difficult a time about Romney because of his religion as many seem to be. IMO as long as he believes in God, isn’t planning on forcing anyone to do anything to pander to his religion exclusively and isn’t a member os Islam, I have no problem with his religion.

An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings corrects the article: “Well, maybe some are hostile, but that’s really not our way. Lack of trust would be more like it. Rudy’s previous marriages aren’t a big deal in my opinion, people make mistakes, it’s his stand on the murder of babies and gay ‘rights’ with which I have a problem.”

In the NYPost John Podhoretz pounds about the reasoning,

“Many on the right profess amazement at the lead he’s opened up among Republican primary voters, considering his pro-choice views and sloppy personal life. . .When Republican voters look at Rudy Giuliani, they know one key fact about him: They know he’s no liberal.

They may not exactly know why yet, but they know it.”

But over at Free Republic, Mr. Pissant clearly has another idea as he weighs the differences between Rudy Giuliani and Duncan Hunter:

“Does the GOP become the party of moderation, or do they insist on a return to Reaganism, with the unabashed, bold conservative ideas and a willingness to ridicule the party of treason. The leading candidate right now supported a communist, Mario Cuomo, for governor of his state because he had the right ideas. The leading candidate was endorsed by the NY liberal party 3 times, because he represented much of their platform. On the flip side there is a candidate that not only espouses Reaganism, but has lived and voted it. And for bold ideas, he vows to get the border fence built in 6 months, return the power of education to the states, confront China’s growing militancy, boost our armed forces – including space based weaponry, and do everything in his power to see that Roe v. Wade becomes a footnote in history.

That my friend, is a powerful, positive agenda. Reaganesque, Thatcheresque, but certainly not Giuliani-ish.”

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The new abolition movement

February 26, 2007, 2:26 am | Posted by

An informal conversation at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral with David Batstone about the fight to free the 27 million persons who live in slavery today. Yes, human trafficking exists and it permeates American culture. Professor of ethics at USF and co-founder of Business 2.0 magazine, David shares his experiences traveling 90,000 miles over five continents in writing Not for Sale while documenting the return of the global slave trade and how we can stop it.

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Why the next budget destroys the least of these

February 24, 2007, 1:06 am | Posted by

It’s budget time again and this one ranks very rank. As Ed Schwartz pointed out in the American Prospect:

“George Bush now gives us an annual laundry list of programs that he wants Congress to cut. The basic philosophy of the Bush administration seems to be that while it’s an honor to die for your country, it’s an imposition to pay for it.”

Here’s the budget and supporting documents.

Just to get us started, the Times weighs in, pointing out that:

The budget is based on a series of improbable, if not dishonest, assumptions. To make it appear as if the tax cuts are affordable in the near term, it assumes that the Pentagon will not spend a single penny on Iraq or Afghanistan after 2009. It also assumes there will be no costs for fixing the alternative minimum tax after this year, even though Mr. Bush and virtually every politician in America is committed to such relief. The new budget would also slash key entitlement programs and punish many of the country’s most vulnerable citizens..

As Firedoglake notes, It’s the Enron Federal Budget process — bilking the public and lying to them at the same time. Welcome to Bushworld, where everyone but the cronies gets screwed. And, even worse, as Deborah Solomon points out in the WSJ, the thing on which the Bush budget most relies: hoping for a lot of luck. Wait, isn’t that our policy in Iraq, too? Oversight, anyone?

Before we get depressed one of my favorite writers, Matt Taibbi, who wrote Spanking the Donkey a great history of the 2004 presidential campaign, tackles the budget.

In the recent issue of Rolling Stone also reprinted at Alternet, he writes about the current Bush budget and the funding priorities. While talk about the war, the environment, and human trafficking gets me moving, Matt makes a compelling case. In fact, this budget may be the most anti-Christ-like thing we face (Matthew 25:31-46).

Here’s some evidence:

On the same day that Britney was shaving her head, a guy I know who works in the office of Senator Bernie Sanders sent me an email. He was trying very hard to get news organizations interested in some research his office had done about George Bush’s proposed 2008 budget, which was unveiled two weeks ago and received relatively little press, mainly because of the controversy over the Iraq war resolution. All the same, the Bush budget is an amazing document. It would be hard to imagine a document that more clearly articulates the priorities of our current political elite.

Not only does it make many of Bush’s tax cuts permanent, but it envisions a complete repeal of the Estate Tax, which mainly affects only those who are in the top two-tenths of the top one percent of the richest people in this country. The proposed savings from the cuts over the next decade are about $442 billion, or just slightly less than the amount of the annual defense budget (minus Iraq war expenses). But what’s interesting about these cuts are how Bush plans to pay for them.

If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family — the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune — would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.

The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation — some of the world’s evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D’Ivoire — if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That’s more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period. Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7 billion tax break while education would get $1.5 billion in cuts. Nordstrom family (Nordstrom dept. stores) receives $826.5 million tax break while Community Service Block Grants would be eliminated, a $630 million cut.


the family of former Exxon/Mobil CEO Lee Raymond, who received a $400 million retirement package, would receive about $164 million in tax breaks. Compare that to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which Bush proposes be completely eliminated, at a savings of $108 million over ten years. The program sent one bag of groceries per month to 480,000 seniors, mothers and newborn children.

Taibbi adds, “Somehow, to me, that’s the worst one on the list. Here you have the former CEO of a company that scored record profits even as it gouged consumers, with gas prices rising more than 70 percent since January of 2001. There is a direct correlation between the avarice of oil company executives and the increased demand for federal aid for heating oil programs like LIHEAP, and yet the federal government wants to reward these same executives for raising prices on the backs of consumers.”

Not to sound self-righteous but I am reminded of those words of Bush’s favorite philosopher who promised to say in the end:

“Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, “Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me.” These will ask Him, “When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?” And Jesus will answer them, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!”

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