For anyone who’s still in doubt, this week’s headlines certainly offer proof that there are evangelicals who care about more than banning abortion and same-sex marriage.
The week began with the resignation of Rev. Joel Hunter, president–elect of the Christian Coalition, who cited agenda disputes as the reason for his departure. Apparently the coalition wasn’t ready for a leader like Hunter who wanted to expand its agenda to include caring for the poor and protecting the environment. Over the past few years, Hunter has become know as an evangelical pastor who is seeking to broaden the range of issues that evangelicals work on beyond the traditional “pro-life, pro-familyâ€ agenda. He says that “unless we are caring as much for the vulnerable outside the womb as inside the womb, we’re not carrying out the full message of Jesus.â€
A leader among the ranks of evangelical environmentalists, Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, was named as one the greatest proponents of ‘creation care’ in a Beliefnet profile on Thursday. According to Cizik, “you have got to care about this because when you die, God is not going to ask you about how he created the earth. He’s going to ask you, ‘What did you do with what I created?’â€
And just look at the AIDS conference taking place today in California, hosted by mega-selling author and evangelical pastor Rick Warren. Warren’s wife Kay says that it is time to “break the silenceâ€ that has paralyzed Evangelicals on the issue of AIDS because of its ties to issues of sexuality, and Warren says that he has “no doubt if Jesus were walking the Earth today, he would be hanging out with people with AIDS.” With a goal of bringing people together, the conference includes such diverse speakers as Sen. Barak Obama, Sen. Sam Brownback, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of the Rwandan Episcopal Church and Bono, and has attracted more than 2000 participants from across the country. Despite opposition by some evangelical groups to the invitation of the pro-choice Obama, Warren has stood by his decision, saying that, although he does not agree with Obama’s views on abortion, “the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by Evangelicals alone.”
These stories give hope for more future collaboration on the many serious issues that our world is facing today. I think Warren said it best: “Republicans, Democrats, gay, straight, Christians, Jews, Muslims — can we not work on some of these issues together?â€
The new Muslim community blog Eteraz posts a handy survey of Turkey coverage from the Times, Prospect Magazine, Cato, and the Muslim Association for Liberal Thinking.
John L. Allen Jr., over at the National Catholic Reporter, writes: “In a historic moment of inter-faith solidarity, Pope Benedict XVI visited Istanbul’s famed “Blue Mosqueâ€ this afternoon, and at one point paused for a moment of what seemed like silent prayer alongside the imam who hosted him.”
“Poverty? Global Warming? AIDS?” Chuck Currie notes, “The most important issues of our time don’t compare to gay marriage or abortion to many leaders of the Religious Right – just ask the Christian Coalition.”
Catching the same story, JSpot titles their take: “Christian Coalition Upheaval – We’re Bigots and We’re Sticking With That.”
“Dr. Dobson’s claim that there is no such thing as separation of church and state is not supported by history. While it is true that the phrase separation of church and state is not found in the constitution or the first Amendment, the concept was well understood by the leading thinkers of the time. Thomas Jefferson’s’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, is considered by historians, legal scholars and the U.S. Supreme Court to be Jefferson’s definitive statement on the meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
As progressive Christians, IPC is steadfastly committed to the separation of church and state as stated in the Constitution of the United States. We base our belief not as an expression of hostility towards religion, but as a guarantee of its free practice whereby the position of one faith is not elevated over any other. In that manner, America will protect, as FDR proclaimed, ‘The freedom of every person to worship God in his own way.’”
Over at Street Prophets, Frederick Clarkson has some follow up. He quotes some right wing group’s reaction, “In a lengthy news release on Wednesday, the IPC rebutted Dobson’s comments one by one. But it’s not so much what the liberal Christians are saying — it’s that they’re saying it at all.”
Mainstream Baptist notes two people standing up for freedom: Bill Moyers at West Point and Rick Warren defending his choice to invite Barack Obama to his church for World AIDS day.
Christo Lumen laments a nation divided by two Christianities.
Speaking of World AIDS day, over at Sexuality and Religion: What’s the Connection?,the Rev. Deb. Haffner posts two thoughtful essays.
Continuing the theme, Jesus Politics points to an article suggesting that Ted Haggard’s revelation gives Christianity a good opportunity to rethink the complexity of human sexuality.
And Johnny’s Blog finds Naomi Wolf’s recent New York magazine article on sacred sexuality, well, “quite compelling”.
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On a mission of outreach to both Muslim and Orthodox Christian communities, Pope Benedict’s controversial trip to Turkey has kicked off fairly smoothly. Hopefully this visit will serve as another helpful stage in the needed bridge-building between Muslims and Christians.