The abuse and cover-up scandal of Rep. Foley has shown once again that leaders of the Religious Right are out of step with the values of mainstream Americans. While Tony Perkins rationalizes the cover-up of Rep. Foley’s predatory behavior by saying members of Congress and their staffs were simply “fearful of acting because they would be seen as homophobic or gay bashing,” (see a similar explanation here from the “pro-family” Arlington Group) faith leaders around the country are speaking the truth that Perkins’ partisan loyalties prevent him from saying. Protecting vulnerable children can never be subordinated to the quest for political power. A group of diverse faith leaders made this points strongly in a letter to House leaders. African American Ministers in Action and the African American Ministers Leadership Council issues a joint statement pointing out that the scandal reveals the hypocrisy of politicians and religious leaders who claim to have a monopoly on ‘values.’
Click on the photos below for audio responses to the Foley scandal and cover-up from expert faith leaders around the country.
||Rev. Jennifer Butler is the Executive Director of Faith in Public Life
“The failure of Congressional leadership to take swift action in response to Mark Foley’s behavior exemplifies placing personal power and greed above moral behavior.”
||Rev. Joseph Darby is Senior Pastor at Morris Brown AME Church, Charleston, SC
“The Foley incident and the resultant fallout should be a cautionary tale for those who take a narrow view of faith and morality, with exclusionary moral absolutes which do not allow for what those of the Christian tradition call ‘grace.’ Those on the so-called “religious right” have been vocal, judgmental and mean spirited on issues of gender and have drawn a strict “us versus them” line in the sand.”
||Rev. Debra Haffner is the Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, & Healing
“How ironic that Rep. Foley was chair of the Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and that the bill he championed in July concentrated on registering treated sex offenders rather than the prevention methods we know keep children safe from abuse.”
||Sr. Simone Campbell is National Coordinator of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
What the Foley cover-up brings to mind is that the use of power to protect self-interest is inevitably corrupting….Congress must face its sins to come to redemption as an institution.
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According to PRNewswire:
The event, called “Spotlight on Global Warming” is being organized by Interfaith Power & Light a nationwide movement to engage people of faith in the urgency to address global warming.
“Global warming is harming God’s creation: first the poor of the world and eventually all of us and all life,” said the Reverend Sally G. Bingham, founder of IPL and an Episcopal priest at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, CA.
Over 4000 congregations – Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Hindu – will show An Inconvenient Truth, HBO’s Too Hot Not to Handle and the independent documentary Lighten Up.
I’d call that very good news – American congregations finding common ground for the common good. And the members get a free film. That’s progress.
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“The IRS Works in Mysterious Ways” opines the Los Angeles Times on the federal investigation into the subtext of a sermon preached at the Pasadena, CA, All Saints Episcopal Church.
The sermon, “What If Jesus Debated Senator Kerry and President Bush“, was delivered by the Rev. George F. Regas two days before the ’04 election. Now the IRS has annouced that it will investigate to see if the church violated its tax status.
But the issue is more complicated. In fact, recently US Representative Adam Schiff wrote a letter to the IRS and the Secretary of the Treasury in which he expresses serious concern over the fact that the IRS said that they would drop the case if All Saints admits that it did wrong. That part of the case is espeically chilling for those familiar with the logic of 17th century convictions and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Many in the blogopshere – on the left and right – wonder: is the IRS being even-handed?
Conservative Riddleblog announces:
“While I don’t agree with this church on virtually anything–it is far-left both theologically and politically speaking–good on them for standing up to the IRS and for refusing to turn over documents, sermons, newsletters, etc, as demanded! . . . God will deal with this church’s rejection of orthodox theology and the gospel in his own time and way. But what they preach is none of Uncle Sam’s business.”
Irenic Thoughts says,“The sermon was critical of both candidates for their views on war and poverty yet the IRS noted the statements against the President as politicking on behalf of John Kerry.
Below a commentor wrote:
. . .”I remember the reputation of the old Episcopal Church as one with old families with old money sipping single malt Scotch and bridge clubs. There was even a joke about using the wrong fork at dinner and going you know where since it was a sin to to be an Episcopalian and not know proper etiquette. Now I look at the church and I’m proud. TEC has really become a church that wants to build the Kingdom of God right here, right now. We stand up and say war is wrong, social injustice is a sin, discrimination is clearly against the teachings of the Gospel, Etc…I’d be proud to be a member of All Saints.”
Socially conservative Thoughts and News writes: I and most Evangelical Christians would not agree with them doctrinally on many issues. . .such as acceptance of homosexual lifestyles. . . but the [ IRS investigation of All Saints] affects both equally, as well as those who attend synagogues, mosques and other religious worship centers.”
On the question of equality, the Los Angeles Daily News notes, “In Los Angeles alone, 39 churches, synagogues and Buddhist temples were identified by political candidates as contributing more than $15,000 to their election campaigns since 1998, according to city Ethics Commission records. . While the federal tax agency has taken on All Saints, some say it may be overlooking others’ political donations as well as whether churches are using federal funds solely for intended social programs. . .the Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints notes his church has never violated federal law by contributing to a political candidate.”
Here’s the rector’s sermon: The IRS Goes to Church. And here’s a recent Los Angeles Times article and a NPR story on the situation.
Julie writing on her blog, Truth, Justice and the American Way points out: “The summons even requests utility bills to establish costs associated with hosting Regas’ speech . . .from the very beginning of our constitutional republic, America’s pastors and ministers have courageously engaged the culture. We must not allow the IRS, or any other government agency, to now trample this heritage.
Over at Street Prophets, Pastor Dan writes:
“Apparently, they’re trying to shake loose evidence that All Saints has been supporting partisan candidates. The request for utility bills matches a similar demand for ‘overhead expenses,’ which the church takes to be a reference to staff salaries. That seems like nitpicking to me, especially since Regas didn’t endorse or oppose any candidates in his sermon. But I don’t know the first thing about the IRS’ calculus.”
Always helpful, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life provides a Guide on Internal Revenue Code Restrictions on the Political Activity of Religious Organizations.
In light of All Saints, Talk to Action explores the problems surrounding the IRS and church policking.
ReligioNews blog notes: “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state.’ It would be mighty hard to be the conscience of the country if clergy could not speak about the country’s rights and wrongs.”
Smells like Snapper writes: “When I heard the most recent report on NPR this morning, I had to scramble to find my blood pressure medication before I blew a cardiovascular gasket. . .All Saints’ is one of my favorite haunts. I really love the place–who wouldn’t love a rector from Mississippi making it big in LA?”
Hollywood pastor Ryan Bell posts photos from the Sep 22, press conference in which the church leaders announced that they would resist the IRS and go to court.
And finally, a former member of All Saints, the Rev. Anne Howard writes in the Beatitudes Society newsletter:
“I first learned about courageous preaching as a member of Regas’ church back in the 1970s. It was his preaching that caused me to leave my job as a newspaper reporter and come to work at All Saints as the Director of the Interfaith Center to Reverse the Arms Race. It was his preaching that helped me connect that anti-nuclear work with faith, and eventually led me to seminary. And it is the legacy of his preaching that has stayed with me through my years as a parish priest, prodding me to speak the truth when I might otherwise stay silent. . . .”
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A regular Wednesday feature here at Faith Public Life, here’s what’s happening around the neighborhood thus far this week.
On Street Prophets, Pastor Dan gives you all you need to know about our do-nothing Congress. Oh wait, yesterday it did pass a bill that would "cut off financial awards to plaintiffs who bring successful lawsuits against expressions of religion like Christmas displays on government grounds. The aim of the measure, approved 244 to 173, is to discourage
lawsuits against local, state and federal governments over issues of separation of church and state."
If you missed your morning coffee induced heart-pounding visit Talk to Action where court stripping looks evan more exciting than you think. Joan points out that the main Representative (Hostettler R-IN) behind this act said this:
"When the courts make unconstitutional decisions, we should not enforce
them. Federal courts have no army or navy. The court can opine, decide,
talk about, sing, whatever it wants to do. We’re not saying they can’t
do that. At the end of the day, we’re saying the court can’t enforce
JSpot posts Stephen Colbert’s Days of Repentence for Jews clip and also features Nathan Newman on how California taxpayers won’t have to subsidize anti-union campaigns.
Chuck Currie speaks up on torture:
"President Bush is pressuring the Senate to act on the compromise
agreement this week, citing the need for intelligence gathering to
maintain strong national security. As people of faith, we are called
to stand against policies and practices that violate fundamental human
TAKE ACTION AGAINST THE TORTURE COMPROMISE HERE.
Philadelphia-based Leming writes on CrossLeft about the evangelical School for Social Change at Eastern University.
Muslim Wake Up wonders about the reaction within Isreal over the recent war with Hezbollah.
City of Brass writes: "among the reasoned responses to the Pope is Tariq Ramadan’s essay,
which argues that the real context of the Pope’s address was to
emphatically place Islam within the category of Other with which no
true dialog can be undertaken."
Christo Lumen tells the Parable of the Good Homosexual.
Jim, over at Disples from the Left, provides a short ethical reflection on the recent Values Voters Conference.
Mainstream Baptist notes the growing discontent with the Iraq war. Where? Among retired military leadership. Why? Because Iran is looming and they don’t want to go through another Rummy mess.
Answering the Rev. Deb Haffner’s questions about sex on the edges of the public discussion, the Rev. Meg Riley writes about the importance of coalition building within the progressive movement. She states:
"Over the years, in coalitions, I have watched a number of areas of
disagreement–notably about the Middle East, abortion, and gay rights,
take down too many good efforts. I think it is key to leave room for
disagreement on some issues while moving forward on others."
Even the Devils Believe posts "via Lutheran Zephyr, Beliefnet has a story about a Muslim group in Florida
that is sending $5000 in seed money to Palestine to help rebuild
Christian churches that were burned there. The group’s spokesperson
points out that the churches should be protected under the tenets of
Islam. Allahu Akbar, and many prayers that we Christians can return to
our Muslim brothers and sisters the love expressed in this gesture."
Johnny points out: "The enormity of what is happening in Utah cannot be understated. They are embracing the future in a way no other state has – this truly is a progressive policy from one of our most religiously devout states."
Finally, listen to Provoke Radio! This week "don’t miss this fascinating story of one man’s awakening to the social
justice message of the Gospels.
Guest: Mr. Brian McLaren, best selling author of such books as, ‘The
Secret Message of Jesus’ and others. Brian is a leader in the Emergent
community and a man Time Magazine referred to as a ‘paradigm shifter’.
Special guest host: Dr. Steven Miles, Professor of Theology, Loyola
College of Maryland."
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