A Special “Blog Con” Round Up

June 27, 2006, 11:20 am | Posted by

The Progressive Faith Blog Con looms less than three weeks away. To give you a sense of who will be there, all the bloggers listed below will be attending.

Of course, Velveteen Rabbi has been instrumental in organizing the conference. Here she addresses the practical reality of what interfaith worship and fellowship means when we actually get together.

Left coaster, Pearlbear, raises questions about the scare tactics of some liberal advocacy groups:

“The truth is always far more complicated and nuanced, but complicated and nuanced feels like it doesn’t lead to either action, or to contributions. But the continued process of ignoring complicated and nuanced realities leads to more divisivenss, and more fragmentation – and these are the things that are, ultimately, the enemies of social change.”

Even the Devils Believe confesses to being “angry and upset. . . over the Episcopal Church’s convention and the gathering of the PC-USA. It has been a very difficult time to read blogs (and I’ve been less behind than I expected, because I had a hard time setting limits). It is difficult to see people working well within the Christian tradition, including employing feminine names and imagery for God, tarred as heretics by people who don’t seem to understand the tradition outside a very narrow section of Scripture.”

Last week at the Faith in Public Life Blog, Dave Baron addressed church and state issues after attending a congressional hearing. Read it here. The Air America State of Belief blog also noticed the legislation and writes:

“. . .it’s clearly the intention of our Congressional leaders to make it impossible to legally challenge conflations of church and state. Next bill on the docket: if you successfully prosecute a Congressman for corruption, you get a hundred lashes.”

Blogging from the UUA General Assembly in St. Louis, MO, Philocrites points readers to a good Hallmark Channel TV program by Forrest Church called “The American Creed.”

CrossLeft hosts a blog that reflects on a recent post by Talk2Action. Pointing out that “Many of Us Don’t Know the Real Nature of the Beast,” he wonders: “Have we yet succeeded in framing a way to discuss their theocratic agenda so that the average American, that vital mainstream voter understands what drives our advocacy?”

And finally, Islamicate shares a paper presented at Harvard’s Islam and the West Conference. It is titled, “Moslems on the Internets.”

add a comment »

The Right Matter

June 23, 2006, 2:58 pm | Posted by

Another stained glass ceiling was shattered last week when Katharine Jefferts Schori became the Episcopal Church’s first female Presiding Bishop. Many of our rejoiced.

Unfortunately the joyful sentiment was not universal. Faith and Policy inducted the Rev. H.W. Herrmann into its Hall of Shame for his disgruntled response to Bishop Schori’s election. His own words do the talking:

“Just like we can’t use grape juice and saltines for Communion, because it isn’t the right matter, we do not believe that the right matter is being offered here,” Rev. Herrmann said in an interview on Sunday.

The Rev. makes the all-too common mistake of mixing the right-wing matter with the right matter of scripture. Fortunately, as demonstrated by a recent Washington Post article, “Religious Liberals Gain New Visibility,” the monologue of the Right is no longer satisfying the spiritual appetites of those who desire solutions that benefit the common good on issues of homelessness, poverty, and injustice.

As the Rev. Tim Ahrens of We Believe Ohio stated, “The wind is changing,” and the Right no longer gets to decide on its own what matters. We at Faith in Public Life seek to ensure that the media takes notice of this changing spirit.

add a comment »

Comments Posting Fixed

June 23, 2006, 2:15 pm | Posted by

As many of you noted, we had a bug that asked for a password when people tried to post comments. All fixed now, so let the open commenting begin!

add a comment »

House Subcommittee Takes Up Public Expression of Religion

June 23, 2006, 1:54 pm | Posted by

As a first-time intern in DC, I have been astonished with the sheer quantity of things to do and see. Leaders in a city of leaders are always looking for a crowd to share their thoughts. Many of these opportunities have a great deal to do with our work at Faith in Public Life, so we will be taking advantage of these Washington resources by attending and offering our analyses.

Yesterday morning, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) chaired a hearing on a bill regarding the public expression of religion. This issue, a favorite used by some religious conservatives to label those who disagree with their agenda as anti-God, has been brought to the House of Representatives by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN) with H.R. 2679, the Public Expression of Religion Act of 2005, or PERA.

Current law allows for people to file suit against state and local governments for alleged constitutional violations of the Establishment Clause in the 1st Amendment; i.e. the 10 Commandments in public courthouses or school prayer. Also, if court affirms a violation has occurred, the individual’s attorney fees are to be paid by the offending authority. PERA would change two aspects of the law: 1) only injunctive relief would be permitted in these cases (10 Commandments need to be taken down, but no monetary award), and 2) the attorney fee-shifting would be eliminated. Individuals would need to pay their legal fees even if the court finds a violation has been committed.

Though testimonies and debate focused on the legal procedures, it is apparent that the intent of the bill was to allow more leeway for religion in the public sphere and to take power away from those who claim to be offended by it. This debate asks a question that our organization, Faith in Public Life, and ourselves, as people of faith, are confronted with continually. What is the appropriate relationship of religious belief in politics and the public sphere? It is discouraging to watch as some individuals exploit faith for political gain by focusing on only a couple sensational issues; and we recognize the danger of a religious majority imposing its beliefs on others. However, we simultaneously believe faith has an important role in building a public conscience and enacting social justice.

We have tried to show that concerned religious individuals have already started to answer these questions. Take a look at our Faith Issues Resources, where you can find links to several resources and voices of faith on this issue of church and state. Several of those voices are highlighted in our Media Speakers Bureau, which includes Melissa Rogers, visiting professor of religion and public policy at Wake Forest University Divinity School and the founder and director of its Center for Religion and Public Affairs (check out her article Religious Freedom For All: Why the Supreme Court is right and the Family Research Council is wrong about religious freedom); K. Hollyn Hollman and Rev. J. Brent. Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty, which works to further the Baptist heritage that champions the principle that religion must be neither advanced nor inhibited by government; Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, President of the Interfaith Alliance and host of State of Belief, which is based on the proposition that religion has a positive and healing role to play in the life of the nation; and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Use these resources to learn how people of faith are integrating religion and public life in a meaningful way — without violating the lines that separate religion and government — to promote the common good.

add a comment »

Rep. Westmoreland Delays Voting Rights Act and Forgets God’s Talking Points

June 22, 2006, 2:19 pm | Posted by

According to the New York Times,

“House Republican leaders abruptly canceled a planned vote to renew the Voting Rights Act on Wednesday after a rebellion by lawmakers who said the civil rights measure unfairly singled out Southern states and unnecessarily required ballots to be printed in foreign languages.”

And as the Los Angeles Times points out,

“The effort to amend the requirement that nine states clear election laws with the Justice Department was led by Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.). The requirement, he argued, unfairly singled out Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.”

Of course, these states do have a long history of discriminating against minority voters, and recent studies of Ohio and Florida show that the statist tendency continues to manifest itself by disenfranchising American voters.

So, who is Lynn Westmoreland?

Oh yeah, he’s the guy who appeared on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report on Monday to chat about his other agenda: posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings to help folks remember the Rules.

Watch the clip to see what happens when Stephen Colbert asks Rep. Westmoreland if he can remember those rules himself.

add a comment »