Faithful America’s “Driven by Faith, Not by Fear” campaign this summer is mobilizing people of faith across the country to stand up to hateful rhetoric that distorts and inflames our public dialogue. An example of this kind of speech came up at a political rally in Colorado this weekend, where Rep. Michele Bachmann said America has moved toward a return to slavery since President Obama took office. From the Colorado Independent:
In a room of 600 conservative voters brought together by former Colorado Senate president John Andrews’ Centennial Institute, along with Liberty on the Rocks and Colorado Christian University, Bachmann brought the crowd to its feet more than once as she called for an end to the progressive agenda she said has taken over Washington.
“‘We are determined to live free or not at all. And we are resolved that posterity shall never reproach us with having brought slaves into the world,’” Bachmann read from founding father John Jay , ending her reading with the statement, “We will talk a little bit about what has transpired in the last 18 months and would we count what has transpired into turning our country into a nation of slaves.”
Seriously, a nation of slaves? Show me the chains, the lashes, the sale of human beings, the captivity, the brutal working conditions, the denial of basic personal freedom. We have Constitutional amendments ensuring that this never happens again. Suggesting that America is on its way back to slavery couldn’t be more misleading. People of faith need to stand up and declare that this kind of rhetoric has no place in public discourse. It’s antithetical to our values. To join Faithful America’s summer campaign to counter misleading fearmongering such as Bachmann’s, visit Faithfulamerica.org.
Also, Colorado Christian University, which participated in the event, lists among its strategic objectives “be seekers of truth” and “debunk ‘spent ideas’ and those who traffic in them.” I hope they execute these objectives in the wake of Bachmann’s remarks. The most cursory search for truth would reveal her accusations to be groundless. Furthermore, conservative arguments that progressive policies will lead to the demise of freedom – accusations made about Social Security, Medicare and now health care reform – have repeatedly not come true. How long until such rhetoric gets classified as a “spent idea”?
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Last week, Faithful America – FPL’s online community of people of faith – launched a contest to create a slogan for our summer campaign to stand up for our values and denounce the hateful rhetoric that’s received disproportionate media attention and poisoned our public debates in recent months. After submitting hundreds of nominees, the Faithful America community voted for their favorite among the five finalists, selecting “Driven by Faith, Not by Fear” as the winner. We’ve turned this winning slogan into a bumper sticker and are sending it to everyone who joins the campaign and pledges to “Drive Out” hate.
To join the campaign and receive a free sticker, visit the Faithful America petition page here.
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As the Senate begins debate on financial reform legislation (well, eventually — a filibuster will likely delay the start of the debate), many of our allies in the faith community are working to curb the predatory and reckless practices of our nation’s largest financial institutions, which have devastated families and communities across the country.
PICO National Network and Faithful America have launched Our Money, Our Values – a campaign to organize congregations and individuals to divest millions of dollars from the big banks if they don’t agree to end unjust practices like funding predatory lending and kicking people out of their homes unnecessarily. And faith groups will take part in massive demonstrations this week on Wall Street, as well as at the annual shareholder meetings of Bank of America and Wells Fargo, calling on them to take responsibility for their role in the financial crisis, keep families in their homes, and invest in communities affected by the recession.
Undergirding much of this activism are rich theological arguments for financial reform. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good released a statement today pointing out that reining in the abuses of powerful financial institutions is consistent with centuries of Catholic social teaching, as well as Pope Benedict’s encyclical addressing the financial crisis as a moral issue. And over at Associated Baptist Press, David Gushee grounds support for financial reform in the tradition of Christian social ethics that inspired the fight to end child labor in the 19th century.
I’d add simply that many opponents of reform are using demonstrably false talking points to make their case. Hopefully these mendacious efforts won’t lead lawmakers astray or convince the American people that financial reform will lead to institutionalized bailouts.
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Looks like Tom Toles had the same idea as Avaaz.org and Faithful America (albeit a few months later).
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When President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed the START Treaty this week — which places additional limits on the circumstance under which use of nuclear weapons is authorized and reduces nuclear weapons stockpiles by 1/3 — faith leaders responded with strong statements of support, which received ample news coverage. Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and the Washington Post’s On Faith section placed the treaty in the context of the faith community’s decades-long efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, citing Catholic, Evangelical, Methodist, and Presbyterian advocacy on the issue. Catholic News Service reported that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops endorsed the pact, and outlets such as Associated Baptist Press, World Magazine, Religion News Service and the Christian Post reported support for the treaty among evangelical leaders such as Rich Cizik, Joel Hunter, and Two Futures Project executive director Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson. (A USA Today article on the treaty also included a quote from Tyler.) The breadth of coverage speaks to the faith community’s dedication to this issue.
And it’s not just statements. People of faith are organizing and pushing for a action, as well. Today, Faithful America circulated a petition from True Majority calling for “a legally binding verifiable agreement, including all nations, to eliminate nuclear weapons by a date certain.”
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