Sunday, April 09, 2006


CLICK HERE TO HEAR MEACHAM ON RADIO FROM MSNBCToday, I came across a very fitting article from my April NewsWeek magazine called "God and the Founders"... Fitting because today is the beginning of a very ceremonious Christian and Judaism week of religious traditions and rituals.

Please read the below article and learn for yourselve how our Founders in all their wisdom, knew how important it was to keep STATE AND RELIGION separate.

And then read a conservative viewpoint
(below this article) on this very Jon Meacham "GOD AND THE FOUNDERS" subject.

It seems the FAR RIGHT CONSERVATIVE FUNDAMENTALISTS fear any truths concerning their belief system. They appear to, put hands to ears and sing loudly "GOD BLESS AMERICA" whenever reality tries to penetrate their closed minds.

Also click the picture and hear Jon Meacham's voice on radio... thinkingblue


God had created man with free will, for love coerced is no love at all, only submission.

Writing to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, George Washington assured his Jewish countrymen that the American government "gives to bigotry no sanction."


God and the Founders

Battles over faith and freedom may seem never-ending, but a new book,'American Gospel,' argues that history illuminates how religion can shape the nation without dividing it.

By Jon Meacham Newsweek

Damien Donck for Newsweek
In ‘American Gospel,’ Meacham explores faith, history and freedom
April 10, 2006 issue - America's first fight was over faith. As the Founding
Fathers gathered for the inaugural session of the Continental Congress on Tuesday, September 6, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Thomas Cushing, a lawyer from Boston, moved that the delegates begin with a prayer. Both John Jay of New York and John Rutledge, a rich lawyer-planter from South Carolina, objected. Their reasoning, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, was that "because we were so divided in religious sentiments"—the Congress included Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and others—"we could not join in the same act of worship." The objection had the power to set a secular tone in public life at the outset of the American political experience.

Things could have gone either way. Samuel Adams of Boston spoke up. "Mr. S.
Adams arose and said he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman
of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country," wrote
John Adams. "He was a stranger in Philadelphia, but had heard that Mr. Duche (Dushay they pronounce it) deserved that character, and therefore he moved that Mr. Duche, an Episcopal clergyman, might be desired to read prayers to the Congress tomorrow morning." Then, in a declarative nine-word sentence, John Adams recorded the birth of what Benjamin Franklin called America's public religion: "The motion was seconded and passed in the affirmative."

The next morning the Reverend Duche appeared, dressed in clerical garb. As it
happened, the psalm assigned to be read that day by Episcopalians was the 35th.
The delegates had heard rumors—later proved to be unfounded—that the British
were storming Boston; everything seemed to be hanging in the balance. In the
hall, with the Continental Army under attack from the world's mightiest empire,
the priest read from the psalm: " 'Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive
with me: fight against them that fight against me.'"

Fight against them that fight against me: John Adams was at once stunned and
moved. "I never saw a greater effect upon an audience," he told Abigail. "It
seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning." Adams long tingled from the moment—the close quarters of the room, the mental vision
in every delegate's head of the patriots supposedly facing fire to the north,
and, with Duche's words, the summoning of divine blessing and guidance on what they believed to be the cause of freedom.

As it was in the beginning, so it has been since: an American acknowledgment of God in the public sphere, with men of good will struggling to be reverent yet tolerant and ecumenical. That the Founding Fathers debated whether to open the American saga with prayer is wonderfully fitting, for their conflicts are our conflicts, their dilemmas our dilemmas. Largely faithful, they knew religious wars had long been a destructive force in the lives of nations, and they had no wish to repeat the mistakes of the world they were rebelling against. And yet they bowed their heads.

More than two centuries on, as millions of Americans observe Passover and commemorate Easter next week, the role of faith in public life is a subject of particularly pitched debate. From stem cells and science to the Supreme Court, from foreign policy and the 2008 presidential campaign to evangelical "Justice Sundays," the question of God and politics generates much heat but little light. Some Americans think the country has strayed too far from God; others fear that religious zealots (from the White House to the school board) are waging holy war on American liberty; and many, if not most, seem to believe that we are a nation hopelessly divided between believers and secularists.

History suggests, though, that there is hope, for we have been fighting these battles from our earliest days and yet the American experiment endures.

However dominant in terms of numbers, Christianity is only a thread in the
American tapestry—it is not the whole tapestry. The God who is spoken of and
called on and prayed to in the public sphere is an essential character in the
American drama, but He is not specifically God the Father or the God of Abraham. The right's contention that we are a "Christian nation" that has fallen from pure origins and can achieve redemption by some kind of return to Christian values is based on wishful thinking, not convincing historical argument. Writing to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, George Washington assured his Jewish countrymen that the American government "gives to bigotry no sanction." In a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli initiated by Washington, completed by John Adams, and ratified by the Senate in 1797, we declared "the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion. ... " The Founders also knew the nation would grow ever more diverse; in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's bill for religious freedom was "meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination." And thank God—or, if you choose, thank the Founders—that it did indeed.

Understanding the past may help us move forward. When the subject is faith in
the public square, secularists reflexively point to the Jeffersonian "wall of
separation between church and state" as though the conversation should end
there; many conservative Christians defend their forays into the political arena
by citing the Founders, as though Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin
were cheerful Christian soldiers. Yet to claim that religion has only recently
become a political force in the United States is uninformed and unhistorical; in
practice, the "wall" of separation is not a very tall one. Equally wrongheaded
is the tendency of conservative believers to portray the Founding Fathers as
apostles in knee britches.

The great good news about America—the American gospel, if you will—is that
religion shapes the life of the nation without strangling it. Driven by a sense
of providence and an acute appreciation of the fallibility of humankind, the
Founders made a nation in which faith should not be singled out for special help
or particular harm. The balance between the promise of the Declaration of
Independence, with its evocation of divine origins and destiny, and the
practicalities of the Constitution, with its checks on extremism, remains the
most brilliant of American successes.

The Founding Fathers and presidents down the ages have believed in a God who brought forth the heavens and the earth, and who gave humankind the liberty to believe in Him or not, to love Him or not, to obey Him or not. God had created man with free will, for love coerced is no love at all, only submission. That is why the religious should be on the front lines of defending freedom of religion.

Our finest hours—the Revolutionary War, abolition, the expansion of the rights
of women, hot and cold wars against terror and tyranny, Martin Luther King Jr.'s battle against Jim Crow—can partly be traced to religious ideas about liberty, justice, and charity. Yet theology and scripture have also been used to justify
our worst hours—from enslaving people based on the color of their skin to treating women as second-class citizens.

Still, Jefferson's declaration of independence grounded America's most
fundamental human rights in the divine, as the gift of "Nature's God." The most
unconventional of believers, Jefferson was no conservative Christian; he once
went through the Gospels with a razor to excise the parts he found implausible.
("I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know," he remarked.) And yet he believed
that "the God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time," and to Jefferson, the "Creator" invested the individual with rights no human power could ever take away. The Founders, however, resolutely refused to evoke sectarian—specifically Christian—imagery: the God of the Declaration is largely the God of Deism, an Enlightenment-era vision of the divine in which the Lord is a Creator figure who works in the world through providence. The Founding Fathers rejected an attempt to rewrite the Preamble of the Constitution to say the nation was dependent on God, and from the Lincoln administration forward presidents and Congresses refused to support a "Christian Amendment" that would have acknowledged Jesus to be the "Ruler among the nations."

At the same time, the early American leaders were not absolute secularists. They
wanted God in American public life, but in a way that was unifying, not divisive. They were politicians and philosophers, sages and warriors, churchmen and doubters. While Jefferson edited the Gospels, Franklin rendered the Lord's Prayer into the 18th-century vernacular, but his piety had its limits: he recalled falling asleep in a Quaker meeting house on his first day in Philadelphia. All were devoted to liberty, but most kept slaves. All were devoted to virtue, but many led complex—the religious would say sinful—private lives.

The Founders understood that theocracy was tyranny, but they did not feel they could—or should—try to banish religion from public life altogether. Washington improvised "So help me, God" at the conclusion of the first presidential oath and kissed the Bible on which he had sworn it. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he privately told his cabinet, because he had struck a deal with "my Maker" that he would free the slaves if the Union forces triumphed at Antietam. The only public statement Franklin D. Roosevelt made on D-Day 1944 was to read a prayer he had written drawing on the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. John Kennedy said that "on earth, God's work must truly be our own," and Ronald Reagan was not afraid to say that he saw the world as a struggle between light and dark, calling the Soviet empire "the focus of evil in the modern world." George W. Bush credits Billy Graham with saving him from a life of drift and drink, and once said that Christ was his favorite philosopher.

Sectarian language, however, can be risky. In a sermon preached on the day George Washington left Philadelphia to take command of the Continental Army, an Episcopal priest said: "Religion and liberty must flourish or fall together in America. We pray that both may be perpetual." The battle to preserve faith and freedom has been a long one, and rages still: keeping religion and politics in proper balance requires eternal vigilance.

Our best chance of summoning what Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" may lie in recovering the true sense and spirit of the Founding era and its leaders, for they emerged from a time of trial with a moral creed which,while imperfect, averted the worst experiences of other nations. In that history lies our hope.

From AMERICAN GOSPEL by Jon Meacham, to be published by Random House on Tuesday,
April 4. © 2006 by Jon Meacham.

For more on "American Gospel," go to
© 2006 Newsweek, Inc. Subscribe to Newsweek

Now read the viewpoint from the insolent conservative fundalmentalists:

By Michael J. Gaynor
Beware the Gospel According to Newsweek's Jon Meachem! April 04, 2006 08:46 PM EST

SURPRISE! The April 10, 2006 issue of Newsweek did what the United States
Supreme Court said that government must not do. Instead of maintaining a strict
neutrality between religion and irreligion, as though agnosticism is the correct
view, it put at the top of the front cover, above "Newsweek," the words "GOD AND

There is a reason, of course. Jon Meachem, Newsweek's Managing Editor, wrote a
book titled American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a
Nation, published by Random House on April 4, 2006. To promote book sales,
Newsweek published an excerpt from Mr. Meacham's book.

The theme of the book, according to Newsweek: "Battles over faith and freedom
may seem never-ending, but... history illuminates how religion can shape the
nation without dividing it."

The problem: religion is supposed to teach the difference between good and bad,
not shape without dividing. Evil is to be identified and avoided, because it can
contaminate, and eventually the wheat and the chafe will be divided.

Regrettably, although Mr. Meachem does acknowledge God, he extols the importance of unity over the importance of truth...

(To read more of this conservative inveigh against religious fact CLICK HERE)


Taking Back the Faith

Dan Wakefield Sun Apr 9, 12:00 AM ET

The Nation -- Until the wake-up shock of Bush II's re-election, I was one of the great slumber party of mainline American Protestant "liberals" (as we were then still known) whose response to the outrages of those who stole our identity as Christians was the cheap and comfortable scorn and smugger-than-thou ridicule of the disengaged. My own religious-political alarm had begun to ring during the summer before the 2004 election, when I reviewed for The Nation Warren Goldstein's biography William Sloane Coffin Jr.: A Holy Impatience. The book brought back to me in stirring detail the work of leaders like Reverend Coffin, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Father Daniel Berrigan and their Jewish allies like Rabbi Abraham Heschel in battling racism, unjust war, nuclear proliferation, poverty and threats to civil liberties. I wrote that "their inspiring example raises a disturbing question: Where are their counterparts now?"
In the past year I put that question to religious leaders and lay people as I traveled around the country trying to understand what has brought us to the political-religious crisis of our time and what, if anything, is being done about it. When asked who is the contemporary equivalent of Coffin, the white Protestant firebrand of civil rights and the anti-Vietnam War movement, several mainline Christians sighed and said, "Well, I guess--Coffin."
Long retired from active ministry and in his 80s, Coffin writes and speaks out against the war in Iraq and the religious right more than most mainline leaders today, though he has suffered a stroke and is largely confined to a Barcalounger by the living-room window of his home in New Hampshire.
Lacking an active Reverend Coffin, several people suggest his potential successor might be his actual successor at New York's Riverside Church, the popular African-American preacher James Forbes. Both of the people who named Forbes live in New York, though; he has done little to make himself known in the nation at large.
One afternoon over tea in the lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston, I ask a bright young pastor of a mainline Protestant church in an affluent suburb who he thinks is the contemporary Christian counterpart to William Sloane Coffin in the 1960s. After some minutes of silent musing, he shakes his head, then smiles and says, "Rabbi Lerner." This minister is not the only Christian who named Michael Lerner, founder and editor of Tikkun, a Jewish and interfaith magazine, as the person who is doing the most significant work in opposing the religious right's theft of the meaning and the message of Christianity for the political power of the neocon Republican con men.
The most consistent answer to my question is the Rev. Jim Wallis, whose barnstorming book tour for his bestselling God's Politics took him to fifty-six cities in twenty weeks and brought him into question-and-answer sessions with crowds of 1,000 to 2,000 people at a time. Michael Lerner's new book, The Left Hand of God--which turns out to be almost a companion volume to God's Politics--is on target to elicit a similar grassroots response.
The unlikely duo of Lerner and Wallis, a rabbi and an evangelical Christian, are the names most often cited in my homemade, unofficial poll of Christians looking for leadership in opposing the religious right not only with words but also with deeds. But they are not forming any kind of partnership except in the sense of being friendly allies who have similar goals. Both men are known as loners, and they don't even agree on the way to go about reaching their common goal of opposing the power of the religious right. While Lerner wants to form a "spiritual left," Wallis doesn't want to use the term "left," or even "progressive," and least of all "liberal" in his own work.
At this stage, however, as the first meaningful response to the religious right is finally taking form, terminology--left, middle or center and red, white or blue--is not the most crucial issue. There's no debating what flag you will fly until you have ammunition, troops and a battle plan, a strategy.
Wallis tells me:
Bill Moyers and others say, "You've helped put out a progressive religious message--not just a progressive political message--now you've got to institutionalize this." So we're talking about a media platform that would involve some kind of radio--we're in discussions with people in radio about a progressive religious show or regular commentaries. Also, I do a lot of op-ed pieces, and we're going to see if one of the syndicates would like a weekly commentary from me on the whole area of religion, values and ethics. We'll use the Internet very heavily, with much more streaming, much more using speaking events. That's kind of the "air war." James Dobson of Focus on the Family is out there on 3,000 stations a day, and you need to have a response--not specifically to him, but to have an alternative voice.
Wallis, Lerner and other religious progressives are up against a long-entrenched and formidable foe, especially on radio and TV. The Republican activist Paul Weyrich told a group of neocon advisers Bush had brought to the White House that they had no excuse for failing to get their message out. "There are 1,500 conservative radio talk-show hosts. You have Fox News. You have the Internet, where all the successful sites are conservative. The ability to reach people with our point of view is like nothing we have ever seen before."
Wallis realizes that even if he gets a toehold in radio and television, it's only a start. "You can't just be on the air and in the media, so we've been having extensive conversations at our magazine Sojourners and at our Call to Renewal movement about organizational strategies. We've had lots of other organizations and groups come by who'd like to make alliances and partnerships, so we're talking about a pastors' network, a congregational network."
I ask Wallis if he has any plans for trying to do the kind of grassroots political work the religious right has done so successfully in getting people elected to school boards and local offices. "I've met lots of local elected officials," he says, "who have a progressive faith perspective--state senators and representatives, mayors, school board commissioners. They've urged us to have a gathering for state and local officials. We'd have hundreds for such a conference. I've got former students from Harvard running for office around this agenda, running for city councils already, and some of them are going to be running for state offices. The right does it in an overtly partisan way, almost like a power bloc within the Republican Party. I see us doing more like a civil rights movement kind of thing, rather than what the Christian Coalition did. We want to build a movement around issues like poverty and hold politicians accountable, more than just joining the political party and trying to gain power within the party."
* * *
"We realize this time it's an all-hands-on-deck situation." --Dave Robinson, director of Pax Christi, the Roman Catholic progressive movement for peace and justice
The jacket of Robert Edgar's suit is off, and his shirt is crisp and white, his tie straight, his glasses clear. Before becoming general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), Edgar was a six-term member of the House of Representatives, the first Democrat in more than 120 years to be elected from the heavily Republican Seventh District of Pennsylvania. He also served as a minister to Methodist congregations and as a college chaplain before coming to New York in 2000 to run the NCC from his office in "the God Box," a building on Upper Broadway that serves as headquarters for the NCC and a number of Protestant denominations.
"We've been Sleeping Beauty," he says, "but the actions of the Bush Administration to force us into war in Iraq was the kiss that woke us up." One result of the wake-up, Edgar says, is the website started by the NCC, called "Is that in response to the religious right?" I ask. Edgar sighs:
Almost everything we do is in response to the religious right. They have done an excellent job over the last forty years in silencing moderate to progressive voices. We're trying to be silent no more, we're trying to stand up when they're telling us to sit down, and we're trying to speak out when they tell us to be silent. Here we're using some new energy and techniques to go after those who are trying to take us down the wrong road. We watched how and Working Assets and other advocacy groups have formed, and about a year ago we said, Can't we invent that same kind of technology for the faith communities? In May of last year we had 2,000 e-mail addresses, and now there are over 125,000 who we talk to about once every ten days. Churches that stand for something grow. Not just conservative churches but liberal churches that take the Gospel seriously are increasing in membership. But many of our pastors haven't figured that out yet.
I ask if some ministers today are fearful of speaking out because of the current atmosphere of divisiveness and the intimidation by the Bush Administration and their religious right followers. "Absolutely," says Edgar.
The question I ask is: How do you instill courage and the ability to risk in pastors today? In the 1960s there were a number of pastors willing to be fired over the war in Vietnam and the issues of segregation and civil rights. I see a negative trend recently that many pastors are waiting to retire or don't want to rock the boat in their congregations. They love to tell Bible stories as opposed to taking their spiritual gifts out of the Scripture and relating them to life and work issues. Ministers are under that kind of threat, balancing their call by God to their vocation to the poor and nonviolence and justice with the practical call of where do they get the money to pay their mortgage--it's a serious challenge.
I ask if there's anyone comparable now, in liberal religion, to William Sloane Coffin. Edgar says:
There's a cluster of people who meet every Thursday by telephone. It just started in the last two years, with Jim Wallis, Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, David Beckman of Bread for the World, George Regas, who was pastor of the big Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Jim Forbes of Riverside Church. The problem with liberals is we don't follow very well. We brand our organizations instead of our issues; the religious right is better at branding their issues. We've changed over the last three years, and said there really are only three issues--poverty, environment, justice. All others are important, but we have to brand those issues until we actually see changes in the trend lines on poverty, on the healing of the earth.
"What about the war in Iraq?" I ask. Edgar replies:
It's first... I led a delegation to Baghdad, and we sent delegates to talk with Tony Blair, Schröder, Putin, Chirac and the Pope. Three thousand five hundred people gathered on Martin Luther King's holiday in 2003 to oppose the war, before any body bags were coming back. It was held at the National Cathedral in Washington, and another event at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. With Vietnam it took years to get opposition to the war, but here before it started most religious leaders were opposed to war--except our conservative colleagues, who were reading the Scriptures through the eyes of Armageddon. We fell asleep in the 1970s, laughed at the early formation of the Moral Majority--we didn't take them seriously. Now the Methodists have a $2 million campaign to try to get people to come to their churches.
The Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ also have recruitment campaigns, using TV advertising. Now mainline Protestantism has discovered the Internet, whose most successful websites are operated by the churches and organizations of the religious right, which has had them up and running for years. They rule the radio airwaves, and as for television, Jan Love of the Methodist Women's Division says:
Twenty years ago, the mainline Protestant churches made a decision not to get heavily into television--and that was stupid. We didn't know how stupid at the time. Bob Edgar has got us on the Internet. He has also organized meetings with high-level Christian leaders and progressive movements across the country, trying to see if there's a common strategy that can be articulated across the denominations. Bob Edgar is at the heart of those things. And Bill Moyers has helped pull one of these together.
Bob Edgar's work has stirred the religious right to label him "Antichrist," which now must be a term of honor among spiritual progressives.
Baptist minister Bill Moyers began the new academic year at Union Theological Seminary in the fall of 2005 by invoking the ghosts of the great teacher-scholars who made that place the bastion of liberal theology--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Paul Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr. Moyers said their heritage was now at risk:
Listen quietly on such an occasion as this and you can hear that chorus of voices--the legions who have passed this way--calling us back to prophetic witness.... They are saying, "Union, religion has bowed again to power and privilege. Stand for justice--and the faith that liberates God from partisan agendas."
Grassroots groups around the country have not required the ghosts of Tillich and Niebuhr to galvanize them; the words of Bush, Rumsfeld, Frist, Falwell and Robertson have been frightening enough to raise the opposition of ordinary citizens against the current political/religious regime that has led us to war and near national bankruptcy while invoking a God who stands for war on foreign countries as well as on the middle and lower classes of our own country.
A group of citizens led by a healthcare worker rallied in front of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, in August 2005 to deliver a "declaration to the leaders of the religious right," saying, "You do not speak for us or for our politics. We say 'No' to the way you are using the name and language of Christianity to advance what we see as extremist political goals." The group was organized four months earlier as the Christian Alliance for Progress (CAP) and held its rally in front of a church ministered by Pastor Jerry Vines, a local Falwell-Robertson clone who had made headlines in 2002 for calling the Prophet Muhammad "a demon-possessed pedophile."
The group's protest against the religious right, locally symbolized by Pastor Vines, immediately brought support for CAP from Professor Omid Safi, a co-founder of the Progressive Muslim Union and professor of philosophy and religion at Colgate University, who said the positions taken by CAP reflected those of the PMU. "I think groups like this should be working hand in hand," he said. CAP founder Patrick Mrotek, a healthcare-management consultant, says the group has recruited community organizers in twenty cities across the country and will also join and support the work of Wallis's Call to Renewal movement.
The Rev. George Regas, in his twenty-eight years as rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California (whose numbers qualify it as a "mega-church"), led his congregation to oppose the Vietnam War, the nuclear arms race and the Gulf War and to support a whole range of human needs, such as an AIDS service center. After retiring from the ministry, he founded and serves as director of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.
Reverend Regas tells me:
Some people say the reason mainline churches have lost membership is they were too much involved in peace and justice work--I think they've declined because they haven't done it enough! They've been too timid in that commitment, and that's not attractive to anyone. The mainline is timid today--there was a day when it wasn't. In those days we weren't facing a religious right--it wasn't part of the story at all. It's sure a new day now. But we can't compete with the religious right if we have no financial resources. At least there's a consciousness now in the mainline churches that we have to change and create our own.
Dave Robinson of Pax Christi says: "I think that this is a very hopeful time for progressive religious groups in our country. The events of the past four years have energized some of our traditional groups and have also given birth to new, exciting efforts within the progressive religious community."
Perhaps most significant will be a new group of progressive evangelicals, led by Jim Wallis and his Call to Renewal group, and other leaders who want no part of the Falwell-Robertson rhetoric or politics. They're calling it Red Letter Christians, alluding to the words of Jesus in many versions of the New Testament, which are printed in red type. The name also avoids identifying the group with any political party. These politically liberal dissidents make up as much as 35 percent of the evangelical movement, amounting to millions, according to Tony Campolo, professor emeritus at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, and a popular evangelical author and speaker.
These movements are serious, sincere and dedicated; the meetings of Christian leaders called by Bob Edgar are hopeful, the rhetoric of Wallis and Lerner is inspiring, and even more positive, they are taking concrete action.
Then look at all these efforts next to just one example of the way the religious right is already arming and organizing for the next battle: In August 2005 a website appeared that launched the Ohio Restoration Project, whose purpose is to enlist thousands of "Patriot Pastors" to get out religious right voters for the 2006 elections. The Columbus minister who heads the project calls these midterm Congressional elections a battle between "the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell."
At the same time, the people they call "the hordes of hell"--the representatives of mainstream religion from the NCC--were still trying to agree on a common strategy. Part of the strategy that remains a conundrum to most progressive religious leaders is not only how to avoid the blows from the armies of the right but also how to overcome the hostility of people who ought to be their allies on the secular left but treat them with scorn, condescension or indifference.
A young man in Boston came up to Wallis after one of his bookstore talks and said, "I'm gay, and I want to thank you for making me feel welcome tonight. But you know, it's easier to come out being gay in Boston than it is coming out as religious in the Democratic Party."
The African-American attorney Van Jones, founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland (which challenges human rights abuses in the prison system) wrote on the Internet: "It is still commonplace to hear so-called radicals stereotyping all religious people as stupid dupes--and spitting out the word 'Christian' as if it were an insult, or the name of a disease. I thought progressives were supposed to be the standard-bearers of tolerance and inclusion."
Former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, an adviser to Union Theological Seminary, says:
You don't go into a liberal community and talk about your faith and your prayers--they snicker. So in divorcing it you lose track of it, you forget why we should care about social justice--is it just so we could be fair? What's the underlying principle of equality? We didn't talk about the values that underlie policy--why are we against racism, poverty? A lot of these issues I believe in come from my religious upbringing.
A majority of Americans have had some kind of religious upbringing, and 90 percent of them say that they believe in God. The Democratic Party and progressive politicians and activists need not adopt their faith, but they had better take that belief into account if they hope to regain national power in the years to come.
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Democracy Now's Interview with Kevin Phillips


Democracy Now's Interview with Kevin Phillips

Welcome to the new





CAROLYNCONNETION - I"ve got a mind and I'm going to use it!