Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Speaking Out

Again, it's appropriate at the beginning of Lent to notice some action-oriented Christians:

  • John Edwards talks about poverty, which is his new job.  We're going to rip off Chuck Currie's fine summary of the speech:

    Edwards was the only candidate during the 2004 presidential primaries to make ending poverty a central theme of his campaign. He hasn't abandoned that goal:


    It may seem like an impossible goal to end poverty, but that's what the skeptics said about all of our other great challenges. If we can put a man on the moon, conquer polio, and put libraries of information on a chip, then we can end poverty for those who want to work for a better life.


    Edward's words stand in sharp contrast to the plans of George W. Bush. He released his budget today and it includes cutbacks in health care for the poor and other anti-poverty programs so that the nation can afford Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The former North Carolina senator had some strong words about the president's leadership:


    George Bush likes to talk about an "Ownership Society." We already have one: CEO's with jets; Power companies that get their way even if the health of children and pregnant women suffer. Oil companies who write our energy policy. George Bush's so-called "Ownership Society" is a secret society that rewards the wealthiest and shuts out those who work hard every day.


    You go, John.


  • Black Baptist churches are seeking to reclaim their prophetic voice.


  • Sojourners takes the administration to task on its budget priorities.  Again, shamelessly ripping off:

    "Yesterday, President Bush released his administration's proposed 2006 federal budget. The $2.6 trillion budget projects a record $427 billion budget deficit, not including funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. It includes increases in military spending while at the same time proposes major cuts to domestic programs that benefit people living in poverty.


    Some of the proposed changes:


    *Making permanent the tax cuts of 2001 - 70% of which benefited the wealthiest 20% of U.S. citizens

    *The elimination of block grants that aid poor communities

    *Making it more difficult for working poor families with children to be on Medicaid

    *A $355 million cut to programs that promote safe and drug-free schools

    *Cuts to housing and urban development programs

    *The elimination of 48 educational programs


    Budgets are moral documents. This administration's proposed budget reflects a set of priorities that stand in clear opposition to biblical values. Paying attention to the poorest among us is arguably the most central biblical imperative - not increased spending on nuclear warheads and tax cuts for the rich.


    When considering a document as important as this one, it is imperative that our leaders consider its impact on people living in poverty. Urge your members of Congress to consider this budget's effect on the poor.


    Click here to take action today."


    The Quakers aren't so happy, either, and neither is the National Catholic Reporter.  Click for more info.


  • A interfaith group of six congregations around Schenectady has come together to endorse the principle of tolerance of gays and lesbians; meanwhile, responses to the recent ELCA report on the church and homosexuality have been coming in.  We agree with the Progressive Protestant that this is a good one, if for no other reason than that it pushes the PP to our own UCC:

    The word "safe" comes to mind. It's obvious the church is afraid - perhaps rightfully so - of the division that may occur if a bolder decision were made. Revelation 3:16 comes to mind: "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth." Contrast with John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

    Dan Mixdorf, Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church, Eldridge, Iowa


    But this one is good, too:

    I would never presume that I'm more worthy of God's love or of all the rights and responsibilities of the church merely because God made me heterosexual. The report is a good compromise but bad theology.

    Jeffrey Boldt, Member, Advent Lutheran Church, Madison, Wis.


    And while we were doing a little research on Advent Lutheran, we found this statement.  We may have to post that in its entirety.


  • Mainstream Baptist is getting ready to podcast interviews by Bruce Prescott on his local radio show in Oklahoma City(?).  Among those interviewed: Fredrick Clarkson. Fred and Bruce are both loyal Kossians.  Tune in to hear more.


  • In These Times carries a brief interview with Jeremiah Wright, aka Barack's pastor.


  • Tom Kertes reports on a Quaker peace activist becoming persona non grata at a Tennessee high school.


  • And just so you don't think we're unaware of activism on the other end of the Christian political spectrum, check these links: Michael Marcavage and the Philly 5 are trying to depict their arrests as a violation of their free speech, and apparently meeting with some success in the PA legislature.  Info here and here.  And another group is pressuring Condoleeza Rice to lean on the Saudi government, so they'll ease up on their restrictions on Christianity in the kingdom.


    Let us know how that campaign works out for ya.


    And one last one:  the SBC Baptist Press defends Social Security reform.  We'd love to dissect this one in detail, but we'll content ourselves with one major points: encouraging the government to care for the poor and elderly is not abdicating the church's responsibility to the poor.  It's a way of fulfilling that responsibility, and a mighty efficient one at that.


    Okay, two.  Jackass.


    Dangit, now we've got to put a quarter in our swear jar.  We gave up cussing for Lent, you know.

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