Friday, April 15, 2005

Announcing the Affirmation Project

With the latest twist in Bill Frist's campaign to overturn hundreds of years of Senate tradition, I have to agree with the conclusion of Armando's front-page post on Daily Kos:

It is time that moderate Democrats of good faith understand that war has been declared and shots are being fired. It is time they recognized the threat to our national institutions and that the time for half measures has passed. It is time for Democrats to stand up.

Of particular concern to me are these passages from the New York Times article that broke the story:

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."


The telecast also signals an escalation of the campaign for the rule change by Christian conservatives who see the current court battle as the climax of a 30-year culture war, a chance to reverse decades of legal decisions about abortion, religion in public life, gay rights and marriage.

"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."

Democrats accused Dr. Frist of exploiting religious faith for political ends by joining the telecast. "No party has a monopoly on faith, and for Senator Frist to participate in this kind of telecast just throws more oil on the partisan flames," said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.

But Mr. Perkins stood by the characterization of Democrats as hostile to faith. "What they have done is, they have targeted people for reasons of their faith or moral position," he said, referring to Democratic criticisms of nominees over their views of cases about abortion rights or public religious expressions.

"The issue of the judiciary is really something that has been veiled by this 'judicial mystique' so our folks don't really understand it, but they are beginning to connect the dots," Mr. Perkins said in an interview, reciting a string of court decisions about prayer or displays of religion.

"They were all brought about by the courts," he said.

I don't know about you, but I've had enough. It's time Dr. Frist, Tom DeLay, James Dobson, the Family Research Council, and anyone else who would make adherence to political goals a literal article of faith heard from another side of the country. To that end, and for the time being, I am suspending the regular business of this blog and giving it over to a single project.

It is time for us to state, simply and directly, that we can affirm faith while disagreeing with the Republican legislative agenda. By "we," I mean anyone who can get under that statement. You don't have to be religious yourself. You don't even have to be a Democrat. You just have to be willing to say that you are willing to affirm faith, but you don't believe that it should be used as a weapon in a partisan campaign to increase the political power of a single party in the American commonwealth.

What if you really do hate faith? Well then, frankly, you can fuck off. I know there are some who will say those words are far too strong. I don't agree. I'm happy to speak up for the rights of non-believers, but I have no time for hatred, from the left or the right, from the religious or the a-religious, and I'll catch you another time.

In any case, perhaps by the time this video comes out on the 25th, we'll have quite a few testimonials to let Frist and DeLay and their friends know that the radical right wing isn't the only branch of faith in this country. (I'll also work on a link to contact your Senators to let them know where you stand.)

It's a work in progress. Here's some general guidelines, and my own statement.

  • Give as much of the following information as you feel comfortable sharing: your name, your hometown, and whatever religious affiliation you may have. Include a picture of yourself if you're brave enough.

  • State, in the simplest possible terms, that you affirm faith, but you disagree with the Republican agenda to impose the nuclear option and appoint radical right judges. Tell them why.

  • Conclude with a positive statement of your vision of what this nation could become, minus the fear, selfishness, arrogance, and general recklessness we have experienced in the past four years.

  • In your statements above, try to avoid profanity if at all possible. This is for public consumption.

Isn't that easy?

You can do it.

Here's mine:

I am the Rev. Daniel Schultz. I have been an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ since 1999, and a registered Democrat since 1988. I live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I am a person of faith and a progressive.

I am no less a Christian for being a progressive.

I am no less a Christian for opposing Sen. Bill Frist's attempt to overthrow hundreds of years of Senate tradition for partisan gain.

I am no less a Christian for opposing a handful of radical right-wing judicial nominees whom I believe will be harmful to American jurisprudence.

The attempt to identify Christian faith and practice with the agenda of the Republican party is disgusting politics and even worse faith.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have fed the hungry.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have given water to the thirsty.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have welcomed the stranger.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have clothed the naked.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have cared for the sick.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have visited the prisoner.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have sought to end racial prejudice.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have sought to end political oppression of those with unpopular views, or whose sexuality challenges perceived norms of one segment of the population.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have sought equity for the poor.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have sought peace at home and in the world.

My Christian heritage rests in those Americans who have hungered and thirsted for justice, that it might roll down like mighty waters.

And my political freedom rests in not being silenced.

I will not be silenced by those who cannot accept my political affiliations.

I will not be silenced by those who cannot accept the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ as I have heard it.

I will not be silenced by those who would pervert my faith for political ends.

I will not be silenced.

I will look, instead, to an America where justice, compassion, diversity, and the peace of God are allowed to live and flourish, and where we as a community can reach for our highest potential together, rather than our lowest common denominator, separated by ideology and mean-spiritedness.

I extend my hand in friendship and brotherhood to all those who will accept it, and call upon them to walk away from the so-called "culture war" by seeking that which unites us, rather than that which will divide us.

I do this in the name of Jesus Christ, who dreamed of us all "being as one," and of whom I am proud to declare myself a servant.

In his name, Amen.

You don't have to use the same Christian rhetoric I've used here. That's just where I'm from, and I want the Christianists to know I'm proud of it. Tell them where you're from, wherever that is. Say it loud and say it proud.

Think you can do it?

You can do it.

Post your statement in the comments below, or e- it to me at: faithforward at verizon dot net.

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