****S O J O M A I L****
Promoting values at the crossroads where
spirituality, politics, and culture meet
Brought to you by SojoNet
Publisher of Sojourners magazine
++++++++++++++++++++ 16-February-2001 +++++++++++++++++++++
Q u o t e o f t h e W e e k
*Stephen Goldsmith on mandatory prayer....
H e a r t s & M i n d s
*Politics and morality
F u n n y B u s i n e s s
*Turkish cliff divers
S o j o P o l l
*SojoMail readers split on D.C. faith-based office
P o l i t i c a l l y C o n n e c t
*Talking about talking about abortion
C u l t u r e W a t c h
*Drug "Traffic" at the movies
R e l i g i o n & C u l t u r e
*Where did all the Moonies, Hare Krishna, Children of God go?
B o o m e r a n g
*SojoMail readers get hot!
P. O. V.
*Jewish faith-based organizer: what FBOs can - and cannot - do
B u i l d i n g a M o v e m e n t
*Best social activist organizations in USA
C o l o m b i a J o u r n a l s
*Rose Berger: A dog's life...and death
H e a r i n g t h e C a l l
*Salvation Army pushes campaign to end poverty
W e b S c e n e
*Online library...and you don't even have to return the books!
*Yuckiest sites on the Net
Q u o t e o f t h e W e e k
"If you are homeless and you don't want to be
mixed up with a religious organization, you
should have an option. Government should never
force you through the front door of a religious
organization. If, however, you have a choice of
a faith-based organization and you, the individual,
choose to go there and you have to pray before
your lunch meal, you should be required to pray."
- Stephen Goldsmith, adviser to President
Bush on faith-based and community initiatives,
on CBS's "Face the Nation" (2-4-01)
H E A R T S & M I N D S
Politics and morality
by Jim Wallis
Politics has become a morality play.
Bill Clinton took his last day in office to work out
a deal for himself not to be prosecuted by admitting
to making "misleading," "evasive," and "false"
statements under oath, which his lawyers were quick
to point out is not the same as lying. It now seems
that he and Hillary were also busy packing up almost
$200,000 dollars worth of gifts and household goods
from the White House to bring to their new multi-
million dollar homes.
Now they're busy sending many things back or paying
for them, after it was revealed that the stuff really
didn't belong to them. I guess they're also taking
back the things they said about the problem of greed
in the early days of their administration. Bill wasn't
able to move into his new Manhattan office when the
cost of it was exposed, so now he's going to Harlem
instead, because he says he feels more comfortable
there and cares about opportunities for the
disadvantaged. Bill's new opportunities have begun
with $100,000+ speeches for major corporate events.
But those opportunities may now be in jeopardy because
of Clinton's controversial pardon of Marc Rich, a
billionaire fugitive accused of tax fraud and gun
running to Iran. Because Rich's ex-wife made contributions
of "enormous" sums of money to the Clinton Library
project and the campaigns of Democratic candidates
(including Hillary's Senate run), many on both
sides of the aisle in Congress are, to put it mildly,
doubting the merits of the case. "Tawdry" is a word
that is coming to many minds.
When a New York tabloid got hold of the story, Jesse
Jackson had to admit an adulterous affair with a co-
worker that resulted in a child. Because a higher
standard of behavior is reasonably expected of those
who promote moral causes, religious leaders, and
older mature people (Jesse is almost 60), the
Jackson revelation has caused pain in many quarters.
In my neighborhood, which like many urban poverty
areas is devastated by the number of fatherless children,
there was great disillusionment among the children.
One 15-year-old said to me, "Everything around us -- TV,
the movies, our music -- tells us this stuff is okay.
But it isn't, and somebody like him shouldn't be doing
it. It really hurts us." Jesse said he needed some
time off to rebuild things with his family and his
spiritual life, but it only turned out to be the weekend.
And George Bush went ahead with his plans for a huge
tax cut, which even The Wall Street Journal says will
be a windfall for the rich. How much money will be left
over for efforts to reduce child poverty and promising
efforts like the new White House Office of Faith-Based
and Community Initiatives is not yet clear. In a
hopeful development, the new director of that White
House office, John DiIulio, said the plan to repeal
the "estate tax," which is only paid by the top 2 percent
of the country, would be a "disaster" for charitable
DiIulio said he hated to be "the skunk at the picnic,"
but his speaking out increased many people's confidence
in his new White House office. Some of the richest
people in the country seem to agree and also came out
against the proposed estate tax appeal - Warren Buffet,
Bill Gates Sr., George Sorros, and several Rockefeller
brothers! Stay tuned. (To read more on this, see the
Monday, I head for the Middle East for a week of
conversations with Palestinians and Israelis who
still want a peace process but are feeling very
discouraged. Keep me in your prayers, and I'll
write next week from Jerusalem.
For more on the tax cut...
United for a Fair Economy
The New York Times
F u n n y B u s i n e s s
The Wide World of Sports
Riveting scenes from Turkish cliff divers
into a pool of water one foot deep.
Note: Requires QuickTime
President Bush recently unveiled his new Office of Faith-
Based and Community Initiatives. Which phrase best
approximates your attitude toward government partnerships
with faith-based nonprofits?
32% I support charities privately, but it's the
government's job to provide adequate social services.
27% Faith-based organizations are our best hope for
overcoming poverty and deserve government support.
21% As long as groups don't use government money
for proselytizing, there's no problem.
19% Church and state don't mix. Each will be unduly
influenced by the other.
Register your opinion at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm#poll
P o l i t i c a l l y C o n n e c t
Talking about talking about abortion
I found your site today and I was trying to figure
what idealogy to which you prescribe. I believe I
found what I was looking for in your Action Alert
I have a question. Why are there Action Alerts to
save the lives of the criminally accused, yet there
is nothing about ending abortion? In the view of
Sojourners do those guilty of unspeakable crimes
deserve to be saved, but the most innocent of us
deserve to be killed at the behest of the mother
or doctor? I was just wondering where Sojourners
stands on this issue.
Thanks for your question. Let me be as honest as
I can. Sojourners and SojoNet do not subscribe to
any ideology other than Christianity with a passion
for social justice. Beyond that, our readers and
staff hold diverse viewpoints on most of the
controversial issues of the day.
While the death penalty is certainly a controversial
issue in the church and society at large, I am
relatively certain that a majority of our readers
agree that it should be abolished for the reasons
you state. While I believe that most of our readers
would also agree that abortion violates the sanctity
of life, there are varying opinions as to whether
it should be legal, or how and in what manner
it should be restricted. Over the years Sojourners
magazine has published many articles recognizing
the complexity and deep disagreements over how the
abortion crisis should be addressed. Here are some
Finding Common Ground
Getting to Disagreement. Dialogue that has an impact.
Finding Another Way
Together, abortion adversaries seek real solutions.
Women and Children First
Developing a common agenda to make abortion rare.
We have, however, tended to avoid posting action
alerts on issues - such as abortion - that we know
Sojourners' readers have strong disagreements over.
I admit that some postings may be more partisan than
others, but I hope that as a resource it is more
unifying than dividing.
I hope this is is an adequate explanation. Thank
you for your interest in Sojourners.
C u l t u r e W a t c h
Drug "Traffic" at the movies
by Jamie Pietras
Steven Soderbergh's new movie "Traffic" is generating
more than just an Oscar buzz. It's causing filmgoers
to examine a topic often glossed over by the
mainstream media: the federal government's "war on
There is a drug problem in this country. That's no
secret. But beyond the efforts of the Office of National
Drug Control Policy - with its $185 million a year anti-
drug media campaign, a $1.6 billion interdiction effort
in Colombia, and a small minority of drug policy funds
allotted for drug treatment programs - should the federal
government be doing more? Or is the drug war so futile
the government shouldn't be doing anything at all?
"Traffic" examines the drug issue from the perspectives of
all involved, from law enforcement to addicts to politicians.
Michael Douglas plays Robert Wakefield, an Ohio Supreme Court
Justice tapped to be the nation's drug czar. As Wakefield
prepares to mobilize his Drug Enforcement Agency forces and
build an alliance with Mexico, he realizes that rampant
corruption at all levels of Mexican government and law
enforcement will stymie his efforts. As a low-level trafficker
explains to U.S. agents, "Law enforcement in Mexico is an
entrepreneurial activity." In the meantime, Wakefield faces
the domestic struggle of dealing with his drug-addicted
teenaged daughter, Caroline.
Those on both sides of the debate seem to agree that "Traffic"
is, at least by Hollywood standards, an accurate depiction of
today's drug war climate. It's tough to combat drug smuggling
at the borders, and treatment, not incarceration, seems to be
the best way to help addicts recover.
Read the full review at:
Confiscation is the sincerest form of flattery
Sojourners recently received the following notice from the
Florida Department of Corrections regarding the confiscation
of an inmate's copy of Sojourners magazine:
Criteria in Section (2) of Rule 33-501.401
"Admissable Reading Material," that authorizes
IMPOUNDMENT or REJECTION of the publication:
(2)(g) It is dangerously inflammatory in that
it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection,
disruption of the institution, violation of
department or institution rules;
(2)(k) It otherwise presents a threat to the
security, good order, or discipline of the
If you're into disrupting institutions and threatening
the good order, subscribe to Sojourners at:
(By the way, we offer complimentary subscriptions to
anyone incarcerated for any reason.)
R e l i g i o n & C u l t u r e
Moonies, Hare Krishna, Children of God:
The next generation deals with the past
Their parents came of age in that burst of
idealism and naivete known as the '60s,
joining utopian movements and religious sects
that promised to save the world through communal
living, Krishna consciousness, and the messianic
visions of L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon.
They sold flowers in airports, chanted on
street corners, flew off to India and worked
tirelessly to plant alternative religions in
They also married and made babies. While their
parents were out spreading a counterculture
gospel, the kids were left behind in nurseries,
boarding schools, and communal farms. Some felt
abandoned and abused. Others blossomed.
This four-part series follows the lives of
children born into four of the most infamous
"youth cults" of the late 1960s, '70s, and
The Moonies: The first generation of Rev. Sun
Myung Moon's followers tries to keep their
children in the movement.
Scientology: How L. Ron Hubbard's religious
movement plays hardball with apostates.
Hare Krishnas: One of the most visible spiritual
movements of the 1970s tries to survive the
death of its founder and subsequent child-abuse
Children of God: "Moses" Berg attracted thousands
with his prophecies about Christianity and free
sex. Now the children born from those unions are
his living legacy.
To read this excellent series, and discuss with
others online, go to:
B o o m e r a n g
Andrea Calisher of Ithaca, New York, wrote:
For those of you so fearful that Wallis and
company are going to suddenly be best pals with
the administration because of a conversation,
please...just relax. You can't persuade someone
if he feels you are against him. You can't persuade
someone without dialogue. The person needs to feel
supported in some sense to want to even listen in the
dialogue. We have to work with Bush for the next
four years - it's the only reasonable choice. Otherwise,
we can give up hopes of influencing, persuading. We
could use our energy instead to make him our enemy,
write some scathing articles, maybe organize a few
protests that don't make the news, and feel really
good that we are counterculture. I'd rather talk, act
supportive of the positive steps Bush takes, give
constructive feedback, pray, and keep fighting for
social justice in effective ways.
Sandy Perry of San Jose, California, wrote:
I am a member of Community Homeless Alliance Ministry,
a faith-based organization that has struggled valiantly
with the issues of poverty and homelessness here in
Silicon Valley for over 10 years. I have never
attended a Call to Renewal conference, and after
reading your plan of activities certainly will not be
attending this year. Poverty is not a natural disaster
like an earthquake, which we must all combat by
pulling together. Poverty is a scourge, based on
conscious political policies inflicted on one part
of the population in order to enrich another.
Why Sojourners would seek behind-closed-doors meetings
with the authors of these policies - our current
business and political leaders - is incomprehensible
to me. Jesus showed us the way to handle enemies
of the poor - he exposed and denounced their
misdeeds in the public arena of the temple court.
Have we forgotten how to do this? Or are we too busy
seeking important seats in the halls of power and
places of honor at their banquets?
Kevin H. Connaghan of Roeland Park, Kansas, wrote:
Just read Jim Wallis' piece in the New York
Times. What concerns those of us no longer in
a religious community is the vulnerability of
those on the receiving end of "faith-based"
social services. Hungry people will say,
"Hallelujah, I love Jesus" for a meal. Is
that how public money should be spent?
The risk is not worth it.
One of the things faith-based social services
is really about is Bush giving social services
over to his right-wing churches and taking them
away from the "godless" social service providers.
Just as vouchers are about taking education away
from professional teachers and giving it up to the
churches and the poorly paid, poorly trained
religious teachers of the parochial schools.
Funny, there doesn't seem to be any problem with
the schools in middle-class neighborhoods....
You may win some with W. in the White House,
but you'll never win back those of us with critical
thinking intact. Been brainwashed. Saw it for
what it is. You may keep it. Give me that old time
humanism. At least it's honest.
Denis Noonan of Holden, Maine, wrote:
I have a hunch that GW Bush is on to something
with the focus on faith-based communities addressing
the issues of poverty and basic human need in this
country. The church was the first institution to
address these needs before we instituted the faith-
free approach of having government do the service
in a humane way without the theology of care. Maybe
it is time to let the churches be accountable for
the ministry to the poor, orphans, and widows. I
am afraid that the plan that government comes up with
will be so heavy in regulations that churches will
not venture into the arena "where angels fear to
Is it possible to approach this from a tax credit
position? If each taxpayer could allocate up to
$50,000 of tax money to the faith-based program of
their choice, then the lower-bracket taxpayer could
have greater control over the direction of the
services provided, and the upper-end tax payer could
reduce the government's burden of size, expense,
and invasion into the private finances of the rich.
Let the taxpayer vote on the programs to be funded
and let government get out of the business of mandated
or entitled programs. I would gladly give my $3,500 tax
payment to the local churches that provide housing,
meals, pregnancy support services, counseling services,
legal assistance, drug rehab support, elder care, and
many other ministries. If all 200 members of
a congregation could match their tithe with their tax
payment, the church could go a long way toward meeting
Brian Vosburg of Minneapolis, Minnesota, wrote:
For many TANF (more commonly known as welfare)
recipients, this summer will mark the exhaustion of
their 60-month lifetime limit to receive TANF
funds and services. While this will affect people
living mostly in states where the TANF program
started in 1996, all states will be affected in
which there was migration of TANF recipients from
states that started their TANF program in 1996.
In Minnesota, where I work in the TANF program,
it is estimated that at least 100 TANF recipients
in Hennepin County (Minneapolis) will reach the
60-month time limit this summer. Starting next year
in Minnesota, everyone who has been on TANF since
Minnesota's program started in 1997 will begin
exhausting their 60-month lifetime limit. This
will result in tens of thousands of people exiting
TANF with out a job or any support services. I have
not heard anything about churches addressing this
immediate problem. In these situations it appears
that the church will be the only hope available
since the traditional government support services
that many have relied on for three generations will
no longer be available to the TANF recipients.
What, if anything, is being done by the church to
address this problem nationwide and prepare for
this major change?
I think Sojourners would be a great platform in
which to discuss this issue.
Marion I. Lipshutz of Brooklyn, New York, wrote:
Here's a great way to help end poverty:
Take all of the money that George W. plans to
spend on establishing and staffing an Office of
Faith-Based Initiatives and give it to the many
needy, understaffed, overcrowded, eager-to-serve
secular public schools in my neighborhood - where
the mandate is to serve all children, not just
those of a particular religious faith.
Art Rosenblum of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, wrote:
I want to warn you that Bush's "faith-based" help
is a very dangerous trap. When Hitler came to power
and started to do his worst, aides asked how he'd
keep the German churches from protesting and
he said: "I have the churches in my back pocket."
He then proceeded to arrange for the Nazi government
to pay the salaries of all pastors. Guess how many
of them dared to speak out against government
So once your churches are depending on government
money for their favorite "Christian" programs, and
Bush starts a war of oppression here or abroad,
how many of you are going to speak out clearly
Were he sincere, the answer would be simple. Just
let folks take not 20 percent of their donation to
a church off their taxes, but say 50 or 80 percent,
and let the people themselves decide what "faith-based"
programs to support!
Sister Elizabeth Avalos, BVM of San Jose, California, wrote:
I work for the Roman Catholic Diocese of San
Jose and am interested in your viewpoint of
the new initiative by George W. Bush regarding
funding of faith-based organizations. I have yet
to get a clear understanding of what that means.
Are the same funds already available to all service
agencies now going to be opened up to faith-based
organizations? Does that mean that faith-based
groups will be competing for the same moneys that
service organizations are scrambling for? If you
can get some information on this I would appreciate
Ed. note: For starters, check out our latest
Sojourners magazine article on the subject:
"Best Kept Secret," by Holly J. Lebowitz
Adjoining the article you will find a wealth of
online resources that will help you become
more informed on the issues.
Leroy Huizenga of Princeton, New Jersey, wrote:
In reading articles and letters in SojoMail, I'm
struck by how often the "Far Right" is lambasted for
something or other, while it is often assumed by
writers of articles and letters that the Left is
without fleck or blemish, spot or stain. We
rightly disdain capital punishment; we rightly
exercise concern for the environment; we rightly
believe the poor are in need of help. But let's not
forget it is the Left that is often openly hostile
to religion, that it is the Left that has contributed
in part to the degradation of common decency in
society, and that, saddest of all, it is the Left -
the supposed conscience of society and defender of
human dignity - that has marched mercilessly advocating
the free right to destroy the most helpless and
innocent of all, those yet unborn. The Right
certainly has its faults; but very few people
in the Right advocate the wanton and sinister
termination of human life for the sake of economic
and personal convenience and population control.
This is a great evil.
Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. Want to make your voice heard? Send
Boomerang e-mails to the editor:
P. O. V.
What faith-based organizations can - and cannot - do
by Michael J. Brown, director
The Jewish Organizing Initiative
Our new president wants "faith-based organizations"
to help solve social problems. I direct a "faith-
based organization," The Jewish Organizing
Initiative in Boston. It is dedicated to solving
social problems by training people in our faith
to build community organizations and develop
leaders to push for social justice. I think the
president's ideas obscure the role of government
and they misconstrue the role that community
organizations can play.
The president seems to be focused only on changing
individual behavior - especially around drugs and
family responsibility. He seems to think that
faith-based programs are more effective than secular
programs in doing this. This may well be so - at least
for some purposes. But it misses the point of
what government can - and should - do.
The faith-based initiative is based on an assumption
that the problems we face as a society reside
within individuals, and maybe if they would "get
with God" they could right themselves. In other words,
the president seems to feel that people's problems are
of their own making, and he wants to have government
dollars help local programs that help people in
trouble. The intention is good.
But this approach distracts us from the fact that
government action (or inaction) is the fundamental
cause of many of the problems that individuals
are facing. The poverty that the president would
have faith-based programs alleviate is often caused by
government policy and action (or lack of action)
on minimum wage, prison reforms, unionization and
workers rights, universal health care, child care,
paid family leave, and so forth. Faith-based
programs may or may not be more effective in dealing
with the individual problems people face. But this
ignores the bigger picture.
Faith-based soup kitchens will not solve the
problems of hunger. Faith-based groups serving
homeless people will not solve our housing crisis.
Government has the power to provide "bread" where
there is none - or to teach people to bake. It isn't
enough to say that people "do not live by bread
Faith-based groups can clean up toxic waste dumps,
but they cannot solve the underlying problems we face
in our environment. If government were to adopt a
truly faith-based attitude toward our planet - seeing
the environment as belonging to God, not the human
"owners" of the property - then we might make
real progress in eliminating the causes of pollution.
But this is evidently not what the president is
B u i l d i n g a M o v e m e n t
Social activist organizations you can trust
From the fiesty folks at "Eat the State" Web-zine,
here's a list of 10 groups that deserve your support.
They encourage you to pass up the outfits with big
staffs and excessive overhead in favor of these lean
and hardy battlers for the public good.
*Buffalo Field Campaign
*Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
*Glen Canyon Action Network
*Homes Not Jails
*Kensington Welfare Rights Union
*Save Our Forests and Ranchlands
*Mintwood Media Collective
*Voices In The Wilderness
*Western Land Exchange Project
For details and contact information, go to:
T h e C o l o m b i a J o u r n a l s
Sojourners assistant editor Rose Marie Berger
recently returned from a 10-day fact-finding
mission to Colombia with Witness for Peace
(a faith-based movement that has been in
Latin America since 1983). This is the third
installment of her diary highlights in SojoMail.
Look for more on Colombia in upcoming issues
Warning: This entry contains graphic violence.
DAY THREE: THE DEATH OF A DOG
We headed out early this morning on our bus for
a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner
on Refugees to learn about Colombia's 2 million
people "internally displaced" due to violence. It
is a brilliant and beautiful Andean morning. As
we sped off down the street, the bus was suddenly
surrounded by a pack of dogs and two displaced or
homeless men. Out of my window I saw that we had
run over one of their dogs, a brown shorthaired
mixed breed of about 60 pounds. The dog was asleep
in the morning sun in the middle of the road. The
left front tire ran over its neck. Its head
exploded in blood and bone. The upper jaw separated
from the rest of the head. Its body was twitching.
The two men had clearly made a family of their
pack of dogs. The other dogs were dashing back
and forth nudging and whimpering at the one
that was dying. The two men were crying and
pleading with the bus driver. They wouldn't let
the bus leave. Finally we gave them 10,000 pesos,
about $4, as some kind of recompense for their
dog's death. As we drove away the two men and
the other dogs were standing over the body of
the dead one, weeping.
I have struggled this whole trip with why I am
here. Why Colombia? Why now? The death of the
dog only aggravates these questions. I came to
try to ease pain, but only cause more in the most
innocent of ways. God's answer to my question has
been "There is something there I want you to see."
I will pray now especially for the dog we
accidentally killed. Asking for forgiveness, asking
for safe sanctuary and passage for the soul of the
dog, for the grief in the relationships with the
other dogs and the two homeless men. I'll ask for
forgiveness for contributing to the deep grief and
violence already present here in Bogota. In my
mind I stroke the still warm ears of the dog whose
face had been smashed and was a bloody pulp with
his teeth all separated from his crushed upper jaw.
Can you put your hand in this wound, he asks? Can
you actually touch the scars you make? 
For more information on this topic, see Amnesty
International's report "Colombia's Internally
Displaced: Dispossessed and Exiled in Their
Support Witness for Peace's Colombia project at
Next week: "I am 100 percent feminist and
100 percent Christian" - a meeting with
H e a r i n g t h e C a l l
Salvation Army pushes Covenant
The Salvation Army took an innovative step this
fall to help Call to Renewal's Campaign to Overcome
Poverty. The Western Territory's publication
"New Frontier" featured a front-page story
challenging their members to sign the Covenant to
Overcome Poverty, saying the mission was compatible
with their vision to aid those in need. Lt. Colonel
Ray Peacock, territorial program secretary and
coordinator of the Salvation Army's effort in the
West, said, "The church in general and the Army
specifically have distinct responsibilities to
spearhead this call for action." The planks of the
Campaign and the Covenant were laid out in a
two-page spread inside the magazine, giving people
the opportunity to sign the Covenant and send it in.
To date, this Salvation Army effort has produced
nearly 200 new signers of the Covenant to Overcome
To learn more about the Covenant or obtain a copy
for your organization's publication, go to:
To learn more about the Salvation Army and their
efforts to overcome poverty, go to:
W e b S c e n e
Online library...and you don't have to return the book!
Project Gutenberg takes books that are in
the public domain and makes them available - free
of charge - to anyone with a computer. Hundreds
of titles are at the Project Gutenberg site, from
classical literature by Shakespear, Poe, and Dante
to popular fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,
Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Lewis Carroll. If you're
interested, you can also volunteer to help continue
The yuckiest site on the Net
Let's face it: kids love gross stuff. This site,
presented by the Discovery Channel, explains all
kinds of yucky things, from roaches and worms to
bodily fluids, scabs, pus, eye gunk, and gas.
Youngsters - and big kids - will be screaming
"ewww"...and loving it.
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