The Common Good

Re-launch of faith-based initiative

Sojomail - February 13, 2002

               

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+++++++++++++++++++++++ 13-February-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++ Re-launch of faith-based initiative +++++++++++++++++++

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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *How to handle college liberals...

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *Re-launch of faith-based initiative

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Enron explained

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Households of mixed faith

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Eknath Easwaran: God of the small things

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Focus on Black History Month: A. Philip Randolph

 P. O. V.
     *Bill Moyers: Patriotism is no excuse for plunder

 B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
     *Call To Renewal's national mobilization

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *The long and hidden history of U.S in Somalia

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply

 W e b   S i t i n g
     *Resources for Lent

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret
once again that John Walker is not getting the death
penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in
order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them
realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will
turn out to be outright traitors."
           
     -- Ann Coulter, nationally syndicated columnist,
        in her address at the 2002 Christian Political
        Action Conference (CPAC)
           
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H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Faith-based initiative: re-launch

by Jim Wallis

The political debate last year over the "faith-based
initiative" became one of the most partisan debacles
I've ever seen.  Rather than focusing on where we agreed -
the important role faith-based organizations can play in
working with government to find real solutions for poor
children and families - the debate centered on disagreements.
We forgot that the goal is to dramatically reduce poverty,
especially the shameful child poverty rate in America.
That should be a non-partisan cause, with a bipartisan
commitment, which engages the best of the religious
community, the government, and all of us.

Now there are two recent hopeful signs that we may be
back on track. President Bush appointed a new director
for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community
Initiatives, Jim Towey. Jim is a devout Catholic, a
Democrat, and a former legislative aide to Sen. Mark
Hatfield. He calls a 1985 meeting with Mother Teresa the
"defining moment of his life," and from then on has worked
in ministry with those in poverty. I had breakfast with
Jim this week and was impressed with his candor, his
commitment, and his integrity.

And, just last week Senators Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and
Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the Charity Aid, Recovery,
and Empowerment (CARE) Act. They were joined by a bipartisan
group of co-sponsors - ranging from Democrats Hillary
Clinton (NY) and Bill Nelson (FL) to Republicans Sam
Brownback (KS) and Thad Cochran (MS).

I have always believed that any commitment to overcoming
poverty, including a faith-based initiative, must be
accompanied by the necessary resources. The CARE Act restores
funding for the Social Services Block Grant to nearly
$2 billion next year and $2.8 billion in FY 2004. This
authorized funding level is only for two years, however, and
we will work to see that it is continued beyond that.

An important proposal that did not pass last year was the
creation of a "Compassion Capital Fund," designed to
provide technical assistance and information to faith-
based and community organizations working at the grassroots 
level. The CARE Act provides $150 million in funding for 
this Fund, which will help many smaller community organizations 
to continue and expand their services.

Another concern the new bill addresses is my belief that
religious organizations seeking government funding should
establish a separate tax-exempt, non-profit organization.
While the CARE Act does not require that, it encourages
it through providing funding for technical and legal
assistance to organizations and through simplifying and
expediting the process for acquiring 501(c)(3) status.
This will make it easier and simpler for small organizations
to acquire tax-exempt status.

While not dealing with the controversies over "charitable
choice," the Act recognizes that small faith-based
organizations have often not been permitted to compete for
government grants due to religious names, using facilities
that contain religious art or symbols, or having religious
qualifications for membership on their governing boards.
It "levels the playing field" by providing that none of these
shall disqualify an organization from competing for grants
or contracts. 

Finally, the Act contains the important provision of allowing
non-itemizers to deduct charitable donations of up to $400
for individuals and $800 for couples, but only for the next
two years. This provision must also be made permanent - it
would be a moral contradiction if the tax cuts for the
wealthiest individuals in our country become permanent, but
this significant benefit for those millions of people
voluntarily helping their neighbors does not.

Also important to low-income families is the expansion of
Individual Development Accounts that assist in saving by
allowing a tax credit for banks and community organizations
that offer these accounts. IDAs allow families to save money
that can be used to buy a home, start a small business, or pay
for education, and are important to help in the move toward
self-sufficiency.

In short, this bill is a step in the right direction and will
enjoy the support of most faith-based organizations across the
political spectrum. It does have substance, but it is still only
symbolic of a commitment to substantially reduce poverty. The
real battles this spring and summer will be around TANF
reauthorization, child care, and food stamps, which will have
far more impact on poor families in America.

For a complete summary of the bill, see:
http://www.senate.gov/~lieberman/press/02/02/2002207716.html

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*************************************************************

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Enron explained

To everyone who's confused as to what really happened
at Enron, a simple explanation:

Feudalism - You have two cows. Your lord takes some of
the milk.

Fascism - You have two cows. The government takes both,
hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

Totalitarianism - You have two cows. The government
takes them both and denies they ever existed and drafts
you into the army. Milk is banned.

Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell one and buy a
bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
You sell them and retire on the income.

Enron Venture Capitalism - You have two cows. You sell
three of them to your publicly listed company, using
letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the
bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated
general offer so that you get all four cows back, with
a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the
six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a
Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority
shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back
to your listed company. The annual report says the
company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.

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B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Households of mixed faith

More than one out of five adults in the United States
says their spouse or co-habitating partner has a
different religion than their own. A selection of groups
ranked by percent of people who are in a mixed-religion
household:

Episcopalian/Anglican       42%
Buddhist                    39%
Non-denom. Christian        32%
Jehovah's Witnesses         30%
No religion                 28%
Lutheran                    28%
Presbyterian                27%
Jewish                      27%
Methodist                   24%
Roman Catholic              23%
Mormon                      12%

*Source: Graduate Center of the City University of New York

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******************************************************************
-------------------------------------------------------------

S o u l   W o r k s
++++++++++++++++++++
God of the small things

by Eknath Easwaran

"To be a Sufi is to cease from taking trouble; and
there is no greater trouble for thee than thine own self,
for when thou art occupied with thyself, thou remainest
away from God." - Abu Sa'id

Do you want to be free? Most of us are held hostage in
life by our likes and dislikes. We are bound hand and
foot by countless little preferences in food, clothing,
decor, entertainment - the list goes on and on.

For example, the person with rigid tastes in food is
likely to have rigid tastes elsewhere as well. He will
probably enjoy only one kind of music, she will appreciate
only one style of art, and when it comes to people, he
has very definite allergies. In any case, she is
conditioned to be happy only so long as she gets
everything the way she likes it. Otherwise - which may
be 99% of the time - he is unhappy over something.

The way we respond to small matters reflects the way
we will respond to the larger matters of life. So, if
we can begin to release ourselves from our little likes
and dislikes, we will find that we are gaining the
capacity to weather emotional storms. Then we can
try to face whatever comes calmly.

From Eknath Easwaran, "Words to Live By" (Nilgiri
Press, 1997); http://www.nilgiri.org

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C u l t u r e   W a t c h
+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Focus on Black History Month

Before Malcolm and Martin: A. Philip Randolph

The founder of the Pullman Porters union once said
"Salvation for a race, nation or class must come from
within. Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is
never given; it is exacted."

Learn more about this labor activist and civil rights pioneer:
 
http://www.pbs.org/weta/apr/aprbio.html


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*************************************************************


P. O. V.
++++++++++++++
Patriotism is no excuse for plunder

by Bill Moyers
     
There's a fight going on against terrorists around
the globe, but just as certainly there's a fight
going on here at home, to decide the kind of country
this will be during and after the war on terrorism.
What should our strategy be? How do we renew our
economy and safeguard our nation? If you want to
fight for the environment, don't hug a tree; hug an
economist. Hug the economist who tells you that the
most efficient investment of a dollar is not in
fossil fuels but in renewable energy sources that
not only provide new jobs but cost less over time.
Hug the economist who tells you that the price
system matters; it's potentially the most potent
tool of all for creating social change. Look what
California did this summer in responding to its
recent energy crisis with a price structure that
rewards those who conserve and punishes those who
don't. Californians cut their electric consumption
by up to 15 percent.
     
Do we want to send the terrorists a message? Go for
conservation. Go for clean, home-grown energy. And
go for public health. If we reduce emissions from
fossil fuel, we will cut the rate of asthma among
children. Healthier children and a healthier economy -
how about that as a response to terrorism?

-- from Bill Moyers' keynote address to the Environmental
Grantmakers Association, on October 16, 2001. To read
the full text of his speech, go to:
     
http://www.hopedance.org/framecurrent.htm

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*************************************************************

B u i l d i n g   A   M o v e m e n t
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Call to Renewal's national mobilization
Pentecost 2002
"Speaking the Truth About Poverty"

May 20-22 in Washington, D.C.

This year in Congress is critical for the reauthorization
of programs that affect poor working families - TANF
(welfare reform), food stamps, child care block grants.
These decisions will impact people struggling to escape
poverty more than any in years.

Call to Renewal invites churches and faith-based
organizations from every community to commission a
delegation to come to Washington, D.C., from Monday
evening, May 20, to Wednesday, May 22. We will hold a
national Pentecost service of worship and commitment,
followed by two days of presence and witness on Capitol
Hill. National and grassroots faith-based organizations
will tell the nation and the country's political leaders
about the realities of poverty in their communities and
how we must all work together to help people overcome it.

Call to Renewal invites you to join in this mobilization.
Complete details will be available soon.
For more information, call 202-328-8745 or visit:

http://www.calltorenewal.com

------------------------------------------------------------------

P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
The long and hidden history of the U.S in Somalia

by Stephen Zunes

U.S. forces, leading the United Nations mission, went on
increasingly aggressive forays, including a major battle
in Mogadishu that resulted in the deaths of 18 Marines
and hundreds of Somali civilians, dramatized in the highly
fictionalized thriller, "Black Hawk Down."...

Somalis saw American forces as representatives of the
government that served as the major Western supporter of
the hated former dictatorship. Such an overbearing foreign
military presence in a country that had been free from
colonial rule for only a little more than three decades
led to growing resentment, particularly since these elite
combat forces were not trained for such humanitarian missions.
Author and journalist David Halberstam quotes the U.S.
secretary of defense telling an associate, "We're sending
the Rangers to Somalia. We are not going to be able to
control them. They are like over-trained pit bulls. No
one controls them."

Read the whole story at:

http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=12253

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B o o m e r a n g
+++++++++++++++++

Sister Mary Milne writes from Jerusalem, Israel:
 
Rose Berger, I thank you from the heart for your courage
in writing the article "Beyond Warmongers and Peaceniks."
I live in the Old City of Jerusalem among an impoverished
community of Palestinian Christians and find your message
touches on the political situation, though here it is a
bit more complicated. Receiving SojoMail almost always
lifts my spirits, so I thank you for all that you at
Sojourners are doing....
 
---------------

Tim Gray writes from San Jose, California:

I loved Rose Berger's column in SojoMail. As a fellow
Catholic, and a member of Pax Christi, I sometimes feel
very lonely trying to speak of peace above the din of
war...people putting the flag before the cross. Our
pulpit has been too silent as well.

----------------

Stefan Zielonka writes from Sydney, Australia:

I agree with Rose Berger's pro-pacifist stance. We here
in Australia subscribe very clearly to pro-American values
of "get the terrorists." Those people who do not support
the current views against terrorism are branded similarly
to those mentioned in the article by Michael Kelly of "The
Washington Post." You are no doubt aware of my country's
stance on the so-called illegals from Middle East
countries, and their "detention" in camps where conditions
and the loss of individual rights are more akin to
concentration camps than to a just, tolerant, and
compassionate society - which Australia purports to be.
I have decided to have a subscription to Sojourners,
as well as receiving it via the Net. In that way I can
also share the valuable information and opinions in it
with others directly.

----------------

Peggy Wolfe Dunn writes from Berwick, Maine:

Thanks for Rose Berger's article. Where can I find more
written about Just Peace? I really appreciate all that
you said about it.

***Rose Berger responds:

Thanks Peggy. I appreciate your feedback. The main book on
JustPeace is edited by Glen Stassen - Just Peacemaking: Ten
Practices for Abolishing War (The Pilgrim Press: 1998). You
can also check the Sojourners Web site www.sojo.net to search
for articles by Stassen where we have asked him to apply
Just Peace principles to situations of conflict. The German
Catholic bishops also wrote a document in 1999 called
"JustPeace," but I've never seen it translated into English.

------------------

Maria Rieke writes from Point Lookout, Missouri:

Re: Jim Wallis' column, "Hard Questions for Peacemakers"

I'd like to respond. I recently was faced with the decision of
whether to pursue conscientious objection to my participation
in the Army Reserves. In trying to be true to my beliefs about
nonviolence and dealing with "root problems" of volatile
situations, rather than compounding them through violent
response, I decided conscientious objection was the thing for
me. In order to be true to reality, though, my conscience
would not allow me to make an absolute stance.

The last line of Wallis' article really rang true for me:
"Christian peacemaking is more a path than a position." I began
to wonder if in a fallen world we don't have the luxury of
consistently living our ideals. It's not about taking an
unshakable stance that will hopefully give us the inner peace
of living a life consistent with our beliefs, but being willing
to be part of the process that shapes us into the image of Christ
(our authentic selves). I thank Sojourners and Mr. Wallis for
being a part of my process of deciding how to live nonviolently
in a reality that is hard to face.

------------------

Eliecer Rafael Guillen Gonzalez writes from Venezuela:

I hope you can understand me, because my mother tongue is
Spanish. I write to congratulate you for SojoMail. It's
excellent material, though I wish someday for it to exist
in a Spanish edition, for the millions of evangelicals
in Latin America and in Spain. Here in my country
evangelicals publish only materials from traditional
fundamentalists with clear rightist leanings, like James
Dobson. My prayer is for more communion between Christians
in Latin America and more open Christians in the USA.

One criticism: you are very naive about Catholics. Please
tell about persecution of evangelicals [Protestants] in
Mexico, the Isla de Taos (Venezuela), Colombia, declarations
from the Pope against evangelicals in the Dominican Republic,
etc. I am no anti-catholic - I have many friends in the
Catholic church in Venezuela - but I only want balance in the
information we read about religions.

-----------------

Mike Brislen writes from Djibouti, East Africa:

I'd like to say a big AMEN to Matthew Quaife-Ryan's
boomerang letter in the 2-6-02 edition of SojoMail. I'd
encourage you to send this to other American Christian
magazines. American Christians need to hear this.

-----------------

Ben Kenagy writes from Albany, Oregon:

May I point out that in the Bible used by Arab Christians
the word used for 'God' is "Allah." This doesn't mean that
Muslims have the same understanding of God as Christians
do. But then do Jews have the same understanding of God
as Christians? Or do all Christians agree about what God
is like?

-------------------------

Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of
views. The views expressed are not necessarily
those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice
heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:

"boomerang@sojo.net"

--------------------------------------------------

W e b   S i t i n g
+++++++++++++++++++
Resources for Lent

Christian Peacemaker Teams are active in Colombia and
occupied Palestine working for nonviolent resolutions
to conflict. Out of these places of suffering and hope
they offer Lenten liturgies for use in churches, homes,
and small groups.

http://www.prairienet.org/cpt/ltg_lenttop.php

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