The Common Good

Welfare proposal falls short

Sojomail - February 27, 2002



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+++++++++++++++++++++++ 27-February-2002 ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+++++++++++++++++ Welfare proposal falls short ++++++++++++++++++++++++

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 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Philip Yancey: Patent absurdities

 H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
     *It's time to come to Washington

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Guinea pigs on stage

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Richard Rohr: Grieving in sacred spaces

 B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
     *Terrorism in perspective

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *Growing number of Israeli soldiers refuse to fight

 C u l t u r e   W a t c h
     *Iris: film study guide

 R e l i g i o n  &  P o l i t i c s
     *95 theses for the church after 9/11

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *One of America's most powerful - yet unknown - groups

 S o j o C i r c l e s
     *What's happening in your SojoCircle?

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


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

Could someone explain to me why the U.S. threatened to
break the patent on Cipro after three anthrax deaths,
yet vigorously resists tampering with intellectual
property rights when someone suggests breaking the
patent on AIDS drugs for the sake of 25 million
infected Africans?

          - Philip Yancey in "Christianity Today"

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H e a r t s   &   M i n d s
Time to come to Washington

by Jim Wallis

Using the setting of a local Catholic church, President 
Bush on Tuesday announced his proposal for welfare 
reauthorization. His speech was filled with good words - 
the president noted that "We ended welfare as we've known 
it, yet it is not a post-poverty America. Child poverty 
is still too high." And he spoke movingly about the 
barriers faced by single mothers: "Across America, no 
doubt about it, single mothers do heroic work. They 
have the toughest job in our country. Raising children 
by themselves is an incredibly hard job."

I certainly agree with those statements, but 
unfortunately, the president's proposal doesn't match 
his rhetoric. I'm disappointed that the president's 
plan doesn't maintain funding for TANF (Temporary 
Assistance for Needy Families) and child care.  
Funding must keep pace with inflation and this 
proposal does not. And Bush's proposal to increase 
demands on states to meet higher work requirements 
in the midst of a recession with rising unemployment 
is not the way to move families out of poverty. Even 
Republican governors responded by calling the 
requirements "tough" and suggesting more difficulty 
in moving families out of poverty.

The single largest problem facing those single mothers 
"raising children by themselves" while holding a job 
is the cost of child care. A variety of additional 
services need funding - from improved facilities to 
better training for child care workers. And as the 
Children's Defense Fund points out, only one in seven 
children who are eligible for federal child care 
assistance receive it.

While work programs and the strong economy have helped 
increase employment, incomes of women leaving welfare 
have remained only slightly higher than they were on 
welfare. As well, many women no longer on welfare 
have major difficulties maintaining employment because 
of poor job skills, poor physical and mental health, 
and other problems. These issues must be addressed. 
The president's plan also continues the ban on public 
benefits for immigrants who entered the United States 
after 1996 and have not become citizens.  Many legal 
immigrants work hard, pay taxes and should be 
entitled to benefits when in need.
What the administration needs to support is making 
work actually work through effective education and 
training, child care assistance, transportation, and 
other programs so that women who are working are able 
to support their families. Individuals' efforts to 
improve their employment skills through education 
and training should count toward any work requirement.
The success of welfare reform must be evaluated not 
by reducing welfare rolls, but by reducing poverty.  
People who work full-time should not be poor.  
That's the message that must be carried to both the 
administration and Congress.  Yesterday's White 
House announcement indicates they're not yet getting 

So, I invite you to join us in Washington on Monday, 
May 20, to Wednesday, May 22, for Call to Renewal's 
Pentecost 2002 national mobilization - "Speaking the 
Truth About Poverty."

As Congress debates these critical issues, churches 
and faith-based organizations from every community 
will commission delegations to come to Washington.  
We'll begin on Monday evening with a national 
Pentecost service of worship and commitment, 
followed by two days of presence and witness on 
Capitol Hill.  We'll have briefings on the 
legislative situation followed by visits with key 
members of Congress and their top staff members. We're 
planning hearings where people in poverty will tell 
of their experiences, struggles, and hopes.  

Our goal is to bring the message about the reality 
of poverty in our communities and how we must all 
work together to help people overcome it. We must 
change the debate to focus on reducing poverty 
rather than just reducing welfare rolls.

Please join us for this mobilization. For more 
information, call 202-328-8745 or see:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
Guinea pigs on stage

Classic works like "A Christmas Carol," "Romeo and
Juliet," and "Pygmalion" are theater staples, but you
haven't truly experienced them until you've seen them
performed by animated guinea pigs. Go to:


S o u l   W o r k s
Grieving as sacred space

by Richard Rohr

All the exorcism stories of the gospels tell us that
"the only cure for possession is possession." If one
is captured by a positive Spirit, one can recognize,
reveal, and let go of smaller and negative spirits
without much fear or humiliation. You have something
better to hold you and to hold onto. Inside of sacred
space, you can reveal the shadow and not fall apart.

To read the entire article as it appeared in the
January/February issue of Sojourners, go to:



We blew it. The new (March-April) issue of Sojourners has an
incorrect 800 number on the back cover, so if you tried to call and
ended up ordering lumber...well, we're sorry about that. Our correct
number for subscriptions is:


Try it out. It works. One call -- and $19.95 -- will get you a year's
worth of Sojourners magazine. Such a deal! (You save 10 smackers.)
Or you can subscribe online at


B y   t h e   N u m b e r s
Terrorism in perspective

Over the last six years, approximately 25,000 people
have died from acts of terrorism, worldwide.

Over that same period, 52 million people have died
from preventable hunger; about 24,000 people per day.



Patterns of Global Terrorism, Bureau of Public Affairs,
U.S. Department of State, 2000:

Significant Terrorist Incidents 1961-2001, Bureau of
Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, 2002:

Hunger Fact Sheet, OXFAM International, 2001:

*********************** ADVERTISEMENT ***********************************

"A Moral Response to Terrorism: Conscience in a Time of War" is a
new study packet by the editors of Sojourners magazine. This
5-session, 48-page study guide - designed for use in
classrooms, Sunday school sessions, small groups, and study
circles - is now available. For a table of contents or to
order your copy, go to:


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
Growing number of Israeli soldiers refuse to fight

On January 25, 2002, 53 reserve combat soldiers and
officers in the Israel Defense Forces published a
statement in Ha'aretz announcing that they will
not "fight beyond the 1967 borders in order to dominate,
expel, starve, and humiliate an entire people." In the
following weeks, more than 294 soldiers and officers have
put their name to this statement, generating widespread
debate within Israel and revitalizing the Israeli
peace movement.

These are excerpts from the text of the ad that
appeared in Ha'aretz:

WE, combat officers and soldiers who have served the
State of Israel for long weeks every year, in spite of
the dear cost to our personal lives, have been on
reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and
were issued commands and directives that had nothing
to do with the security of our country, and that had
the sole purpose of perpetuating our control over
the Palestinian people. We, whose eyes have seen the
bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides.

WE, who sensed how the commands issued to us in the
Territories destroy all the values we had absorbed
while growing up in this country.

WE, who understand now that the price of Occupation
is the loss of IDF's human character and the corruption
of the entire Israeli society.

WE, who know that the Territories are not Israel's,
and that all settlements are bound to be evacuated
in the end.

WE shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders
in order to dominate, expel, starve, and humiliate an
entire people.

WE hereby declare that we shall continue serving in
the Israel Defense Forces in any mission that serves
Israel's defense. The missions of Occupation and oppression
do not serve this purpose - and we shall take no part in
them. []

For more information, see their Web site:

For more information and how you can support these
soldiers, go to:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Iris: film study guide

James Murkett has written a study guide for the film
looking at Iris Murdoch's suffering from Alzheimer's
disease and her subsequent death. Go to:


R e l i g i o n   &   P o l i t i c s
95 theses for the church after 9/11

As many of us search for a proper response to violence
and rampant patriotism in America, 95 new theses have
been written. Just as in 1511, those who claim to follow
Jesus Christ need a wake-up call. Example:

Thesis 49: We, the Church in the United States, have...
been deceived about the way in which Yahweh's blessing
is poured out; viz., economic wealth is rarely a sign of
God's blessing. 

You can view (and discuss) all 95 theses at:


The inaugural gathering of WORD AND WORLD: A PEOPLE'S SCHOOL
will be held in Greensboro, NC, April 13-21, 2002. The main
theme of this first school is the African-American Freedom
struggle as it shaped the second half of the 20th century.
WORD AND WORLD is a popular institute designed to address the
need for theological pedagogy "between the Seminary, the
Sanctuary and the Street."

Contact: Deborah Lee
Tel: 520-670-9048 


P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
One of America's most powerful - yet unknown - groups

The Federalist Society shapes key Bush decisions
and is radically shaping a conservative legal agenda
in the courts, but the group remains a mystery to
the public. Be in the know...go to:


S o j o C i r c l e s
What's happening in your SojoCircle?

SojoCircle leader Bob Jones in Clemson, South Carolina,
writes of his first meeting: "We are a fairly diverse
group. Our age range is 15 to 76. We work as a corporate
business person, member of a commune, adolescent treatment
provider, retired engineer, author, nurse, social work
administrator, retired person, and a high school student.
We are parents, grandparents, and teens. Some of us are
wealthy and some are not. Our political views vary."

Yet they come together to study and pray, laugh and cry,
heal and be healed. Won't you join the Circle?

New SojoCircles are forming in:
Kauai, Hawaii. Judie Hilke Lundborg:
Madison, WI. Shari Vogt:
Lancaster, PA. Sue Andersson:

For a complete listing of SojoCircles, go to our Web site
at Not one in your area? Consider
starting your own by contacting us at
or calling us at 800-714-7474.


B o o m e r a n g

Tom Boughan writes from Cowan, Tennessee:

Pat Robertson claims that American Muslims don't like
George Bush's policy against terrorists, though his own
news service says 51% support Bush's policy. Robertson
says the main reason that Muslims come to America is to
evangelize, to dominate. If they can't dominate, they
destroy. He claims there is hatred preached in American
mosques against U.S., though his own news service interviews
an imam who talked of tolerance toward other faiths. Pat
Robertson would like us to believe Islam is a violent
religion and thinks of nothing other than to kill
innocent people. He claims the Koran said to kill infidels,
Jews, and Christians in order to get to Heaven. I found that
nowhere in the Quran.

Then I read David Batstone's column in SojoMail [2/20/02].
What a contrast! Here is tolerance, of spiritual seeking
that knows no labels, no dogmatic boundaries, a 21st-century
spirituality where love abounds. Wonderful work. Too bad
Batstone's views don't get out in the media more broadly.
Robertson's views would turn anyone to atheism.


Sarah Peterson writes from Fargo, South Dakota:

Just read David Batstone's column on spiritual
seekers. Remarkable...and I thought I was all
alone. So many thanks.


Phyllis Albritton writes from Blacksburg, Virginia:

Thanks for the action alert from Rabbis for Human Rights.
This is the first time in a very long time that I have
felt some hope. 


SojoMail reader Scott Barton writes:

Re: The symmetrical pattern of 20:02, 20/02
featured in SojoMail [2/20/02]....

Interesting! But my daughter tells me it has/will have
happened five times, not two:

21:12, 21/12, 2112
20:02, 20/02, 2002
11:11, 11/11, 1111
10:01, 10/01, 1001
01:10, 01/10, 0110


Alexander Tsai writes from Cleveland, Ohio:

In "By the Numbers," the writer notes that this truly
palindromic moment may never happen again in history.
Not to be a smart-aleck, but in the year 3003 they
may very well have different units of time - and so
a recapitulation of the truly palindromic moment may be


Richard Weinhagen writes from Pompton Plains, New Jersey:

Perhaps it would have been better to hold off just a
bit on the expressions of outrage over Anne Coulter's
quote in SojoMail [2/13/02], rather than focus on her
musings about the hypothetical effects of a possible,
but not chosen, legal judicial proceeding for treason.

Near fascism? Barbaric mindsets? Resemblance to Taliban
murderers? Who and what on earth are we talking about
here? Please read Anne Coulter again.

Or perhaps, not. Don't read Anne Coulter again just yet.
Perhaps this week's news gives better material. SojoMail
readers are not the only ones who feel threatened by
columnists and other newspaper writers.

Read about the execution of Wall Street Journal reporter
Daniel Pearl to understand about the chilling effect of
real executions and maybe there will be no need to ponder
anymore about hypothetical ones by columnists.

On to a different debate in SojoMail, it's not necessarily
true that we are all worshiping the same God, with just a
different language, different name. Whatever classification
the Quran, Mohammed, and most Muslims may make concerning
believers and People of the Book, it was no help to Danny
Pearl. He was beheaded for being a Jew.

Too late to worry about the death penalty for Danny Pearl,
and no need to worry for his murderers. Apparently Pakistani
law does not allow for the death penalty when the murder
victim is not a Muslim.


Erik Peter Swartzendruber writes from Corvallis, Oregon:

I want to raise an alternative view about your AIDS funding
action alert. You might want to look at some of the
information about AIDS/HIV coming from alternative sources -;; I also recommend the book "What if
Everything You Thought about AIDS Was Wrong," by Christine
Maggiore. Eye-opening. There is a growing movement among
scientists, including inventors of AIDS drugs, to reassess
the unproven HIV/AIDS hypothesis.

AIDS already receives more funding than any other disease.
Why not focus on other diseases that are more widespread
and much more treatable, like tuberculosis. Yes, tuberculosis
is much more widespread than AIDS in Africa. If you have
figures otherwise, please tell.... The 1998 World Health
Organization Report reported 170,000 new TB cases and 850
new AIDS cases in Ethiopia in 1996; in South Africa the figure
was 91,000 TB and 729 AIDS cases. The WHO claimed there
were 1 million HIV positives in Uganda in 1987. Ten years
later the figure remains the same. I suspect we are being
misled. Please note: I think AIDS is a major health concern;
however, it seems to me that it is important to maintain
perspective and not ignore other more widespread, more
treatable diseases.


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:



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