Values and the 2004 Election
Sojomail - March 4, 2004
|QUOTE OF THE WEEK||^top|
"It is hard, I repeat, to talk to you of religion. But without faith in each other, we cannot go on. Without hope we cannot go on. Without hope we cannot live. To those who are without hope, I remind you of Christ, your brother. Religion, thought of in terms of our brotherhood through Christ, is not the opiate of the people. It is a battle 'mighty to God unto the pulling down of fortifications.' Do not let either capitalist or communist kill this noble instinct in you."
- Dorothy Day, December 1937
|HEARTS & MINDS||^top|
Values and the 2004 electionby Jim Wallis
Events have moved fast in the weeks since. A decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court to permit same-sex marriage and the mayor of San Francisco beginning to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples has brought that issue to the front pages. In response, President Bush announced his support for a constitutional amendment to ban such marriages. It has suddenly become the "moral" and "values" issue in the media.
But in a new national poll, an overwhelming percentage of voters see it another way. A poll commissioned by The Alliance to End Hunger and Call to Renewal was conducted last week by a leading bipartisan polling group. Those polled were asked: "The question of values is sure to be important to many voters this November. As you decide your vote for president of the United States, which of the following would be more important to you: hearing a candidate's position on gay marriage or hearing a candidate's plan for fighting poverty?"
Those polled were a representative sample of likely voters - Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, and diverse in racial and faith background. In the poll, an overwhelming majority of voters said that in deciding their vote for president, they would rather hear a candidate's plan for fighting poverty (78 percent) than a candidate's position on gay marriage (15 percent). The polling also showed that even in the midst of budget belt-tightening voters want Congress to strengthen anti-hunger programs. Traveling around the country as I do, I was hopeful about the result of the poll, but I didn't expect that 78% would see poverty as such an important values question.
Apparently, 12 million children still living in poverty is indeed a moral issue for most Americans. And apparently, the pundits are misreading and misrepresenting the people about what the most important moral issues really are. "Hunger and poverty are on the rise in our country and this poll confirms that voters want to hear more from political leaders about real solutions to these serious problems," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and a founding member of the Alliance to End Hunger.
We must show that people of faith are united in believing that 35 million people living in poverty is a moral and religious issue that our political debate must address. We must articulate the moral issues of social justice, or others will define the values questions in much more narrow ways. The poll tells me that people are ready to hear another view. We have to make sure that they do. That is the mission of Sojourners and Call to Renewal this year - to insist that issues of poverty and hunger, war and peace, and the environment are moral issues that politicians running for office and the media covering the campaigns must recognize. Help us. Get involved. Go to http://www.sojo.net and http://www.calltorenewal.org for more information.
*The poll was commissioned by The Alliance to End Hunger and Call to Renewal and conducted by Tom Freedman, Bill Knapp, and Jim McLaughlin. Jim McLaughlin is a leading Republican pollster who works extensively with Republicans in Congress. Tom Freedman is a leading Democratic consultant and worked on the 1996 presidential campaign.
Read more commentary by Jim Wallis at: http://www.sojo.net/wallis
Send this SojoMail to a friend at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=sojomail.send_to_friends
Silencing self-justificationby Richard J. Foster
The tongue is our most powerful weapon of manipulation. A frantic stream of words flows from us because we are in a constant process of adjusting our public image. We fear so deeply what we think other people see in us that we talk in order to straighten out their understanding. If I have done some wrong thing (or even some right thing that I think you may misunderstand) and discover that you know about it, I will be very tempted to help you understand my action.
Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification. One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don't need to straighten others out.
Source: "Seeking the Kingdom," by Richard J. Foster.
Hoping for God's ecosystemby Brenda Howell
Our hoping for healing and wholeness in every area of our personhood cannot be separate from hoping for healing and wholeness in our ecosystems that also wait for the restoration of God. We are not the only creatures on this earth in active worship. In fact, we are co-worshippers and co-hopers in God's restoration, partners with the land and all things in it waiting for liberation. But let's face it, we North American Christians certainly act like we are the only ones who matter in our voting records, our resource use, and our general attitude of stewardship. The general Christian population isn't known as a group of global tree-huggers. It's about time we ask why not.
See Sojourners' special issue on the environment at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.contents&issue=soj0403
Anti-christ watch group names Schwarzenegger top contenderSource: LarkNews.com
Anti-christ watchdog groups say Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, is far and away the most likely man in the world to be the anti-christ. Many evangelical prophecy teachers see the European Union as the 10-horned confederation of Revelation 17:7-8 from which the anti-christ will arise (see Daniel 9:26). Schwarzenegger's home country of Austria belongs to the Union.
But Schwarzenegger, who will soon start publicizing his latest film, "Around the World in 80 Days," laughed off the anti-christ suggestion: "I'm focused on running the state of California and promoting the movie," he said. "It's a terrific family film about two men who go around the globe in record time, essentially taking over the world with their exploits. It sends a great message that you can do anything you want, from learning to ride a bike, to getting good grades, to seizing world power and literally ruling over everybody. I hope people will go see it."
Read more at: http://www.larknews.com/march_2004/secondary.php?page=6
|ON THE GROUND||^top|
Iraq: A conversation with a concerned soldierby Art Gish
Cliff Kindy and I had just walked through the razor wire around the prison with an Iraqi man who wanted to make an appointment to visit his brother. "He is not allowed any visits," a guard told us.
We told the Iraqi guards we wanted to talk with an American official. That is when we met "Tony," an American soldier, about 22 years old, short, and good-looking. He likes to work out in the gym, but most days he is too tired after standing guard in front of the prison for 12 hours every day. "Most days," he said, "I have no energy left after my shift to even think." When we asked him where his home was, he said, "I am homeless."
He told us he had no authority and there was nothing he or we could do to arrange a visit. He apologized for not being able to help us. He then opened up to us. He said, "The situation is a mess in Iraq, and the American military is making it worse. I can understand that the Iraqi people would be angry..."
Encouraging Passion-ate discussion
If you've seen Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and would like to participate in an online survey about the film, visit: http://www.edcomresearch.com/passion.html
For those looking to take a closer look at the questions and controversy of the film, here are a few links:
The National Catholic Reporter
Evangelical Lutheran Church's "Faith Lens"
The National Council of Churches/USA
The Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations
Satire like that of David Batstone ["Stay at home and make billions," SojoMail 2/26/2004] is uncalled for in a magazine of the stature of Sojourners. Any allegations about Vice President Cheney and his connection with his previous company deserve serious investigation, not satire.
[Editor's note: For a serious investigation of Cheney's ties to Halliburton, see the 2/18/2004 issue of SojoMail at: http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=sojomail.display&issue=021804#7 ]
Jack DuVall writes from Washington, D.C.:
Mel Gibson's film promotes a sectarian interpretation of the events of Jesus' crucifixion and almost wholly overlooks the content of his teachings as well as his revolutionary ministry of unconditional love and prolific healing. What is worse, it does this by using the most degrading practice of modern mass entertainment - purveying violence as a form of spectacle - in order to acquire an audience for its savagely corporeal vision. This is not a film about overcoming hatred and death. It's about bloodlust, guilt, and human sacrifice. As such, it's more like pagan anthropology than Christian history.
Judy Schindler writes from Hector, Minnesota:
I sincerely hope and pray that [Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ] will touch many people's hearts. What I truly and earnestly pray for is that the biblical message to love one's enemy, to do good to those who hate us, and to work for peace and justice in the world, might be heard. There are many statements, even in the Old Testament, which say that what God really wants is not bloody sacrifice but that we should love tenderly, walk humbly with God, and do the right thing. (Micah 6:8, for example.)
Dr. Mike Rogers writes from Kansas City, Missouri:
Like Sister Margaret Anne Talbot [Boomerang 2/26/04], I too live in the heartland and am apalled at our national stand on war, but unlike her I am a registered (albeit frustrated) life-long Republican. Like Marsha Melkonian [Boomerang, same issue], I too belong to an Evangelical (Pentecostal/Charismatic) church that walks lockstep with the Republican party and equates it to Christianity. Teaching in their Bible school with a Th.D. I do have occasions to share what the Bible actually says about many situations and have not been challenged by staff to date. I doubt that that will continue forever.
Like these two ladies, I too see the need for an anti-militaristic, pro-life party that will take a BIBLICAL stand on social, moral, and economic issues. When will this country allow us to vote on issues and not for parties? I sense a growing need for a political party that will support Biblical views without promoting itself as Christian (right or left).
Hans Barsun writes from Albuquerque, New Mexico:
I am writing in response to a letter from Marsha Melkonian that begins, "I am a member of an evangelical church and I feel like the only one there who is not a war supporter and a Bush cheerleader." Later in the letter she states, "We were there to study the Bible, not to talk 'politics' and I did not feel it was an appropriate place or time to state my views. But, when is the appropriate time?"
The answer to that question is one I have struggled with, too. As a Christian amongst your brothers and sisters, the time to state your views is whenever the Bushies start stating theirs. It can be hard, especially in evangelical circles, since you may very well be standing alone. However, you may not be alone and there may be others simply holding their peace because they too are afraid to speak out. Your speaking may keep one or two or many people from simply walking away from the church and never looking back, as both my wife and I have come very close to doing ever since the (s)election of 2000. In short, those who wish to see the church stand up for what Jesus stood up for need to speak up! If we cannot find the courage to do it amongst other Christians, how can we expect to find the courage to speak out against injustice amongst non-Christians? If we, the church, cannot come to a logically consistent position that aligns with Jesus' teaching on all the grave issues facing us today, we are done.
Did Jesus hold his tongue when presented with the stupidity of the religious establishment? No, he did not, and neither should we. Yes, it is hard, and yes it has to be done lovingly, and yes it has to be done with the backing of scripture.
C. Morrison writes from Botswana:
With due respect to your diverse readers, I speak as a non-U.S., Third World citizen. I find it incomprehensible how American Christians can get all knotted up about the unborn when we can't even care for the poor people we have. It's like you feel it is a morally good thing to carpet-bomb countries where pregnant women may be and are killed (and their sons, fathers, husbands), but you have an apoplectic fit of righteous indignation about abortions at home. Do you see the irony?
Is it so hard to see that the abortion issue is merely a political tool to get voters frothed up and to set a neoconservative agenda for your presidential elections? It represents a twisted cynicism that uses abortion - and other sensitive sexual issues - to divert voters from the real issues in the impending election.
Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views that do not necessarily represent those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Include your name, hometown, and state/province/country in a concise e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org . We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.