The Common Good

Letter to Bush/Cheney Campaign

Sojomail - July 28, 2004

Quote of the Week Tutu on neutrality
Batteries Not Included David Batstone: Letter to the Bush/Cheney Re-election Campaign Headquarters
Piece of Mind Survey and sneak peek
Globe Watch Sojourners joins rally to end genocide in Sudan
Good News Looking down the barrel of a gun
Building a Movement Bringing fair trade to a supermarket near you
Culture Watch Reel recommendations from readers
Web Sitings Candidates link to faith
Boomerang Readers write
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"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has his foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Source: Daily Dig


Letter to the Bush/Cheney Re-election Campaign Headquarters
by David Batstone

NEWS FLASH: Churchgoers Get Direction From Bush Campaign

WASHINGTON - The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign has sent a detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country asking them to turn over church directories to the campaign, distribute issue guides in their churches and persuade their pastors to hold voter registration drives....

The instruction sheet circulated by the Bush-Cheney campaign to religious volunteers lists 22 "duties" to be performed by specific dates. By July 31, for example, volunteers are to "send your church directory to your state Bush-Cheney '04 headquarters or give (it) to a BC04 field rep" and "talk to your pastor about holding a Citizenship Sunday and voter registration drive."

By Aug. 15, they are to "talk to your church's seniors or 20-30 something group about Bush-Cheney '04" and "recruit five more people in your church to volunteer for the Bush-Cheney campaign." By Sept. 17, they are to host at least two campaign-related potluck dinners with members, and in October they are to "finish calling all pro-Bush members of your church," "finish distributing voter guides in your church" and place notices on bulletin boards or in Sunday programs "about all Christian citizens needing to vote."

+ Read the full Washington Post article


To: Bush/Cheney Re-election Campaign Headquarters
From: "Rev." David Batstone
Re: Our Service to the King

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Kingdom:

I can't tell you how inspired I am by your detailed plan of action leading up to the November election. Being an evangelical pastor, I wasn't sure how I was going to mobilize my congregation to make a faithful commitment in the realm of politics. But rest assured, we are following diligently the 22 duties you so generously offered, so that God's will may be made manifest in the re-election of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for four more years.

As per your request, I sent yesterday a directory of our church membership to your campaign headquarters here in California. All addresses and telephone numbers are up-to-date, which I trust will be quite useful for your field team as they seek to make personal connections with our flock.

Our pastoral staff even put stars next to the names of those members who have given more than $1,000 to our church during the past year. We do not have an especially wealthy congregation, but as I reminded them last week in my sermon, if a poor widow can give a mite, so might we open our hearts and checkbooks to the burning Bush of Texas, whom God has led to Washington for our sakes.

I do not suffer fools lightly, and for the sake of the gospel will continue to preach boldly words of political action. From now until October, at the close of each service we will have a call forward for those wayward individuals who have not yet registered to vote. My elders stand waiting, registration form in hand, for the Spirit to move those hardened by other political leanings, or perhaps lukewarm in their service to the King.

No, brothers and sisters, we will not hide our light under a bushel. We have restructured our Sunday School programs for the fall to reinforce the importance of Christian citizens taking on the mantle of conservative causes. Your Voter Guides will be distributed to each member of the church - the young marrieds as well as the seniors - and will become the focus of our Bible studies during the Sunday School hour.

You will be pleased to hear that our planting of seeds already is yielding fruit. By its own inspiration, the Visitation Committee announced its plans to suspend visits to the sick and elderly for the months of October and November (except in those cases of impending death). Instead, these faithful souls will use their hours of ministry going door to door in the neighborbood surrounding the church, handing out your Voter Guides and, if God opens hearts, asking for our neighbors to volunteer for Bush/Cheney '04.

I cannot recall a time when our flock was so focused on a single mission. In no small part we have you to thank. The campaign potlucks you demanded did not even seem like a duty; after the meal, we sang songs of praise for the divine blessing given our nation under Republican leadership. Thanks be to God, I now know how the people of Judea must have felt when He bestowed on King David His eternal wisdom to guide His people in a "united states" of Israel.

Do not fear, my brothers and sisters. On that day of judgment in November, when that great roll is unscrolled, rest assured that you will find each of our names recorded in the Republican column.

+ Read more commentary by David Batstone

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Survey and sneak peek

What do you love about SojoMail? What do you hate about it? We want to know! Every week the e-mails pour in, responding to this article or that, but every once in a while we like to get a wide-angle perspective about who our readers are and how they might change SojoMail if they had the chance. So here's your chance - click on the link below, complete a brief online survey, and we'll thank you with a sneak preview of Sojourners magazine's October cover story. The deadline for survey submissions is August 10, so click today so you don't forget!

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Sojourners joins rally to end genocide in Sudan

Jim Wallis speaks at a rally to end the genocide in Darfur
On July 22, Sojourners co-sponsored a "die-in" rally at the White House to bring attention to the suffering in Darfur, Sudan. An excerpt of Jim Wallis' remarks:

Leviticus 19 contains some of the central moral instructions regarding social and economic justice. Leviticus 19:16 says: "...neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor, I am the LORD." Do not stand idly by, watching with indifference when your neighbor is in mortal danger. This is followed two verses later by the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

In the gospel of Luke, Jesus is asked "Who is my neighbor?" And he responds with a story: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.... Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

The point for today is that we are commanded to not "stand idly by," but to love our neighbors - to minister to the wounds of those being attacked. The blood of our neighbors - the Darfur people of Sudan - cries out from the ground, and we are compelled to respond. Protecting human rights and working to prevent their violation is a fundamental principle in speaking for justice. We must not pass by on the other side.

+ See more photos of the rally

+ Learn more and take action to stop the genocide in Sudan


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Looking down the barrel of a gun
by Greg Rollins, Christian Peacemaker Teams

BAGHDAD - At the end of our street there is a small gang, the kind with nothing better to do but loiter around shops and in front of homes. Often they are friendly with us, but this evening they had something else on their minds. It was well after dark. The heat rose off the pavement as it remembered the sun. CPTers Sheila Provencher, Stewart Vriesinga, and I were on our way home from the ice cream shop. As we passed the gang at the far end of the block, they stood in our way. Then they surrounded us. I didn't trust their smiles.

One of them pulled out a gun. At first we weren't alarmed. It's common to see guns in Iraq. All Iraqis have at least one for protection - even the church we attend has armed guards. But this gun and the smile on the boy's face were ill-matched. Stewart and Sheila, who are more friendly than me, tried to break the sudden tension. Stewart gave his usual deep, smoke-stained chuckle. Sheila tried to say something kind - I can't remember what, because no one heard her.

The guy with the gun pointed it at Sheila. A laugh went up from everyone around us. Stewart let out one of those wordless exclamations that said, "Hey, there's no need for that - we're all friends here." My thought was, "I was hoping this wouldn't happen," but I reacted differently.

+ Read more


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Bringing fair trade to a supermarket near you

Co-op America is launching a new campaign to urge supermarkets to carry fairly traded coffee, tea, cocoa, and other products - and you can join in, just by filling out a comment card the next time you go to the supermarket.

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Reel recommendations from readers

In respose to last week's piece on activist documentaries, the following films have also been suggested by our readers:

+ About Baghdad

+ The Hunting of the President

+ Invisible Ballots

+ Hidden in Plain Sight

+ Honor Betrayed

+ Farmingville

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Candidates link to faith

Both presidential campaigns have launched Web sites directed to people of faith:

*The Bush-Cheney campaign has a "Compassion" section. + Learn more

*The Kerry-Edwards campaign has a "People of Faith for Kerry" page. + Learn more


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Readers write

Cornelis Wegman writes from Hobart, Australia:

Your article "Democracy for sale" [SojoMail 7/21/2004] is similar to many others that indicate that American values do not reflect those of the Bible. You country pretends to be very religious with a strong endorsement of the "being born-again" type of Christian. Yet your nation is one of the most violent countries on earth, has a preoccupation with making money (without asking too many questions), and constantly demonstrates a complete lack of business ethics. Socially, the rich are lauded whilst the poor are left to fend for themselves. A sincere belief in Christ changes lives and values. If enough people are changed, one would expect it to be reflected in the type of society they create and the politics they support. From where I sit, I observe an excessive amount of sanctimonious hot air but no fruit.


Jim Underhill writes from Edmonds, Washington:

In response to Mr. Moyers' statement about democracy being for sale, he is right and wrong at the same time. His description of the degree and changes in poverty are true. But his measured assignment of the blame to "rich Republicans" is wrong. The attitudes and actions ascribed to some is true for all, regardless of political stripes. Rich, greedy Democrats are no different from rich, greedy Republicans; they're both rich and greedy. And to maintain this status, there is an understood agreement to help each other remain so. Responses and solutions to U.S. poverty occur when Christ renews the hearts and minds of people. In turn, we then hope that God's people will take the road map given in scripture to address the needs of our poor.


Linda M. Maloney writes from St. Cloud, Minnesota:

Could we please give the phrase "ethnic cleansing" the dishonorable discharge from the language it deserves ["Ethnic cleansing in Sudan," SojoMail 7/21/2004]? This bit of smarmy polishing of the dirty truth of genocide turns my stomach. "Cleansing" suggests something nice: We're tidying up here, making things all better, simpler. Nuts. "Ethnic cleansing" belongs right down there with the "Peacekeeper" missile, the "Healthy Forests Initiative," "Clear Skies," and all the other newspeak we've been fed.


Kim Starr-Reid writes from Bishop, California:

Rev. Brown wonders what's at stake in the use of the term "evangelical" [Boomerang, 7/21/2004]. My understanding is that "evangelical" predates considerably the adoption of the designation by the National Association of Evangelicals and Christianity Today. There are also other evangelical traditions in other countries. The NAE and Christianity Today (and others) marched out the term starting in the 1940s as they launched evangelicalism as a spin-off from fundamentalism - to be a movement that was more comfortable with scientific knowledge and social justice - yet kept a distance from "liberal" Christians who they assumed had too little respect for the authority of scripture.

Evangelicalism is a worldwide movement, not just a political punching bag in U.S. cultural discourse. For an evangelical statement of faith that many (including U.S.) ministries have adopted around the world, see the Lausanne Covenant Web site. Here "evangelical" is associated with a rich and full description of Christian beliefs and the actions - in social responsibility and cultural understanding as well as evangelism - that proceed from them.


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