The Common Good

'People of Faith Challenge Democrats'

Sojomail - August 28, 2008


QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Civilian deaths are not a NATO problem. Civilian casualties are primarily being caused in airstrikes in support of the counterterrorism mission that the United States is running completely separate from the NATO-run counterinsurgency conflict.

- Marc Garlasco, a military analyst at New York-based Human Rights Watch, who has compiled a report on civilian deaths from airstrikes to be published next month. Although U.S. troops participate in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan under a U.N. mandate, the bulk of U.S. forces fall under Operation Enduring Freedom, a U.S.-only force governed by an exchange of diplomatic notes signed with the Afghan government in May 2003. (Source: The Washington Post)

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HEARTS & MINDS BY JIM WALLIS

'People of Faith Challenge Democrats'


On Monday, I wrote that one of the things I would be looking for at the political conventions was "whether the people of faith who are here are able to offer that prophetic role that faithfulness requires, that would hold politics accountable to real moral values, and would offer the best hope of social change."

I'm happy to report that is indeed the case. The first indication of how prophetic faith might be at this convention came at the Sunday afternoon interfaith service that opened the Democratic National Convention -- another first. I attended, and I was eager to hear the tone that would be adopted by the speakers at the "Faith and Action" service. The theme was "Responsibility -- to our children, our neighbor, our nation, and our world." The speakers focused more on their own religious traditions than on politics, for which I was grateful, and then applied their faith to the moral issues of our time.

Yesterday, I moderated the first "Faith Forum." An AP story caught the tone of the meeting just right. "People of faith challenge Democrats" began:

Religious leaders and people of faith who've been invited to the table at this week's Democratic National Convention are not sitting quietly with their hands in their laps.

The head of a large African-American denomination challenged the party on abortion. An Orthodox Jewish rabbi raised his voice about school choice. A thirty-something evangelical Christian author warned against Democrats who mock believers. ...

"Let's be honest: Religion has been used and abused by politics," said Jim Wallis, an evangelical and editor of Sojourners magazine. People of faith, he said, "should speak prophetically more than in a partisan way." Wallis is not endorsing a candidate and will also appear on a panel in St. Paul, Minn., next week during the Republican convention.

The story notes that one speaker "credited Democratic officials for putting no restrictions on what speakers could say," and then went on:

That freedom also was evident when Bishop Charles Blake, head of the 6 million-member Church of God in Christ, spoke of "disregard for the lives of the unborn." Blake, who called himself a pro-life Democrat, challenged Obama to adopt policies to reduce abortions and chided Republicans for not caring about "those who have been born."

Bishop Blake said the same thing at Sunday's interfaith service, where I spoke to him afterward and thanked him for his courage to speak prophetically. He told me, "I could do nothing else but be faithful to my religious convictions and my constituency of faith."

It was a good first sign of prophetic religion at the Democratic Convention.

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Putting Some Labor Back in Labor Day Weekend Services (by Kim Bobo)

Labor Day weekend is often a slow time for congregations. Members are attending family gatherings. Parents are getting children ready for school. Neglected summer projects are undertaken or (like my garden) abandoned until next summer. Aside from the occasional Labor Day parade, few Labor Day activities seem to have anything to do with honoring labor. Labor Day weekend nonetheless offers congregations an opportunity to lift up the values of work and reflect on our religious teachings on labor.


Cakes, Crumbs, and Surprises in Zimbabwe (by Nontando Hadebe)

The "cake" vs. "crumbs" power-sharing struggle continues in Zimbabwe. One of the reasons for the breakdown in the talks is that the government (ZANU-PF) wants the "whole power cake" and wants to give the opposition "crumbs." The intention of negotiations was to divide the "power cake" evenly so that a transitional government could be installed to stabilize the country and pave the way for fresh elections in two years.


Ordinary Radicals Film Premieres This Weekend (by Becky Garrison)

On Sept. 4, I'm going to Philadelphia to attend the premiere of The Ordinary Radicals, a documentary directed and produced by Jamie Moffett, co-founder of The Simple Way. While I can't speak for the others who were interviewed for this film, I felt my role was to serve as a cheerleader for the ordinary radicals profiled in this documentary. These spiritual souls don't issue manifestos and declarations about their goals to achieve radical shalom throughout the world. But you can find their work etched into the landscape of their communities. There Christ speaks loud and clear.


The Democratic Nomination's Historic Significance (by Leroy Barber)

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