Hailing from the United Kingdom, Jack was born in the coastal town of Brighton, but having spent over 10 years living in London, now considers himself a true resident of the greatest city in the world (in Jack’s mind, there is no argument about this). He spent six years at a boarding school that looked suspiciously like Hogwarts, before relocating to the University of Surrey for four years, where he studied International Politics, developing a passion for social justice in his town and overseas. Spending 6 weeks in Rwanda in 2008 ignited a passion for God’s heart for the poor and marginalised and he spent his third year at university working full time for Tearfund, a UK-based Christian international development charity. He graduated this summer and is so glad that Sojourners has given him the opportunity to have an adventure in Washington, D.C. this year!
Brought up in a theatrical family (his parents started a touring theatre company when he was 6 months old), Jack has always been encouraged to be creative and loves to act, sing and play the guitar. He is also a big fan of football (and will do his best not to start calling it ‘soccer’), although it is highly likely that you won’t have heard of the team he supports, as they are pretty awful. No, seriously, they are truly terrible. He also enjoys running, reading (although he is better at starting books than finishing them) and snowball fights.
Posts By This Author
Elie Wiesel on Syria: Charge Bashar al-Assad with Crimes Against Humanity
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel offers his thought on the Syrian crisis in The Washington Post:
Banning Atheists from Public Office
A fascinating visual from the wonderful blog ‘I Love Charts’ caught some attention on the inter-webs yesterday, highlighting a little known fact from the statute books of some of the nation’s states:
There are seven states in the union which ban atheists from holding public office.
And by association, ban atheists from running for public office, unless a ‘Road To Damascus’ moment fortuitously occurs on the campaign trail.
The constitutions of Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all have provisions that require public office holders to adhere to a religious faith.
In Tennessee for example,
"No person who denies the being of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department of this state."
In Arkansas, atheism also appears to deny you the ability to testify in court:
"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court."
There’s probably an important lesson to learn from this revelation:
People looking to run for office should make sure they know their state’s constitution very well before they inadvertently break the law!
QUIRK: Mitt Romney = Unicorn?
In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank raises the question that has (apparently) been on everyone's lips during this election season:
Is Mitt Romney a unicorn?
An interesting question, we can all agree. By why are people asking?
According to Milbank:
The MittRomneyIsAUnicorn.com campaign came about because Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, citing allegations that the birth certificate President Obama released is a fraud, threatened to take the incumbent off the ballot.
Another Post, writer, Alexandra Petri noted that, as many 18,000 people have signed on to a petition "demanding proof that Mitt Romney was not a unicorn", in light of the fact that "unicorns, as the petition pointed out, are ineligible for the presidency of the United States".
We will let you make up your own minds on this one folks...
P.S. Take a few seconds to check out the fantastic artwork that Petri employed to bring some clarity to the Mitt Romney/Unicorn claims. They are, in her own words "some of my best MS Paint work yet."
QUIRK: (Figurative) Fireworks at Illinois State House
It all got a little much for Illinois State Rep. Mike Bost yesterday during a discussion in the State House on pension reform.
The Atlantic reports:
The longtime Republican representative from a southern Illinois district was mad as hell and he wasn't going to take it any more, unleashing an epic rant at Speaker Mike Madigan.
The top moments are undoubtedly early in the clip, when he tosses a bunch of papers in the air, then punches them on the way down; and when he shouts, "Let my people go!" But stay with it until the end for his excellent variation on the old rap-battle mic drop. Also worth noting: the faces on his colleagues around him, trying to maintain a sense of dignity, except the woman in the burgundy behind him who seems willing to indulge her amusement.
Watch the full rant below:
The Top 10 Stories of May 29, 2012
Quote of the day.
"You were often blamed for a war you didn't start, when you should have been commended for serving your country with valor. You were sometimes blamed for misdeeds of a few, when the honorable service of the many should have been praised. You came home and sometimes were denigrated, when you should have been celebrated. It was a national shame, a disgrace that should have never happened." - President Obama, in a “welcome home” message to veterans in a Memorial Day speech at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., 37 years after the war ended.
(Los Angeles Times)
The Electorate – Who Are We?
Take Part on Tuesday has created to great infographic that shows who actually votes in America.
Some of the highlights:
- Married people are more likely to vote than widowers, divorcees or those who have never been married.
- The higher the level of education you have received, the more likely you are to vote.
- More than 9-in-10 people with an annual family income of over $100,000 vote, compared with just 5-in-10 whose income falls below $20,000.
- Our busy lives are the number one reason why we don’t vote.
- Congratulations to Minnesotans – your state tops state-by-state voter turnout with 75%
- Must do better: Hawaii - only half of Hawaiians voted in the 2008 election.
The Top 10 Stories of May 25, 2012
Quote of the day.
“It just makes me nervous when you take genetic matter from something else that wouldn’t have been done in nature and put it into food.” - Cynthia LaPier, a mental health counselor in Massachusetts who engages in “guerilla labeling” of foods she knows contain genetically modified organisms.
(New York Times)
The Top 10 Stories of May 24, 2012
Quote of the day.
“We never would have expected a Democratic president — let alone one seeking to be ‘transformative’ — to open up the Arctic Ocean for drilling.” - Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club on the Obama administration’s decision to allow Shell to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic.
(New York Times)
Tackling Hunger a Moral, Security, Economic Imperative
This weekend, amid key discussions on the future of Afghanistan and media attention on the strained relationship between the United States and Pakistan, members of the Group of Eight (G8) announced its commitment to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition which will seek to “lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next 10 years through inclusive and sustained agricultural growth.”
In a speech given at the Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security last Friday (May 18), President Barack Obama laid out his vision for what the Alliance could achieve, in co-operation with the private and non-profit sectors, in terms of seeing global hunger eradicated in the next decade.
And we are not going to let him forget this moral duty.
The Top 10 Stories of May 23, 2012
Quote of the day.
“I feel freedom and for the first time, my voice and opinion really counts.” - Mounira Fawaz, after casting her vote in the Egyptian presidential elections, the first democratic election in the country’s history.
The Top 10 Stories of May 22, 2012
Quote of the day.
“You’ve grown up quickly over the last year. You’ve learned at a younger age than most that we can’t always predict what life has in store for us. No matter how we might try to avoid it, life can bring heartache. Life involves struggle. Life will bring loss. But here in Joplin, you’ve also learned that we have the power to grow from these experiences. We can define our lives not by what happens to us, but by how we respond.” President Barack Obama addresses graduating seniors at Missouri Southern State University, marking the one-year anniversary of a powerful tornado that ripped through Joplin, destroying the local high school and much of the city.
(New York Times)
'Drowning in the Shallow' Combines Storytelling, Social Commentary
Too often, the album is a place where singles wait to be released and B-sides go to die. Very rarely does an album tell a story, or offer real insight into the artist’s world. Creating a narrative on an album is a lost art.
At the risk of sounding a little dismissive, when a musician doesn’t really have a story to tell (just a record to sell), the album stops being a work of art and just becomes a product.
But when a record actually tells a moving and coherent story, then it can become a piece of art far more powerful than simply notes and words on a page.
So it is with Andy Flannagan’s new album, Drowning in the Shallow.
Barna Reports: Issues Matter More to Voters Than Anything Else
If you have read books like Drew Westen’s The Political Brain, you might be forgiven for raising an eyebrow at this headline. A large body of work has emerged over the past few years that suggest that we vote with our hearts, rather than our heads. Policies, this body of work says, matter far less than our gut reaction to a candidate, their character and the party we naturally align ourselves with.
So to those who agree with this research, the results of a new report from the Barna Group might be surprising. Across the board, a candidates’ position on issues is overwhelmingly more important than their character, their party affiliation or their religious faith.
President Obama Backs Same-Sex Marriage
In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Barack Obama became the first sitting President to affirm same-sex marriage.
In a clip of the interview released at 3pm this afternoon, the President noted his ‘evolving’ beliefs on the subject and that he felt that he was now able to “affirm” marriage for same-sex couples.
As reported by The Huffington Post, the President told Roberts:
"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don't Ask Don't Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
Austerity is Losing, But What's the Alternative?
All across the European continent (and yes, Britain too), proponents of austerity are losing the argument and facing the political consequences. It is a concept that brought many of them to power in the fallout of the debt crisis, has now become “a dirty word”, and one that the ‘resurgent’ European Left continues to disavow.
While we all know that “it’s the economy, stupid,” what effect do these one-issue elections have on the health of our world? What happens when we become so focused on the money in (or not in) our pockets, that other vital issues fall by the wayside?
In their attempts to prove the ‘austerians’ (very different people from the Austrians) wrong, have those who see stimulus of the economy as the path to prosperity inadvertently lost sight of what is really important to the societies that they govern? Is there a risk that economic growth becomes an end goal, rather than a means to something greater – true human prosperity and investment in human capital?
First Criminal Charges Issued, Two Years After BP Oil Spill
Two years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill ravaged the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials today filed the first criminal charges in connection with the incident, The Huffington Post reports:
Kurt Mix, 50, a senior BP drilling engineer, allegedly destroyed hundreds of text messages sent to a supervisor that described high volumes of oil flowing from the ruptured well, located 5,000 feet underwater, according to a federal affidavit …
Mix is reportedly the first person who would actually be charged since the disaster occurred.
In its report of the arrest, The Associated Press noted that:
Kurt Mix, of Katy, Texas, was arrested on two counts of obstruction of justice.
The BP-leased rig Deepwater Horizon exploded the night of April 20, 2010, killing 11 workers and setting off the nation's worst offshore oil disaster. More than 200 million gallons of crude oil flowed out of the well off the Louisiana coast before it was capped.
At the time of the oil spill, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis visited the Gulf Coast to view the devastation and spoke strongly, placing the culpability for the disaster in the hands of “human folly, human sinfulness and human greed.”
White House Earth Day Briefing Offers Hope, Reminds Us There Is Still Much To Do
In honor of Earth Day, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships today hosted an Environmental Briefing for a number of environmental activists from all over the country.
Students, young professionals, members of the clergy and many other long-time activists were able to hear from members of the Obama administration and other key personnel from various departments and agencies, learning more about the progress that has been made to tackle climate change and environmental degradation, and also hear about the challenges ahead in ensuring that we are good stewards of the environment that has been entrusted to us.
Young Evangelicals and the 2012 Election
On Thursday, Sojourners launched its 2012 election campaign, Voting For Us, and the Public Religion Research Institute and Berkley Center released its “2012 Millennial Values Survey.” Young Christians, and particularly young evangelicals are a significant demographic to understand. They could be a large “persuadable” population in the run up to the November elections.
What do they believe? What are their priorities? How will they vote?
Young evangelicals are different from their parents and any generation that has preceded them. Their priorities are changing, their world view is shifting and their political engagement is becoming increasingly nuanced – going well beyond the narrow interests of the Religious Right that until now have been associated with evangelicalism in the United States.
Jim Yong Kim Confirmed as World Bank President
Surprise nominee Dr. Jim Yong Kim has today been chosen as the next President of the World Bank, The Washington Post reports.
Currently serving as President of Dartmouth College, Dr. Kim was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama last month. His selection as the President’s nominee was seen as a surprising one, as the Post reports:
Kim’s selection marks a break from previous World Bank leaders who were typically political, legal or economic figures [while] Kim, 52, [is] a physician and pioneer in treating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in the developing world.
Kids vs. Global Warming
A lawsuit that comes to a head May 11 could set a trajectory for how we legislate and mitigate against the devastating impacts of global climate change, Think Progress reports.
The suit, which has been dubbed a ‘David vs. Goliath battle,' sees a group of young adults taking on high-level government officials, states, energy companies and big businesses over their collective failure to adequately protect our planet for future generations.