God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis to Ralph Reed: There Is No Substitute for Justice

posted by jim wallis

Part five of a dialogue between Jim Wallis and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed on the question: “What should values voters value most?”

Jim WallisI agree, Ralph. Let’s talk about public policy. I’m not going to respond point-by-point, but I’ll highlight several where we fundamentally disagree.

You note the good works of charity that many conservative Christians carry out. That is certainly true, and I commend all those efforts. But charity is not justice – that’s where good public policies come in. Churches were among the first to respond in service to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, more effectively than the government. But churches can’t rebuild the levees of New Orleans or provide health insurance for 47 million Americans who don’t have it.

You praise the 1996 welfare reform by noting that it moved “8 million people from welfare to work.” It did that. But, as Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page noted on the anniversary of that law, “Unfortunately, a disturbing number of former welfare recipients have merely moved to the ranks of the ‘working poor,’ still struggling to make ends meet with a subpoverty income.” And that trend is accelerating; there are now 37 million Americans living below the poverty line – five and a half million more than when George Bush took office.

We need public policies committed to the proposition that people who work shouldn’t be poor. Those working responsibly should have a living family income which provides a decent standard of living. This requires policies that provide support for transportation, child care, nutrition, health care, and other basic needs.

You go on to praise the president’s faith-based initiative which you say aided “faith-based organizations delivering social services to the poor.” Again, Ralph, there’s the difference between charity and justice. I supported the faith-based initiative, and in the first two years of the administration, met several times with President Bush and his advisors at the White House. I do believe there is a role for partnerships between government and FBOs. But then we saw policies that matched tax cuts for the wealthiest with budget cuts to the very services faith-based organizations were trying to provide.

I led a delegation of religious leaders to visit the White House domestic policy advisers in the summer of 2003. We delivered a letter to the president signed by 34 leaders, including those – such as the Salvation Army and Christian Community Development Association – who run the organizations you’re praising. We said in that letter, “We believe a lack of focus on the poor in the critical areas of budget priorities and tax policy is creating a crisis for low-income people. We believe the budget your administration has put forward fails to protect and promote the well being of our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. The tax cut just passed by the Congress with your support provides virtually no help for those at the bottom of the economic ladder, while those at the top reap windfalls. The resulting spending cuts, at both federal and state levels, in the critical areas of health care, education, and social services, will fall heaviest on the poor. Budgets are moral documents.”

Three years later, that is even more true. So last year we launched another “Budgets are moral documents” campaign trying to stave off further cuts in basic services to those in poverty. It culminated with the arrest of 115 religious people praying on the steps of a House Office Building the week before Christmas. Among those was 75-year old John Perkins – the founder and longtime president of the Christian Community Development Association – and one of the saints of Christian ministry to the poor. John knows that we need justice, not only charity.

And then there’s the war in Iraq. You start with a paragraph on terrorism, with which I would mostly agree. But then you slide into the false connection of a defense of the war in Iraq as part of a “war on terrorism.” Come on, Ralph, virtually no one except George Bush and Dick Cheney believes that any more. You go way back to the Iraq war against Iran, but don’t mention that the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein in that war. Remember the famous (now infamous) photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983? You note Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, but fail to note that the U.S. provided battlefield intelligence for the Iraqi regime. Back then, he was accomplishing the U.S. objective of weakening Iran.

I was against Saddam Hussein before the U.S. government was. But this disastrous war, which grows more deadly violent every day for Iraqis and American troops, is far from a success in fighting terrorism. And many now believe, including a chorus of tough-minded former military leaders, that Iraq has become a great distraction from the real battle against terrorism and has even made things worse. It has created and exacerbated terrorism and helped inflame anti-American sentiment around the world. Did you see the latest U.N. report on Iraq in this morning’s news? The New York Times wrote that: “Across the country, the report found, 3,590 civilians were killed in July — the highest monthly total on record — and 3,009 more were killed in August.” And the Los Angeles Times noted that “a top U.S. military spokesman said attacks against American troops had increased recently.” There are now nearly 2,700 American deaths. Yet, we’re told that the threat to America from terrorists is greater than ever. Bush’s policies have made the world more dangerous, not less, and he has made our children less safe, not more.

Finally, you write of those who “work on the single issue of protecting the state of Israel.” I am a strong supporter of Israel – its people have the fundamental right to live in peace and security without the fear of terrorist attacks. But it’s another thing to ignore the same right of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Christians, living under the Israeli occupation. You (and many of your conservative friends) forget about them.

So, yes, Ralph, let’s debate public policy. And as Christians, let’s look for policies that are grounded in biblical principles of justice rather than in Republican ideology.

TONIGHT: JIM WALLIS on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC: Tune in tonight for a feature segment with Jim Wallis and Tony Perkins (of the Family Research Council) talking about the moral direction of the United States.



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Will

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:39 pm


Great response! Thank you for continuing to speak up on behalf of justice — especially articulating the difference between charity and justice. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King said, “We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside…but one day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a begger. It comes to see that a system that produces beggars needs to be repaved. We are called to be the Good Samaritan, but after you lift so many people out of the ditch you start to ask, maybe the whole road to Jericho needs to be repaved.” “A Time to Break the Silence” MLK Sermon, Riverside Church, April 4, 1967) Thank you for being willing to engage in civil disobedience. Thank you for offering alternatives to war and encouraging sound, compassionate, responsible domestic and foreign policy. Your reminding us of the history of U.S. involvement in Iraq is so helpful. Thank you for working so hard before the war attempting to keep the war in Iraq from happening — if only the President had listened to you and the many people of faith who marched and spoke out. Perhaps the only way for this horrible war to end is for people of faith — Republicans and Democrats a like — to unite and call for strategic redeployment or withdraw. The status quo is not acceptable, responsible or compassionate. The Iraq war has been a recruitment tool for terrorists and has got to end. Glad you are going to be on television tonight. Ever thought of starting a progressive Christian television network?>



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justintime

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:41 pm


Awesome post, Jim. Yes, budgets are moral documents. Warmongers and war profiteers are leading America into ruin and disgrace. Fear is their message. .>



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D4P

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:16 pm


Regarding budgets, tax cuts for the rich, spending on the poor etc., I’d like to distinguish between the following scenarios. 1. Government has a big pot of its own money, and distributes that money to the populace. 2. The populace sends government a big pot of money, and then government redistributes that money back to the populace. While I’m sympathetic to claims that (e.g.) the Bush administration is taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich by cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, it seems to me that, mechanically speaking, that’s not exactly what’s happening. In reality, cutting taxes seems equivalent to not collecting as much from the populace in the first place, prior to redistribution. Cutting taxes for the rich is not really “taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich”: it is rather “not taking from the rich in the first place to give to the poor.” While this distinction may not matter with respect to where the money ends up, I still think it should be made. For one thing, it is easier to justify giving money to the poor under scenario 1 (where government has a big pot of its own money to dole out) than under scenario 2 (where government has to take money from one group to give to another). The big difference, of course, is that in scenario 2, the people who are giving the money away are not always very happy about that. As a result, under scenario 2, in the context of “budgets as moral documents,” those who oppose tax cuts for the rich and who want those tax dollars to be used to serve the poor need to come up with a justification for taking money from one group to give to another that mollifies those from whom the money is being taken. All that being said, however, it is also worth noting that, in contrary to the belief that wealthy people got where they are on their own and that government has no claim to “their” money, it seems to me that government investments are largely what make wealth accumulation possible. Try getting wealthy (and staying that way) without massive government investments in infrastructure, energy, waste management, police protection, etc.>



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Justin

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:18 pm


Why is it not justice when followers of Christ help the poor? Why do we need government intervention? It seems like if true Christian justice came from kingdoms of the world, Jesus might have taken up satan on his offer. Surely he could have implemented social justice through the governments of the world at that point in time. Point being, Christianity shouldn’t be involved in government. God changed his mode of bringing Justice after Jesus. It went from a Top down mentality brought by theocracy to a bottom up mentality that joins people together apart from their governments. When we are solely citizens of God, and our allegiance is only to Christ, our lives change drastically. We’re constantly looking for ways to bring justice. It may start small scale, but it can change the world. It was only after Constantine that Christianity got screwed up.>



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Bob L.

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:23 pm


Great post, Jim. Let’s pray the CBS News peice will help people see there’s more out there than Dobson and Falwell. Ralph, whatever happened to “Compassionate Conservatism” anyway? Haven’t heard that one lately.>



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MNW

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:50 pm


Finally, you write of those who work on the single issue of protecting the state of Israel. I am a strong supporter of Israel its people have the fundamental right to live in peace and security without the fear of terrorist attacks. But it s another thing to ignore the same right of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian Christians, living under the Israeli occupation. You (and many of your conservative friends) forget about them. Hear, here!!!!!!!! I’m glad to see that one of you gets it.>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:20 am


The road to Peace on Earth goes right through Jerusalem. The biggest obstacles are the Bush administration and the Israel lobby. Justice for Palestine! .>



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Bob McKenzie

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:32 am


Government cannot rebuild levees. The government needs to be taken out of everything except for the military, law enforcement. The Government is by far the WORST when it comes to anything supporting the american people. We the american people need to take care of the rest. What you say is really “tax us to death so people do not have to be responsible” The Government is the most costly, cheapest in quality and out of control. Time for American people to stand up and take control. New Orleans is NOT the government responsibility. It is the people of their area and then the donation and offering of the free people of america. “NOT the FORCED people of America” Greed is what looses jobs in america along with the USA government and the UAW. Really think it thru. I could care less no weapons were found. Truth is people were being tortured, abused, raped and killed by a mad man and those people want our help. “Here i come and i will not follow stupid rules of engagment to fight a war where terroist are involved. (remember how we beat england and they called us savages) Adapt or we will not win, we will be like England when they lost to us. Read your Bible, there will always be war, God said it and you think we can prove him wrong. No way. Then give me one good reason why God should not destroy America the way he did Sodom and Gomorrah. Take christian out of America and she will no longer be powerful or even exist.>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:32 am


D4P makes a very important point: All that being said, however, it is also worth noting that, in contrary to the belief that wealthy people got where they are on their own and that government has no claim to “their” money, it seems to me that government investments are largely what make wealth accumulation possible. Try getting wealthy (and staying that way) without massive government investments in infrastructure, energy, waste management, police protection, etc. .>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:35 am


Sounds like we finally found a Christian Libertarian. .>



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Ben

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:00 am


Go Jim! Wow, I’m learning a lot from your blogging. Thanks so much. May the Holy Spirit fan the flame of compassion and justice in the hearts of all Christians.>



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religiousinstitute

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:00 am


The FRC is hosting a summit for “values voters” in DC this weekend. I wasn’t invited to participate, and I haven’t seen the agenda, but I’m guessing that there will be plenty of attention to sexuality issues. The Religious Institute offers a progressive voice on religion and sexuality. See Rev. Haffner’s blog at “>http://debrahaffner.blogspot.com/>



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Scott Herman

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:06 am


In response to d4p, In reality, cutting taxes seems equivalent to not collecting as much from the populace in the first place, prior to redistribution. Cutting taxes for the rich is not really “taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich”: it is rather “not taking from the rich in the first place to give to the poor.” While this distinction may not matter with respect to where the money ends up, I still think it should be made. The question here is why do the rich have the largest percent of taxes being cut? Is it fare that they who possess the means(money) to pay for health care, schooling, food, clothes etc should be given a larger tax cut then those who do not have the means to provide for their most basic necessities? Where is the logic? Be it that we live in a society the society as a whole is held accountable for the welfare of its people. There for it would make logical sense that lower income families should be given the largest percent of the tax cuts then the wealthiest among us. Morally it is not right both if you have to cut programs that aid the poor and the middle class in order to give more Money back to those who don t need it, so in essence it is robbing from the poor. It s a little harder to see when you don t have a dollar figure or a percent to work with. My point being is that if the poor have to pay more money for their basic necessities then in the previous tax years because a large portion of that money is now being taken and reallocated to people who do not have a necessity for such a large cut (rather a want), not only is that morally wrong it is GREED AT ITS FINEST.>



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:15 am


Earth to Bob McKenzie: When it comes to the war in Iraq, two negatives don’t make a positive. If we spent all our time taking out bloody dictators we’d lose a lot of allies. Second, government does indeed have a role to play, especially in providing infrastructure for the common good. Let’s never forget that government got involved with “diaconal” issues — i.e. social welfare programs — in the first place because of the selfishness of the rich in the 1920s. Third, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed primarily because of affluence and hard-heartedness and not necessarily immorality>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:15 am


“Be it that we live in a society the society as a whole is held accountable for the welfare of its people” Scott – While I agree with you, there are a lot of people that don’t see it this way. A lot of Americans believe (at least implicitly) in a “survival of the fittest, everyone for themselves, rugged individualist” philosophy in which they feel no responsibility or obligation to others in society and individuals are responsible for themselves. They often believe that “their” money is being taken away from them via taxes and given to lazy scam-artists who milk the system for all it’s worth.>



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Frank

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:37 am


RE: JIM WALLIS on the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC Towards the vend of the interview the CBS reporter tried provoking T. Perkins into a response by saying (paraphrasing), “Jim Wallis claims he’s smack dab in the middle, directly in the center. Is he?” Perkins responded with “Usually dead cats and other dead animals are the only ones in the middle.” Tony Perkins if you or your people are reading this you should realize that wasn’t the best retort. Those are animals that are in the middle of the road and get run over. And people are the ones who run over them. Humans know not to stand in the middle of the tracks when the train rumbles past. That’s a hint. Please get out of the way or join the cause, Family Research Council.>



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Scott Herman

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:48 am


Wow Bob you sound very angry. It would be very nice if government did not have to get involved in our affairs and we could take care of all things ourselves. Unfortunately getting rid of government would create more problems then it would solve. Have you ever heard of a dictatorship Bob? That is what amounts to survival of the fittest. There will be the fittest Bob and that doesn t necessarily mean its going to be you. Without government intervention we would soon begin to see a sharp distinction between the fittest among us, a huge gap would begin to arise between the rich and the poor, the haves and have not s. This is the essence of a Civil War. So even though I may not always agree with my government I feel it is my duty and obligation to help improve it in order to better the way it works so that it may better serve my country, my people and our planet.>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:09 am


Right now, I’m listening to Jim Wallis on the Al Franken show, Air America. .>



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Almost There

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:12 am


Bob doesnt want to live in America. He wants to live in a world that he has made up in his mind. The fact is that the constitution (which is the law of our land, not the bible) requires the government to be more involved in just military or law enforcement. And does anyone really think that the government testing the efficacy of drugs or protecting the food supply isnt something we would rather have than not? And Bob clearly disregards the command to “render under Caesars”…which refers to taxes. Are any of my Christianist Republican friends curious that Jesus could have easily as said “don’t pay taxes unto Caesar”? If we really want to be a Christian nation, the country would do what Christ did…help the widows and poor…feed the hungry and needy…love without reservation all, even those who hated him…speak the truth in love…bring peace to the world and not hatred. But that is not a nation that most Christianists like our friend Bob would recognize or be a part of…because that is liberal or Democratic or whatever gobledygook that he believes. Would Christ even recognize his followers if he came back today?>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:21 am


Bob sounds like an extreme libertarian tax protesting white power biker that I ran into in Noxon, Montana a few years back. That you, Bob? .>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:45 am


I hope that all of us contributing to this thread will take note of the civility that both Wallis and Reed have in conversing with one another: the reluctance to resort to personal attacks, the willingness to presume that the other person, however misguided, genuinely means well, and the overall dignified tone. God only knows what they really think of each other, but for the sake of the debate they are both focusing on the issues. May this be an example to all of us. (and yes, that includes me too)>



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Frank

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:55 am


Tell that to Tony Perkins, Wolverine. Perkins equated Wallis’ committment to a strong moral middle as a position that ‘dead animals’ usually find themselves in. This was on our good old CBS nightly news with Katie C. Seems as if not ALL of the so-called experts want to stay focused on the issues. I think Wallis is right. They know their position is failing.>



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Tom

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:00 am


Good point about civility, Wolverine. Thank you. Concerning taxes vs. leaving it to the private sector: New Orleans is the prime example of what happens when you leave it to the private sector: Waste, fraud, cost overruns, companies that need to cooperate not communicating with each other, cronyism, etc. Government can and once did do it better, cheaper, more efficiently, before the anti-government idealogues got involved. Some other facts I find interesting: Government shrank under Clinton, who raised the taxes on the richest one per cent, and prosperity abounded in the private sector. Under G. W. Bush the size of government has grown, and so has poverty, while the average working person’s income has gone down. Only those at the top of society’s heap have prospered. “For I was hungry and you let my unemployment benefits run out.”>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:08 am


Frank: You wouldn’t happen to have Mr. Perkins’ email address, would you? If you do, I’d be happy to shoot him an email. I have to agree that the “dead animal” retort was pretty weak. As Christians we should follow the truth wherever we find it — left, right, or straight down the middle. Not to mention the fact that roadkill can often be seen on the shoulder, not just the center, of the highway. Whether or not this proves that his cause is failing is another matter. I’ve been in these sorts of live media debates (on local radio) and almost always there’s something I could have handled better.>



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AlmostThere

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:23 am


The only reason why the animal is dead is because it thought it could have a meaningful and beneficial conversation with the truck…. These “dialogues” dont change people’s minds…and posting comments is just a way for someone to get their point of view heard. Im as guilty as the next guy. Its a way to show off how smart and funny and witty we are… I dare anyone to find a place in any of these comments where two people who disagree find real and meaningful common ground. It wont happen. If discussion really changed things, this would be a changed world. In the end Ralph Reed will be unchanged and Jim Wallis will be unchanged…because we have all heard this all before and no one is really listening. No wonder we needed a savior…we are a pathetic bunch. Good night all.>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:26 am


You watched Jim Wallis on the nightly news. I listened to him on the Al Franken Show. He just put up a great post on this site. And I’m reading his new book. Incredible. .>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:34 am


Well I’ve changed my mind several times already in these dialogues and I see common ground all around here. Dialogue does change things. Diplomacy works better than war. .>



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AlmostThere

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:35 am


Look out for the headlights, my friend.>



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ausang

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:38 am


Personally, I find it difficult to place any trust in what Ralph Reed believes because of what I’ve read about his political machinations.>



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HurricaneDavid90

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:39 am


Bravo, Jim! I couldn’t have said it better myself! For a person – I can’t define george w. bush as a “man”, he has no connection with reality – who claims himself to be “Christian”, Mr. Bush NEVER considers healing, helping, upgrading the lives of those Americans who TRULY struggle day-to-day. Lies. Corruption. Lies. Greed. Lies. Hatred. Lies. THESE are the “morals” for this pseudo-Christian “president”. Remember, he was NEVER officially elected…..either time! GOD help the rest of us!>



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Frank

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:55 am


Wolverine, I agree. Nobody is perfect and debates aren’t always adroitly handled, esp. in a live appearance. But at some point one has to call a spade a spade. This is coming from an ecumenical leader? It’s one thing if an opponent refuses to concede points or won’t stay on topic but once comments go over the line they begin to incite animosity and anger. Someone is certainly wrong when it gets to the point where religious leaders are more adament about what political side someone falls under. I think Perkins should make a public apology to Wallis. I’m sure you can find his email on the web somewhere. From what I can tell, the difference between the two is pretty clear. Wallis is very aware of not falling into the left-right blame game. Whereas Perkins and the rest seem to ignore this dynamic. This puts a big limitation on them when they debate their views and it shows.>



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Frank

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:58 am


btw, happy int’l peace day!>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:11 am


Global change accelerates. The icecap melts. Peak oil is here. The population is exploding. We’re running out of time. The pendulum swings. The right wing is in panic. Bush is out of control. Fear is everywhere. Stay alert. Keep moving. Be not afraid. We’re all in this together. .>



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Drina

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:28 am


Can’t wait to see how many times Ralph Reed mentions “pro-family conservatives” in his response.>



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Tenoch

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:44 am


Thank you Jim Wallis for encouraging Ralph Reed and his followers to embrace the essential biblical value of justice.>



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:00 am


Tony Perkins’ comment concerning Wallis’ not being in the “middle” reminded me that a number of such people have no interest in common ground. In their view you either are with or against them, and their goal is and always has been authority, obtained by defeating enemies. We had one of those Focus on the Family’s bogus “Stand for the Family” rallies in my city yesterday, and Jim Dobson blasted the Democratic candidate for the U. S. Senate for accepting support from “pro-abortion” groups even though he’s openly pro-life. (Of course, it probably never occurred to him that they see him as willing to work with them on some issues — or perhaps it has and he just wants to stoke the fires of hatred.)>



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Michael Hayes

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:23 am


Someone said: “I dare anyone to find a place in any of these comments where two people who disagree find real and meaningful common ground. It wont happen. If discussion really changed things, this would be a changed world. In the end Ralph Reed will be unchanged and Jim Wallis will be unchanged…because we have all heard this all before and no one is really listening.” I understand the sentiment, but I think it is misplaced (it should be addressed to the rants that occur on political advertisements). The sentiment is one I have also felt, at various times that I have read the comments. I do think the blog is helpful… it is honest expression of vastly differing views. All of us can benefit from that exchange. Thanks to Jim Wallis, and to Ralph Reed, and to all who participate by posting comments!>



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bwjd

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:55 am


I saw and listened to Jim Wallis live tonight in a panel discussion about the role of faith in politics here in Manhattan. He represented a very nuanced, composed yet passionate Christ-centered view of faith in the sphere of politics. Jim, I’ve read your blog, read your book, but you are 100 times better in person. I thank God for the hope in your physical being and words, which reflect Christ better than any political party or ideology.>



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ADOLFO

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:31 am


CAPITALISM at his maximum like the one imposed to everyone in USA got nothing to do with Jesus Christ who came to help the poors not the rich (“It would be more easy to pass a camel by a needle than a Rich to enter the Kingdom of Heaven”). Capitalism is for creating Big Enterprises that would not help the poors but themselves to be rich, and with GW Bush is the best example when he favored all the rich at his table. More anti Christian President of the USA has not exist since Richard Nixon that even Nixon is btter than Bush because did not attack the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the USA as Bush has done. Another example is the run of a War against the permission of the UNited Nations in a pre-emptive attack based in a Lie that Sadam Hussein was having Weapons of Mass Destruction and killing more than 100 Thousands iraquies without a thread of remorse. That is Anti-Christianism at his Maximum! There is more about this awful man just look at the attack on the Environment and the Ozone Layer and contamination of the USA so if there is someone who will go directly to hell surely it will be Mr GW Bush. And if you have doubts just visit: http://www.exodus2006.com/3code.htm and see what GOD himself is talking and thinking about USA and GW Bush in the past years and in the future years.>



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lee

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:38 am


Well, at first blog sounded interesting and I was very intrigued in the prospects of a fresh conversation about faith, politics, and society. . . I was also excited about a real dialogue–one not contained by the failed categories of right and left which have so polarized and paralyzed our public debate. But, I learned very quickly that this was not possible. Both Mr Reid and Mr Wallis are simply talking over each other, both are just trying to win an argument not solve these problems that Jesus would want us to solve. Even when we get to the topic of terrorism we can t find common ground. Of course we should be able to work together as Christians to solve some of these major problems in our society. However, we must also realize that there will always be key issues such as abortion that will separate us (although it should not). I just spent 6 months in Iraq and feel very blessed that I was born in the United States and given the freedom to express my opinions and be part of a country that could accept my beliefs, but I am also very depressed that we can t take these same opinions and come together to make a more caring and faith filled world. This was what I was hoping this blog would be focused on. I guess I was wrong, this is just another Sunday morning talk show, where we are all screaming at each other and solve no problems for the people of our nation.>



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Tom

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:17 pm


I’m sorry you feel that way, Lee. Yes, there will always be people in any debate that will simply scream their own points, attack straw men from the other side, etc., but even that is better than no dialogue at all. We do need to define our territories so we can find whatever common ground there is. After all, this is God’s will for us. Look at Jesus’ disciples. One was Matthew, a tax collector who took money from his fellow Jews and gave it to the hated Romans. On the other hand there was Simon the Zealot. The Zealots were dedicated to the violent overthrow of the Romans. Yet both were equally disciples, and Jesus was equally Lord of both. Lord, let me be more Christ-like.>



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TheRevR

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:21 pm


I for one am glad this conversation is taking place, if only so that “he who has ears to hear” can hear. Even the pretense of respectful dialogue is a step forward from verbal (or actual) fisticuffs. I’ll never forget the speech I heard from the instructor in an undergraduate philosophy of religion class, long, long ago, about how important it is to be able to make a distinction between the worth of a person and the validity of that person’s ideas. We can argue ideas tooth and nail, without attacking the persons who hold them, as long as that distinction is held clear. I think that is what is being attempted by Wallis and Reed here. Of course, whenever anyone descends into an add hominem attack, it’s a delicate matter to point that out without beginning to do the same…. Just a word about the role of government. Those who advocate some sort of theocracy should read their Old Testament, at least, and find out that kings were held accountable by God for how they treated the poor, the fatherless, the widow and the alien. It was their responsibility to “uphold the cause” of these people, who without protection of government, that is, the king, were vulnerable to all sorts of oppression and abuse. Now, in a democracy, the people (“We the People”) is sovereign, and as such have the responsibility, through our democratically-chosen leaders, to uphold the cause of the weak, the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the stranger within our gates. And just as the prophets would warn that kings who failed in such duties would be deposed, just so do such failures on the part of “we the people” threaten the stability of our democracies.>



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Acrostic Universe

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:26 pm


I was enjoying your article until I hit the phrase “tax cuts for the wealthiest”. When I get to the catch phrases, the talking points if you will, I tune out. It was good up to that point, but I read no further.>



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rj34

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:27 pm


I read in here somewhere the comparison between Sodom and Gomorrah and America. I know people who sincerely believe that our nation will suffer (or already has suffered) God’s judgement because of homosexuality, adultery, etc in American culture. But I don’t ever hear the same fears when it comes to the possible immorality of our nation’s foreign policy.>



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Ken Ross

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:56 pm


Why does this go on? We live in one of the most blessed countries in the world and we can not take care of the least of these. I go to church, work, pay my taxes, love my wife, and take care of kids, but, I continue to fall behind. The job I have has great benefits and may go away soon due to one of those mergers. I am fearful to consider the help I would get from the “rabid” neo-cons. It would be something like this, “If a brother of sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (James 2:15-16) As people faith, we should return to a more moderate position; some where between faith and works. I apologize for my sob story. I know everyone has one. I find it so aggrevating we’ve come to this point in Christianity. On the one side are the Pharisees, you the ones who refuse to remove the burdens they place on people, and on the other side are the Sadducees, who deny everything that is spiritual. In the middle is Christ, showing us the true and righteous way. Which way are we going take? Many of these problems have solutions. Unfortunately, we are filled with pride and arrogance. Because of this, the least of these suffer. God forgive us of hour sin. sapientia justicia temperantia Ken Ross>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:37 pm


at 11:00 PM Frank wrote: Wallis is very aware of not falling into the left-right blame game. Whereas Perkins and the rest seem to ignore this dynamic. This puts a big limitation on them when they debate their views and it shows. I think Wallis deserves some credit for recognizing the dangers of the “left-right blame game”, but I don’t think he’s completely immune to it himself. For instance, get this howler: “And then there s the war in Iraq … you slide into the false connection of a defense of the war in Iraq as part of a war on terrorism. Come on, Ralph, virtually no one except George Bush and Dick Cheney believes that any more.” The reality is that lots of people besides Bush and Cheney see a connection between Iraq and terrorism. They include the leaders of Al Qaeda and other radical muslim terror groups, who have been active in the insurgency almost from the word go. Saddam Hussein himself contributed to the families of suicide bombers. Back to my original point: the left-right blame game is pervasive; the temptation to score cheap partisan rhetorical points is constant and difficult to distinguish from the desire to make legitimate, persuasive arguments. Hardly any of us are immune, and I don’t think the Christian left is all that much better at fighting off the urge than those of us on the Christian right are.>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:00 pm


Lee, To me, Ralph and Jim have not talked past each other and have not have a normative debate. It looks to me like they are talking directly about what kinds of collective action a society ought to take based on Christian ethical principles. Maybe it would be instructive if you wouldn’t mind sharing what you think a higher dialogue would look like? I didn’t catch if you were in military service, but thank you for spending part of your life trying to improve the current situation in Iraq.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:00 pm


I dare anyone to find a place in any of these comments where two people who disagree find real and meaningful common ground. It wont happen. If discussion really changed things, this would be a changed world. In the end Ralph Reed will be unchanged and Jim Wallis will be unchanged…because we have all heard this all before and no one is really listening. Almost There, I disagree. I’m listening. I believe the people reading these messages back and forth between Mr. Wallis and Mr. Reed are listening. Do you think Mr. Wallis and Mr. Reed need to find common ground? Or is it more important for the rest of us to find common ground? In political debates (which is what this is between Wallis and Reed…it is not a religious debate), the point is not to convince each other of the other’s position…but rather, to convince those listening that yours is the proper and more effective path to take. These guys are not messaging each other in the hope of convincing each other…they’re hoping to convince us, the readers, of their position. There is no “common ground” between these two positions. It’s like saying there is “common ground” in regards to torture. There isn’t any. You either accept torture as morally acceptable or you don’t. I believe what Mr. Wallis and Mr. Reed are attempting to do is to convince us that the only ground worth standing on is theirs. They aren’t seeking to find a compromise with each other. They’re seeking to draw people to their side, hoping to eventually push the other to the fringes. It’s politics…it ain’t religion.>



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Dave

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:10 pm


Yeah, I never understand the religous right’s fascination with Israel. Theologically, it is un-justified in my mind. God does not have a special future for literal Israel. The Bible says the Church is the new Israel. (Is. 49:3-5; Gal. 6:16) Let’s leave behind the Left Behind theology and we will all be better off. :)>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:14 pm


Read your Bible, there will always be war, God said it and you think we can prove him wrong. No way. Jesus said: “Seek and you will find”. Do you not believe the words of Christ? If humanity decided to seek peace, do you not believe we would find it?>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:22 pm


On the Role of Government. When Jim braved the halls of the Heritage foundation for a debate, I was disappointed when his opponent, Joseph Loconte, basically stood and said, and I paraphrase, “Jim I agree with your values and what each of us ought to be doing but nowhere do you prove why any of this should involve the government.” TheRevR has some good answers from the prophets, but I’d like to supplement his [or her] response. Government is not JUST an entity unto itself. It is We the People. This is the foundational idea of America, it is why we promote democracy. So the fundamental question of the role of the government is whether its independent existence makes it a bad choice for taking action. In a totalitarian government, it absolutely does – there is no check to power encroachments. However, the idea of democracy is that we always get to review and make changes. Only the abolition of democracy in America could make the government a bad choice for taking action. How soon we forget the lessons learned from Hoover and FDR’s approaches to government. We the People arbitrate and negotiate how much luxury we are willing to give from our lives to provide necessities for those in need. (Which is the part that D4P leaves out above – we set the amounts by the democratic process.) When We the People decide we should spend money on bombing Iraq and I disagree I still pay my taxes and I don’t gripe that I am being robbed for a failed cause. But every single one of my conservative Christian friends complain that the government is robbing them to give to welfare recipients. Think about that for a second, think about what that says about our priorities and our commitment to democracy as a way of living together. Here’s the rub: you’re either committed to living in the world and making a life together or you are exclusively self-interested. Taxes are not burdens, nor are they robbery. They are investments in ourselves and others. Given the traditional definition of sin as elevating the Ego in place of God, I would like to suggest that the position that the body politic should not be involved is a sin because it comes from a place of self-centeredness. Matthew 25 and Luke 10 make this position completely untenable for a Christian.>



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Billie Jo

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:29 pm


THANK YOU!>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 4:49 pm


at 10:15 AM Dave wrote: Yeah, I never understand the religous right’s fascination with Israel. Theologically, it is un-justified in my mind. God does not have a special future for literal Israel. The Bible says the Church is the new Israel. (Is. 49:3-5; Gal. 6:16) Let’s leave behind the Left Behind theology and we will all be better off. I can’t speak for all Christian conservatives, and I have no doubt that that are some out there who support Israel for theologial and even eschatological reasons. But for me personally — and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this — there are very strong secular reasons to support Israel: democracy, rule of law, respect for women and minority rights. No, Israel isn’t perfect, but I see a decent society surrounded by tyrannical enemies, and a friend that deserves our support. And all that comes without my ever reading a single book in the “Left Behind” series.>



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Michael Kotyk

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:04 pm


I am very much in agreement with Jim’s blog. Compassion was the main theme of it. To mete out justice without compassion is not justice but is revenge. I question the Gulf War. Is this justice or is it revenge? There seems that there is a lot of glee in certain Christian sectors over the suffering over the Muslims. 9/11 was 5 years ago. We have killed over 20 times the number of people that died during that terrorist attack. How much more of a ‘blood price’ do we require? I spent the last 3 1/2 yrs onboard an aircraft carrier taking part in two deployments to the Gulf and saw too many officers and Chiefs enjoying the footage from cameras on aircraft of Iraqi soldiers, human beings, being blown to bits. This is not justice; that is revenge and we are forbidden to seek revenge by God. Compassion is also much more needed towards the poor. Great. They have a job but they still are living off of WIC and cannot afford the basic needs that everyone else enjoys. The poor live in substandard housing in crime ridden neighborhoods. I think we need to care just a bit more than the table scraps we’ve been tossing at them. In regards to Israel, I love the country and the people but compassion needs to also be extended to the Palestinians. I dont care what religion they are or the color of their skin .. they are still people and most of the victims of Israel’s ‘war’ were innocent of the crimes committed against Israel. I used to be a member of the Conservative wing but seeing the destruction caused by our policies first hand has changed my mind and I have moved towards the left. There needs to be a change in the way we think. I, for one, do not feel that the right wing sector of Christianity is showing enough compassion towards our neighbors.>



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Peter

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:10 pm


Thanks Jim for commenting on Israel. I think more needs to be said about this issue. This is certainly a Christian value. There are millions of Palestinians who sufffer everyday under the occupation and oprresion of Israeli policies supported by our government. Christian Conservatives and Zionist Like Ralph offer uncritical support and love for Israel. I hope they are willing to take responsiblity for the thousands of deaths, for the horrendous quality of life, and the racist/aparthied policies Palestinians suffer under. These certainly don’t sound like christian values to me.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:19 pm


But for me personally — and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this — there are very strong secular reasons to support Israel: democracy, rule of law, respect for women and minority rights. I agree. I support Israel’s right to exist for all of the reasons you’ve stated above. However, you claim Israel has respect for “minority rights”. What about the Paletinians? Are they not a minority? What rights are they given? What respect are they shown? I see none from the government of Israel. All I see from the government of Israel is an attitude of “here’s what we’re willing to let you have…take it or leave it”.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:30 pm


Thanks to religiousinstitute for posting the referral to deborahhaffner’s blog, a quote from which I have posted below. And the reason I posted the quote is because in her blog is a link to the poll she refers to. How very telling that the ‘Center for American Values’ has REMOVED the poll results. Could it possibly be because they were not ‘favourable’ to (i.e. did not reflect the ‘values’ of) the Center??? (An aside, Focus on the Family did the exact same thing a year or so ago when polling results didn’t reflect their ‘values’. Talk about selective, eh?) “But a poll released on Wednesday by the Center for American Values, a program of People for the American Way, found that issues such as abortion and marriage equality rank LAST in importance to the vast majority of Americans when deciding how to vote. Indeed, although this poll of more than 2500 randomly sampled U.S. citizens found that a majority of Americans support stem cell research, and marriage or civil unions for gay couples, 85% believe that issues like poverty and affordable health care are more imortant than issues like abortion and same sex marriage. Indeed, in thinking about voting, abortion and marriage equality come in dead last on how a person would decide to vote for a member of Congress.”>



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Kempster

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:32 pm


Let’s get back on point with public policy. The Chapin Hall Center for Children (linked with U of Chicago) has done some amazing research on the fallacies of the welfare to work success. We need to focus on preventative policies to begin breaking down our system that reinforces the disparities of socio-economics and race. Discourse is essentially irrelavent if it is based on the assumption that we are talking about an even playing field (i.e. America is the land of unabated opportunity). I see this as the great ideological divide between Republicans and Democrats, and it may contribute to the points of talking at and not with one another.>



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Margaret

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:57 pm


AMEN!!!>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:02 pm


Kempster, Right on. The contrast was evident in the 2004 party conventions. Arnold Schwarzanegger said that “If you work hard and play by the rules you will get ahead.” Which also means: “If you are poor you did not work hard and play by the rules. The poor are immoral.” This is a common premise in conservatism and it has infected even the most sincere Christians. Note that ralph Reed consistently says the working Middle Class. What is unsaid: “as opposed to the lazy poor people.” John Edwards said that this should be a land of opportunity but it isn’t – too many people are working hard and playing by the rules but still not getting by. Barack Obama said that people know the governmetn cannot parent for them and that they have to work but are not getting the opportunities they need to make it happen. I’ve found a great deal of common ground by talking about minimum wage workers who are forced to work two jobs, leaving no time to parent and barely enough money to live on. It killsfamilies more than any other single problem. And it usually condemns the child to merely inherit their single mother’s life – or turn to crime and try to get rich. It’s fascinating to me that conservative Christians uphold Levitical law as the eternal expression of God’s moral order but totally ignore Jubliee. God had the Jews redistribute wealth evenly every 49 years. What does that say about God’s moral order? Is that reflected in the conservative philosophy?>



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kevin s.

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:22 pm


Daniel, How would such a distribution be feasible? What would it look like, and how would it differ from communism today?>



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kevin s.

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:28 pm


Tom, Blaming New Orleans on a corrupt private sector is absurd. The government whole state of Lousiana, and the city of New Orleans in particular, are notoriously corrupt. The corruption of government officials led to the sort of kickback deals that led to faulty levees. Are prviate companies in on the deal? Naturally, but the corruption flowed from a government that went unchallenged in election cycle after election cycle.>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:41 pm


“How would such a distribution be feasible? What would it look like, and how would it differ from communism today?” First of all, if Christians believed that such a distribution was God’s will, it would be feasible because they could simply decide to obey God and redistribute their wealth. Second of all, if such a distribution were God’s will, its relation to “communism” would be irrelevant.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:57 pm


how would it differ from communism today? Do you assume that communism is a “bad” thing? Because it sure sounds like it. I see just as many problems with “pure” capitalism as I do with “pure” communism or “pure” socialism. Is there no hope of combining the best aspects of communism and socialism and capitalism and democracy etc? Does everything have to be all or nothing? I believe there are some good attributes to socialism and communism…just as I believe there are some good attributes to capitalism…but none of them are all good. Each has it’s downside.>



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sam

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:57 pm


We are responsible to God each and every one of us. Is it not scripture that preoclaims “never seen a righteous man begging bread” and did not Jesus say we will always have the poor with us. As christians we have a responsibility to help those in need but we are not to force others to, which is what is done when government forces wealth distribution through its tax system. Jesus will return and He will say as you did or did not to the least of these my breathern you did or did not do to me. Each of us will have to answer and saying we adavocated government doing this for us will not cut it. It will be what we do not what we try to make others do through political power. This tax cut that so many like to blast was and is good, as for as it went. To say it did not help the poor is a lie. It took many off the roll completely That’s 100% tax relief and I would like that. So if we are what we claim to be then we should pattern our actions after Jesus our Lord. He never forces anyone to do something against their will otherwise if he did there would be no need for hell or judgement. He wants us all to come to know and follow Him. He want make us, but we will be held accountable if we don’t.>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:03 pm


“As christians we have a responsibility to help those in need but we are not to force others to, which is what is done when government forces wealth distribution through its tax system” Should government force us to support its military through its tax system? I say we privatize the military, and those who want national defense can pay for it and those who don’t want it don’t have to pay.>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:15 pm


at 11:24 AM MWN wrote: All I see from the government of Israel is an attitude of “here’s what we’re willing to let you have…take it or leave it”. Among the many things that the Israelis were willing to let the Palestinians have were a state of their own, with sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and nearly all of the West Bank. All this was offered to them during the Clinton administration. Yasser Arafat refused, essentially because the Israelis insisted that the Palestinian Authority drop the use of violence. I feel a great deal of sympathy for the people of Palestine, in particular for the utterly abysmal leaders that they are stuck with. Leaders too stupid to recognize a good deal when they see one. These leaders are propped up by other Arab tyrants and (unwittingly) by many in the west who consider themselves supporters of the Palestinian people. Further complicating matters is the prevalence of jaw-droppingly awful anti-semitism in the Arab media. This rabid anti-semitism makes sane discussion of Palestinian interests among Palestinians themselves nearly impossible. I pity the Palestinians, but there will be no end to the violence until western liberals wise up and demand more accountability and less mind-killing hate from Arab and Palestinian leaders.>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:25 pm


at 12:07 PM Daniel wrote: It’s fascinating to me that conservative Christians uphold Levitical law as the eternal expression of God’s moral order… That would be fascinating. Daniel, is there any chance that you could show me an example of Christians calling for the direct adoption of Levitical law? Preferably someplace with a decent number of followers, like “Christian Coalition” or “Focus on the Family”, as opposed to some fringe outfit like “Snake Handlers from Mars”.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:34 pm


I pity the Palestinians, but there will be no end to the violence until western liberals wise up and demand more accountability and less mind-killing hate from Arab and Palestinian leaders. Yeah… Western liberals are oh so freakin’ powerful. Give. Me. A. F**king. Break.>



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mw

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:36 pm


Chairty and justice are indeed different things, as Jim Wallis points out. I’d like to make two observations, though. 1. People who claim that religious group can do the work of professional social services providers are simply mistaken. Ram Cnaan, Public/Private Ventures and others have shown indisputably that churches and other religious groups are good at some sorts of social service provision, but very bad at others. Just as we wouldn’t put a hospital of sick people in the hands of good-hearted volunteers, we can’t put desperately poor, or drug-addicted, or mentally people in the hands of church folk, however well-intentioned they may be. Caring for the fragile must always in the end be the responsibility of the government, both because government represents the collective will and wealth of a nation, and because the buck simply has to stop somewhere. Church groups don’t HAVE to do anything for the poor, sick, retarded, hungry or mentally disordered; government does, and can be held legally responsible for neglect or incompetence. 2. My second point has to do with the notion of social justice. I think we might get further in our dialogue about ameliorating poverty if we stopped using such an emotionally loaded phrase. As a social worker, I know first-hand that poverty and desperation result from a complicated mix of circumstances. People get dealt terribly unfair hands, they make destructive decisions, bad things happen to them. Trying to figure out to what extent any particlar person is the victim of social injustice is a distraction and a waste of time. Conservatives and liberals will always disagree fundamentally, with conservatives saying, ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ and liberals saying, ‘But society didn’t give the poor any bootstraps.’ Let’s talk instead about how a moral society should treat the poor and the desperate, about which sorts of approaches ‘work’ and which ones don’t. That’s the only way forward.>



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Anonymous

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:38 pm


Getting back to the larger point… at 12:07 Daniel wrote: It’s fascinating to me that conservative Christians uphold Levitical law as the eternal expression of God’s moral order but totally ignore Jubliee. I totally disagree with you about that, though I understand your confusion. The fact is that the value of an economic fresh start, and in particular relief from debt, is accepted pretty much across the board. While we can go on all day about the value of the last round of bankruptcy reform, the fact is that there is a law on the books and it offers relief to millions of debtors. And harldy anyone is calling for the law’s repeal. In other words, the only reason we appear to ignore it is it just isn’t a controversy.>



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L D King

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:45 pm


Lots of interesting threads here. One thing I want to note is that as a society, we have long been in a rather dual position — on the one hand, we seem to usually feel some obligation to help the poor, while on the other, we see the American ideal as pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps, which creates a real skepticism about the poor, who have not done so. From the depression came a need for government to become activistic in helping those on the margins, and that remained a largely popular approach until the Reagan years, when the push was to downsize government and let wealth “trickle down” on the poor (which it never quite seemed to do). We have to decide, as a nation, whether we want to commit ourselves through our government to help the needy or not. But the “small government” types never seem to want to give up their tax incentives and business loans and other “goodies” that this same government provides. The truth is, we are all selfish by default. The grace of God sometimes is able to move us past our selfishness to helping others. My libertarian uncle has said that if the churches helped the poor, the government wouldn’t have to. The point is that the churches (in aggregate) DON’T help the poor to the extent that they could or (I believe) should. But I also think there is value in the nation facing this question for itself. We are an indulgent, materialistic people. Will we support politicians and laws that save us from that baser side of ourselves?>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:51 pm


Getting back to the larger point… at 12:07 Daniel wrote: It’s fascinating to me that conservative Christians uphold Levitical law as the eternal expression of God’s moral order but totally ignore Jubliee. I totally disagree with you about that, though I understand your confusion. The fact is that the value of an economic fresh start, and in particular relief from debt, is accepted pretty much across the board. While we can go on all day about the value of the last round of bankruptcy reform, the fact is that there is a law on the books and it offers relief to millions of debtors. And harldy anyone is calling for the law’s repeal. In other words, the only reason we appear to ignore it is it just isn’t a controversy.>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:05 pm


at 1:39 MNW spat: Give. Me. A. F**king. Break. No. If you want a break, you’ll have to ask for it. Nicely.>



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mw

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:07 pm


LD King, you’re so very right. It’s all about deciding what sort of country we want to be. That decision is an inherently a moral one. Christians can lend urgency to the claims of the poor, but only the country as a whole can commit itself to one moral path over another. If I could find a politician who framed the debate in those simple terms, I’d vote for him/her.>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:17 pm


Global free trade policies result in the erosion of our manufacturing base, a loss of living wage jobs, a disappearing middle class and inevitably increase the level of poverty in America. Free trade policies put America’s working families in the position of competing with workers in developing countries, who must work for a fraction of the wages previously earned by American workers. Global free trade policies are really class warfare promoted by both Republicans and Democrats, so this is a bipartisan moral issue. Correcting these disastrous trade policies would result in a reduction in poverty, a healthier middle class and a stronger America, without causing a drain on our budget. I think tariffs should be reenacted to protect our working class, our manufacturing base and the overall health of our economy. Yes this is protectionism but something must be done about shipping jobs overseas and our exploding trade deficit with developing countries, particularily China. .>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:22 pm


Discussion of the jubilee year was interesting, but I don’t know how you would ever implement this in the contemporary greed driven world. I do think that the attempt to abolish the inheritance tax (which the Republicans deceptively call the “death tax”) should be resisted by sensible, moral Americans. .>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:23 pm


Kevin S, It wouldn’t be feasible to reset wealth, and I’m not suggesting we ought to do so. I do not believe Levitical Law expresses the eternal will of God, I believe it expresses the Hebrew understanding of the will of God following their oppression as serfs of the Pharaoh. What I’m suggesting is that if conservatives believe Leviticus expresses God’s morality then they can’t pick and choose.>



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Frank

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:38 pm


Wolverine, Responding to your 9:42 a.m. post: It’s a nasty, violent, militaristic, angry world and we must accept it! This is what passes for Realism and it gets drummed into our society. The Left is not immune to this pervasive overtone either. Wolverine, I then would obviously not doubt that many others besides Bush/Cheney see a connection between Iraq and terrorism. Western ecumenical groups tried to avoid this path before the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the subsequent “War On Terror.” But other groups, including most prominent religious conservatives, decided on a different direction. That different direction has led the country into the gridlock we see in our community today. I think what Wallis is trying to say is that debate tends to “slide” into the very kind of chaotic world we claim it to be. Funny how that works, eh? That ain’t NO WAY to do things. I ask you what good does it do to simply continue to remind people of terrorism and then only go so far as to offer militaristic solutions and steadfast patriotism? I don t get how some religious groups think this approach of riding out the terror by tough talk is going to bring people together. People are beginning to wake up and realize that their God has a broader, peaceful outlook on things. Morality and good sense knows no label of liberal or conservative, nor populist or progressive. It s about an idea of bringing people together and there s simply no room for a legitimate dialogue amongst the current auspices within Washington D.C. and our community s.>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:39 pm


Wolverine, is there any chance that you could show me an example of Christians calling for the direct adoption of Levitical law? Preferably someplace with a decent number of followers, like “Christian Coalition” or “Focus on the Family” To clarify, I haven’t said they were advocating the adoptance of Levitical Law. I said they hold it to express God’s eternal moral order. All the groups you mention believe the Bible is inerrant and internally consistent. Which means God delivered the Law verbatim and God doesn’t change. This view of Scripture is the stated theological basis for fundamentalism in general. Also, read the posts from Ralph Reed’s supporters on the former blog entries for the discussion of Levitical Law. Plus, Every one of the groups you’ve mentioned fought to get the Ten Commandments into courthouses. None of them fought to get the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, or Jesus’ teaching that we should settle and not go to court. And, finally, Focus on the Family and The 700 Club consistently use verses from Leviticus to condemn homosexuality.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:49 pm


Wolverine 09.22.06 – 2:10 pm So, it’s true… You ARE one of “those” kinds of “Christians”. The kind that don’t give unless asked…and even then they demand it be done to their specifications. Whatever. Go on ahead and continue to believe that unrest in the Middle East is somehow controlled by “western liberals”. It doesn’t have any affect whatsoever on my life.>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:49 pm


Sam, As christians we have a responsibility to help those in need but we are not to force others to, which is what is done when government forces wealth distribution through its tax system. You are suggesting that you have been forced to give your money to the poor. You miss this equally important point: ALL TAXES ARE FORCED. If I disagree with a military action or the existence of the military I too would be forced to distribute my income for bombs. Notice why this matters: what you are advocating is not libertarianism but anarchy. Sam doesn’t want to be forced to do anything Sam doesn’t want to do. Whatever sam wants, Sam gets, damn the consequenmces for others. It’s tough to engage you on that because the general premise is that any commitment you find yourself in is a loss of freedom to you. That would be the case whether you are forced to pay for your kids or a welfare recipient’s next meal, yes? It’s a selective view of freedom. You are being given the freedom from self-implosion, higher crime rates, and uncivil society in exchange for having to give someone else freedom from starvation and ignorance. Which freedom is more important? You and your independence or the good of others? What would Jesus do?>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:52 pm


I have a question for those Christians around here who believe that homosexuality is a sin. Do you also believe that homosexuals cannot go to heaven, i.e. that their sin will prevent them from going to heaven? If so, are there any other sins that prevent the committers from going to heaven, or is homosexuality the only one? And if you believe that, what is the source of your belief? Where does the Bible (for instance) list the sins that prevent people from going to heaven? Unless I’m mistaken, the only “unforgivable sin” I’ve run across in the Bible is something like blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:09 pm


Daniel, Your original point was that Christian groups were demanding that US law should more closely parallel that of the Old Testament, but at the same time they were ignoring the OT concept of “Jubilee”. I raised two objections: first, I intended to call attention to the fact that we weren’t demanding strict application of any of the OT law. In a second post, I observed how the central moral ideal behind the Jubilee had in fact become so widely accepted, in the form of bankruptcy law, as to be beyond debate. The upshot of all that is that, compared to much of the OT law, the economic fresh start of the Jubilee has actually fared pretty well. I think your question about the courthouse Ten Commandments displays, is a fair one. I would respond that the real fight there wasn’t about a particular scripture, but about the stripping of religion from public life. If we had chosen the Sermon on the Mount I suspect we would have had the same fight with the ACLU anyway. But would we have had your help?>



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rj34

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:13 pm


Sam, Thanks for your post–“We are responsible to God each and every one of us…” Do you apply this individualistic ideal to Abortion, Same-sex marriage, etc?>



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kevin s.

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:15 pm


D4P, All sin is forgivable, including homosexuality.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:17 pm


I would respond that the real fight there wasn’t about a particular scripture, but about the stripping of religion from public life. How do you twist putting the ten commandments into a courthouse as “stripping” religion from public life? Biblical commandments (ie religious commandments) have no place in a secular government’s courthouse or courtroom. They are not the law of the land, and they have nothing to do with the law of the land. The attempt to have them placed in a government building, is solely to serve the adherents of said religion…they do not serve, “we the people” and thus have no place in OUR government’s buildings. Why is it so important to Christians that these idolic symbols be placed in our government’s buildings? Is your fatih so weak that you need such constant reminders wherever you go?>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:19 pm


“All sin is forgivable, including homosexuality.” Does that mean you expect to see homosexual Christians in heaven? If so, why do you think so many heterosexual Christians spend so much of their time, effort, money, etc. trying to get homosexual Christians to convert to heterosexuality?>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:27 pm


MNW wrote: So, it’s true… You ARE one of “those” kinds of “Christians”. The kind that don’t give unless asked…and even then they demand it be done to their specifications. Whatever. Well, there are worse things than being one of “those” people who sometimes has to be asked to give help. I’d hate to waste my time giving help that isn’t needed or wanted. As for my “specifications”, I’ll admit I don’t always respond kindly to obscenities. I know what those asterisks stand for, you see… Go on ahead and continue to believe (sic) that unrest in the Middle East is somehow controlled by “western liberals”. It doesn’t have any affect whatsoever on my life. There’s compassion for you. Looks to me like what you’re saying is: “I’m not going to reconsider my political alliances, even if they might be hurting the Palestinians in the long run. I’m not a Palestinian, so its no skin off my nose.” Wolverine>



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Lutheran Pastor

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:31 pm


I don’t know that the central concept behind the “jubilee” is captured in our bankruptcy laws. The “jubilee” is far more radical than that. Land that had been sold was supposed to be given back to its original family. This would effectively prevent just a few people from controlling most of the land. By the way, the jubilee was so radical that there is no evidence that Israel ever observed a “jubilee” year.>



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kevin s.

posted September 22, 2006 at 9:56 pm


D4P, For the record, gay marriage is pretty low on the list of issues I care about. I have my beliefs on the issue, which I believe are a logical extension of my Christian faith, but I am not particularly passionate about it. Would I expect to see Christian homosexuals in heaven? Depends on their heart. The key is whether they genuinely seek repentance through Christ’s death on the cross. If they do, I believe God to point out the fact that this behavior is not in line with scripture. I approach it just as I would any other sin. Are thieves forgiven? Yes. Must they ask for forgiveness, yes? Does God change hearts? Yes. If someone who repents continues to steal, without a second thought about whether it is right or wrong, are they truly redeemed? That’s much harder to tell.>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:02 pm


Wolverine, I didn’t mean to imply that I think conservatives want to enshrine Levitical law. And I share your concern about the ACLU campaign to strip religion from public life. Bankruptcy protection does follow from a Jubliee kind of consciousness but I’d encourage you to go much further. Over 14 million children live below the poverty line in the wealthiest country in world history. It’s a widely accepted fact that poverty is the main cause of teen pregnancy, abortion, violent crime, divorce, family disintegration, disease, and early death. Any agenda that would address these ills in individuals’ lives will have to address the socioeconomic machine which produces them. As Jim says, at some point we have to stop JUST pulling bodies out of the river to go upstream and find out who is throwing them in.>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:05 pm


If someone who repents continues to steal, without a second thought about whether it is right or wrong, are they truly redeemed? That’s much harder to tell. I agree. Ultimately, I suspect that expecting us to (1) be aware of all of our sins, and (2) always repent and ask for forgiveness is an unrealistically high standard for God to use. Plus, it’s not as if He’s trying to minimize the number of people who spend eternity with Him in heaven. On the contrary, I would think He wants as many souls as possible. That leads me to believe He will err on the side of mercy with respect to our sinful natures.>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:40 pm


at 4:07 PM Daniel wrote: It’s a widely accepted fact that poverty is the main cause of teen pregnancy, abortion, violent crime, divorce, family disintegration, disease, and early death. Actually, in many cases the causal relationship is exactly the reverse: teen pregnancy and family disintegration, in particular, are widely understood to be causes of poverty. I’ll have a longer post up in a little while on the poverty debate that you might be interested in. (Not that you’ll agree with any of it.)>



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justintime

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:47 pm


The pastor says there’s no evidence that the jubilee was ever observed by the Jews, but as a concept, I’m still attracted to it. I think the moral basis behind the concept of the jubilee is that an excessive concentration of wealth is harmful to the society as a whole. Excessive concentration of wealth seems to be a universal problem in societies and has been dealt with in different ways by different cultures. Native Americans used the concept of the “potluck” as a means of evening out wealth amongst themselves. If a society does nothing about the inevitable tendency for wealth to concentrate into the hands of the “successful”, society tends to degenerate into a feudalistic tyranny. I think we all would agree that feudalism is immoral. After the collapse of the Roman empire, western civilization fragmented into feudalism and society stagnated for centuries. Irish monks preserved the core of western civilization until the Rennaisance finally broke the grip of feudalism. In our society, the inheritance tax serves the same moral purpose as the jubilee and the potluck, I think. Various antitrust and antimonopoly laws also deal with the problem of concentration of wealth in the hands of the few. The concept of the corporation has greatly accelerated the unhealthy concentration of wealth in modern society. As we all know, corporations aren’t people and have no incentive to practice morality, they’re strictly bottom line oriented. Corporations apply intense pressure, lobbying government to pass new laws eliminating barriers to their accumulation of wealth. Government regulations are attempts to enforce morality. But this is ineffective when corporations lobby to eliminate regulations and otherwise corrupt our government to just look the other way. We need to find a way to embed morality into the very structure of corporations. If we don’t do this, we’ll continue living at the mercy of corporate feudalism. And it can get a lot worse than it already is. The world’s resources won’t allow us to stagnate for centuries. Some say we only have about 10 years to turn this nightmare around before the planet “ruptures”. .>



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Lutheran Pastor

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:56 pm


The fact that the Jubilee may never have been observed doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. Isn’t it God’s command in Holy Scripture? But human sinfulness prevents us from following God’s commands fully. The post about the dangers of wealth being concentrated in a few hands was right on. Although bankruptcy laws follow from some sort of Jubilee idea, I still insist that true Jubilee is much more radical.>



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Daniel

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:04 pm


Wolverine, Actually, in many cases the causal relationship is exactly the reverse: teen pregnancy and family disintegration, in particular, are widely understood to be causes of poverty. Our claims on poverty are not mutually exclusive. Yes, these ills sometimes cause poverty. That should in no way justify a conclusion that poverty doesn’t cause these ills. I believe that systematic poverty is the root cause of the viscious cycle and I believe any fair reading of teh evidence will bear out that claim. Even if I can’t convince you otherwise, we could, like Evan Bayh has in his Responsible Fatherhood Initative, use the economic system to engender broad-based solutions. I’ll have a longer post up in a little while on the poverty debate that you might be interested in. (Not that you’ll agree with any of it.) I will not be able to get out here much next week, so I hope I don’t miss it! I am sincerely interested in your perspective and I promise to listen to you fully even if it’s total crap. LOL. Seriously, thanks for participating here. I feared that a blog like this would just be us Lefty religious types sitting around Amen-ing each other….>



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Lutheran Pastor

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:04 pm


Interesting conversation regarding poverty and teen pregnancy, homelessness, etc. I would expect that both personal responsiblity and social injustice contribute to poverty. Regarding the idea that teen pregnancy causes poverty, of course, Wolverine, you mean that in a cyclical way. Because I would bet that if a nice middle-class family experiences a teen pregnancy, they do not slide into poverty.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:09 pm


Hey SpellingPolice…I mean Wolverine… It’s “believe”… http://education.yahoo.com/reference/dictionary/entry/believe;_ylt=AtHtbP74MS.xRNtVzvX702.sgMMF …take your “[sic]” somewhere else.>



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MNW

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:12 pm


Looks to me like what you’re saying is: “I’m not going to reconsider my political alliances, even if they might be hurting the Palestinians in the long run. I’m not a Palestinian, so its no skin off my nose.” Of course that’s what it looks like to you…that’s what you want to see. Of course, that’s quite typical of a “Christian” of your type.>



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Rod Livdahl

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:21 pm


THANK-YOU Jim for laying the hands of TRUTH upon Ralph’s ridiculous attempts to justify the bad public policies of the Bush/Cheney administration. Your statement below clearly uses FACTS rather than rhetoric to point out the fallacy of Iraq having anything to do with the war on terror. It’s only made matters worse, not better in 4 years of needless killing! ………………………………. “And then there s the war in Iraq. You start with a paragraph on terrorism, with which I would mostly agree. But then you slide into the false connection of a defense of the war in Iraq as part of a war on terrorism. Come on, Ralph, virtually no one except George Bush and Dick Cheney believes that any more. You go way back to the Iraq war against Iran, but don t mention that the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein in that war. Remember the famous (now infamous) photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983? You note Iraq s use of chemical weapons, but fail to note that the U.S. provided battlefield intelligence for the Iraqi regime. Back then, he was accomplishing the U.S. objective of weakening Iran. I was against Saddam Hussein before the U.S. government was. But this disastrous war, which grows more deadly violent every day for Iraqis and American troops, is far from a success in fighting terrorism. And many now believe, including a chorus of tough-minded former military leaders, that Iraq has become a great distraction from the real battle against terrorism and has even made things worse. It has created and exacerbated terrorism and helped inflame anti-American sentiment around the world. Did you see the latest U.N. report on Iraq in this morning s news? The New York Times wrote that: Across the country, the report found, 3,590 civilians were killed in July the highest monthly total on record and 3,009 more were killed in August. And the Los Angeles Times noted that a top U.S. military spokesman said attacks against American troops had increased recently. There are now nearly 2,700 American deaths. Yet, we re told that the threat to America from terrorists is greater than ever. Bush s policies have made the world more dangerous, not less, and he has made our children less safe, not more.” ………………………………. But I doubt even Bush or Cheney really believe the above rhetoric either! They know as well as the rest of America that Iraq is not the forefront of terrorism…but to admit so publicly would be political suicide for themselves and for the Republican party who have mustered up the votes necessary to keep this farce going. So we’ll have to suffer through 2 more years of their lies and deceit, unless God blesses America with a unified Democratic controlled Congress after November, who have the courage to impeach both of those war criminals!>



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Rod Livdahl

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:23 pm


THANK-YOU Jim Wallis for laying the hands of TRUTH upon Ralph Reed’s ridiculous attempts to justify the bad public policies of the Bush/Cheney administration. Your statement below clearly uses FACTS rather than rhetoric to point out the fallacy of Iraq having anything to do with the war on terror. It’s only made matters worse, not better in 4 years of needless killing! ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… “And then there s the war in Iraq. You start with a paragraph on terrorism, with which I would mostly agree. But then you slide into the false connection of a defense of the war in Iraq as part of a war on terrorism. Come on, Ralph, virtually no one except George Bush and Dick Cheney believes that any more. You go way back to the Iraq war against Iran, but don t mention that the Reagan administration supported Saddam Hussein in that war. Remember the famous (now infamous) photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam in 1983? You note Iraq s use of chemical weapons, but fail to note that the U.S. provided battlefield intelligence for the Iraqi regime. Back then, he was accomplishing the U.S. objective of weakening Iran. I was against Saddam Hussein before the U.S. government was. But this disastrous war, which grows more deadly violent every day for Iraqis and American troops, is far from a success in fighting terrorism. And many now believe, including a chorus of tough-minded former military leaders, that Iraq has become a great distraction from the real battle against terrorism and has even made things worse. It has created and exacerbated terrorism and helped inflame anti-American sentiment around the world. Did you see the latest U.N. report on Iraq in this morning s news? The New York Times wrote that: Across the country, the report found, 3,590 civilians were killed in July the highest monthly total on record and 3,009 more were killed in August. And the Los Angeles Times noted that a top U.S. military spokesman said attacks against American troops had increased recently. There are now nearly 2,700 American deaths. Yet, we re told that the threat to America from terrorists is greater than ever. Bush s policies have made the world more dangerous, not less, and he has made our children less safe, not more.” ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… But I doubt even Bush or Cheney really believe the above rhetoric either! They know as well as the rest of America that Iraq is not the forefront of terrorism…but to admit so publicly would be political suicide for themselves and for the Republican party who have mustered up the votes necessary to keep this farce going. So we’ll have to suffer through 2 more years of their lies and deceit, unless God blesses America with a unified Democratic controlled Congress after November, who have the courage to impeach both of those war criminals!>



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Wolverine

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:37 pm


THIEVES AND VANDALS Poverty is typically understood in terms of material deprivation. A poor family is one that lacks certain things that we would ordinarily expect them to have. It follows then that our response to poverty depends on how we explain the absence of those material goods. There are two obvious explanations for the absence. The first is theft: the poor lack the things they need for a dignified life because someone else took it. This is, I suspect, how the left tends to view poverty. The implication of the “theft” paradigm is that all this wealth is still out there somewhere, being enjoyed by somebody. Their suspicion is, understandably, directed at “the wealthy”, many of whom have stuff they did not earn. (And lets be serious, not all of the wealthy have earned their riches. For example, there’s Paris Hilton…) Maybe they are the ones who stole it. To the extent that this is true it follows that redistribution of wealth is not merely a matter of generosity but a matter of justice. The second obvious explanation is laziness. The poor lack materials goods because they didn’t pull their fair share. Liberals tend to assume that their political opponents think in these terms, and to be fair there are some out there who do. But there’s a third explanation: vandalism. The poor deserve more than they have, but much of what they earned was destroyed by some means or another. Now a thief can become wealthy if he steals enough and he’s clever enough to avoid being caught, but not a vandal. If I break in and steal someone’s TV set, I gain a TV set. But if I vandalize that TV, I gain nothing except the cheap momentary thrill of breaking glass and smashing electronics. When a man leaves his family, he’s made them poorer, but that doesn’t mean he himself has become richer. When a man gets a woman pregnant then leaves her to raise their child alone, that woman and her child are likely to be poor. But the man is no richer. When parents neglect their child’s education, that child’s intellectual growth is stunted and his chances of becoming poor are greater. Or maybe the refuse to exert any discipline at all. Or maybe they are abusive. In all of these cases the parents are no wealthier. If anything they will be poorer later on because they won’t be able to rely on that child for support in their old age. But the child is likely to be poorer. I suspect that in a lot of cases, there are people who are poor themselves genuinely through no fault of their own. But if you dig around to find out who is at fault, you are just as likely to find another poor person as a rich one. Not a thief, but a vandal. As a consequence, we should approach the poor with compassion. Frequently they will indeed be the victims. But general indignation toward the rich will frequently be unjustified. There are such things as innocent bystanders. And sometimes, among both the rich and the poor, we will encounter the runaway father, the “playa” who refuses to accept any responsibility for his offspring, the negligent or abusive parent. We should not hesitate to hold these vandals, rich or poor, accountable for the damage they have done. Wolverine>



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D4P

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:38 pm


But I doubt even Bush or Cheney really believe the above rhetoric either! They know as well as the rest of America that Iraq is not the forefront of terrorism Yeah. It’s a safe bet that, if the current president were a Democrat, s/he would be subject to many of the same criticisms from Republicans (including many conservative Christians) that Bush is currently hearing from Democrats.>



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Wolverine

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:00 am


MNW: The only other explanation is you don’t care what I think. But clearly that’s not the case — you do keep responding to my posts. Wolverine>



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Will

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:12 am


I am grateful that Jim Wallis and Sojourners are getting wider exposure. The segment was just that, a segment. I thought Jim sounded strong and inviting. Let’s make sure that this kind of coverage of evangelical progressives continues — and that more progressive Christian voices are amplified in the press such as Diana Butler Bass, Shane Claiborne, Brian McLaren, Alan Jones, Michael Battle, Sister Helen Prejean, Desmond Tutu and Ched Myers. For the monologue to be over — we all need to speak up online, in our churches, and in our communities. There are many people especially in rural America (I was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia) who don’t realize that there are progressive evangelical Christians. So even short segments in the media like the one last night make a difference. There have been progressive Christians throughout history — St. Francis of Assisi was hardly a hard-hearted conservative, nor was Dorothy Day in the 20th century. St. Francis was a pacifist who refused to support the crusades and went on a peace mission to meet with the “enemy.” Dorothy Day was a strong supporter of worker rights and critic of the military industrial complex. Both were sincere Christians who believed in the Bible, in the creeds, and believed that Jesus wanted followers of his way of life not just worshippers. Also Democrats have spoken about their faith and how it shapes public policy for a long time. Robert F. Kennedy was very articulate about how faith called us to care for the least of these. FDR’s New Deal was organized by people of faith like Episcopalian Frances Perkins, also the first woman on a president’s cabinet. We progressive Christians need to remember our history and our heros — the Saints of God who have spoken out in every generation for justice, peace and human dignity.>



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MNW

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:17 am


…you do keep responding to my posts. Typical of a “Christian” of your type… It’s you who keep responding to me…so I must assume you care about what I think. Are you sure I spelled everything correctly that time? Because I noticed you didn’t randomly place any “[sic]” anywhere. Did you look up the word “believe” and note the spelling? Here’s something I learned in grade school that obviously your mother didn’t teach you (I assume a “Christian” of your type was home “schooled”)… It’s i before e, except after c, or when sounding like a as in neighbor or weigh. Got it? Maybe you could teach the others in your SpellingPolice unit this little poem so they don’t make the same mistake you did and look as stupid as you. And don’t forget to tell your Mommy.>



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Wolverine

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:54 am


MNW, This thread has degenerated into an exchange of personal insults. I will not be making any further responses. My apologies to the gang. Wolverine>



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MNW

posted September 23, 2006 at 1:20 am


This thread has degenerated into an exchange of personal insults [between MNW and Wolverine]. I will not be making any further responses. I will only make one further response. My apologies to the gang. My apologies to you, Wolverine. Please forgive me. Such is the way of Christ. Adieu.>



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MNW

posted September 23, 2006 at 1:23 am


One last thing, Wolverine… I have already forgiven you…there is no need to ask.>



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Wolverine

posted September 23, 2006 at 1:36 am


MNW: Okay — one last bit of unfinished business. I went back and you were right about the (sic). I don’t know why I thought you had made a mistake. The spelling police drop all charges. Peace, Brother. Wolverine>



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justintime

posted September 23, 2006 at 3:30 am


To find some great opportunities for reducing poverty both in America and around the world, I think we should review global free trade policies enacted by both Democratic and Republican administrations in recent years. These policies, promoted by global corporations, have increased corporate profits, have devastated America’s manufacturing base, have eliminated millions of living wage jobs for working families in America and have spread poverty around the globe wherever sweat shop labor has been employed by corporations. Take a look at the scandalous sweat shops in the Marianas Islands, where global corporations are allowed to stamp goods manufactured by coerced labor as “Made in America”. These sweatshops are a disgrace to the American way. I have come to believe that a return to some level of protectionism is imperative for a moral American trade policy. There is no doubt in my mind that imposing tariffs on goods manufactured in developing countries with cheap labor will allow our devastated manufacturing base to recover, provide new living wage jobs and have an enormous impact on poverty in America. The argument that free trade benefits both America and the developing world has now been proven to be utterly false. The only beneficiaries of free trade policies have been the global corporations. Many of these corporations utilize off shore addresses to avoid United States taxes. In addition to impoverishing millions around the world, free trade policies have seriously damaged America’s economy, driving us into astronomical debt, a burden which will be born by our children. “Free trade” is a cruel hoax. The world needs a moral policy on international trade – “fair trade”. Fairly imposed tariffs on goods manufactured overseas with cheap labor will have a bigger impact on reducing poverty than any other policy I can think of. Protective tariffs will have all these effects without costing our treasury – in fact they will increase tax revenue. This is the central message brought to the World Trade Organization by massive demonstrations, starting in 1999 in Seattle, Washington. My family participated in the Seattle demonstration and we believe even more strongly in this message now. .>



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kevin s.

posted September 23, 2006 at 6:45 pm


There are a number of arguments that can be made for and against protective tariffs, but the idea that they would somehow benefit poor workers is not one of them. Tariffs invariably decrease demand for a certain product (that’s why they were instituted in the first place). If you decrease demand, you simply put those people out of work. Not a solution.>



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kevin s.

posted September 23, 2006 at 6:54 pm


For the record, the church does not exist to help the poor, but rather to glorify God. Does it glorify God to help the poor? Absolutely, but so do praise, worship, outreach, teaching, etc… Church attendees in general give a pittance to their congregation, which is why churches are strapped to do anything, much less help the poor. Church attendees give a pittance because other things in their lives consume them, and God is small. We can debate policy, but we should not get away from the fact that our faith exists for God, not for the poor. If he is not sovereign over our lives, then it is unsurprising that the church is not doing enough to help anybody.>



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justintime

posted September 23, 2006 at 7:14 pm


Of course tariffs decrease demand. That’s why they are imposed. And that is why China and Japan have imposed tariffs and obstacles to the import of American made products. Tariffs on imported goods manufactured by offshore corporations using cheap offshore sweatshop labor will reduce the demand for such products. And that should be the intent of America’s trade policy. By reducing demand for products manufactured by offshore corporations using cheap offshore sweatshop labor, the demand for domestic products manufactured in America by American workers is increased. Why isn’t that a good idea? Kevin S., You claim to be in “government affairs”. So do you have any public policy ideas that would turn the tide against increasing poverty in America? .>



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justintime

posted September 23, 2006 at 7:19 pm


Sounds like Kevin S. thinks the church should ignore social justice and stay out of public policy. .>



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D4P

posted September 23, 2006 at 9:01 pm


we should not get away from the fact that our faith exists for God, not for the poor. But didn’t Jesus say that what we do for the least of these, we are doing for Him? Serving the poor IS serving God. Do you really think God cares more about us singing songs to Him than He does actually helping people?>



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kevin s.

posted September 23, 2006 at 10:01 pm


Justin, I didn’t say whether tariffs are bad or good. Pat Buchanan would agree with your analysis of the economic impact :) “Sounds like Kevin S. thinks the church should ignore social justice and stay out of public policy.” I didn’t even come close to saying that. D4P, Does God care more about whether we praise him through song or by helping people? Both are required, so I can’t make that distinction. You seem the be belittling praising the Lord, as though that isn’t important. My point was that, if God is not our center, helping “the least of these” is not going to happen, nor will any other act of Godly servitude.>



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kevin s.

posted September 23, 2006 at 10:28 pm


“So do you have any public policy ideas that would turn the tide against increasing poverty in America?” For the record, I do not work for a think-tank or anything, so I am not responsible for making policy recommendations. While I disagree the poverty is increasing in America (complicated discussion), there are some things we can do to address this issue. 1. We should decrease farm subsidies. As it presently stands, farmers receive a complicated array of government handouts, many of which are geared toward reducing supply and maintaining (or increasing) the cost of food. The majority of these dollars go to wealthy (and influential) farmers, and they cost a staggering amount. 2. Adoption reform. Abortion issue aside, adoption must become easier in this country. It costs thousands of dollars to adopt, and can take years to cut through bureaucratic red tape. Why? To make absolutely sure that parents are fit to be adoptive parents? Do we have this standard for those who wish to be biological parents? No… This is one area where Jim Wallis and I see eye to eye. 3. Better nutritional spending. Obesity is the biggest health problem facing the poor. And yet, because malnutrition was a problem years ago, we devote money to, for example, school breakfasts, so kids can consume more calories. 4. Education reform. Someone has to stand up to the teachers unions. Period. From compensation structures, to curricula, the system is a mess, and it is unfair to qualified teachers (or would-be qualified teachers). We all agree that education is vital to breaking the poverty cycle. It’s time for a solution that isn’t just “more money”. No serious person can claim that a lack of funds is causing our education problems. 4a. Post-secondary reform. Our local, state and national governments spend big-time dollars propping up a bizarre system of colleges and universities. In an effort to compete with each other, these schools demand more money, and cater their education to appeal to college applicants. Thus, we have a plethora of communications majors who spent four years equipping themselves to be unemployed. These dollars disproportionately benefit the middle and upper classes, and create a situation in which the 4-year school is a rite of passage for world of decent jobs. Our government shouldn’t be in the business of supporting that. Those are just a few issues, from a conservative perspective. Of course, there “cure” for poverty, almost by definition.>



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Will

posted September 23, 2006 at 10:51 pm


Here’s more of what the Bible says about good religion: Amos 5:21-24 “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” Isaiah 58:6-7 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”>



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HAC

posted September 23, 2006 at 11:48 pm


D4P, You said in regards to unconfessed sin that God “will err on the side of mercy with respect to our sinful natures.” I, for one, don’t believe God errs. I believe he knows our hearts. Just as Kevin said, for those who truly follow him, he will bring their hearts to conviction. The blood of Christ does cover us from all sins, even those we don’t realize. The OT had a sacrifice to cover all the “extra” sins (even the unknown ones), called the Guilt Offering. Since Christ’s sacrifice replaced all the old ones, our unknown sins are covered as well. However, we must have committed our lives to him. As a result, the Holy Spirit brings our hearts to repentance. We may not recognize every little sin, but ones that persist will be made clear to us. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to repeat sins, but we will recognize they are wrong. There is a difference between living a lifestyle, and struggling with something you know is wrong. Thus, it is hard for me to accept that someone could live a long term unrepentant homosexual lifestyle while following after God. Kevin S., Good points all around.>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 1:00 am


Kevin S. Thanks for putting up your policy ideas on reducing poverty. I think we’re getting somewhere. Does it surprise you that we have common ground? Lets walk over our common ground: 1. I agree about farm subsidies. These subsidies were a method of providing some security for traditional small farms from fluctuating and manipulated commodity prices. We need to reform this system because small family farms have been made nearly extinct by corporate agribusiness and they’ve turned our farm program into a gravy train for themselves. But the reason why nothing is being done about this is Congress is being lobbied by corporate agribusiness – such as Archer Daniels Midland. Agribusiness writes the rules for our farm program. My solution: clean up government and pass some sensible farm policy without corporate bribery. 2. Adoption reform. Good idea, I’m in. So what do we do about it? Do we just streamline the regulations and safeguards against child abuse and then move on to solving the next big problem? I don’t think so. I’ve often speculated that if the Christian Right were to spend as much energy enabling adoption as they expend fighting abortion, we’d be far ahead in solving the abortion problem. 3. I’m with you all the way on this one. I don’t mean to keep bringing up corporations as if they’re the root of all evil. But just remember, we’ve only recently started eating a corporate food diet. My wife teaches elementary school and tells me about her obese students and their obese parents. Science can explain why these children will be struggling with obesity the rest of their lives, because they got hooked on junk food when they were kids. The solution to the obesity phenomena – which started in America and has now become a global problem – is for humans to kick the corporate food habit. This is a lot more complicated than it sounds, but it works. And there are good ideas out there. Downsize Me! 4. We certainly agree our educational system is a mess and something has to be done about it. But we probably have different ideas about how to improve the system. I think you’re going to have to accept the fact that it’s going to cost more money. Yes there’s some waste in public eduction. But quality just costs more money, man. You get what you pay for. I disagree the teacher’s unions are to blame. Have you ever made a living teaching in the public school system? No Child Left Behind has been a disaster, according to most professional educators. NCLB imposed the burden of excessive testing without funding the program. Local Districts have been forced to eat the costs of NCLB at the expense of other programs. NCLB was largly a PR campaign for the Bush administration Just another top-down idea from so called experts who have never taught in classrooms. 4a. You may be on to something here, Kevin. It sounds like you’ve given it some thought. What do you think we should to about redundancy in higher education? If we did something about this, would it have much of an inmpact on poverty? Anyone else want to weigh in on Kevin’s policy ideas? .>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 1:07 am


Kevin S. Do you really believe poverty is not increasing in America? Where do you live? .>



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Anonymous

posted September 24, 2006 at 3:01 am


Kevin S. I do have common ground with Conservative Pat Buchanan and not just on our trade policy. Pat’s an old line conservative. I don’t agree with his racist tendencies but I can respect him for holding out against the present day Republican party, which has been hijacked by the Christian Right and corporate cash. I wish there were more old line conservatives around to moderate the GOP. The old line conservatives I know are honorable folks, you can dialogue with them and you can trust them. But old line conservatives have no place in today’s GOP. Barry Goldwater must be turning over in his grave. If I knew what to do I would try and help them take back the GOP just so we could have an honorable opposition party. .>



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Joseph

posted September 24, 2006 at 3:03 am


What folows are the lyrics to a Neil Young Song “Shock And Awe” Back in the days of shock and awe We came to liberate them all History was the cruel judge of overconfidence Back in the days of shock and awe Back in the days of “mission accomplished” Our chief was landing on the deck The sun was setting on a golden photo op Back in the days of “mission accomplished” Thousands of bodies in the ground Brought home in boxes to a trumpet’s sound No one sees them coming home that way Thousands buried in the ground Thousands of children scarred for life Millions of tears for a soldier’s wife Both sides are losing now Heaven takes them in Thousands of children scarred for life We had a chance to change our mind But somehow wisdom was hard to find We went with what we knew and now we can’t go back But we had a chance to change our mind. My biggest trouble with the “Christian” Right is the inability to admit that they have backed a mass murderer and torturer or even that they have made a mistake. Those of you who treat the Bible like a transcription from the supernatural evangelical republican in the sky have misunderstood the meaning of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. And there is no one coming from the sky to save this world from the endless violence between religions, between nations, between rich and poor. The Creator’s house is not in the future or the past, not in this religion or that, it doesn’t come with signs or elections, It comes with fearless love of God and neighbor. Our religions are getting in the way of being able to change our mind enough to see God in others. By the posts on this site it seems everyone has their own private Christianity, their own true interpretaion of the Bible, and many are willing to condemn others versions. But theology is more than words , and what Iraquis know of the theology of Ralph Reed is 100,000 dead civilians and no peace in sight .>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 3:04 am


Will’s Bible quotes resonate with my feelings. This is how I was brought up as a Christian. BTW the post above is mine too. .>



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HAC

posted September 24, 2006 at 4:30 am


they have backed a mass murderer and torturer I take you’re refering to President Bush? Even John Kerry thinks this argument is absurd. Blaming the President for the actions of Islamic Militants is intellectually dishonest. For the civilian casualties as a result of targeting insurgents, just look at any other previous war. The US Military has been amazingly precise in this one. Besides, there’s a huge difference in targeting militants and having unintentional civilian casualties, and targeting civilians for the purpose of causalities. You discredit yourself when you say stuff like this. P.S. Is not abortion mass murder?>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:02 am


HAC, Bush’s tragic invasion and occupation of Iraq is based on proven lies. It was a preemptive act of war against a sovereign nation that was no threat to America whatsoever. ALL of the death and destruction resulting from Bush’s unilateral act of war is his and America’s responsibility. And the Christian Right needs to do some serious soul searching for their role in promoting this tragedy. Bush and his cohorts will eventually be tried for war crimes at the International Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands. They will also receive God’s judgement. .>



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Daniel

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:03 am


Wolverine, I read that you were exiting this thread, but I hope you read this post and engage me…. First, there is a lot of merit in your post above. Absolutely there is “vandalism” as you call it. And, there is laziness sometimes. There are a myriad of factors at work in poverty. Basically, though, your analysis misses a lot of explanatory power because it oversimplifies things. For example, the explanation that the free market naturally favors those who start their lives with more resources doesn’t fit anywhere in your analysis. That’s a pretty gigantic oversight. It would be like comparing the drawings of my 2 year old to a Renoir and ignoring the fact that Monet has a head start on my kid. This isn’t the only oversight, but it’s one that no account of poverty can do without either confirming or refuting. Also, it migt help to realize that poverty and wealth are not linear patterns but outcomes from interacting with a system. See Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline for an account of systems models and where the leverage lies to reverse each. In a nutshell, we can disagree about poverty’s causes and still agree that the leverage lies in the market. I think the evidence, scientific and anecdital, shows overwhelmingly that family disintegration, teen pregnancy, etc are both caused by and causes of poverty. It’s a feedback system, and viscious cycle. The point of leverage for social action lies in the system, in the economy. I say social because we can’t make people take personal responsibility but we can make it far more likely they will choose to do so – at present we are intentionally making it far less likely. Which is contrary to what we both want, I think. but it misses a lot from oversimplification.>



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Daniel

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:04 am


Sorry, that last post should not repeat ‘but it misses a lot from oversimplification’ at the end. Bad editing on my part!>



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Joseph

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:22 am


John Kerry is not my moral compass. Pope John Paul (also not my moral compass, but you could do worse) explained it something like this. If a murderer is hiding in a town, the police don’t destroy the town to punish the killer, lest they also become killers and criminals. Saddam posed no credible threat to the U.S. and had nothing to do with the Islamic militants, (mostly Saudis) who perpetrated 9-11. There were U.N. inspectors in Iraq with freedom to go anywhere to inspect for weapons violations. The casualtes I referred to were reported by the British journal “the Lancet” soon after the invasion and were mostly a result of the initial bombing, invasion ,and occupation. Currently U.N. inspectors are saying there is more torture taking place now than under Saddam. There is no way of dropping cluster bombs in civilian populations that is not murder.The U.S. did that. Bush Rumsfeld are war criminals according the Genva Conventions. (i encourage you to read them. They are not hard to understand.) They(Bush..) know this and have just strongarmed McCain into excusing the U.S. from direct accountability to the Geneva conventions in the so-called torture compromise bill. Do you think Jesus would compromise with torture or do what Rumsfeld has ordered his “interrogators to do? I challenge you to define terrorism in such a way that The U.S. actions in Iraq would not be terrorism. As far as abortion, I think it is wrong, but so did Adolph Hitler. Being against abortion does not justify a war of aggression aginst a country that never attacked you. There were no legitimate military targets in Iraq because their military did not initiate a war.>



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D4P

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:25 am


there’s a huge difference in targeting militants and having unintentional civilian casualties, and targeting civilians for the purpose of causalities Tell that to the families of the civilians being killed. “Sure we may have killed your loved ones, but they didn’t count because those deaths were unintentional.” If there were terrorists living in your neighborhood, would you object if Bush started dropping bombs on them, perhaps killing you in the process?>



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Joseph

posted September 24, 2006 at 6:51 am


For the civilian casualties as a result of targeting insurgents, just look at any other previous war. The US Military has been amazingly precise in this one. Besides, there’s a huge difference in targeting militants and having unintentional civilian casualties. The reason I use the word murderer is the motive involved. The mass killing of Iraqis was not motivated by sef defense, nor concern for the Iraqi people. I t was not for the sake of anything that can legitimately be called Democracy. It was a perfect example of what is written in the New Testament book of James. “From whence come wars and fightings among you . Don’t they come from your own lusts?” The Iraq war was a way for a motley collection of oil and war profiteers and political operatives to stuff their pockets with billions and to seek political gain. The cashing in wasn’t very subtle either. Exxon-C. Rice- record profits; Halliburton out of the red into the black-Cheney; the Carlysle group- Daddy Bush- huge weapons profits; Good ol Bechtel- billions in unfulfilled contracts. Iraqi Oil privatized with no legislative decision by elected government. The creation of a huge army of hired mercenaries who are copletely unaccountable to the Iraqi Govt. The idealistic neocon theorists of a Democratic middle east like Richard Perle exposed for doing security and arms deals with Iran Contra weapons dealer. There are whole books about this stuff written by conservatives and progressives and exhaustively researched, but the reports of the GAO ( the government’s accounting office ) provides enough information to convince anyone that Bush’s biggest republican supporters made a lot of money on this War. Politically it has justified huge increase in government secrecy and spying.It has become a recruiting ground for the terrorists we are proposing to discourage. Perhaps Mr Reeds and Mr Bush’s defenders would like to list some positive benefits of this War. I can see already the Islamic countries lining up to follow Iraq on the path to Democracy and the “magic of the marketplace”.>



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HAC

posted September 24, 2006 at 7:17 am


Wow… the understanding of history and military tactics and strategy here is severely lacking. While I appreciate the conversation, I must bow out for now. I don’t plan on getting back in (no promises, just current plans). justintime, you don’t really understand anyone who disagrees with you. The rest of the left wingers here aren’t much different. You throw out crazy statements declaring that Bush is responsible for every single death in Iraq. That is nothing less than the statement of an insane mind, governed by emotion and not logic. You’re not worth debating. I’m going to put my energy into more important things.>



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kevin s.

posted September 24, 2006 at 9:32 am


Joseph. If you took a poll, which asked the question “do you consider Bush to be a mass murderer” how many would respond affirmatively? What percentage of those will have disagreed with his policies from the get go? Get out of la la land. And, w/r/t Hitler and abortion, you might want to study the history of eugenics. Justin, It sounds like we have a fair amount of common ground. I’m glad you are able to respect Pat Buchanan. He’s a smart guy. I don’t think anyone who knows him would call him racist, though his assertions regarding Hitler’s leadeship and influence were inappropriate to say the least. I agree that healthy eating decisions have been replaced by unhealthy ones. Unfortunately, those were not the decisions of big bad CEOs, those are the decisions of parents who are, for reasons I cannot understand, unwilling to feed their kids vegetables, potatoes and meat. Companies found ways to make the staples cheaper. Having said that, you allude to the fact that McDonalds is contributing to the problem, which does beg the question of why poor people frequent such places. There is more to it than money. I do not make a living in public schools. I have a couple of friends who do, both of whom consistently receive strong reviews from both students and administration. Both of them are among the best teachers at their school. So, they’re among the best paid, right? Nope. Both received about a 3% raise, about the same as the schmuck who shows 10 movies per semester. If you are a talent, motivated individual, what about that is enticing. Oh, and both had to go earn advanced degrees in education, which did next to nothing to improve their ability to teach. They spent, what, $15k for the priviledge of lacking upward mobility? The union system is bankrupt. Look at the recent debacle with union bureaucrats in D.C., who robbed the district of millions of dollars we have had similar situations in Minneapolis, where millions go missing on a nearly annual basis. Isolated incidents? Perhaps. But isn’t it possible that they are sympomatic of a flawed system? We are spending 5 figures per year on secondary education. Seems to me that is more than enough to get the job done. If it isn’t, what is? At what dollar amount do we begin to demand results?>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 4:56 pm


Kevin s. says: If you took a poll, which asked the question “do you consider Bush to be a mass murderer” how many would respond affirmatively? What percentage of those will have disagreed with his policies from the get go? Get out of la la land. Well, Kevin, surely you must realize that the truth is not established by polls. Many of us disagreed with Bush’s preemptive invasion of Iraq from the get go, in spite of all of the now proven lies about WMD’s. The facts establish that Iraq was no threat to America whatsoever. And unless we remove these warmongers and war profiteers from power, we all continue to live in la la land. .>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 6:49 pm


Kevin on obesity: “I agree that healthy eating decisions have been replaced by unhealthy ones. Unfortunately, those were not the decisions of big bad CEOs, those are the decisions of parents who are, for reasons I cannot understand, unwilling to feed their kids vegetables, potatoes and meat. Companies found ways to make the staples cheaper. Having said that, you allude to the fact that McDonalds is contributing to the problem, which does beg the question of why poor people frequent such places. There is more to it than money.” Seductive TV commercials directed at children are very effective in drawing time strapped two breadwinner families into the “fast food” trap. Nutritional food takes time to prepare. Once people get hooked on a high carbohydrate diet, it’s tough to get off of it. So I must disagree that corporations are blameless for the obesity phenomena. Some school districts have brought high carb diet contractors into their school lunch programs, contributing to the problem. But other school districts recognize the importance of nutrition, ban soft drink machines and provide nutritional food in their lunch programs. It’s shocking to find out that school lunches are the only meal of the day for many children from poor families. Hungry children are distracted away from learning in school. It’s encouraging that some corporate fast food chains recognize their responsibility for public health and are beginning to offer better nutrition on their menus. .>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 8:23 pm


Kevin on the public school system: It’s time for a solution that isn’t just “more money”. No serious person can claim that a lack of funds is causing our education problems. and: I do not make a living in public schools. I have a couple of friends who do, both of whom consistently receive strong reviews from both students and administration. Both of them are among the best teachers at their school. So, they’re among the best paid, right? Nope. Both received about a 3% raise, about the same as the schmuck who shows 10 movies per semester. If you are a talent, motivated individual, what about that is enticing. Since you have talented teachers as friends, ask them what they think can be done – without spending more money. Most teachers I know tell me that lowering class size is the major priority – but that costs money. You already know that teachers are underpaid. And that teaching must be a labor of love for your friends. I’m sure you don’t think that teachers should just “suck it up” and keep teaching without fair compensation. I agree there is rampant corruption in many unions, as there is in government. But I disagree that teacher unions are the problem with our underperforming public school system. Many local districts are ruthlessly stingy about compensating their teachers and they get what they are willing to pay for. Ask your teacher friends about this and I’m sure they will tell you that if it weren’t for the unions, they could not continue teaching. I agree that incompetent teachers are a big problem. More must be done to move the incompetents out and reward excellence in education. In some areas, teacher unions are actually taking the lead in this. If you want to look for ways to make our public schools more cost effective, I would start at the top and work down. There are many incompetent school administrators in the system. They cause much more damage than incompetent teachers in the classroom. Take a look at your local school district and find out what fraction of the district’s overall budget goes into the classroom. You’ll be shocked. In our public school system, the classroom is where the rubber hits the road and the money just isn’t trickling down there. Another point about our public school system, and this is an important one: America is one of the few countries, if not the only country, where local education policy is established by an elected board of lay people who are not necessarily professional educators. Most other countries recognize educators as professionals and compensate them accordingly. In most other countries professional educators administer education policy and curricula – politics is not part of the equation. Many school board members in American school districts use the school board as a stepping stone toward higher political office. So they have another agenda besides educational excellence. There is a lot of politically motivated meddling with our public school system. No Child Left Behind is just one example. In my local district, the Christian right wing, working stealthily, stacked the school board with creationists and a “trojan horse” creationist biology teacher was hired to teach high school biology. This teacher proceeded to substitute creationism for the theory of evolution in his classes. It took us 5 years to wake up the parents, get a responsible school board elected and a competent biology teacher back in the classroom. There went five classes of students down the road with a bogus biology education Finally, there are many education scams out there, besides creationism, that approach non professional school boards and sell them a bill of goods. A school board composed of professional educators would be more likely to resist these scams. You may not know this, but teachers are forbidden from serving on school boards or participating in any way in the democratic process of electing school board members. In my opinion, this is absurd. Thanks for reading this. .>



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HAC

posted September 24, 2006 at 8:45 pm


Sorry, had to respond to this: in spite of all of the now proven lies about WMD’s You mean the lies that Saddam’s Generals believed when he told them that he did have WMD’s right before the invasion (documented fact)? A lie requires a knowledge that what one is saying is wrong. The only one who lied was Saddam (unless he did have WMD’s and moved them to Syria, as one former general of his believes). To say Bush lied you must have proof that he knew what he was saying was wrong. Do you?>



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HAC

posted September 24, 2006 at 9:04 pm


Schools have been very politicized. I agree. That is why the federal government must remove itself from education (a major disagreement I have with Bush) by abolishing the US Dept. of Education. Schools need to be returned to complete local control. That means if some want to include ID theories they can, and if some don’t want to, they don’t have to. This puts more power in the hands of parents, and encourages them to be more involved (too many aren’t). Also, the issue of cost is because of all the administration BS and extra non-educational costs schools incur. Diversity training… new approaches to education (instead of traditional ones that work)… huge sports facilities… overqualified counselors (cost a lot)… All of these make education way too expensive (and it doesn’t work, I might add). They need to take all this extra wasted money and spend it on teachers who do teach well, and reward them for their work. In addition, teachers shouldn’t need 6 years of post-secondary schooling. If someone isn’t a good teacher by the time they hit their 3rd year of post-secondary work, more schooling isn’t going to change it much. Honestly, there is very little incentive beyond the goodness of one’s heart to work to be a good public school teacher today.>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 11:08 pm


HAC says: A lie requires a knowledge that what one is saying is wrong. To say Bush lied you must have proof that he knew what he was saying was wrong. Do you? HAC, I’m glad you returned to this dialogue about Bush’s immoral invasion of Iraq. This tells me you have an open mind and are not afraid to face the truth. So here’s why I think Bush betrayed the trust of the American people and lied to us about the existence of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in Iraq: First, can we agree the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq had active nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons and weapons programs is false, since none have been found? I don’t think you will deny that we were told this by the Bush administration in their attempt to sell their immoral invasion of a sovereign nation. Will you? Are you still with me? I agree, to legally establish that a lie was told, you must first prove that the liar knew he was telling a lie. There is ample evidence available to establish, beyond any doubt, that the Bush administration knew they were lying to the American people. So the question remains, Did George W. Bush know that the statements he made to the United Nations and to the American people regarding WMD’s in Iraq were false? I don’t think the International Tribunal on War Crimes will have any difficulty confirming this. We will have to wait for their decision but let me ask you, HAC, How do you feel about trusting a government that knowingly lies to you on such a solemn and serious matter as taking the nation to war? .>



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D4P

posted September 24, 2006 at 11:28 pm


The problem with debating whether or not Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq is that to do so seems to lend credibility to one of the (many and constantly flip-flopping) “justifications” for the war, to wit “If there are WMDs, we must unambiguously invade and pillage.” I never accepted that argument.>



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Anonymous

posted September 24, 2006 at 11:38 pm


D4P, Part of the reason schools tend to be ruthlessly stingy is that they have so many candidates willing to work for so little. Both of my friends have advanced degrees, which were necessary into to garner employment. Neither believes themselves to be undercompensated, and both have widely divergent views on how to fix public schools. Both would probably opt out of the unions if they could (they have opted out of the optional one, the NEA I believe). “There are many incompetent school administrators in the system. They cause much more damage than incompetent teachers in the classroom.” This is very true. Further, they hire and sustain the careers of mediocre “system-friendly” teachers. And nobody thinks school administrators are underpaid. I believe Intelligent Design to be the most accurate scientific explanation of biological history, and I don’t think students are harmed by learning about it. However, School Board members ought not be responsible for making this change. As you mention, the problems with school boards go far beyond imposing intelligent design (which is a relatively rare, if headline-grabbing, phenomenon). You are correct that many see it as a stepping stone to higher office, and they are often prone to using their district as a guinea pig for educational fads (think “new math”). These fads are extraordinarily expensive to implement, and distract from real educational matters. It is silly that teachers cannot be school board members, even sillier that good teachers are not promoted to be school administrators. As far as class sizes go, there are more teachers per student now than there were in the 1970s. Thanks to union pressure, teachers now teach fewer classes per day, which has contributed greatly to overcrowding. The problem is that any mention of accountability is met with the demand for more money. NCLB (a Kennedy bill, btw) was an attempt to balance these competing ideas. So what would be the appopriate adjustment in school funding? If we maintained that level of funding, would it be fair to expect results? What if schools don’t deliver?>



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justintime

posted September 24, 2006 at 11:51 pm


Kevin S. I think it would be useful if you were to run your conclusions by your teacher friends before you put words in their mouths on unions and class sizes. I’m surprised you think NCLB is a Kennedy bill. I believe it was created by Bush’s Department of Education under Rod Paige. I think Kennedy and many others in Congress may have voted for it because they thought it would be properly funded. Even Paige was dismayed that the program became an unfunded mandate, a mere PR campaign for Bush. This is a big reason why Paige resigned as Secretary of Education. .>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 12:14 am


Kevin, I’m not sure I want to open up the Intelligent Design can of worms, because I don’t think it has much to do with social justice or Bush’s folly in Iraq, the subjects of Jim Wallis’ post. But I must tell you that almost 100% of real scientists believe Intelligent Design to be a matter of personal faith and not useful to the scientific method. The theory of evolution however, has contributed to mankind’s understanding of God’s creation, advancing knowledge in many fields, most notably genetics and medical science. Very few scientists, even agnostic and atheistic scientists would disagree that there is intelligence behind the wonders of the universe. On the other hand, Creationists totally reject any value for the theory of evolution. In doing so, they deny the scientific method entirely, whether they realize this or not. This has led me to speculate what would happen to Creationists if they were to forgo any medical treatments developed through the science of genetics, to say nothing of all the other benefits mankind has received through scientific inquiry. .>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 12:18 am


Kevin, I disagree that students are not harmed when ID is substituted for evolution in their curriculum. But I would have no problem with ID being offered as part of a course in comparative religion. .>



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D4P

posted September 25, 2006 at 2:18 am


How is Intelligent Design taught in schools? Do they attribute the creation of the universe to Jehovah, or just to some kind of supreme being in general? I think it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that the universe is so complex that it must have been created by an intelligent being. It does not necessarily follow, however, that that being must have been Jehovah.>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 2:18 am


D4P says: The problem with debating whether or not Bush knew there were no WMDs in Iraq is that to do so seems to lend credibility to one of the (many and constantly flip-flopping) “justifications” for the war, to wit “If there are WMDs, we must unambiguously invade and pillage.”I never accepted that argument. I never did either. It’s been established that Bush and his cohorts decided to invade Iraq well before 9/11. The phony “intelligence” used to sell this war to America was fabricated by Cheney and his group in the Office of the VP. Cheney and the Neoconservatives had already convinced Bush to invade. The neoconservatives had proposed this back during the Clinton administration. It’s all in their position paper called “Project for a New American Century”. Look it up. They told Bush he would be remembered in history as “The War President”. This must have sounded very attractive to Bush at the time, given his arrogant personality. Oil and war profiteering were always the reason for invading Iraq. Bush and his cohorts used lies and deception to push America into this immoral tragic occupation that we are now losing. The International War Tribunal will judge them all and so will history and the Lord God Almighty. .>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 2:29 am


D4P on Intelligent Design, Since Kevin believes… Intelligent Design to be the most accurate scientific explanation of biological history, and I don’t think students are harmed by learning about it., perhaps he could tell us how it is taught in schools. Kevin? For further information try googling “The Discovery Institute”, headquartered in Seattle, WA. Discovery Institute is a major center for ID dissemination into the public school system. .>



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D4P

posted September 25, 2006 at 2:33 am


It’s been established that Bush and his cohorts decided to invade Iraq well before 9/11. Yep, 9/11 was the “Pearl Harbor” they were hoping for.>



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kevin s.

posted September 25, 2006 at 3:01 am


D4P, Yes, the Discovery Institute has been heavily involved with the issue. Intelligent Design makes no presumption of deific creation. The theory flows from the fact that the nature of creation of biological creatures runs afoul of, among other things, evolutionary theory. The problem with the way the scientific community has treated ID is it begins with the assumption that intelligent design is impossible. Intelligent Design is inherently improvable and cannot be replicated by experiment, and must be treated as pseudoscience or junk science. Their reasoning is circular. Intelligent Design cannot exist because science cannot account for it. As ID advocates would have it taught, it would not be taught within any religious context.>



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D4P

posted September 25, 2006 at 3:08 am


The theory flows from the fact that the nature of creation of biological creatures runs afoul of, among other things, evolutionary theory. I think there needs to be a distinction between evolutionary theory (1) that talks about how organisms change over time, and (2) that talks about how life began. I don’t think there’s anything inherently contradictory with the notion that things were created, and changed (or “adapted”) over time. It is more difficult, though, to reconcile creation vs. all life stemming from amoebae or something like that.>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 4:12 am


I’ve always thought Intelligent Design was a way of justifying belief in a short life for Creation, consistent with a literal interpretation of Genesis. As I understand it, a literal interpretation of Genesis puts the age of Creation at 4004 + 2006 years = 6,010 years, much too short of a time span to allow evolution of species to occur and therefore making the theory of evolution inconsistent with a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. So if you believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis, it’s impossible to even entertain the idea of a theory of evolution. Many people back in the era of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial found it disgusting to think of themselves as descendant from a common ancestor of other extant primates, rejected outright the theory of evolution on the grounds of emotional anxiety and inconsistency with the Book of Genesis. Proponents of Intelligent Design annoy me a little because they feel they must destroy the theory of evolution before advancing their own paradigm based on their literal interpretation of Genesis. The Discovery Institute produces materials and conducts workshops on how to beat an evolutionist in a stand up argument. I’ve participated in these arguments and frankly, found them to be humorous but a tragic waste of intelligence. Like I said, though, I have no problem with Intelligent Design being taught as part of a public school course in comparative religion. .>



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Anonymous

posted September 25, 2006 at 4:20 am


In the previous thread, HAC says: I already conceded the point that it could be genetic. It is a complete moot argument, in my mind, and has no consequence in determining the ethics of homosexual sex. HAC, if you’ve conceded the point that gayness could be genetic, then the point is not moot and certainly not inconsequential for gays. Why would God punish part of His own creation? Do you think God could be sado-masochistic? And why should you participate in denouncing and punishing God’s creation, if you really don’t know whether or not gayness is genetic? .>



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kevin s.

posted September 25, 2006 at 6:51 am


D4P, ID proponents do not reject the theory of natural selection. Natural selection is a replicable phenomenon. The argument is whether this is sufficient to explain the origins of the universe, or rather, whether it is more sufficient than Intelligent Design. Of course, Christians are often inclined to favor intelligent design, as we know it to be true. Further, evolution does fly directly in the face of the account of man’s creation in Genesis. For this reason, it is often considered a religious exercise. However, simply because Christians embrace theory, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the theory is inherently Christian.>



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HAC

posted September 25, 2006 at 7:12 am


justintime: There is ample evidence available to establish, beyond any doubt, that the Bush administration knew they were lying to the American people. And I asked you to show me that “ample evidence,” of which you produced none. Please, could you give me some real proof that Bush lied? And saying that Cheney made stuff up doesn’t fly unless you can cite some hard evidence. I already told you how Saddam’s generals believe he had WMD’s. Did Bush know more than Saddam’s generals? Please prove this before throwing serious accusations. For what it’s worth, I won’t concede that WMD’s weren’t found in Iraq. WMD’s were found in Iraq… and a significant number of them: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,200499,00.html These probably were made before 91, so it’s not clear that Saddam was making more. He was holding WMD’s, however. On a different topic. Do you believe 100% that God created the universe? If so, why would you oppose truth being taught in schools?>



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ds

posted September 25, 2006 at 3:43 pm


Great post. You sum up so well many of the thoughts I’ve had in response to much of the Republican agenda. I particularly like your frame of thinking: “charity does not equal justice.” It definitely helps us to think more holistically regarding true transformation. Though, I would caution from placing the 2 in separate categories. Justice, I believe, is the larger category… but charity is a vital piece of justice. Just as we cannot separate God’s attributes from one another (“God is just here and merciful there”), we cannot separate the “big picture” goals of pursuing justice in public policy from the “small picture” details of actually getting involved and helping peoples’ immediate needs. Wallis in 2008!!>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 5:16 pm


HAC says: And I asked you to show me that “ample evidence,” of which you produced none. Please, could you give me some real proof that Bush lied? And saying that Cheney made stuff up doesn’t fly unless you can cite some hard evidence. OK HAC, you asked for it. Apologies to other readers for the length of this post. LIE #1: “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program … Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.” — President Bush, Oct. 7, 2002, in Cincinnati. FACT: This story, leaked to and breathlessly reported by Judith Miller in the New York Times, has turned out to be complete baloney. Department of Energy officials, who monitor nuclear plants, say the tubes could not be used for enriching uranium. One intelligence analyst, who was part of the tubes investigation, angrily told The New Republic: “You had senior American officials like Condoleezza Rice saying the only use of this aluminum really is uranium centrifuges. She said that on television. And that’s just a lie.” LIE #2: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” — President Bush, Jan.28, 2003, in the State of the Union address. FACT: This whopper was based on a document that the White House already knew to be a forgery thanks to the CIA. Sold to Italian intelligence by some hustler, the document carried the signature of an official who had been out of office for 10 years and referenced a constitution that was no longer in effect. The ex-ambassador who the CIA sent to check out the story is pissed: “They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie,” he told the New Republic, anonymously. “They [the White House] were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this to make their case more strongly.” LIE #3: “We believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.” — Vice President Cheney on March 16, 2003 on “Meet the Press.” FACT: There was and is absolutely zero basis for this statement. CIA reports up through 2002 showed no evidence of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program. LIE #4: “[The CIA possesses] solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade.” — CIA Director George Tenet in a written statement released Oct. 7, 2002 and echoed in that evening’s speech by President Bush. FACT: Intelligence agencies knew of tentative contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda in the early ’90s, but found no proof of a continuing relationship. In other words, by tweaking language, Tenet and Bush spun the intelligence180 degrees to say exactly the opposite of what it suggested. LIE #5: “We’ve learned that Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases … Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.” — President Bush, Oct. 7. FACT: No evidence of this has ever been leaked or produced. Colin Powell told the U.N. this alleged training took place in a camp in northern Iraq. To his great embarrassment, the area he indicated was later revealed to be outside Iraq’s control and patrolled by Allied war planes. LIE #6: “We have also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. We are concerned that Iraq is exploring ways of using these UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] for missions targeting the United States.” — President Bush, Oct. 7. FACT: Said drones can’t fly more than 300 miles, and Iraq is 6,000 miles from the U.S. coastline. Furthermore, Iraq’s drone-building program wasn’t much more advanced than your average model plane enthusiast. And isn’t a “manned aerial vehicle” just a scary way to say “plane”? LIE #7: “We have seen intelligence over many months that they have chemical and biological weapons, and that they have dispersed them and that they’re weaponized and that, in one case at least, the command and control arrangements have been established.” — President Bush, Feb. 8, 2003, in a national radio address. FACT: Despite a massive nationwide search by U.S. and British forces, there are no signs, traces or examples of chemical weapons being deployed in the field, or anywhere else during the war. LIE #8: “Our conservative estimate is that Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agent. That is enough to fill 16,000 battlefield rockets.” — Secretary of State Colin Powell, Feb. 5 2003, in remarks to the UN Security Council. FACT: Putting aside the glaring fact that not one drop of this massive stockpile has been found, as previously reported on AlterNet the United States’ own intelligence reports show that these stocks — if they existed — were well past their use-by date and therefore useless as weapon fodder. LIE #9: “We know where [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.” — Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, March 30, 2003, in statements to the press. FACT: Needless to say, no such weapons were found, not to the east, west, south or north, somewhat or otherwise. LIE #10: “Yes, we found a biological laboratory in Iraq which the UN prohibited.” — President Bush in remarks in Poland, published internationally June 1, 2003. FACT: This was reference to the discovery of two modified truck trailers that the CIA claimed were potential mobile biological weapons lab. But British and American experts — including the State Department’s intelligence wing in a report released this week — have since declared this to be untrue. According to the British, and much to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s embarrassment, the trailers are actually exactly what Iraq said they were; facilities to fill weather balloons, sold to them by the British themselves. By the way, HAC, the discovery of pre-1991 chemicals in rusted tanks, recently reported by Senators Santorum and Hoekstra, is most likely to be chemicals shipped from the US to Iraq during the Reagan administration, for use against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. These materials were so old they had been forgotten and overlooked by UN inspectors. Experts have stated these chemicals were so old as to be unusable by Iraq. The story was released and promoted by Fox News for consumption by hard core Bush supporters who don’t want to believe they were lied to by their leaders. I had never heard your story about Saddam’s Generals claiming that Iraq had WMD’s, but if so, what does this prove? .>



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D4P

posted September 25, 2006 at 5:22 pm


They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat One of my all-time favorite quotes. I can’t believe they can get away with this stuff.>



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D4P

posted September 25, 2006 at 5:36 pm


I see that Fox News Channel is turning 10 years old. They claim to be “Celebrating a decade of fair and balanced news.” Which claim is more ridiculous: 1. Rumsfeld’s claim that we knew where Iraq’s alleged WMD’s were (i.e. east, west, south, north), or 2. Fox News’ claim to be “fair and balanced”?>



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HAC

posted September 25, 2006 at 8:30 pm

HAC

posted September 25, 2006 at 8:32 pm


Fox News’ claim to be “fair and balanced”? Fox News seems conservative only because everything else is so liberal. I think Fox News is somewhat liberal, to be honest, but that’s because I’m on the right. They specifically try to hire people to balance the political views.>



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justintime

posted September 25, 2006 at 11:37 pm


HAC, I read all of the stories you linked on the “mysterious WMD’s alleged to have been in Iraq before the invasion but were spirited out of Iraq by Russian Spetnatz plain clothes agents into Syria”. Russia Moved Saddam’s WMD / Newsmax.com Saddam’s Generals Believed They Had WMD to Repel US / American Chronicle Iraq’s WMD Secreted in Syria, Sada Says / New York Sun Intelligence Summit to Air ‘Saddam’s WMD Tapes’ / CNS News Service Saddam’s general: ‘WMDs were flown out of Iraq!’/ World Net Daily HAC, These are the type of sensationalized stories I would expect to find in the National Inquirer at the supermarket checkout. You’ve been duped, HAC. I guarantee you, this is bogus disinformation and obfuscation, fabricated by the Bush administration, leaked and propagated through widely recognized outlets for right wing spin, propaganda and lies. If this is where you’re getting your news, then you’re being fed a steady diet of Bush Kool-Aid, designed to cover up the utterly incompetent, corrupt and criminal Bush administration. These are all basically the same story released from different “sources” to make it look like it’s a chorus. You need to step away from the right wing echo chamber if you ever hope to get to the bottom of current events. Finding the truth takes an effort. Bush is a war criminal and will be judged at the International Tribunal for War crimes and before his God. .>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 26, 2006 at 9:36 pm


HAC, Are you aware that it is not illegal to falsify the news in America?>



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HAC

posted September 26, 2006 at 10:39 pm


Yes. And I guess the Iraqi General that has been going around telling everyone this could be making it up. To throw it off as some right-wing conspiracy before investigating it seems disingenuous, though, don’t you think? Isn’t it also fair to say that left wing news sources could be making stuff up that you guys are citing? Btw, I guarantee that Bush will never be tried under any international or war crimes court. No president, no matter how much he disagrees with Bush, will allow that kind of authority over a former President of the United States. He will be judged before God, however, just as we all will. That’s one of many reasons why I voted for Bush :). My votes, just as all my actions, will be judged by God.>



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justintime

posted September 27, 2006 at 9:41 am


OK HAC, I read every one of your bogus stories about mysterious WMD’s that don’t exist. If they did exist you can bet that Bush would splash it all over the media to save his face. The story would be everywhere and 24/7, not just in the Bush propaganda outlets that you read. These stories are about as credible as flying saucers from outer space. Actual evidence of flying saucers has never been produced. Yet a surprising number of people believe in them because they want to believe in them. Admit it HAC, you’ve been duped. You refuse to look for the truth because you voted for Bush and you don’t want to find out that you made a big mistake. You refuse to recognize the truth about Bush when it’s staring you in the face. I gave you 10 confirmed lies from the Bush warmongers and you were too lazy to check any of them out. HAC is a member of Bush’s blind faith hard core supporters. HAC and 30% of Americans would follow Bush into a nuclear war because they desperately want to believe him and they’re too lazy to question authority. The problem is they take the rest of the planet with them. Face it, HAC, you’re supporting a war criminal and you aren’t even curious enough to find out the truth. .>



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cred report

posted October 6, 2014 at 10:36 am


Hello there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with SEO? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Cheers!



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