God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis to Ralph Reed: What Do Values Voters Value Most?

posted by jim wallis

Jim WallisThis week I welcome Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and one of the most articulate leaders of America’s Religious Right, to be my first dialogue partner on God’s Politics. We will post our comments and responses to each other, back and forth, all week long–and you can read it all right here.

As you know Ralph, since the 2004 election, the term “values voters” has become a mainstay of the political discussion – and we’re hearing it again this fall. But the discussion has been generally used by its proponents (and the media) to describe one specific kind of voter – a conservative, white, evangelical, Republican. But that is now changing quite dramatically. Because, of course, many voters (maybe even most) are “values voters” – that who they vote for and why are determined by their values.

I believe a debate on moral values should be central in American politics. The question is, of course, which values? Whose values? And how should we define moral values? The problem is when one side of the political spectrum (your side) tries to define values as meaning only two things – opposition to same-sex marriage and criminalizing abortion. And while those two have become “wedge issues” that your side has effectively used for quite partisan purposes, many of the pressing problems our society confronts have an essential moral character. Issues regarding the sacredness of life and family values are indeed very important, and need a much deeper moral discussion; but there is also a broader moral agenda that reflects all the values Americans care about.

So it is actually arrogant to assume that only two issues involve moral values. And it is hubris to say that only those people with a conservative political position on those two issues are voting based on values. What should be valued most is a broader and deeper view of a politics grounded in all our values. What really appeals to the most basic moral concerns of Americans? A deeper discussion of both political principles and issues has the capability of really uniting a large number of people. Ralph?



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2006 at 6:22 pm


I’m not Ralph Reed, but I do want to address something about the way you are framing the argument here. Is this a fair criticism of the religious right? It seems to me that the “two issues” paradigm is a strawman that is, in itself, divisive. Of late, the “religious right” has been vocal on issues of school choice, the pledge of allegiance, the teaching of evolution, public prayer, and banning (or at least restricting access to) pornography. Of course, the opposition to gay marriage generates the most coverage, but that is as much a function of opposition from the left side of the aisle (no pun intended), coupled with recent court decisions that have brought the issue to the political forefront.>



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Michael Hayes

posted September 18, 2006 at 7:09 pm


Kevin S: I think “school choice”, “the pledge”, “intelligent choice”, “public prayer” and “abortion” and “gays” are far right values. What can “moderate” US voters do to focus candidates and elected officials on “moderate” values? Or, will moderates continue to be tugged to the left or right by a two party political system which abhors bipartisanship and which is focused on “win, whatever the cost”? How can we voters effectively insist upon bipartisanship? How can we insist upon: war as a last resort; support for pregnant women and children and young mothers; opportunity for success for poor persons in the US; environmental stewardship; medical and financial assistance to parts of Africa experiencing extreme poverty; and other values which “moderate” US voters desire as policy and law? Jim Wallis has advocated a bipartisan effort by voters to ask candidates and elected officials to support what I will characterize as “moderate values”, and he refers to it as “change the wind”. I’m hoping to find out whether Ralph Reed thinks there is some way for the 60% or more of voters who want bipartisanship to foster that by “change the wind” or some other approach. Now, I’ll sit quietly and listen to the discussion by Jim Wallis and Ralph Reed and join in after that discussion has progressed. Mike Hayes>



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Joel Wasinger

posted September 18, 2006 at 7:48 pm


Kevin makes a good point. But, if anything, focusing on these two issues make the Right’s position more defensible and less easily held up to derision (as Mike has implied). The more fundamental point is not so much how many issues but that they are interpreted and exploited in narrow, partisan (both in the sense that they are used to disenfranchise and discredit and that they become simply props supporting the party) ways. Moreover, in practical terms, Jim is correct in saying that the Right consistently draws the debate back to these core issues whenever “values” voters wonder about the merit of the rest of their platform. So, when voters ask, would Jesus support the capital gains tax cut or the war in Iraq, the Right brings the debate back to abortion. And it does so in a way that suggests that outlawing abortion is *the* principled way to address it, which, I suggest, is both cynically partisan and conspicuously ineffective.>



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agnusdei

posted September 18, 2006 at 8:05 pm


Hello to all the people on this website: May I impose upon you just a bit? I’ve posted a diary on Street Prophets that comments on the Pope’s recent speech at Regensberg. I have never, ever tried to drum up traffic for one of my diaries before. But the fact of the matter is, I am profoundly saddened by this controversy, and I honestly think I have a perspective that lends some insight (and dignity!) to the discussion. The diary can be found at Violence, Truth, and the Perfection of Allah — Pope Benedict’s Dilemma. If you would, might you take a look? And if you think it adds something of benefit to the discussion, please either link to it, or post it elsewhere, as you think fit. Peace be with you all. agnusdei>



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Alicia

posted September 18, 2006 at 8:38 pm


agnusdei, Loved your blog – it was terrific!>



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kevin s.

posted September 18, 2006 at 9:34 pm


I agree that school choice and the recitation of the pledge of allegiance are issues that have been championed by conservatives (or, the “far right” as you choose to call them). They also share quite a bit of popular support. This is where I think the argument takes an unfair turn. If you claim that conservative Christians are only interested in two issues, it makes it easy to bludgeon them with the “what about other moral values?” weapon. If you acknowledge that the other issues are part and parcel of a conservative worldview, then you are left with the uncomfortable task of criticizing issues that enjoy tremendous support among moderates.>



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D4P

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:01 pm


I think Kevin’s concerns are warranted, but I nevertheless believe it is true that, particularly during elections, conservative candidates focus heavily on abortion and gay marriage in order to woo conservative, Christian voters. One thing that is interesting to me (and that I have never heard discussed) is WHY conservative Christians (CCs) focus so heavily on these two issues, to the exclusion of so many more. I have a few hypotheses I’d like to throw out. First, gay marriage and abortion ultimately relate to sex. In my experience, CCs often have “issues” with sex, and tend to be overly judgmental and critical of people who don’t conform to their notions of appropriate sexual behavior (in a way that they are not as critical of people who don’t conform to appropriate behaviors in other areas of life). Second, it seems to me that opposing gay marriage and abortion requires absolutely no personal sacrifice whatsoever from CCs. Assuming you’re not gay and/or will never have an abortion, it is very easy to oppose gay marriage and abortion. Contrast these issues, for example, with trying to fight poverty or global warming, issues that implicate all of us and that require all of us to make personal sacrifices. If I oppose poverty and pollution, and if I want to be part of the solution to those problems, I have to admit that I am also part of the problem and I have to make changes to my own lifestyle. Such is not necessarily the case with gay marriage and abortion. Jesus warned us against pointing out the speck in our brother’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own. If there is a better example of this than focusing almost exclusively on “sins” that don’t implicate yourself (e.g. gay marriage and abortion) while ignoring a littany of others that do (e.g. greedy and selfish lifestyles), I have yet to see it.>



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Sean H

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:06 pm


I sincerely hope this blog is successful. I think, however, as we address religious values in the public sphere we must not mix up the whats with the hows. That is what the values are vs. how they are realized. The reason that some issues, like abortion and homosexual marriage are such wedge issues is that from a value perspective they are the whats, that is the ends in a value discussion, whereas some of the other things that are thrown into the discussion are not whats, but hows, or means. I think the post by Michael Hayes is a classic example of mixing these together and creating an inaccurate equivalency. For example, disputes over support for pregnant women and children and young mothers; opportunity for success for poor persons in the US; environmental stewardship; medical and financial assistance to parts of Africa experiencing extreme poverty are more frequently about the means rather than the ends. No one (or no one in the legitimate political discussion) is FOR environmental despoliation. A person who supports drilling in ANWR, is not ipso facto against good environmental stewardship. One could make similar statements about all of the rest of these issues. Aid to Africa, for example. One can easily make the case that much of the aid given in the last few decades not only didn t help the average person there, but actually hurt him by infusing money into corrupt and murderous oligarchies. If the purpose of the policy is to help people the what is it immoral to support a position that reduces aid or places conditions on it? This is different from the so-called wedge issues like abortion, homosexual marriage, and euthanasia. This debate is almost always about the what, the ends, not the means.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:13 pm


I heard Mr. Wallis give the keynote address in Portland last Thursday, for the Oregon Center for Christian Values conference that followed on Saturday. In his talk, he championed a “consistent pro-life ethic” that transcends liberal and conservative ideologies. I was pleased to hear this, but the Saturday conference was a great letdown. Abortion, euthanasia, and research cloning weren’t even on the radar screen. As a pro-life progressive, abortion is not my only moral concern, but its astronomical death toll (1-1.5 million per year) makes it almost impossible for me to vote for Democrats in good conscience, especially in Oregon. Democrats have only themselves to blame for pushing “values voters” to the Republican Party: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/15/AR2006091501066.html On a more positive note, I’ll be thrilled if the 95-10 initiative actually makes it through Congress: “>http://www.democratsforlife.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=45>



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D4P

posted September 18, 2006 at 10:35 pm


In response to HuckFinn, if abortion were the only issue where “death tolls” were relevant, then my voting decisions would be much simpler. However, death tolls are relevant to a number of other issues as well, including war, capital punishment, poverty, the environment, etc. The death toll associated with abortion may be 1-1.5 million a year, but that’s miniscule compared to the potential threat posed by (for example) global warming. The current political spectrum does not appear to provide a viable option for voters who want their leaders to support life across the spectrum, not just in one or two issues. For example, which party should pro-life environmentalists choose?>



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dlw

posted September 18, 2006 at 11:24 pm


Thoughts: Right Political Action is never simply a matter of values, it’s also a matter of strategy. The value implicit with abortion is not its criminalization. The value is the sanctity of human life or more concretely whether and when we shd grant to the unborn legal protections similar to what we currently give to newborns. When shd we first treat the unborn as legally-protected-persons? or Under what defined circumstances may women choose to elect an abortion? This gets at the differences in values between autonomy and responsibility for the other. I would say that responsibility for the other is a very important value, which does not necessarily simply mean males lording it over females and taking their rights away from them, nor does it mean making women bondage-servants who must carry to term whatever human life has been conceived in her after her consent to sexual intercourse. It is at root of the need to love our neighbors as ourselves and fallibly answer the question of who is our neighbor. The acid test I commonly apply to the morality of statements about the politics of abortion is whether they could be used to justify the decriminalization of infanticide. Jim Wallis’ frame fails in that regard. This is why I am calling on both Wallis and Reed to consider my Pragmatic Prolife Manifesto. Another failed frame, in my mind, is to impugn the religious right for casting the values debate too narrowly. At the end of the day, we Christians have the right to decide what values will guide our political activism, though we shd be able to irenically and publicly dialogue about values/strategy as part of our witness to others. My problem with the religious right is just as much their strategies as their values. I tend to believe, along lines with what Saul Alinsky wrote in his Rules for Radicals, that we shd take people’s existing values as given first, seek to help them improve upon their strategies wrt their existing values and thereby win the right to help widen their priorities. IMO, If the religious right had trusted their leaders a bit less and pursued their agendas with better chosen strategies, we wouldn’t have seen so many other issues crowded out from being important in elections by the wedge issues of the religious right. And that for me is why I quibble with how Wallis frames the dialogue as first and foremost about values. Hopefully, there will be more talk about values and some of the bad political theologies current among many in the religious right will get confronted and transformed. But if the matter is one more fundamentally of political cultural change, which encompasses both values and strategies, then I would say Wallis’ dyed-in-the-wool blue state political culture hampers his effectiveness in changing the direction of the wind politically by changing the existing red-state political culture. For me, my position is one where I want both to affirm Wallis’s leadership and the importance of a Generous Orthopraxy for Christian Political Involvement, with the main supposition being that as Christians we need to assess and consider how our political involvement impacts our witness about our shared faith to the rest of the world. dlw>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 1:21 am


Democrats have only themselves to blame for pushing “values voters” to the Republican Party Values voters aren’t exclusively Republican. Democratic values voters just don’t have the courtesy of using the label.>



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Michael Hayes

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:17 am


The vast differences in how left and right view morality is intriguing, and, I think, important for both to understand. Is anyone aware of an examination of the bases upon which the two construct such differing moral systems, in addition to “Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think” by George Lakoff? Lakoff examines these differing moral systems as a cognitive linguist, which considers how information is taken in and evaluated or rejected as un-factual. He is a liberal, at Berkeley. I’d be curious to know whether a conservative academic has performed a similar analysis.>



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Jim Schneider

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:36 am


I can’t for the life of me understand why this conversation is taking place with Ralph Reed who was so deeply immersed in the Jack Abramoff scandals and drawing in the investments of the religious right to the casinos. There are men of some integrity representing the right, I certainly wouldn’t consider Ralph Reed to be one of them.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:37 am


The death toll associated with abortion may be 1-1.5 million a year, but that’s miniscule compared to the potential threat posed by (for example) global warming. While I certainly believe that global warming is worthy of serious concern and action, I find this statement ludicrous. The rampant slaughter of unborn babies isn’t a theoretical possibility; it’s an indisputable reality.>



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Drina

posted September 19, 2006 at 6:45 am


rampant slaughter of unborn babies Rampant slaughter of born persons happens every day, but few conservative voices raise alarm.>



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Joel Wasinger

posted September 19, 2006 at 7:56 am


Whoa, Sean. It sure sounds like you’re saying that folks on the Left and the excluded Middle actually favor abortion and are opposed to the sanctity of marriage. Funny, isn’t it, that the pet issues of the Right are all about the “whats”, but the prattling of the Left is all about the “hows”. Wonder how that is? Hint: it isn’t. If you pay attention, you might discover that many of us who have a hard time stomaching the ways of the Religious Right are quite fervently opposed to abortion and in support of marriage. The thing is, precisely with these wedge issues, it is all about the “hows”. What you seem to miss in Mike’s post is that he was, in fact, addressing those wedge issues but in language you’ve been conditioned to filter out. Do you not see, for instance, that supporting pregnant women (!) and ending poverty are powerful and biblical ways to bring an end to abortion? And, just to bring this full circle, I’m not quite convinced that the Right is truly on board with the “whats” of social justice, racial reconciliation, combatting poverty, stewarding the environment, promoting peace, et al. I want to believe, but, yeah, that ANWR thing is just one of many evidences that make it kind of hard.>



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Brian

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:27 am


Huck Finn: I am the Program Director for the Oregon Center for Christian Values–the host for Jim Wallis last Thursday at the Faith and American Values Summit. I am truly interested in hearing more about your response to our Summit on Saturday. I can understand your disappointment about issues that you believe were missing from the agenda, but this does not mean that they are not important and it does not mean that they will not be addressed in the future. If you contact me, I would like to speak with you further about future dialogues on Christian values here in Oregon. You can contact me at brian@occv.org.>



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jerry tripp

posted September 19, 2006 at 12:37 pm


To: Jim Schneider, While Ralph Reed may be linked to Abramoff, we should not ban him from speaking about his beliefs, anymore than we should ban bible-toting womanizing Bill Clinton from speaking about his beliefs. Let the discussion continue and argue the facts, not the personalities we have and personal choices we as humans have made. Jerry Tripp>



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Paul Wilczynski

posted September 19, 2006 at 2:39 pm


Ummm … wasn’t this supposed to be a conversation between 2 people, one of whom is Ralph Reed?>



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Brendt

posted September 19, 2006 at 3:52 pm


D4P: The death toll associated with abortion may be 1-1.5 million a year, but that’s miniscule compared to the potential threat posed by …. So, if someone threatens to kill you, that’s no different than actually doing it? Jerry Tripp: we should not ban [Reed or Clinton] from speaking about his beliefs No, we should not ban either man. This is, after all, America where you have the right to engage in discussion of topics in which you have no gravity whatsoever. By choosing Reed as his sparring partner, Wallis has done the discussion equivalent of Holyfield choosing a 95-year-old granny as his next opponent in the ring. Which in turn, robs Wallis of what little gravity he already had.>



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Drew Terry

posted September 19, 2006 at 4:32 pm


Let me start by stating that I am a conservative evangelical Christian. The premise that conservative evangelical Christians are only concerned about gay marriage and abortion is flat wrong. Any discussion built upon such a faulty premise is inherently worthless. All issues of public policy are impacted by one’s worldview and the predominant Christian worldview that Man is fallen and, on his own, separated from a holy and just God impacts EVERY issue. This worldview also impacts our view of the role of government and the role of the individual Christian as it relates to social problems. An honest reading of Jesus’ commands to His church puts the responsibility for social problems such as poverty not on the government but on individual Christians. Unfortunately, too many so-called Christians would prefer to transfer this responsibility to the government rather than personally “shoulder one another’s burdens.” Perhaps Mr. Wallis should correct his flawed assumption by casting the difference between conservative and liberal Christians as not whether most public policy positions having a moral component (which as Mr. Reed says few conservative Christians would disagree) but instead who is responsible to address such problems. Jesus, in His divine wisdom, knows that it is individual people motivated by love for their fellow men that are best situated to make a real difference in the lifes of people. Unaccountable government bureaucracies can meet physical needs but they are, at best bandaids. Real life change only happens when one person is willing to invest of themselves into the life of another.>



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Joshua Arritt

posted September 19, 2006 at 8:46 pm


I applaud Drew’s response. I believe that the inherent difference between liberals and conservatives (as the terms are SUPPOSED to mean) is that liberals wish the government to invervene more and conservatives want people to take care of their own problems and help their neighbors take care of theirs. Earlier, “support for pregnant women” and “ending poverty” were mentioned. Great, but I don’t think it is the government’s job to do that, I think it is ours. If we fixed those problems then the symptom (abortion) would be much lessened. However, in the meantime I am still pro-life and that is a HUGE issue for me, not because the right made it into a wedge issue, but because it has affected me personally.>



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Max Renn

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:07 pm


I can’t for the life of me understand why this conversation is taking place with Ralph Reed who was so deeply immersed in the Jack Abramoff scandals and drawing in the investments of the religious right to the casinos. There are men of some integrity representing the right, I certainly wouldn’t consider Ralph Reed to be one of them. Jim Schneider | 09.18.06 – 10:41 pm | # Hear, hear. And listen up wingnuts: Reed was a heavyweight in the GOP long before he was a ‘committed evangelical.’ Please feel free to whine about your victimization and how your ‘free speach’ is being trampled. Jim’s point, and mine, is that Reed is not honest, not credible, and not a good spokesperson for your values. He’s a huckster, and an Enron shill, a lobbyist on expense accounts. Support him as an enemy of your enemies if you will, but you do so at your own peril.>



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Mrs Panstreppon

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:34 pm


Re: Comments made by Jim Schneider and Jerry Tripp about Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff Mr. Tripp stated that Ralph Reed “may” be be linked to Jack Abramoff. Wrong. Ralph Reed “is” linked to Jack Abramoff. Ralph Reed knew that he was being paid indirectly by Indian tribes to promote one casino over another. He misrepresented his intentions to his fellow Christians by claiming to represent anti-gambling concerns. Ralph Reed is a liar. At the TPM Cafe, I posted some information about Ralph Reed’s involvement with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s “Stand Up For Israel” campaign. Rabbi Eckstein is the president and chairman of the board of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The IFCJ has raised more than $260 million from Evangelical Christians to aid needy Israelis. Ralph Reed’s consulting firm, Century Strategies, was hired by the IFCJ to manage the “Stand Up For Israel” campaign. Per IFCJ 990s – Century Strategies “project management” fees: 2002 – $472,498 2003 – $295,775 2004 – $0 Per IFCJ Annual Reports – “Stand Up For Israel” campaign expenditures: 2002 – not available 2003 – $545,905 2004 – $3,761 2005 – $772,995 In addition to Ralph Reed’s Century Strategies, the IFCJ paid more than $21 million in 2002 and 2003 to two contractors, one of which was not a registered business. I’d like to hear more from Ralph Reed as to what his firm, Century Strategies, did to promote the “Stand Up for Israel” campaign and why Century Strategies lost the account.>



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MJS

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:36 pm


D4P commented above that gay marriage and abortion are easy to support because they require no personal sacrifice. I support laws against murder but I will never commit murder; I support laws against sex with animals but will paticipate in such. There are a host of issues that I support but will never, God willing, be a part of. Your point is a red herring. Should I support gay marriage and abortion because it doesn’t personally cost me anything? How about murder…sexual abomination? For these two issues are exactly such. Finally, you are wrong when you say that there is no associated cost. Christ was the cost and in return we are called to offer ourselves as living sacrifices; choosing rather to share ill treatment with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time. Gently in Christ,>



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MJS

posted September 19, 2006 at 9:39 pm


Forgive my missing word. I will NEVER participate in such. Never take yourself too serious because is it to easy to make a fool of yourself.>



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Elaine

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:12 pm


Hi, do let me speak my peace on this matter. Because I want to be clear, my post will be a pt. 1 & 2, possibly 3. However, do bear with me. I applaud Mr. Wallis for his attempt to show up the hypocrisy of the so-called Christian right. They have literally, ‘hijacked’ Christianity and the God of the Bible in order to promote white male, right-wing, Republican politics. I read Ralph Reed’s commentary. One of the things he brought out was that ‘During the 80’s many Democrat voters left the party because of the abortion issue.’ This is true. They were brainwashed by the Christian Right. The Christian right was so wicked before the God they claim to serve that the so-called ‘God’s TV & radio’ world’ literally made ‘voting for Democrats’ synonmous with ‘going against Jesus Christ.’ With such fear naturally the gullible public left the Democratic Party and began voting Republican. “God was going to get’em and get’em good’ was the message that reverberated from the stuff the so-called Christian Right uttered. A quick note on the issue of abortion. I am a born-again, spirit filled believer. I would that no woman would ever abort her child. However, I do not believe in banning any medical procedure. Abortion is plain and simple, a medical procedure. I might add, a medical procedure that could save the life of a woman. If it is banned, then that woman is denied ‘life’ simply because a bunch of religious hypocrites who have purposely twisted the word of God to conform to their self-righteous, hypocrisies. Now, they countered that argument with, ‘how many women have had to abort because the mother’s life was in danger?’ Well, I don’t care if it was one in a million, the fact is, abortion is a medical procedure and should never be banned. Now to counter the millions who have aborted because the pregnancy was inconvenient then the outreach as ‘true’ Christians should have been to the woman’s heart. Not only the mother but the many ‘husbands’ who many times ‘force’ the woman to have the abortion. In other words, they should have acted on the very word of God that states, ‘the heart of man is deceitfully wicked who can know it” (Jer. 1:17 LB). If people believe they are cared about by ‘God’s’ alleged servants, then there would have been less abortions. To show ‘God’s love and care’ as servants of God are suppose to, the Christian Right should have been pro every government program that would aid single mothers. Or women, who would have been willing to leave the hardhearted husband who was forcing them to ‘abort.’ Instead, the Christian right’s version of so-called “Christianity” is to condemn those who do have babies while simultaneously mouthing off about being against ‘abortion’ of babies. This is there “straw-man” deceit before God and humanity. It was the political football to promote right wing politics.>



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Elaine

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:15 pm


PT. 2 – Next, same sex marriage. Well, of course the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong. However, the Bible also teaches that ‘God allows His sun to shine on the just and the unjust. His rain to fall on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5:45 PP). Last I checked, America was NOT a theocracy though the Christian Right is doing all in their power to make it that way. As long as we the people remain a government ‘of the people, for the people by the people,’ then some of those people are going to be homosexuals. Okay, you don’t want to condone their ‘union’ of homosexuality? Fine. However, the ‘law’ of the U.S. must hear all of its citizen’s grievances. As Christians we can’t condone it because of what the Bible teaches but as U.S. Citizens we have to condone ‘fairness’ of all Americans. In other words, the Christian right once again used deceit in order to garner Republican votes. That is, this was not a matter God was ever going to condemn ‘Christians’ on one way or another for you will always have a homosexual population in any culture on Earth. As citizens of the U.S. culture they have the right to basic liberties and if they want to get basic rights for their unions, then that is a legal question and not so much a spiritual question for believers to battle about. As for the term marriage, yeah well, I think the homosexuals could have been approached and debated with to use another term for their co-existence. However, with all the Christian bashing against them, they certainly would not consider it now. Or, I don’t maybe with a ‘true’ Christian force arising maybe they will. Their declarations did not in any way, shape or manner hinder ‘Christianity’ for it had nothing to do with challenging Christians with regard to what the Bible teaches on homosexuality. They were basically saying, ‘we’re here, we’re queer, get used to this American faction.’ Again, they were not demanding that Christians cease teaching what the Bible says on homosexuality. As so, the Christian Right were malicious, ungodly, and deceitful to use this matter as another political football to garner Republican votes. See the truth is, the Bible says, ‘if my people who are called by My name, will humble themselves….then I will hear from heaven and heal their land” (2 Chr. 7:14). So teaching us, that the Christian Right should have been ‘praying to God’ over this matter. When I say pray, I mean ‘loving’ prayers to God to help homosexual Americans. As well, their outreach should have been to invite them to know the Love of God instead of condemning them to hell and damnation. If they had behaved in such a true Christ-like manner, allowing homosexuality to bask in the freedoms of America without condemnation then that would have made a much more peaceful and ‘Godly’ America. Anyway, Mr. Wallas though for the sake of this conversation I had to detail my views on both these matters, please don’t let that Ralph Reed guy bog you down and blindside you via arguing with regard to the ‘intricacies’ of abortion and same sex marriage. The argument should be and must remain, ‘GOD IS NOT A REPUBLICAN who is sending those who vote Democrat to hell.’ That’s the real evil of what the Christian Right has put forth. They blinded the masses to their deceit. They cursed Clinton who whatever his They unjustly cursed this man, and blessed his unjust persecutors. The Christian right then made George Bush synonmous with Jesus Christ. Yes, the bless the man who is building up what all these so-called ‘prophetic’ teachers are proclaiming is, the ‘economical anti-Christ region of Iraq.’>



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Drew Terry

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:17 pm


To those posting on Mr. Reed’s connections to Jack Abrahoff or pro-Israel groups, you are engaging in ad hominem (that means “on the person”) attacks and not adding anything of value to the debate. What does calling Mr. Reed names and proclaiming his guilt by association do to further this particular discussion? If you want to rebut his assertions and ideas, then fine, do so but these types of personal attacks typcially mean that you have no ideas of your own. Don’t we have enough of that in the political realm already?>



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Elaine

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:17 pm


PT. 3 – Yes, they blind themselves and their poor, gullible followers to the reality that they themselves are showing George Bush to be in league with the anti-Christ. What I mean is, they are the ones who are going around teaching that “Iraq was old Babylon” and that the Bible teaches the “Anti-Christ will run his end-time apocalyptic economic center from that region.” And who is it that declared an unjust war in Iraq to so build up that ‘anti-Christ’ end-time economic center? Yep, George Bush. Now, I know they will rebutt with ‘many Democrats voted to go into Iraq.’ However, truth be told, we know Democrats caught up in American revenge of 911 had to go with the ‘lies’ told by George Bush and the Right wing. You remember those lies? “They suspected weapons of mass destruction” when we now know they did not. What they ‘suspected’ was, we’ll get our greedy little hands on those oil wells we lust after and we’ll kill American soldiers to bring it about. Another lie told by both this anti-Christ aiding President and the Christian Right liars who call ‘Christ-like’ is that is that “God wanted Americans to give undying allegiance to the 1% richest white males of America as they know how to make more jobs.” They made more jobs alright. More jobs for the ‘terrorists’ of India, and other regions where they shipped the jobs to. They also are making more jobs for the terrorists leaders of Saudi, United Arab Emirates, and other ‘terrorists’ lands in that this same 1% white male elitist who the Christian Right talked the gullible into admiring are selling out the industries of America to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi, etc. They are buying up the banks, Mailbox Depots (In the Southwest region anyway) whereupon they can and probably are bringing in the weapons of mass destruction. Remembering of course that the 19 hijackers of 911 were from Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, the Republicans have all but annihilated the Middle Class. ((The Bible repeatedly states that God is the ‘Father of the poor and working class folks” who are most damaged by the action of the Right-Wing Repugnants). The Republicans also trampled the Constitution to implement ‘MORE’ government intrusion than ever was in American history. This mind you, while having run their own ‘deceitful’ campaign before stealing the helms of power on ‘less government intrusion.’ Right now, a fight is being raised to get them off of our phone lines. As tapping, is now government ‘intrusive-ness’ to the extreme. The Patriot Act allows them to be able to just come forth and whisk away any who they deem ‘Democrat’ er, uhm, I mean, ‘enemy combatant.’ Oh yeah, we’re in hell with this so-called ‘Christ-like’ President that the Christian Right lied to get in office. Not only don’t we have any Constitutional rights available to us, but the Republicans let in the ‘terrorists’ to harass Americans and this is a little talked about evil going on in the lives of countless Americans. You see, in order for Bush and his forces to ‘stand by Iraq’ to uhm, ‘get the oil wells,’ they have to bring in their top forces to those regions. Well, in like manner, since they are selling out America to the Saudis and others, they allowed them to bring in their forces. These middle eastern forces not only consist of their top people out of their own region. As well, they have brought in their Latino, Asian, African, Bahamian, etc. allies and make no mistake about it, they are not here to learn Democratic values of which they’ve always admired. No indeed, a major news outlet announced that the Middle Eastern forces boasted ‘they run America.’ Well, on the surface that seems preposterous and we all snicker. Yet, the reality is, the Republican 1% white male elitist have ‘sold them America.’ As they have access to American’s personal banking information which includes, email address, phone, and mother’s maiden name, then they will and are attacking any given American who they find offense with.>



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Elaine

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:18 pm


FINALLY CONCLUSION::-) – The Middle Easterns come out of cultures built on ‘fear’ and tribal, on-going retribution. Meaning, they will keep up their ‘terrorist’ onslaught on Americans year after year, stalking, vandalizing, terrorizing in this backward, primitive, retarded way and none are responsible for this but the Christian Right and the Republican party who they advocated. Yes, on all levels the Christian Right are the hypocritical, false church, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13). Their Christ-like attitude unleashed a ‘hatred’ that hasn’t been overtly seen since segregation days. They preach ‘love of God’ but hate..hate..hate.. Democrats, Bill Clinton (for of all things, having a extra-marital relationship that was none of their business to begin with. I suppose they would have out and out lynched King David and BathSheba (2 Sam. 11-12). These wicked men of the Christian right remain a stench and a abomination before God and Ralph Reed not excluded. These un-repentant fiends having had a 6yr. take-over of the white house and both the Senate and Congress actually have the gall to blame all the evils they unleashed on the Democratic Party who have no power. Yes, instead of repenting or teaching repentance they continue to defy the Living God by standing with the Republican evil even though it is so blatant that they are deceivers who have permanently divided America. If they were ‘true’ Christians they’d know God’s condemnation on them that speaks, ‘a house divided cannot stand’ (Mk. 3:25). Before God, the Christian Right and the Republicans who they pimp are they alone who ‘divided’ this house called America and a Just God will not blind himself to this evil, even if they have blinded themselves and their followers. So you see, Mr. Wallis I indeed approve and rally you on in stopping these madmen Christian Right Republican mouthpieces. The Republican white males are their ‘god’ while they deceive the masses into believing Jesus Christ would condone their evils of which the half has never been told. Thank You for taking the time out to read my commentary, lengthy but necessarily so, though it be. May Jesus Christ bless your ‘true’ Godly efforts with triumphant success! P.S. Before they judge the ‘sound’ of my posts instead of the ‘facts’ of my post, let the record proclaim, even the Bible states, ‘be angry and sin not’ (Eph. 4:26). Lord knows they’ve shown enough ‘un-just’ anger at the Democrats, working class voting folks, so I’ve got just as much right to show ‘just’ anger at their lies and deceits that are against the God of the Bible whom I love and serve in TRUTH!>



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HuckFinn

posted September 19, 2006 at 11:38 pm


Drina: Rampant slaughter of born persons happens every day, but few conservative voices raise alarm. What slaughter are you referring to, and how many would be prevented by pro-abortion Democrats? Elaine: Abortion is plain and simple, a medical procedure. I might add, a medical procedure that could save the life of a woman. If it is banned, then that woman is denied ‘life’ simply because a bunch of religious hypocrites who have purposely twisted the word of God to conform to their self-righteous, hypocrisies. Now, they countered that argument with, ‘how many women have had to abort because the mother’s life was in danger?’ Well, I don’t care if it was one in a million, the fact is, abortion is a medical procedure and should never be banned. Now to counter the millions who have aborted because the pregnancy was inconvenient then the outreach as ‘true’ Christians should have been to the woman’s heart. Not only the mother but the many ‘husbands’ who many times ‘force’ the woman to have the abortion. In other words, they should have acted on the very word of God that states, ‘the heart of man is deceitfully wicked who can know it” (Jer. 1:17 LB). Unless a mother’s life is in danger, abortion isn’t a “medical procedure,” but a deliberate act of killing. Every abortion ban I’ve ever seen includes exceptions for true medical emergencies.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 12:09 am


HuckFinn’s quote: “Unless a mother’s life is in danger, abortion isn’t a “medical procedure,” but a deliberate act of killing. Every abortion ban I’ve ever seen includes exceptions for true medical emergencies.” Hi Huckfinn respectfully disagree with you on ‘when abortion is a medical procedure and when it is not.’ You see the ‘technique’ used to remedy the abortion is itself the medical procedure. Again, the issue of abortion and the Christian outlook should be to preach and teach the value of life to both men and women. That is the loving Christian way to handle the matter. Terrorists bombings and persecuting of doctors is not the answer. Rather, wonderful Christians ministering the love and worth of women and children to doctors would have garnered a lot more understanding. No one stopped the ‘back alley’ abortions of yesteryear with threats of persecution and for sure, a bunch of screaming, wailing, sanctimonious Christians did nothing but determine people to withstand their hypocrisies.>



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Tim

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:13 am


I agree with many of the points that Elaine made in her postings but I want to comment on the issue of abortion. I believe that as a Christian we are called to be pro-life. Having said that, however, I do not think the best way to do that is to simply say that you are against abortion. The fact is that abortion is legal and basically no matter what any canidate says about abortion it is going to remain legal. The President and other elected officails cannot change the legality of abortion, only the Supreme Court can do that. Rather than everyone wasting their time arguing about being pro-life or pro-choice, we should focus on minimizing the abortions that do take place. We should try to make adoption an eaiser and more attactive option, we should make education about abortions manditory before they can be performed. Since they do not have the power to do so, I believe many of the conservative right have no intention on actually changing the legality of abortion they simply use that stance to get votes. Also, how can someone be pro-life when it comes to abortion but then support the death penalty and war? This does simply not make sense to me. How is taking an unborn life wrong but taking a born life is not?>



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Mrs Panstreppon

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:26 am


Drew Terry – “What does calling Mr. Reed names and proclaiming his guilt by association do to further this particular discussion?” Mr. Terry, Ralph Reed is not guilty by “association”. He is plain guilty of deceiving fellow Christians about his association with gambling. Reed’s association with Rabbi Eckstein and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews at at time when tens of millions of dollars of questionable financial transactions took place is important to this discussion. If Ralph Reed represents conservative Christian leadership, I have no regard for the integrity of conservative Christian leaders. What value would you place on Ralph Reed’s beliefs if he sells his reputation to the highest bidder?>



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Anonymous

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:11 am


Elaine: Hi Huckfinn respectfully disagree with you on ‘when abortion is a medical procedure and when it is not.’ You see the ‘technique’ used to remedy the abortion is itself the medical procedure. In the extremely rare case of a medical abortion, the object is to save the mother’s life; killing the baby is a regrettably unavoidable consequence. In elective abortion, however, killing the baby is the goal. Again, the issue of abortion and the Christian outlook should be to preach and teach the value of life to both men and women. That is the loving Christian way to handle the matter. Should we not legally proscribe rape and instead merely try to persuade rapists to respect the dignity of women? Terrorists bombings and persecuting of doctors is not the answer. Lawfully prosecuting murderers is not “persecution.” No one stopped the ‘back alley’ abortions of yesteryear with threats of persecution and for sure, a bunch of screaming, wailing, sanctimonious Christians did nothing but determine people to withstand their hypocrisies. See “>http://www.ortl.org/publications/articles.php?articleID=88>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:11 am


Tim: I agree with many of the points that Elaine made in her postings but I want to comment on the issue of abortion. I believe that as a Christian we are called to be pro-life. Having said that, however, I do not think the best way to do that is to simply say that you are against abortion. The fact is that abortion is legal and basically no matter what any canidate says about abortion it is going to remain legal. The President and other elected officails cannot change the legality of abortion, only the Supreme Court can do that. Rather than everyone wasting their time arguing about being pro-life or pro-choice, we should focus on minimizing the abortions that do take place. We should try to make adoption an eaiser and more attactive option, we should make education about abortions manditory before they can be performed. Since they do not have the power to do so, I believe many of the conservative right have no intention on actually changing the legality of abortion they simply use that stance to get votes. Aside from the very obvious issue of judicial appointments, you’re ignoring the modest restrictions enacted in many states that have been very effective in curtailing abortion: parental notification, informed consent, and elimination of taxpayer funded abortion. (The Oregon Health Plan pays for a majority of abortions performed here.) You’re also overlooking some recent and pending federal legislation: Partial Birth Abortion Ban Unborn Victims of Violence Act Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act Abortion Nondiscrimination Act Born Alive Infant Protection Act Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act Human Cloning Prohibition Act Also, how can someone be pro-life when it comes to abortion but then support the death penalty and war? This does simply not make sense to me. How is taking an unborn life wrong but taking a born life is not? The Bible (along with most ethical and legal frameworks) clearly distinguishes between murdering the innocent and restraining/punishing evildoers.>



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dirtshirt

posted September 20, 2006 at 2:47 am


Good grief, Elaine, get back on your meds. “Be angry and sin not and don’t spew hate filled incoherent rants on a site that is desperately trying to find common ground.” RE: homosexuality. What the eeeevilll Christian Right(TM) is upset about is the *imposition* of homosexual values on our culture. i.e. teaching 5-year olds that homosexuality is great and you have to go to the principal’s office if you disagree. i.e. teaching the enchanting practice of “fisting” to 14-year olds as happened in PA. Oh, and by the way, they *are* requiring us to stop teaching what the Bible teaches on homosexuality; see “hate speech” You seem to have quite a conspiracy complex and none of it is coherently argued. So is it that “1% white men” are selling the country to terrorists so they will attack so we can set up this “economic Babylon” you screech about? Now that we have our “greedy hands” on their oil, care to inform us approximately how much revenue we have realized from it?>



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NStier

posted September 20, 2006 at 3:51 am


SoJo: My comments of last night were not published. Could you please explain why it was unacceptable? Thanks, nstier>



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Quinn Olinger

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:39 am


If you have a problem with the label “values voters” and who it specificly refers to then you should take it up with the person or persons who coined the term just after Bush won his re-election. In my recollection the term was coined by political scientists and journalists ran with it. Were the political scientists conservatives or Republicans? I don’t know. But the right to life is definitely a major value and right that we values voters look at when making a decision on who to vote for. Once a person has been killed and thrown in the trash all the other rights aren’t important. And that occurs over 3,500 times a day in the USA. Compare that to around 3 US deaths a day in Iraq.>



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The C

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:48 am


Why is it taken so personally by the “religious right” (for lack of a clearer, equally descriptive label) when a person who is not in total agreement with the current administration, has a valid point? And when that valid point is raised, why is the subject inevitably turned to gay marriage, and/or abortion? Hmmmmm. As a “daughter of the South (namely, the white, Southern Baptists), I was subject to much hypocrisy. At church, before the congregation,a man might find himself professing his undying love for the Lord, and minutes later, smiling as he made vile racial slurs in the churchyard, met by knowing nods, and smiles, or laughter. No sharp intake of breath because hate for another person was in direct opposition of what is taught in the Bible. Even in small groups, this type of behavior was not questioned. Then, among the community, that was,and is, mostly black, making his money exploiting the lack of education, and extracting the most labor without regard to a man or woman’s family responsibilities, or personal dignity, while convincing the laborer with thinly veiled threats that he/she was lucky to have any job. I grew disgusted by these people. I saw that the religion being taught by using the “gentleman” above as the best example of a good Christian, was faulty, at best. Now, I fear, that same man, and his buddies, are in the center of our government. They use an issue to get the attention of the folks gullible enough to fall for it, and they use that to strengthen the network of hypocrisy. Throughout the Bible, there are references to orphans and widows. Do you suppose any of these men are thinking of orphans or widows? Say, do you suppose they even have a care in the world for all of those people who so vehemently defend all of the vile things that this administration, along with all of their friends, like the Saudis (who, by the way, teach hate for the US in their school textbooks, but are “allies”), whose royal family have long been friends of the Bush’s(not just “W”,but the whole lot of oil and money gluttons)does? That is what I find so curious. How is it that there are so many people bent on voting for people who consistently lower taxes for the wealthy, and cut the funds like Pell grants, and other federal aid, for lower middle class, and middle-class college students? They have ,clearly, very little regard for their constituency, while they feed them swill, and tell them that it is a gourmet feast. I have heard so many times that to oppose the war is saying to our troops that we do not support them. I want those men and women out of Iraq! I LOVE my country! I cannot understand how this administration is making so many people think that it is patriotic to send brave men and women into a country that is becoming more and more volatile, and BY THE WAY, has NOTHING TO DO with 9/11 !!! Or the war on terror, such as it is. I will tell you about values. I value their lives. I do, but our President does not. Now as to the payoff for the current administration regarding the war in Iraq: How is it that we have forgotten Cheney, and his connection with Halliburton? Can you imagine the untold amount of money that is being funneled into his and his friends’ pockets, while the soldiers go in ill-equipped, and are faced with, in some cases, three, and four tours of duty? Halliburton is the company that we have heard about. What about all the other companies making money from the war? What are your values when they allow you to defend a man with the swagger, and lack of humility known to be traits of the President? What are your values when you defend lies regarding the lives of soldiers who would give their lives for your freedom? What are your values when you allow an adminstration to write new rules regarding the power of government in our personal lives? Do you really know what you stand for when you cite that (to paraphrase) conservatives feel that government should not be involved in so many aspects of our lives- ? Perhaps we wouldn’t need so much governmental intervention if all of these “so-called ” Christians would get to the business of helping his/her neighbor instead of griping about what a burden they (the widows, the orphans, the uneducated, the homeless…..)are. And that is regarding the helpful kind of intervention. What about the type of intervention the “conservatives”-who by the way, have racked up the highest deficit EVER! What happened to that old idea that conservative meant just that, conservative-fiscally, morally? As I see it, we are up to murder(sending innocent soldiers into an unecessarily dangerous situation), deceit (No WMDs, No connection to 9/11), blasphemy- saying one thing (“I am a born-again Christian”), and doing another-*see murder and deceit, coveting (other countries), and I recently heard that Bill Clinton has been to see George H.W. more times than “W” has in the last two years, so I may be able to add that he does not obey his parents to the list. Off the top of my head, I have 5 commandments broken, and many were ready to impeach Clinton for two, and they only involved three people. Please, help me understand!>



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Rightist

posted September 20, 2006 at 1:21 pm


Hubris and arrogant.How the left loves those words. They can’t wait to deploy them whenever they discover for themselves how shallow they sound. How can any thinking person really say the religious right is focused on only two issues. The religious right was out feeding, clothing and comforting the world long before the religious left discovered cloaking their worldly agenda in religious garb can win them more points than being outrightly anti-religion. The religious right built schools and took on poverty in Africa and other regions of the world. The religious right engaged in culture wars and courageously ended abominable practices like the killing of twins in some parts of Africa. The religious right built orphanages all over the world. I listened to Jim Wallis many years ago in Cambridge, MA and he is still trotting out the same stuff:only the religious left cares about the poor, justice, war victims and the environment. Hubris. Arrogant. The religious right prefers to apply wisdom to those issues while the religious left seems incapable of doing the same. How can anyone equate abortion with the impostiion of the death penalty. Do these people on the left still think logically? Soon the religious left would be saying: If the religious right really cares about life how come they are not pushing for a ban on cars. Don’t they care about the many lives lost because of their use. Okay, maybe the religious left has been sounding off more on the environment. Sometimes they make sense but sometimes their one-track thinking on the issue baffles me. There are many issues demanding attention, so it is good if diferent groups take on different challenges. Neither Jesus nor his disciples took on all the issues of their day. (Unfortunately, some evangelicals are beginning to sound like the religious left. The media have played a big role in this.) It is the religious left that made abortion and gay marriage hot button issues by trying to force them on the rest of the world. And when the religious right reacts to their agenda they go: you care about only those 2 issues. You started promoting a woman’s right to abortion as the most compelling issue of the day. You started promoting the rights of gays over centuries old traditions and mores and when you encounter resistance from regular folks you cry foul. Hubris and arrogant. C’mon, those words go better with the views of the religious left.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:12 pm


MJS, You sign your hate-missive “Gently in Christ”. There is NOTHING ‘gentle” about comparing loving, committed, soncsenting, adult same-sex relationships to murder and beastiality. Murder causes HARM. My marriage does not, has not and WILL not cause anyone any harm. You ‘claim’ Christ, but do you think He is pleased that you compare my marriage to sex with animals? If you truly follow His teachings that we ought to treat others as we would like to be treated, that tells me that it would be ok for me to compare YOUR “marriage” to sex with animals. How would you like that? Youmake Jesus weep and you make me want to puke. To use your own words, your point is a red herring. “Finally, you are wrong when you say that there is no associated cost. Christ was the cost…” yadda yadda yadda. You seem to forget that not everyone in America is a follower of Christ. Why do YOU get to impose YOUR religious beliefs on others? Seek help.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:28 pm


Elaine, Everything you posted is nothing more, less or other than your opinion, to which you are, naturally entitled. However a few of your ‘self-evident’ “truths” need to be challenged… “Well, of course the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong.” It does no such thing. The word homosexuality wasn’t even coined until about a hundred years ago. What IS condemned in (what we have left of) the Bible is Homosexual lust, homosexual rape and homosexual temple prostitution. The Bible rarely addresses the same-sex loving, committed, consenting adult relationships WE are discussing. If it WERE ‘clear’, this debate would not be happening. Besides, why do YOUR religious beliefs get to trump MINE in law? Are you proposing we become a theocracy? Guess not, ‘cuz you DID add, “Last I checked, America was NOT a theocracy though the Christian Right is doing all in their power to make it that way.” So what IS yer point? “As long as we the people remain a government ‘of the people, for the people by the people,’ then some of those people are going to be homosexuals. Okay, you don’t want to condone their ‘union’ of homosexuality? Fine.” Um, I hate to point this out, but according to a LOT of posters here, it AIN’T so “fine”, and somehow, they feel their beliefs ought to trump MINE. Why that? You do say, “However, the ‘law’ of the U.S. must hear all of its citizen’s grievances.” would that they did, my dear; would that they did. Instead, they want to change your Constitution to enshrine their unust feelings into law. “As Christians we can’t condone it because of what the Bible teaches” – Sorry, I know I’ve already countered this ‘argument’, but America is NOT “Christian”, so what it can and can’t “condone” is not based on your “Christian” values. “but as U.S. Citizens we have to condone ‘fairness’ of all Americans.” “Ought” and “do” are totally different, no? “In other words, the Christian right once again used deceit in order to garner Republican votes.” You got THAT right at least. “As for the term marriage, yeah well, I think the homosexuals could have been approached and debated with to use another term for their co-existence.” You would have lost that “debate”. Equal is equal. I am married, whether or not some radical rightwing religious extremist ‘thinks’ I ought to be allowed to be or not. Even YOU seem to agree: “However, with all the Christian bashing against them, they certainly would not consider it now.”>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:35 pm


more to Elaine, “…with regard to what the Bible teaches on homosexuality.” Already dealt with. It DOESN’T. “Again, they were not demanding that Christians cease teaching what the Bible says on homosexuality.” According to James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, etc. who believe EXACTLY that. “As so, the Christian Right were malicious, ungodly, and deceitful to use this matter as another political football to garner Republican votes.” On this we agree. “When I say pray, I mean ‘loving’ prayers to God to help homosexual Americans.” Their aim is NOT to “help” us – treating us equally before the law will accomplish that. Their aim is to diminish, demean, debase us so that we will be percieved as lesser, baser persons (comparisons to ‘marrying animals’, anyone?), and hence not ‘worthy’ of equal recognition before the law. “As well, their outreach should have been to invite them to know the Love of God”. THIS I find your most vile statement. You presume we do NOT “know the love of God”. Get stuffed. I sure do, as do the 6-7 out of 10 gays who are members of various faith denominations.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 20, 2006 at 5:49 pm


rightist, “How can any thinking person really say the religious right is focused on only two issues.” Easy. By checking out their websites, by watching their TV shows, by reading their mailings. I can see it. Sorry you can’t seem to. “The religious right was out feeding, clothing and comforting the world”. So was and IS the religious left. No one is “being outrightly anti-religion” since we (supposedly) have freedom of (and hopefully FROM) religion. The better question is, why should YOUR religious beliefs trump MINE? Answer me that. “The religious right built schools and took on poverty in Africa and other regions of the world.” So does the religious left, not to mention the secular left. And the centre, too. “The religious right engaged in culture wars” Like that’s a ‘GOOD’ thing? “The religious right built orphanages all over the world.” As do seculares. Yer point? “only the religious left cares about the poor, justice, war victims and the environment” It does seem that way. Not much mention of any of those on the Focus on the Family website. Hubris. Arrogant. Indeed! “The religious right prefers to apply wisdom to those issues” Ignoring them is NOT applying any kind of “wisdom”. “How can anyone equate abortion with the impostiion of the death penalty.” Again, easy. The RRR purports that abortion causes the loss of a human life. The death penalty does the same. Thanks for askin’. Even YOU admit, “Okay, maybe the religious left has been sounding off more on the environment. Sometimes they make sense but sometimes their one-track thinking on the issue baffles me.” the same can be said of the RRR extremists. As YOU said: “Unfortunately, some evangelicals are beginning to sound like the religious left.” Tell me about it, eh? “It is the religious left that made abortion and gay marriage hot button issues by trying to force them on the rest of the world.” Pardon me while I choke. Snicker. “And when the religious right reacts to their agenda they go: you care about only those 2 issues.” That would be because it is true. “You started promoting the rights of gays over centuries old traditions” Sorta like we promoted equal rights for women and for blacks over centuries old traditions. Try again.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:17 pm


Huckfinn stated: “In the extremely rare case of a medical abortion, the object is to save the mother’s life; killing the baby is a regrettably unavoidable consequence. In elective abortion, however, killing the baby is the goal.” My Reply: Again, Huckfinn the procedure is the same. The conversation was not about arguing the ‘object and goal’ of abortion for as already said, ‘to reach those who commit reckless abortions (abort because the child is inconvenient and the husband protests or the single woman just makes that choice) we have to reach men and women’s heart with their true value and the true value of life itself. Huckfinn stated: “Should we not legally proscribe rape and instead merely try to persuade rapists to respect the dignity of women?” My Reply: Different complex issue that should not be compared to the ‘abortion’ issue. As inferred, the Christian outreach to those who commit abortion should be to reach their hearts with their and the un-born’s true worth before God. The Christian Right should know that! After all, they are the ones who in times past, taught that many who commit abortion believe the child is a ‘fetus’ or ‘hasn’t fully developed’, etc. Where once the Christian Right proclaimed that ‘they weren’t condemning the poor mother’, are you now inferring that you are comparing her to a ‘rapist? That comparison smacks of a sexist tone, in that your comparison of ‘rapist’ i.e. ‘something that predominantly (at least outside of prison) happens to women is a indictment on women for the act of abortion. How horrible for women who have been raped and are simultaneously against all types of abortion. You need to reflect on why you brought up rapist, instead of let’s say, murderer, thief, etc. There’s some ‘sexism’ Christ would have you reflect upon and discard. Oh, one more thing, speaking of rapists, what if a woman was gang raped and impregnated? If she aborted because she could not bear carrying her rapist’s child should she be ‘prosecuted?’ Do tell.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:20 pm


Huckfinn stated:”Lawfully prosecuting murderers is not “persecution.” My Reply: Yes, but the ‘persecution’ comes in when you “un-lawfully” go after a group because you sanctimoniously feel your views should be forced upon them. MY PREVIOUS QUOTE:”No one stopped the ‘back alley’ abortions of yesteryear with threats of persecution and for sure, a bunch of screaming, wailing, sanctimonious Christians did nothing but determine people to withstand their hypocrisies.” Huckfinn’s reply to my previous quote” “See” My Reply: No, you don’t “see.” You miss the point of what I was saying. My point was, there will always be women who for whatever reason elect to abort. They will find someone who will do it for them. Even when it was illegal to do it, they found someone who would do it. Therefore, keep the medical procedure itself legal and minister to doctor’s hearts. Perhaps they won’t accept abortions except for when the life of the mother is endangered. And, perhaps they will have a list of government ‘tax paid’ programs to give to the woman to encourage her to keep her child. Bottom line, my argument is not to suport reckless abortions, rather it is to ‘find a different, ‘godly’ method to deal with the issue of abortion. Again, America is not a theocracy where you can force Christianity on the populace. You lose souls and create enemies. As quoted earlier, ‘God allows his sun to shine, and rain to fall, on the just and unjust.’ There’s spiritual admonition in God’s behavior that the Christian Right should heed.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:34 pm


Dirtbag stated:”Good grief, Elaine, get back on your meds. “Be angry and sin not and don’t spew hate filled incoherent rants on a site that is desperately trying to find common ground.” My Reply: Good grief yourself dirtbag, you are the one who burst on the scene throwing this hissy fit as if it is ‘you’ who need to “get back on your meds.” Or rather, pray to Jesus to heal you from your obvious over anxiety filled nature. As for your own ‘hate-filled, incoherent, rabblings’ to my reply, well let me assure you that I couldn’t comprehend it to quite know how to answer it, but because you are obviously greatly afflicted, I’ll as a ‘good’ Christian should, give it a try. I think it was Tim who said, ‘he agreed with my points’ so obviously it is not so incoherent but to ‘troubled’ you. Secondly, I’ve never been on a ‘blog’ before but from reading others comments I do realize mine was excessively long. However, I did apologize for the lengthiness. I guess for such ‘sensitive’ souls like yours’, I should also apologize for the ‘typos.’ Just to show you my goodwill towards your cause that you seem to infer, I along ‘tore down,’ In the future I will seek to shorten my replies. It won’t be easy, but I’ll try, so just calm your little ole’ frantic, wild, self down, okaaay? As for the hate, well I was explaining the ‘hate’ of the Christian right. I’m not raging about it, rather full of zealousness in this my first blog post. I forgive you for your misinterpretation, I mean, in light of your obvious ‘Freudian slip’ i.e. ‘med’s comment. Still, I’ll try in the future to ‘explain’ in a way that doesn’t upset such a ones as you.>



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Bill Samuel

posted September 20, 2006 at 8:49 pm


It is correct that the religious right does not just work on two issues. For example, many of them work on supporting the pledge of allegiance and making it unconstitutional to “desecrate” the U.S. flag. This shows their true colors. They want to enshrine a secular idol as a holy object in their theocracy. Whatever they’re worshipping is definitely not the Christian God. What does the Bible say about idolaters?>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 9:51 pm


“Well, of course the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong.” Curiouser stated:”It does no such thing. The word homosexuality wasn’t even coined until about a hundred years ago. What IS condemned in (what we have left of) the Bible is Homosexual lust, homosexual rape and homosexual temple prostitution. The Bible rarely addresses the same-sex loving, committed, consenting adult relationships WE are discussing. If it WERE ‘clear’, this debate would not be happening. Besides, why do YOUR religious beliefs get to trump MINE in law? Are you proposing we become a theocracy? Guess not, ‘cuz you DID add, “Last I checked, America was NOT a theocracy though the Christian Right is doing all in their power to make it that way.” So what IS yer point?” MY REPLY: Hi curiouser and curiouser, I wasn’t making a semantical argument such as yourself with regard to the literal term ‘homosexual.’ Rather, I was speaking in terms of the Bible teaching that it is wrong for man to lay with man as with a woman’ i.e. ‘sexually’ or ‘woman to lay with woman’ (Lev. 18:22; Romans 1:27). My point was, America is not a theocracy so you can’t legislate Christianity on homosexual community in the way they were doing it.>



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Ray

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:00 pm


With respect to gay marriage: it exists, regardless of whether a society or a government chooses to recognize it legally. Inasmuch as the phenomenon of same-sex couples living in committed, stable, loving relationships was virtually unknown in Biblical times, the writers of the Bible have virtually nothing to say about it. In any case, the Bible has a lot more to say about how we treat the poor than about who we sleep with. And what it says about how we treat the poor is a lot clearer than what it says (or doesn’t say) about homosexuality. Read the Books of Kings. Israel was destroyed because the poor and defenseless were being ground into the dirt — much like we’re doing in this country today. Marriage as an institution has been evolving since the dawn of civilization. In the 19th century, it became possible for couples to choose not to have children; in the 20th century, it became possible for sterile couples to have children. Thus childbearing was decoupled from marriage. Simultaneously, the tightly defined gender roles for the man and the woman fell away as couples began to negotiate their roles and duties. So, for example, a wife can be the main breadwinner and a husband can stay home to raise the children. While these changes in the definition and practice of marriage are an immense boon to many couples, it opens the door for gay and lesbian couples to argue that we are now equally qualified to participate in it. Modern marriage is little more than a contract between two persons. Certainly for civil marriages at least, two people are not required to be virgins, to be faithful to each other, to love each other, to have children, to stay married, to live together, or even to pass a blood test in many places. In short, any two unrelated people of legal age who agree to enter into the contract are free to do so. In such a context, it’s hard to argue why the gender of the parties entering into the agreement is a make-or-break condition. Biblical arguments against recognition of gay marriage are dubious at best; there simply is no secular argument at all against recognizing gay marriages. The changes to marriage as an institution are clearly very upsetting to many. Nonetheless, it is simply magical thinking to believe that by banning gay and lesbian marriage, we will turn back the clock. Same-sex marriage threatens no one. Marriage is much more threatened by easy divorce, spousal abuse, and the economic pressures couples face as a result of this country’s economic policies. Christian faith communities have an obligation to consider these developments with an open mind and to look without prejudice at the example set by numerous same-gender couples who demonstrate every day that stable, loving, and grace-filled marriages do not depend on the gender of the parties involved.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:35 pm


MY QUOTE:”As Christians we can’t condone it because of what the Bible teaches” CURIOUSER’S REPLY: “Sorry, I know I’ve already countered this ‘argument’, but America is NOT “Christian”, so what it can and can’t “condone” is not based on your “Christian” values.” My Reply: Curiouser my comment with regard to ‘Christians” had to do with those who chose to embrace Christianity. It was not stated in the terms you misinterpreted as referring to the U.S. as a ‘Christian nation.’ I well know the U.S. was never Christian as a whole as Christians don’t enslave, torture, segregate, kill, murder, steal and destroy in the way that prominent whites of the U.S. behaved. MY FORMER QUOTE: “but as U.S. Citizens we have to condone ‘fairness’ of all Americans.” CURIOUSER’S REPLY:”Ought” and “do” are totally different, no? My Reply: Yes, they are which is what most people who denouce the so-called Christian Right, well understand. In other words, ‘no argument here.’ MY FORMER QUOTE:”As for the term marriage, yeah well, I think the homosexuals could have been approached and debated with to use another term for their co-existence.” CURIOUSER’S RESPONSE:”You would have lost that “debate”. Equal is equal. I am married, whether or not some radical rightwing religious extremist ‘thinks’ I ought to be allowed to be or not. Even YOU seem to agree: “However, with all the Christian bashing against them, they certainly would not consider it now.” My Reply: What I agree is that under the law of the U.S. you as a citizen of the U.S. have a right to petition the government for ‘partner’ or ‘union’ rights with the one you chose to habitat with. That is a U.S. Constitutional right that you have. Let me make myself clear, though I am a Christian, I am not of the Christian Right. LIke Mr. Wallis, I think it’s hightime that ‘true’ Christians combat their madness. I take offense that the Christian Right seeks to put their version of so-called Christianity off on everyone else. See, they are not only condemning you homosexuals but Christians who differ from their racist, bigoted, sexist, madness that they choose to call Christianity. That was my entire point. So yeah, you’re right, I agree homosexual practicing citizens do have the right to petition. I can agree with your right without being in contrast with the Bible with regard to the subject of homosexuality. I believe in loving the sinner while hating the sin. That is all.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:37 pm


Elaine, I was comparing a rapist to an abortionist, not to a woman seeking an abortion. The latter often act out of ignorance or under duress; the latter have no excuse for their bloodletting. You completely failed to deal with the article I cited in response to the tiresome “back alley” argument. Here’s another one for you to ignore: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/sfl/abortion_policy.htm Finally, your refusal to acknowledge the Bible’s unequivocal condemnation of homosexual relations shows that you are incapable of rational dialogue. Goodbye.>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 10:49 pm


# DIRTSTUFF STATED: “RE: homosexuality. What the eeeevilll Christian Right(TM) is upset about is the *imposition* of homosexual values on our culture. i.e. teaching 5-year olds that homosexuality is great and you have to go to the principal’s office if you disagree. i.e. teaching the enchanting practice of “fisting” to 14-year olds as happened in PA. Oh, and by the way, they *are* requiring us to stop teaching what the Bible teaches on homosexuality; see “hate speech”” MY REPLY: In responding to this your utterance, I must remind myself, that you are the one who brought up ‘your’ obvious ‘meds’ taking habit. Anyway, calm down, don’t get so riled up. The ‘imposition’ of anyone’s values on ‘we the people’ is where the wrong lay. That includes the Christian Right’s ‘imposing’ their values on the nation as a whole. If you can’t take it, then don’t dish it out. Now again, for the record, I don’t want homosexuals pushing their values off on us, just as I don’t want the Christian Right pushing their values off on us. This I say, as a spirit-filled, and get this, DEMOCRAT voting believer. Deal with it!>



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Elaine

posted September 20, 2006 at 11:17 pm


HuckFinn stated:”I was comparing a rapist to an abortionist, not to a woman seeking an abortion. The latter often act out of ignorance or under duress; the latter have no excuse for their bloodletting.” My Reply: Yeah, okay you’re entitled to ‘curse’ the doctor and compare him to a rapist, if you so choose. You’re also entitled to voice your opposition to ‘doctors not performing abortion.’ What the Christian Right is not entitled to, is to use the issue as a political football to castigate those who vote for the Democratic Party. Niether are they justified before God for lying and deceiving a gullible public into ‘hating’ the Democratic Party and accusing them of being the ‘children of Satan’ for their disposition that differs from the Christian Right. That is my point. That is where the Christian Right becomes an abomination before God and humanity who are not like them. HuckFinn stated:”You completely failed to deal with the article I cited in response to the tiresome “back alley” argument. Here’s another one for you to ignore:http://www.vanderbilt.edu/sfl/ ab…tion_policy.htm” My Reply: I didn’t fail to deal with the article. I honestly for whatever reason did not see it posted but will look up this new site and get back with you. I promise you. HuckFinn stated:”Finally, your refusal to acknowledge the Bible’s unequivocal condemnation of homosexual relations shows that you are incapable of rational dialogue. Goodbye.” My Reply: Uh, well, speaking of ‘rational dialogue’ don’t you think you’re over reacting with the “I’ll never speak to you again” hissy fit you threw? Oh, you can’t be serious. Nonetheless, I think from the beginning I acknowledged and stated that I personally accept the Bible’s disposition. I later quoted Scripture and verse to be exact (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27). Let us remember, the Bible states, “Listen much and speak little” before running off on some senseless tangent (Jas. 1:19 PP). How about that, huh? :-)>



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ron chandonia

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:06 am


Well, I tuned in to the predictable: another catfight about abortion. It’s really sad because it would be a good thing if someone, ANYONE, were actually promoting a consistent pro-life ethic in American public policy decisions. I am quite unconvinced that Sojourners is even trying to do that. I recall an e-mail list called Sojo-Mail a while back on which the webmaster (not Jim Wallis) basically told the readers to focus on issues like poverty because abortion was a matter of personal conscience about which we could not agree. Sorry, but that’s what has driven Values Voters (me among them) out of the Democratic Party. We want abortion addressed SERIOUSLY, as a major assault on human welfare in this country, an assault every bit as serious as the other assaults so often cited by the political left. John Kerry’s self-serving “I was an altar boy who served in Vietnam and embraces Roe v. Wade” talk is not doing it. Not even close. I’m embarrassed that a Christian spokesperson who pretends to believe in a consistent pro-life ethic would pretend otherwise.>



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Anne

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:13 am


Hello, I found a link to this from Sojourner and I am more or less fasting religious debate right now. ;-) But I was looking for and was surprised to see no one saying what immediately jumped to my mind in terms of this entire wedge issues questions. How about the issue of whether we are actually seeking and desiring one another’s good as opposed to personal greed and gain? Because I have to tell you, that’s my Big Problem here. Abortion is around because of greed. Homosexuality (which I do believe is wrong) is around because people believe they should be able to do whatever they like (and they’re pretty much right.) Integrity. Competence. Responsibility. I think part of the problem right now is all of these little issues, as someone said earlier. When we’re missing the Big Huge Issue that’s staring us all in the face. And sort of sweeping it under the rug by saying well … everyone else is doing it. How about our very real prejudice against people of other countries. How about our foreign policies and how they are driven by our own selfish, short-sided agendas. How about the fact that we raise and nurture leaders to do what we want as opposed to what is right. Those are my values, what I’m looking for, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I don’t vote for or against ANY of those issues and if I did it would be with the belief (right or wrong) that such a person has integrity. Frankly, at this point I don’t think either one serves as a measuring stick. I still believe leaders are human beings not platforms. I believe that I’m far from alone, that by and large we are jaded with all these big ideas, all these promises that I will *fix* America because I believe in this or that big cause. We want people who are real. (And who will fill our pocketbooks, but we are talking here about “values” so I’m going to pretend like that big huge driving force doesn’t exist.) If America is going to survive as a nation we need to escape from this small-minded milieu we’re caught in right now. And at least there are people desiring good. That gives me some hope. :) Oh and whoever shared the post about the Pope’s speech, God bless you! We were talking about that elsewhere and even though I am not Roman Catholic and therefore have to sort of smile at the every religion believes it has the right of things completely line of argument ;-) what you wrote spoke to me. But it also made me think of the fact that we need to need to need to change the dialectic. And I say that because there is this almost classic Hegelian dialectic at work right now. Isn’t there? And we need to find a synthesis. I say that because in this case I honestly don’t believe either side has the market on what’s right … and we both know it. Deep down inside. ;-) Deep deep down. Most of us are at least aware. I think. Yes I think the pope’s statements were highly unwise. But one thing is very true. We need to *talk*. God bless! Anne>



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Butch

posted September 21, 2006 at 12:41 am


I’m only interested in what we can agree on. If you are for abortion or against, how will you work with the other extreme? I would ban anyone who can’t find a middle ground. Throwing rocks or bombs across the fence will never tear down the fence. How do we avoid unwanted pregnancy, then abortion never comes up. If it comes up then how do we feed that child or if there is an abortion how do we minister to the women who had the child and how do we help her not get pregnant again if she isn’t willing to carry full term.>



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Shario

posted September 21, 2006 at 1:52 am


As a committed Pentecostal Christian from the so called Third World living in the First World, I am so glad to see that there are people like Rev. Wallis who uphold the Social Justice and holistic salvation aspects of our faith seriously, it is indeed encouraging that the fundamental principles stated in Luke 9:2 are being highlighted from West. If only the political leaders understand the fundamental whys and move towards dialogue and understanding instead of radicalism and extremist approaches. The only regret is that time is not on our side and the longer this ignorance continues the deeper the gap and differences will be.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:14 am


My apologies, Elaine. I mistook “Curiouser’s” comments on homosexuality for yours. I’m not sure what to do with this comment, though: What the Christian Right is not entitled to, is to use the issue as a political football to castigate those who vote for the Democratic Party. Niether are they justified before God for lying and deceiving a gullible public into ‘hating’ the Democratic Party and accusing them of being the ‘children of Satan’ for their disposition that differs from the Christian Right. That is my point. I don’t “hate” the Democratic Party. In fact, I tend to favor Democrats to Republicans on many issues, especially labor/consumer/environmental protection policies. However, I’m repulsed by Democrats’ generally strident support of abortion on demand.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:18 am


By the way, there’s a typo in my second to last post. I meant to say: “… the former [i.e. abortionists] have no excuse for their bloodletting.”>



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Bill Samuel

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:20 am


Ron Chandonia wrote: John Kerry’s self-serving “I was an altar boy who served in Vietnam and embraces Roe v. Wade” talk is not doing it. Not even close. Right Ron. And Kerry was pro-life when that seemed politically advantageous, and then turned around 180 degrees, as on other issues. Now he tries to sound sympathetic to us while still supporting the NARAL crowd 100%. This is the guy who was anti-war when he came back from Vietnam, turned in his medals, and then changed back to glorifying his Vietnam war service in the 2004 campaign. He ran a jingoistic, militarist campaign, and called for sending more troops to Iraq. To prove he was more macho than Bush, he took a hunting rifle on the campaign trail, and killed innocent animals to prove his “manhood.” Also, he reversed his prior opposition to the death penalty for the campaign in his effort to prove he could kill as much as any politician. Now when public opinion is so strongly against the Iraq War, he has switched again and calls for withdrawal. But he still votes to spend over half of the relatively controllable U.S. budget on the military. This is a man whose record shows he has no principles at all save personal ambition. Don’t be taken in by his efforts to get support from us. It’s as sincere as the extremely long record of positions he has taken on issues and then reversed.>



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Jovita

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:27 am


I am more concerned with the initial thought of Jim Wallis about ‘moral values and who decides what are moral values.’ I contacted a number of churches inviting them to join me in a “vigil for a moral budget,” but in some responses I was told that they “could not get involved in politics, only in moral issues, like aboration.” Seems to me that many people in this society seem to think that they have THE RIGHT to determine what is moral and what is not. I think it would be best for them to go back to their bible classes and really learn from JESUS, what IS moral! They should also listen to and be engaged with people of other religions and learn from them because Americas do not have all the answers and their arrogance is their undoing.>



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revjmike

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:57 am


To quote the famous philosopher, Rodney King, “Why can’t we all just get along?”>



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George De Vries, Jr.

posted September 21, 2006 at 3:14 am


We have to remember that though we may support a candidate on a single-issue stance, we are helping elect someone who will be legislating or administering and/or judging a multitude of issues and perhaps taking a variet of positions along the way. Do we have to somehow evaluate the “package” we are getting through popular elections? Is there any real way for a Christian (or any other voter) to insure the end he or she desires?>



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Kozzmo

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:14 am


One of my favorite sites is Kevin Sites, in the hot zone, this is from his most recent entry http://hotzone.yahoo.com/ Anne was only 12 when she was abducted by the notorious Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army. They have conducted a 20-year insurgency with the stated purpose of creating a Christian government based on the Ten Commandments. In fact, they have created nothing more than a protracted war of terror that has killed as many as 100,000 people and displaced another 1.5 million. Their calling card is the abduction of children — an estimated 25,000 — who they turn into soldiers, servants and sex slaves. Anne became one of those. After two years as a housegirl, she was given as a “wife” to a rebel unit leader. Strong and independent despite her youth, she refused him. But that did not stop him. He raped her, repeatedly, until she became pregnant. But in a stroke of poetic justice, a bomb dropped from a Ugandan Army helicopter found its mark and killed the man. The bomb alone didn’t break the grip of the LRA. Anne would do that herself. She told the senior LRA commander that now that her “husband” was dead, she would be a burden to the group, pregnant with no one to take care of her. He agreed. She walked away. Now she is in the process of rebuilding her life through the help of a reintegration center that provides counseling and a path back to her family and community. But while she is resilient, confident she can rebuild on the rubble of the past three years, she can’t walk away from one thing: the baby she’s now carried for five months. A difficult thing to grasp, I think — a world in which a bomb helps to set you free, but a baby is a constant reminder of your former prison. She tells me honestly she will accept the child, but isn’t sure yet if she can love it. My vote will be for responsible leadership. When I see the Gates foundation ally with the Clinton foundation to battle poverty in Africa and around the world, the only ethical choice is clear.>



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Cynthia

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:26 am


Politics does not have to be as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. Our founding fathers formed a Christian nation which afforded people the right to worship as they pleased. Our nation is supposedly 75% Christian. If we had Christian leaders who listened to God rather than special interest groups and the world, then our nation would not have so many issues period. Not only do we have abortion and gay marriage, but we also have families starving and homeless while at the same time, we have people spending $1,000 or more for a bottle of wine or for dinner. We have children growing up who have no idea what love is and then expect them to be moral. We try to bring democracy to other countries, but when we look at what we’ve done to our country, can we really blame them for wanting us to just leave them alone? The media twists stories and people can say anything on TV. How should we know who to vote for when politicians can’t seem to think for themselves because they listen to everyone else. We’ve taken God out of His rightful place as leader of our nation. Unless we get our leaders back in line, why should we expect anything better than Sodom and Gomorrah? How many times did God dicipline Israel by letting them fall into the enemies hands? Get ready, America, if we don’t care, God will remind us who He is.>



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Jo

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:29 am


Hi. Unfortunately I have not had the time to read all the posts up to this point so I may be repeating what someone else has said. If so, please forgive the repeat. I am a relatively conservative Christian in that I think abortion is immoral, I don’t believe marriage between gays is biblical, and I do not believe that there is anyway to get to heaven except through Jesus. Having said that I also do not want the state involved in my relationship with God. It seems to me that if morality can be legislated it can go either way. If the state has control over my body, then it could have the right to tell me that I must have an abortion. Or if the state has control over faith issues, it could tell me that I must follow some other God than one of my choosing. My faith does influence my vote in that I want to vote for someone who does what is best for the country as a whole, not just my little group. I will vote for someone that I believe will look out for the “least of these” and who will try to do right. Therefore, I cannot look at just one issue with a candidate. I have to look at how his or her policies will affect everyone. Just because I am anti-death penalty does not mean that I should vote for every candidate that feels the same as I do. I have to make sure that they will do what is best for all.>



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Linda M. Maloney

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:33 am


Let me explain how we here in Northwest Vermont are addressing the values issue. Inspired by participation in the December “Budgets are Moral Documents” action and by the January Sojourners conference, I suggested to my colleagues in the Northwest Deanery (Episcopal Diocese of Vermont) that we stage a series of public forums on the overall topic: “Moral Values and Public Policy.” We set them for the Fridays of September. Two we have behind us, and two remain. Thus far we have heard speakers on the crisis in Darfur and on the global AIDS crisis, with a focus on East Africa. Our remaining speakers will address economic justice and environmental justice, respectively. A special feature of these forums is that we have invited all those running for public office — national offices, statewide offices, and legislative candidates in our local area — to attend these forums and respond to the speaker (each candidate gets five minutes). We ask they to say how they would (or would not) use the office they seek to address the issue of the evening. The turnout has been excellent, the quality of the presentations outstanding, and the response altogether positive. Six candidates attended the first forum, eleven were at the second. Word is getting around. (Last week we heard from five Democrats, four Republicans, a Progressive, and an Independent.) It has occurred to me that this is one way of addressing the problem of how to preach the gospel without “directly or indirectly” supporting one party or the other. Our speakers (two Episcopalians, two Roman Catholics) have quite definite positions on the issues and address them in the context of gospel values. The candidates have the opportunity, then, to make their own positions heard.>



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Madelyn

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:28 am


Now that it is common knowledge that Ralph Reed is a liar & a cheater, what is the point of starting your blog with this type of person. You lose credibility.>



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Joseph

posted September 21, 2006 at 5:48 am


I would like to weigh in on the use of abortion as a tool used by key religious leaders like James Dobson to demonize “liberals”, “humanists”, non fundamentalist Christians and the Democratic Party, and his attempt to promote a mythical history of the U.S. Thisversion of America does not stand up to moral or historic scrutiny, but easily lends itself to the blind and fervent patriotism whose end looks increasingly like a theocratic police state whose God appointed leaders can spy on anyone anywhere without warrant, and can arrest and torture anyone anywhere without constitutional due process. I, personally, am opposed to legalized abortion, but as far as I can see the rise of the religious right has led to more violence and hatred and secrecy and authoritarianism and lies and has so far failed to create a compassionate culture of life and reasoned spiritual debate. The reasons for this are many, but I think one stands out most strongly. Christians have failed to recognize that politics is the realm of compromise, especially in a multi-cultural society which has chosen constitutional government by law and elected representatives. The religious “conservatives” have given up the difficulty, and ostracism which is the inevitable lot of the prophetic voice, and have sought influence through power politics instead. It was understandable because of the gravity of the moral issue of abortion that believers who wished to change the effects of Roe v Wade would gravitate to the party closest to their stand. The truth is that there are several large states with a signifigant majority af pro-choice voters. Abortian will be legally available for Americans until those minds are changed. They are not about to be changed by violence and fear.>



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Jeri

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:25 am


Seen at a Soulforce rally in Colorado Springs, Colorado last summer: “Put the Christ back in Christian.” Peace.>



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Fred

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:02 am


There was a time that Slavery was legal and believed to be justified by the masses. Until Christians stood up and said it was wrong. There was a time that women had no right to vote and the masses believed it was justified by the masses. Until Christians stood up and said it was wrong. There was a time that segregation was believed to be the right course of action in this country. Until Christians stood up and said it was wrong. God calls us to take up his mantle of Justice. Isa 58:6-9 NIV 6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. It is easy to get caught up with titles thrown on us by a fallen world, but ultimately we are of Gods kingdom and accountable to HIM. God doesn t call us to pick and choose an area of justice to work on; He calls us to justice period. I am not talking about the world s view of justice either. How can we sit here and argue about right wing, left wing, or any other wing. We are GODs people accountable to Him to do what is right, even in a representational form of government. I believe that God has called us to stand against and fight unjust laws. While it is admirable to try to change the hearts of men, if Gods people had waited for the hearts of men to be changed when it came to slavery, women s rights, and segregation then, we would still be living in a land of slavery. I would love to go on but it is late and you are probably cringing at my appalling grammar mistakes. I will say as a member of the 1% white elite (I love how we pick up terms put on us by a fallen world.) I stand against abortion because, no one, the mother included has the right to put there life above the will of God. Ps 139:13-16 NIV 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. I also believe that corporations should be regulated to prevent wholesale human greed. Put ultimately meeting the day to day needs of the poor are the responsibility of the body to meet. If every Christian got out of their pew and actively meet the needs of the poor in their community then not only would the physical needs be met but ultimately the poor s spiritual needs would be met. Again excuse the fact that I have a hard time putting my heart into words, but hopefully I have expressed what I feel God has put there to a certain degree.>



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John D. Sens

posted September 21, 2006 at 2:20 pm


For reasons that remain inscrutable to me the left (progressive, social activist, bleeding heart, whatever you call it), as erudite as its leaders have been, with unparalleled hubris, brushed aside the lessons of history that there is immense strength in religious fervor. The left abandoned belief in the omnipotence of God, discarded the Christian doctrine that religion is personal, and instead embarked on a campaign of social activism devoid of moral absolutes to seek justice – as they define it. They have paid the price at the polls.>



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Donn Anderson

posted September 21, 2006 at 4:09 pm


Dear Rev. Wallis, I really appreciate this opportunity to learn about “values” and other aspects of contemporary Christianity through this blog and all the other efforts you are making. I am in a learner mode. I buy into many current themes in religion and relationships, but I’m not as vocal/informed as I want to be. Maybe you will free my voice to the Work. Donn Anderson>



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Butch

posted September 21, 2006 at 6:56 pm


I tried to find the person who said, “If we give the GOV the power to say we can’t have an abortion then they would have the same power to say we must have one”. I had not come to this on my own, but it is the same when we give the GOV power to torture someone then we gave them the power to torture us and ours. Power given to any GOV has always been used against it’s own people. My examples: Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, Molosiwitz (sp), add your own to the list.>



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Butch

posted September 21, 2006 at 7:00 pm


After I gave up I found it. If the state has control over my body, then it could have the right to tell me that I must have an abortion. Or if the state has control over faith issues, it could tell me that I must follow some other God than one of my choosing.>



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tt

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:13 pm


Ps 139:13-16 NIV “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” Good verse however could it be possible it was a verse written by King David about his specific situation? Maybe not, but it s too easy to pick and choose verses and apply them universally we could do that throughout the Bible with disastrous results How about this: “If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, however many they be, but his soul is not satisfied with good things, and he does not even have a proper burial, then I say, `Better the miscarriage than he, for it comes in futility and goes into obscurity; and its name is covered in obscurity. It never sees the sun and it never knows anything; it is better off than he.'” Ecclesiastes 6:3-5 Seems to be Solomon is saying that sometimes it s better to terminate a pregnancy than allow it to continue to a life of misery. Heresy?! Well he goes on “Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 4:1-3 Okay, how about Moses – where it is clear (at least to me) that a fetus does not carry the same weight as an adult human life. Heresy?! And if men struggle and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” Exodus 21:22-25 I am not pro-abortion but let s be real it s more complicated than the right wants to make it. And as a long time member of a conservative church, believe me it is abortion and gay marriage that gets everybody up and active. Petitions in the church entryway, constant literature on who to vote for with those 2 issues the primary criteria. Yes we do other things but the response is tepid compared to these two.>



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tt

posted September 21, 2006 at 8:32 pm


I also do have to admit it really does make me cringe seeing Ralph Reed as the spokesman/apologist for the evangelical right. I think he has a right to speak, but if we use a Biblical standard he really has lost his right to speak as a Christian or Church ‘Leader’. If he had any decency he would acknowledge this and not put himself in this position of leadership until he has had a time of repentance and healing (if in fact he is repentent)and I think Sojourners does him a diservice by asking him to take on this role. We’re all sinners, but we all aren’t taking official positions as Christian leaders/spokespersons. Big difference in my humble opinion.>



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Ray

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:21 pm


Both sides in the abortion debate seem to accept the assertion that human life begins at conception, but not all faith traditions teach this. Many Jewish and Muslim scholars reason that, inasmuch as Adam was not “alive” until God breathed life into him, human life does not begin until organ differentiation occurs. In this light, use of the “morning after” pill would not be regarded as an abortion, since at that point there is no fetus, only an undifferentiated mass of cells, a blastocyst. Furthermore, under this line of reasoning, stem cell research would also be permissible. The larger point is that, even as Adam participating in creation by naming the animals, we are participants in shaping and defining our world. We are, after all, made in the image of a creative God. Although this does not release from the obligation to reason in good faith, it does suggest that we have the freedom to question some of the premises of the debate. Put another way, what the Bible “says” depends on what the listener wants to hear.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:44 pm


Hi Elaine, Thanks for clearing up a misconception. Now, just a reply to your post… “I was speaking in terms of the Bible teaching that it is wrong for man to lay with man as with a woman’ i.e. ‘sexually’ or ‘woman to lay with woman'” Yes, I understood that. MY point was that homosexual men do not lie with women in any manner. Lesbians do not lie with men in any manner. Hence my belief that the passages described heterosexuals lustfully dabbling in homosexual sex. They gave up what was ‘natural’ – for THEM – and turned to the (for them) un-natural. The reverse could be said: the RRR want homosexuals to turn from what is natuarl – for THEM – to that which is un-natural for them. “My point was, America is not a theocracy so you can’t legislate Christianity on homosexual community in the way they were doing it.” That is what the RRR continue to do, or at least continue to attempt to do – through unjust, unconstitutional laws.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:49 pm


Elaine, I read your replies and more and more I see we DO agree on most issues of substance. It is your choice of wroding that sticks in my craw. For example, you use the old saw: “I believe in loving the sinner while hating the sin.” Thanks, but again I am insulted. I do not believe my love is a “sin”. I cannot repent of loving my husband. Sorry that you view my love as “sin” and that you “hate” it. I didn’t feel that way before, but you seem to re-inforce (perhaps unwittingly) such negative stereotypes.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:51 pm


HuckFinn, “your refusal to acknowledge the Bible’s unequivocal condemnation of homosexual relations shows that you are incapable of rational dialogue” If it were “unequivocal”, this debate would not be happening. MANY Biblicl scholars disagree with you. So it must be YOU that is incapable of rational dialogue. Goodbye.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 21, 2006 at 9:59 pm


revjmike, you asked, “Why can’t we all just get along?” I’d like to, but the radical religious rightwing extremists won’t let me. They refuse to allow ME the right to life, liberty and my own pursuit of happiness. They seem to believe the document says, ‘We, the straight people….’ They would like the document to say ‘All men are created equal, except the queers.’ They want the document to say ‘… and liberty and justice for all except the homos’. They refuse to accept America is not a theocracy. They continue to compare my relationship to beastiality, to necrophilia, to rape, to incest, to childmolestation, to cannabalism. And they keep refusing to answer my question: WHY SHOULD YOUR RELIGIOUS TENETS TRUMP MINE BEFORE THE LAW? That’s why. Thanx 4 askin’.>



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Beth Wellington

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:00 pm


I, too, have to wonder why Wallis has picked Reed to dialog on moral values, given Reed’s participation in the Indian casino scam. Surely, there’s another articulate representativd of the religious right who is not so morally bankrupt. See my blog entry of December 4, 2005: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-6IqCKWAzfrLlzHFAL37elhA-?&p=175 Another source of concern is Reed’s $20,000 per month retainer from Microsoft. On April 27, 2005 The Seattle Post Intelligencer speculates that the relationship may have pesuaded the company to change its policies on gay rights to make Microsoft more attractive to influential politicians courting the religious right. See: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/221811_msftreed27.html and http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/jamieson/221805_robert27.html Actually, Salon had reported the ties back on April 12, 2000. http://archive.salon.com/politics2000/feature/2000/04/12/reed/ And this is just the tip of the iceberg. See Sourcewatch.org’s article on Reed, which links back to documents reporting on his other ethical shortcomings: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Ralph_E._Reed%2C_Jr. I would rather seek out the views of other representatives of the religious right, than to sit at the feet of this scoundrel’s soapbox.>



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tt

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:14 pm


Huck says “Finally, your refusal to acknowledge the Bible’s unequivocal condemnation of homosexual relations shows that you are incapable of rational dialogue. Goodbye” Well Huck how about this: 18 “Anyone who divorces his wife and gets married to another woman commits adultery. Also, the man who gets married to a divorced woman commits adultery. Here is an unequivocal condemnation of remarriage (since elsewhere it is clearly stated that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of heavan ), and unlike your verses on homosexuality this one comes right from Jesus mouth. Yet 99% of all Christians accept divorced people (as I do) and their adulturous lifestyle. Be honest you re picking and choosing which lifestyles you want to condemn. Heck, Jesus talked more about honoring the Sabbath than homosexuality and we totally ignore that because we all want to shop, eat and go to kids sports on Sundays, even if it s right during the Church service and you know, we really don t even know any of those awful homosexuals so we can all get on the bandwagon and condemn them. Well why don t you go after remarried people with the same zeal?>



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tt

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:16 pm


The previous passage on divorce and remarriage is Luke 16:18 – sorry it got cut off.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 10:48 pm


tt, Your comments point out clearly the problem of Bible literalism. That dog just don’t hunt.>



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Fred

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:08 pm


I tried to find the person who said, “If we give the GOV the power to say we can’t have an abortion then they would have the same power to say we must have one”. Butch | 09.21.06 – 1:01 pm | # If the state has control over my body, then it could have the right to tell me that I must have an abortion. Or if the state has control over faith issues, it could tell me that I must follow some other God than one of my choosing. Butch | 09.21.06 – 1:05 pm | # If the GOV has the right to tell me that I can t have a slave then it has the right to tell me that I can. This is an argument that can be used with anything. It is an excuse used to get us off the hook. GOD called us to JUSTICE, not the Government, not your friends, not your pastor, GOD did. What we want isn t important; our rights are superseded by HIS mandate to take care of the poor and the oppressed. The last time I checked someone that has no voice and is being murdered for personal convenience is oppressed. Ps 139:13-16 NIV “13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…” Good verse however could it be possible it was a verse written by King David about his specific situation? Maybe not, but it s too easy to pick and choose verses and apply them universally we could do that throughout the Bible with disastrous results I am not pro-abortion but let s be real it s more complicated than the right wants to make it. And as a long time member of a conservative church, believe me it is abortion and gay marriage that gets everybody up and active. Petitions in the church entryway, constant literature on who to vote for with those 2 issues the primary criteria. Yes we do other things but the response is tepid compared to these two. tt | 09.21.06 – 2:18 pm | # The point I am trying to make isn t that it is simple or clear cut. My point is that GOD formed us, and laid a plan out for our lives, not just Kind David s. We put emphases on our rights, our bodies, our choices as though that is what counts. We seem to forget it is about GOD, HIS PLAN, HIS CHOICES, not ours. HE calls every believer to Justice (the right exercise of POWER). We are to physically take care of the poor and the oppressed not sit idly by and let someone else do it (i.e. the government, friends, neighbors, whatever you want to fill in.) The conservative evangelical churches have been wrong to only focus on two issue, but at the same time the progressive church seems to be doing the same thing about the right to life. Someone said that it is hypocritical of an evangelical to be pro-life and for the death penalty, and they were right. The same statement can be reversed and used against the progressive church. GOD doesn t see the difference between the poor on the side of the street and around the globe and a child being murdered for the convenience of the parent that GOD chooses to love that child. Don t allow the views of a fallen world and it logic dictate what is right and wrong, what rights we have and don t, we are called to follow GOD not man. Pardon my use of the terms evangelical and progressive to divide the church, but it was for a lack of a better way of doing it. We are a single body and need to stand as such. Also forgive my tone, because this is a subject that God is stirring in my heart and is therefore something that I am very passionate about. I know that God is the ultimate judge of men s hearts not me, but I truly believe that He is calling His church to remember that THIS IS ABOUT HIM, NOT US.>



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Marian

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:09 pm


The idea that conservative Christians favor supporting the poor and helpless, but only through individual charity rather than governmental action, misses a couple of points. These same Christians rarely have any problem with governmental action that kills people, such as war and capital punishment–they just don’t want government helping people. The result is that we are doomed to do evil wholesale and good only retail. This may be a “fallen world”, but such an approach to it only guarantees that it will continue to fall faster and farther.>



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Butch

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:28 pm


Fred, interesting that you separate the part about abortion and leave out the part about torture? Does that dog hunt?>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:45 pm


On another blog, a perceptive person wrote the following: “”About being “pro-life.” Hmmmm. I see life being destroyed everywhere, every day, that we as Christians don’t do a thing about. I see lives destroyed in Iraq, in Africa and in our own country. Some of the death comes directly as a result of US policy, some indirectly. Some of it doesn’t have a thing to do with us, but we could probably stop it we wanted to. We’re tough and powerful, right? And our president really listens to God. Yet, the only “lives” that “pro-life” Christians seem to care about are the unrealized ones – the lives of people not close to being born, or people who are so ill that death may actually come as a blessing? I work in the social services field, and every day I consider again the vast numbers of children in this country – half a million each year – in foster care. Some of them are damaged beyond belief. They’ll never be adopted; no one wants them. Add to these kids the much larger number languishing in poor homes, in drug-riddled and violent neighborhoods, with parents who can barely get though the day, let alone provide adequate care for their children. They’re real, living human beings, already manifested in actual flesh. And yet, we hear breast-beating about Terri Schiavo and the unborn. Civilians dying in Iraq? The impoverished children dying a spiritual death in our own country? They’re not sexy enough, I guess, to make good religious theater.”..mw How very tragic. The issues surrounding abortion are many and complex. The comments by mw above are compelling…and convicting. It is these points that I believe Progressives make when challenged by zealous Pro-lifer’s. It isn’t that Progressives are pro-abortion, they just see abortion as a symptom of a much larger issue.>



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Butch

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:52 pm


I to see abortion as a symptom which led me to say I’m only reading the post devoted to the areas of agreement. I wish this forum didnot allow the far left or the far right. I’m trying to find the middle. The far left and far right have as many forums as you could count. Lets hear it for the middle, or from the middle.>



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KevinK

posted September 21, 2006 at 11:59 pm


Butch, What about torture is on your mind?>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:25 am


Kevin, when we give permission or allow our government to torture then we give them permission to torture us.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 12:40 am


Torture of any ilk is explicitly wrong and prohibited in the Articles of the Geneva Convention. Bush asking Congress to “clarify” the “ambiguous” prohibition is like asking what the definition of “is” is.>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 1:43 am


I think we are in agreement on torture but torture seems fairly easy, I feel that our government is doing several things that do not fit with my take on democracy. Wire-tapping. Extraordinary rendering (what a double think term) which; means you or your child can be picked up off the street and whisked off to an unnamed prison and interrogated. Not allowed to have counsel or even be told why. Asking corporations for our private records. I remember when Nixon had someone break into a doctors office to get records on an enemy. I suggest it is the same, only reworked. The signing statements, which other Presidents have done, rub me the wrong way. Congress passes “bills”, the President signs them into “law’, the Supreme Court may say they are unconstitutional. The three parts! This administration has 850 odd signing statements, which say I will sign this bill into law, and after everyone leaves the President makes a signing statement, which says this is what I’m going to do which may be completely contrary to the bill just signed into LAW. Don’t make this partisan; I don’t want any President to use signing statements. These are the things someone has leaked, what is going on that hasn t been leaked. What we allow the government to do to one is permission to do it to all.>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 2:03 am


Let me go on to say I don’t trust this government or any government that ever existed. A story from the civil rights marches. Understand that I am white and have no big ax to grind. A.D. Williams King, Martin Luther Kings brother came to our city to lead a housing march. I heard about it on the news at noon and it was to take place about a block from me, so I went out of curiosity. Later a relative of mine told me she had seen my picture. I inquired where? The FBI had come to the hospital where she worked in the personal office with pictures of those at the march. They didn’t accuse anyone of anything or even say why they wanted to know if the personal dept knew any of these people. Some at the march were employees and were fired for trumped up reasons but it was actually because the FBI had shown the pictures suggesting something was wrong. The things the FBI did to and about the civil rights movement is well known. Do we think those in power have changed because time has moved along. New times new despots. Should we trust the government, no? Put both hands around their necks and when they get out of line squeeze. The idea that if we aren’t doing anything wrong we don’t have to worry is nuts. Since the beginning of time we have needed to worry and fear government. They have the power to really get you down and beat you up.>



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HuckFinn

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:02 am


tt, For what it’s worth, I think the laws that liberalized commerce on Sundays and allowed “no fault” divorce have had disastrous consequences.>



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NStier

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:22 am


The question posed in the ballot box is not whether you are pro-abortion or anti-abortion. Women in need have always had, and will always have abortions as a last resort. Should they be allowed to have them here safely or travel out of the country to obtain one? If you vote to restrict abortions, you are in essence directing wealthy women abroad for a clean, safe abortion, and forcing poorer women to unsterile, unskilled, back alley butchers. Don’t think for a minute that any ballot is going to stop abortions – just change the safety across the economic continuum. Nancy>



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tt

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:27 pm


Huck, That may be true – BUT within even conservative Christian culture BOTH are seen as acceptable – fallen people living under God’s grace – but obviously outside of God’s ideal – but still okay. Would you ever confront a remarried person on their sinful lifestyle like you would a homosexual? Biblically you’re on must stronger ground with that one.>



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tt

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:32 pm


Most studies show that evangelicals tithe at about 2%. So really folks, this idea about the church taking care of the poor and keeping govt out of is is really just talk so that I don’t have to pay any more taxes. I really do challenge conservatives on this – it’s really about me keeping mine and allowing me to determine who is WORTHY of my help – and by land it better not be any unwed mothers or homeless people who have frittered away the marvelous opportunities like I had. I do think the Church does a lot of good work – but many are very ingrown and really so much goes to staffing and maintenance – SO what is the answer? The system may be broke in places – but we do have a system and we need to use and work on it – not berate and castigate it as most conservatives do.>



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Renee

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:32 pm


I agree with Nancy. While my faith would keep me from considering an abortion; the decision is up to the woman. That decision should be based on her beliefs and convictions. No matter what decision she makes we are mandated by God to embrace her and witness to her. When politics tries to legislate the bodies both moral and physical of the people that opens the door for illegal operators to set up shop. The victims being young uneducated and empoverished women who are desperate. That in itself would be tragic.>



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tt

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:37 pm


Huck also – why talk about enacting more laws? Do we really need a law to legislate what Christians do? So if it was illegal to shop on Sunday Christians wouldn’t do it, but since it’s legal but still wrong in God’s eyes we can do it? Same with divorce and remarriage? That seems to be what you’re saying. That just proves that we can’t be trying to legislate all these things. If Christians won’t do the ‘right’ thing – why should we expect or even want non believers to, except on the things we absolutely agree on, murder, theft, etc?>



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Kim

posted September 22, 2006 at 3:58 pm


I am new to the conversation, and I wanted to comment on the first entry. I really don’t understand what school choice and the pledge of allegiance have to do with morality. I also have to say that as a christian and as a physicist I do not look at evolution as a moral issue either. Why is evolution so threatening? I have no difficulty reconcilling evolution and creation. The thing that breaks my heart the most about this particular topic is that science is not in the business of making any sort of religious discussion. Science is about understanding the world. God has created this wonderful, incredible, awesome place that we call earth, and science is is the business of exploring it. We ask questions to find out how things work. Honestly, for me science brings me closer to God every day. How can I learn something new about nature and not praise the God who made it so wonderfully intricate? Unfortunately, people, both scientists and non scientists have made science an anti-religion religion. People seem to think that because we can explain how something works that must mean there is no God, but really it says nothing at all about God. I ask, what is so threatening about Evolution in particular? Why are you not also threatened by everything else for which science has come to find a natural (as opposed to supernatural) explanation? Public prayer, it seems to me, is not a moral issue either, it is a religious issue, and if you want to allow public prayer for christians why would you not also have to allow it for Jews, Muslims, Budhist, Hindus, Wicans, and any other relgious group that comes along? Is that really what we want? How can you all only one group to pray publicly and not be a hypocrit? As for banning, or at least restricting access to porn…will we ever really be able to do that? I will agree that this is a moral issue. However, no amount of legislating will ever stop it, or truly restrict access to it. People go underground for restricted things. We tried to abolish alcohol, but that experiment failed miserably. I think the problem that we Christians often have is that we try to hold people to our standards, but people have not agreed to live by our standards. Unless people have come to Christianty freely they have not agreed to abide by our moral code, and we cannot hold people to it. It seems to me that it would be better in the long run if we stopped trying to dictate morals and instead we simply live them out ourselves. People will be much more convicted if they see people doing what is morally right despite the freedom they have to do the opposite. We are called to be Holy, which really means to be set apart. How are we being set apart if we are forcing everyone around us to live as we are? Jesus never forced anyone to do anything. He confronted people who had agreed to his moral code, and he lived out his example for all to see. God gave us free will because he wants us to freely love him. Our morals come out of our love for God, not out of forced legislation.>



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NStier

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:29 pm


Renee– Along this same vein, should we criminalize lying? coveting? dishonoring our fathers? vs. God as the judge? Nancy>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 22, 2006 at 5:42 pm


“should we criminalize lying?” Maybe we SHOULD. It is NOT illegal to falsify the news in the U.S., unfortunately.>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:21 pm


I have MY relationship with MY god, and there is no room for anyone else to play God. That part is taken.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:30 pm


Kim, The main thrust of the fundamentalist Christians is their literal interpretation of the Bible. So, anything that is seen to undermine their literal interpretation is seen as a threat. Legal correctness is very important to them. Evolution, gay equality, abortion, global warming, ecology, etc. all serve to undermine the orderliness of their belief system. These people are absolutists. There is only black and white in their eyes…no grey. Relativism is an enemy. Everything must be tidy and neat and all the ends tied up, or their worldview comes apart at the seams. Only their narrow logic and reason prevail in their worldview. This has conflicted Christianity and divided it terribly. I, like you have always been confused as to what the big deal was over evolution. It enhances my admiration for God and Creation. But looking at it from their narrow view, it threatens their whole worldview and they have too much invested in it, both personally and institutionally to change. They rail against any who do not believe as they do and believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. They view the USA as a theocracy, or believe it should be. Everything is scrutinized through the lens of their morality. Grace and love are offered as long as people tow the line, otherwise they are subject to wrath and judgment…theirs and God’s. They like to blame all our country’s ills on liberalism, which they believe to be Satanic. Anyone who does not believe as they do are liberals, heretics and heathen, leading our nation to hell. It is obvious that most anything, including science and sex (even the Bible!), can become an idol and worshipped. And though Christianity often serves as the conscience of the secular, we are a secular and plural nation and a Constitutional Republic operating Democratically. Government in and of itself is not evil. Appropriate government serves the needs of our nations constituents as those constituents require.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:32 pm


KevinK, “The main thrust of the fundamentalist Christians is their literal interpretation of the Bible.” I disagree. It’s their SELECTIVE ‘literal interpretation’ of the Bible, and therein lies the rub.>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:34 pm


Kim, Very interesting (and intelligent, imnhso) post. One question: Could you please explain what you mean by access to “porn”? Do you (can one/should one) differentiate between “porn” and “erotica”?>



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curiouser and curiouser...

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:38 pm


Butch, “The idea that if we aren’t doing anything wrong we don’t have to worry is nuts. Since the beginning of time we have needed to worry and fear government. They have the power to really get you down and beat you up.” Even worse, they can look up your bum at the airport!!!>



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Paul

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:39 pm


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Is common religious ground possible on gay marriage? No! Is common ground possible on a political solution? Yes. First, here is my bias: I believe marriage is a solemn, religious sacrament where two people join not only with each other, but with God in solemn vows in a sanctified covenant. Marriage, like prayer, is an inherently religious activity. Why is the State involved in the sacred religious activity of performing marriage ceremonies? Only members of the clergy should perform marriage ceremonies or issue marriage certificates. Getting the State out of marriages will restore dignity to the institution of marriage, setting it clearly aside as a religious activity. Denominations, which believe as a matter of religious conviction that gay couples may marry, should be allowed to marry members of their church, however, the marriage certificate would only be binding on that denomination. Civil officials, such as clerks, judges or mayors should not be allowed to perform marriage ceremonies or issue marriage certificates for anyone. The business of the State stops at the domestic partnership certificate, which can be issued like a driver s license, without ceremony or the pretense of a sacramental union.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:45 pm


Paul, Sounds like a very sensible and equitable way to proceed. I could go along with that.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 6:57 pm


Curiouser… I would agree, they certainly are selective in their interpretation.>



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Kim

posted September 22, 2006 at 7:20 pm


Curiouser… Access to porn…this phrase was used in the first entry in this blog, and I guess I don’t have a good definition. I also don’t have a good distinction between porn and erotica. However, I don’t think the difference is black and white. What are your thoughts on it?>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 8:07 pm


A civil union is a government job and religious ceremony is a religious matter. Many want that to be the same based on the their particular religion. How do athiest get married or have a civil union. Civil laws govern civil unions and religious laws govern the religious ceremony, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, American Indian, etc, it can go on forever.>



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Dwain

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:21 pm


Wow! Such sound and fury. I believe that everyone of faith is trying to the best of their ability to follow the teachings of their faith. But like us all, and I do mean everyone, we all are tempted by power, prestige, and affluence to abandon our principals in spite of our beliefs. So I don’t believe anyone needs to be attacked or be called names. As a part of this it is also important to understand that most modern evangelical beliefs arise out of a culture of poverty and powerlessness, which means that most modern evangelical faith has no ethic of power and responsibility, but centers on what they could control which was personal ethics. Groups like Sojourners, the Reformed portion of our faith, and others have expanded their understanding beyond those limits and have followed the historical reality that evangelical Christianity in our country during both the first and second Great Awakenings had profound societal impacts in shaping the discussion about the responsibility of the governing for the governed, abolition, women’s sufferage, child labor, and such. Just to let you know, I am a evangelical by upbringing and Reformed by inclination who takes the Bible seriously, knowing full well that we no longer live in that age and time and must make theological sense out of Scripture that many times does not apply directly to us. In addition, a few passages must not be pulled out to support broader action if the whole of Scripture does not agree. My political approach is to seek out God’s leadership and Scripture basis for decisions, but this is not always easy or simple. For instance, there is no direct reference to a Biblical “right to life.” It is an interpretive move after viewing carefully the way Jesus approached and treated people. The problem with the way the present “right to life” position is presented is that it fails to fully judge the way Jesus chose to share with “the least of these.” The movement gets it right on abortion, although I am not in favor of outlawing it since people have to make moral dicisions, so I counsel against it and for life. But the movement fails to embrace as the Roman Catholic Bishops do the right not only to life but to a good quality of life. Many espousing the “right to life” for a fetus are for taking a life in the case of capital punishment fully ignoring both the reality that the Torah reduces the right of the society to take a life in revenge (Only an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth and the availability of “safe” cities in which no revenge is allowed no matter what the circumstances.) and the reality that a fully and legally empowered court tried and murdered our Lord. Many also support first use of military and weapons including nuclear which cannot be the way of Jesus. I know that in the O.T. those things are allowed, but when I look at Jesus I cannot imagine Jesus sending his followers out to kill when he advises them in the face of a military occupation to take the backpacks of those soldiers and carry them not the required distance, but twice that distance. As for the argument about society and individual or church responsibility. The Torah under which Jesus lived is not an individual code but a societal law just like our law. The elders at the gate are the equivalent to our courts. So when Jesus teachs that he has not come to do away with the Torah as such, then we need to address societal laws like Sabboth Years and Jubilee Years and apply them to things like inheritance taxes. We need to understand that the poor box in the synagogue was not a “religious” thing, but a societal response to need done in a theocracy. Calvin put deacons in charge of making sure everyone in their parish had all they neede –clothing, food, and dwelling — but the officers of the church and the officers of the city were intertwined. Our society isn’t Christian and never has been although it is heavily influenced by the Christian faith and its underlying theology and philosophy. Our application of our faith to this society cannot be heavihanded, but can be “moral and spiritual” in its effect upon those around us to make our world a better place to live. This is not a full discussion of this, but I’m not writing the book, only expressing a few opinions. Peace, Dwain>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:33 pm


I enjoyed your even-handed comments, Dwain. Your historical insight is enlightening.>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 10:50 pm


Interesting to me how the Old Testament leads to more church and Christian division than the words of Jesus. If being gay was so important I feel that Jesus would have taken time to go into the subject at unequivocal length.>



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KevinK

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:15 pm


Butch, Jesus was more about unifying…not dividing. Acceptance…not rejection. Righteous behavior…not self-righteous judgment. Trust…not fear.>



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Butch

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:46 pm


Kevin, I agree with everything you say about what jesus did say and he said much. I think you miss my point, which is what he didn’t say.>



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Cat

posted September 22, 2006 at 11:52 pm


Jesus had plenty of opportunity to speak out against homosexuality. It was rampant, not to mention flagrant, in the Roman Empire. The fact that Jesus never said a word about it tells me that he probably knew what scientists are now finding out: that some people are just born that way and it isn’t a sin. Compare the number of times he spoke against MONEY interests, i.e. You can’t serve both God and Mammon!>



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Duane

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:13 am


Whew- I’ve just finished reading all the posts from the past 3 days… many articulate and insightful, many passionate, and a few simply wild rants… and it’s my humble opinion that what distinguishes the religious left from the religious right is simple intolerance by the latter, often accompanied by self-righteousness. This intolerance is then defended by selectively quoting the Bible, or by interpreting debatable passages to support their ‘infalible’ position. Meanwhile the broader message that God speaks to us (which Jim Wallis strives to deliver) is conveniently overlooked. Our government on the other hand, REQUIRES tolerance, dissent, and compromise from all involved in order to function properly. Our country was founded on the principles of religious freedom (or freedom from religion) and the equality of all men (and women). Our current White House is a perfect example of what happens when government becomes too insular, intolerant and self righteous. No one asked questions during the run-up to the war, because they didn’t dare… dissent was not tolerated. Too many important positions of authority (reconstruction of Iraq, FEMA, science/ health/ environmental depts.) have been awarded based upon loyalty and ideology rather than based on qualifications. Partisan politics are worse than ever, and compromise is a dirty word. Why is Jesus’ message of tolerance lost on so many Christians?>



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Butch

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:20 am


If and I say if you didn’t get it the first time you did get it the 2nd time. My take on Christianity is to look for what Jesus said to guide me. I think he said much about taking care of the young, the old and the disadvantaged. So that is my priority list, which is what brought me to Jim Wallis with his statement that a budget is a moral document. That is proper prioritizing from my point of view. A lot of people are here and listening to Jim Wallis, so what is our 1st job or what are the 1st few that we can do something about. As long as children go to school hungry and come home to inadequate health care and the elderly must choose between food and the medicine they need and the mentally ill live on the street out of grocery carts then I am not interested in the private lives of anyone.>



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KevinK

posted September 23, 2006 at 12:48 am


Right on, Butch!>



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dovelight

posted September 23, 2006 at 11:37 am


wow! what a wonderful forum…Christians that can think & reason & teach!! thank you so much. i’m learning.>



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Ron Andrews

posted September 23, 2006 at 5:03 pm


This may be a semantic distinction, but very few of the contributions to this blog say anything about values. We can and should debate issues, but first we should discus the underlying values that shape these debates. “School choice” is an issues that will always divide people. I would like to focus on a more general set of values upon which nearly everyone can agree. Here are a few suggested values to start the list: respect, truthfulness, integrity, loyalty, kindness, thrift, and reverence. There are many more that we could add to the list. We can start by expanding this list of widely accepted values. Then we can teach our children that all of these values are good. When they get a little older, we can show them that good values can sometimes collide and these will be our most difficult issues. The classic example is abortion issue. We can agree that respect for life is a good value. Similarly enabling women to control their own bodies is a good value. Since these values collide head-on in the abortion issue, we must accept the fact that there will never be a fully satisfactory law on this issue. One or both of these values will always be compromised. We also need to acknowledge that this is OK and that good and reasonable people can disagree. Abortion, school choice, and intelligent design are issues, not values. Respect, empowerment, and education are three of the values that shape these issues. Can we start a discussion of values?>



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Butch

posted September 23, 2006 at 6:36 pm


Ron Andrews, I really do understand the value of discussing values. But as you point out those on either side of any issue will apply the same value to support their position or as I like to say belief. I feel that we simply accept our differences and start to find the points in the middle where we can agree. Short possible abortion story, 6th grader finds her self pregnant, sex was not a problem because they used saran wrap. Now we have a pregnant 6th grader, what do we do? Can we agree that ignorance was the problem and can we educate to avoid this in the future? Her, her parents, the father, etc have to resolve that problem; I don’t want to be involved and wouldn’t consider advising them. But, I would like to see what could be done to avoid a reoccurrence. This is in fact a true story, I know her former teacher. Until there is consensus on a point nothing but screaming and accusing across the table occurs. After an agreement and action on that agreement happens then we can go back to our corners and shout at each other invoking God as our source of values. Or, as I would like to see, look for the 2nd point we can agree on.>



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Kim

posted September 23, 2006 at 6:53 pm


Ron Andrews, What exactly would you like to discuss about values? How can one discuss values without issues? I would think we all agree on most values, it is the application of those values that need to be discussed. Though, I suppose I would debate with you Thrift as a value. I would suggest that if one values thrift one would make economic decisions that are not the best for our society. I would suggest that instead of thrift, the value is respect. One needs to respect the power that is in money, the power that we have given to money, rightly or wrongly (and I would argue wrongly). One needs to respect the economics of ones society and do all that one can to support that economy. One needs to realize the power money can hold over one. Jesus speaks more about money than almost anything else. I believe the value he wanted to instill in us is respect for money, not thrift. Is this the kind of discussion you are looking for?>



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Mark

posted September 23, 2006 at 11:15 pm


I think Ralph Reed was an extremely poor choice to lead off this series of debates. Mr. Reed has recently been exposed as nothing short of a criminal and is a poor spokesman for the religous right or anything else. He has no crediblility after all the things he’s pulled. If you’re going to debate someone let’s at least have someone with a little credibility.>



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Butch

posted September 24, 2006 at 2:52 am


Was there any explaination why Ralph Reed was selected? I didn’t read any part of the discussion simply because I have absolutely no respect for Ralph Reed and didn’t before the lobbyist scandal.>



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sara

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:26 am


Without stating my personal beliefs about abortions, let me start with this question. If abortions were considered to be against the law, would it then be considered murder. If yes, by whom? Of course, the doctor. And what would happen to him? Loose his license, be executed, imprisoned? And what about the female requesting the abortion? What happens to her. Same as for the doctor or what? What about the mother of a young girl who encourages or agrees to her daughters abortion. Does she go to jail. Is she seen as a partner in the act of murder? Once this law is passed, how do we deal with the consequences of the crime? And who will assist with the multiple problems already existing for children born that were unwanted, born into severe proverty, a young school girl trying to care for an enfant (it was hard enough for me at 24). There has to be exceptions. When are exceptions going to be thought through. It seems to me that too much energy and time is going into passing a law that enough thought has not gone into. NO ONE condones abortions. As individual Christains we strive to live by Christain standards. We fail miserably as a country to provide anything close to a society that would please anyone’s God. Ask the question daily of yourself, “how do I live this day? what do I do today to strengthen my society? We all fall so short of goodness even tho we do good things. Striving to think issues through and to live a good religious life is hard enough. Rather than critizing others, let’s not beat out wives or children or verbally put them down. Let’s not spend money on excessive alcohol or cigarettes. Let’s not polute our atmosphere. Let’s stand up against our government when it is wrong and takes our young volunteer soldiers to war. Let’s insist that all Americans contribute to war not just a few. Let’s do the hard thing that we know are Right but just can’t bring ourselves to do. We can not possibly be so naive as to not see the truth when we look for it. That is when the Holy Spirit takes over, when we look for the truth. The positions created to run this country are to be respected. The people holding those positions must earn our respect not our blind acceptance because they have are a Rep. or Dem. The one thing we all have in common is that WE ARE AMERICANS and all need to be respected as such. Judgeing others is ask of us by any religion. Working within our homes, with our neighbors, our community, our town, our state and our nation is. Give up making decison about what others should and should not do and put all of that time and energy into working at the center for young pregnant girls, crisis centers, advocacy centers for children, food kitchens, hospice, habitat for humanities. Open your church 7 days a week for programs for drug users, job training, drug and alcohol abuse, family abuse, stop all child abuse in your neighborhood. GOD HELP US. THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO. Don’t waste so much good time, energy, thought and money. Put it to good use. Make Jesus proud for a change for he is surely crying right now.>



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sara

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:33 am


CORRECTION: 10th line from the bottom-“judging others is NOT expected of us by any religion”.>



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Butch

posted September 24, 2006 at 9:57 am


Sara, very reasoned, now what parts of this question will you compromise on. Where can we meet in the middle? Maybe a silly point, if the anti-abortionist will give money for the care of an unwanted birth then the pro-abortionist will give to abortion counseling if a woman chooses an abortion. Seems silly to me but where can both sides pursue their agenda while meeting in the middle at the same time. A staggering amount of money has been spent by both sides with little spent on the result of their position.>



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Butch

posted September 24, 2006 at 10:08 am


Its late I’m tired that may be backwards?>



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Ron Andrews

posted September 24, 2006 at 2:27 pm


Butch and Kim, How much do we really agree on values? Let’s take honesty for example. Is this a value that we all agree is good? Where does honesty rate compared with money and power? How many politicians and used car salesmen are generally honest? How may of us are honest on our resumes and tax returns?>



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Sara

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:20 pm


Butch, I like your challange. Both of your scenerios are great. The problem comes for me when we try to dictate morality, values, whatever the label onto others. Both of the actions you described seem appropriate to me. The money being spent politically on both sides could have made a big difference in changing lives. A program we have here that needs money to continue the good work being done by it is The Child Advocacy Center. This center networks with the justice department, police department and others. I will not describe all that they accomplish because most everyone reading these blogs are, hopefully, familiar with what is going on in their community. In our state there were 40 children last year that were reported and are known to have been killed from child abuse. That is a good starting place for individuals not involved. If you aren’t involved perhaps less talk and more action would help lives more than a fighting for such an ill defined law. Sara>



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Sara

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:37 pm


Ron Andrews, I have had a lucky, good life. We are lucky if we have a strong beginning that promotes goodness. We have a good life if we value those good things we are taught. A good life doesn’t mean smooth sailing throughout. It can mean many things to different people. To me it has meant staying the course. Honestly is a big part of my “good” life. People survive by being dishonest, and often well. Being honest on my taxes means I sleep well, never being audited with a tax return that is complex in a profession that is known for audits, never having to be concerned about triping myself up with a new lie on top of an old one. Honestly hits the road once you believe that the end justifies the means. That is no finer person than one that everyone regards as an honest man. Usually these individuals as successful (weathly or not), loved, respected, and successful in their family life. They may or may not be Christains but are usually spiritual. Trying my best to be honest has not been that much of a struggle for me or for most members of my extended family. There are many ways to be honest. Finacially if the first that comes to mind. Being true to ones values is a form of honestly. Intellectual curiosity and striving for a higher level of understanding allows one to reshape their value over years, to take off the blinders and give purpose to honestly. Sara>



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Anonymous

posted September 24, 2006 at 5:48 pm


One can not be a little bit honest. One is either an honest person or not. Makes mistakes yes, but is driven by the desire to be honest. Other’s drive for success may be so great that they only care about getting there. Being successful has always been important to me and to my family. I remember the day I discovered that my desire for success was so others would look at me and admire me for my accomplishments. It was that day that my entire thought process changed. I began saying to myself, “up with God, down with self.” It did not alter my work habits or ethics but it altered what I valued. Now I have to be honest to that value since I have adapted it. I try to help others, not critize them or control them.>



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Anonymous

posted September 24, 2006 at 10:36 pm


I have been deeply offended by the so called religious right’s efforts to make me lookas though I have no values. I do believe they are shortsighted in the values they choose. Of course Abortion is a wrong, but so is underfunding programs that support single parents. If we want them born no matter what, then we should support those kids until they hit adulthood no matter what and their parent(s) no matter what as it is all a valued life. Of course we need to defend our rights, but this war never was to bring freedom to Iraq- but to secure our investments. If we had been serious we would have gone in there- learned a little something about the people, build a support system for our supporters there, bring enough troops to do the job fast and final, get out and let them work the rest of their lives out. America has become a horror story, with our depraved actions in managing priisons, our hdining prisoners so e can torture them, holding prisoners without any access to defend their name- Guantnamo. We can’t find the money to help poorer people keep their heads up, we cant find the money to help students go to college, we can’t allow free speach without knowing we are in certain eople’s folders. war.>



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Butch

posted September 25, 2006 at 4:03 am


Sara, I’m involved in a local political party. I have suggested if we want the vote we need to be intimated involved the community. Since this suggestion we have volunteered to drive the bus for the local VA office, we have a scholarships for the 4 high schools, adopted a highway to clean, we are working with a 1/2 way house for former prisoners, we have volunteers working with a local rescue center for animals. Now the only issue we seem to be able to talk about abortion. I want those who support the right to abortion to volunteer to work in that area and those who appose abortion to work in that area. And I want us to do more such as The Child Advocacy Center, tell me more?>



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Kim

posted September 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm


Ron Andrews, First, I want to ask you to share some of your ideas, you have made statements, but you are not really formulating a discussion. Share some of your input. What things do you value and why? What things do you see other people valuing and why? Here is how I see the value issue. We are talking about being “voters with values”. I do not believe that anyone votes on a candidate because this candidate values money or power. People vote on a candidate because they believe the candidate is honest or displays some other value that they hold. People have two different value systems, the theoretical values and the practical values. People can, in general, agree on the theoretical values. I seriously doubt anyone would say they value dishonestly or hatred or greed. Most anyone would be hurt and angry if they discovered someone had cheated or lied to them. People become angry and hurt when they feel like other people do no have respect for them. However, in practice most people do not live out the values they theoretically hold. In practice it is okay if one says a “little white lie”; it is okay if one cheats on one’s tax return, it isn’t hurting anyone, and besides, the government cheats us all the time. Honestly, I think the root issue is sin. We are a fallen people. God has given us the knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil. Something inside of us values the right and the good. But something inside of us is drawn to the wrong and the evil. As people we tend to not look outside of ourselves. We tend to give into the selfish desires that we have, we want what is best for us in this very moment. What we often don’t realize is that what is really best for us may not be best as we see it in this moment. I don’t believe it has anything to do with what we value in theory. I value honesty, but sometimes I chose to go directly against that value and lie. It is not because honesty is low on the list, it is because I can be a stupid, sinful human who doesn’t always make the correct decisions. In fact, because honesty is such an important value I feel quite convicted when I do lie. My take on this issue of values is not that people don’t hold the same values. It doesn’t even seem to me that the issue is the ranking of those values. I could not rank the values I hold. They are all equally valuable to me. I believe the issue is practicing those values. The issue is selfishness. The issue is that we do not love people the way Jesus loves us. The issue is that we do not love God the way God loves us. We are a broken people who do not always act on the values that we hold. We do not always know the right way to implement the values that we hold.>



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KevinK

posted September 25, 2006 at 5:38 pm


John 21:15-17. When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter: Simon do you love me? Simon answered: Yes, Lord, you know I love you. The Jesus said to Simon: Feed my sheep. Jesus asked a second time: Simon do you love me? Simon answered again: Yes, Lord, you know I love you. Jesus said again: Feed my sheep. Jesus asked Simon a third time: Simon, son of John, do you love me? Simon Peter was frustrated that Jesus had asked him yet a third time: Do you love me? Simon answered the Lord a third time: Lord, you know all things. You know that I love you. Jesus answered Simon: Then feed my sheep. It is easy to say we love Jesus. What Jesus asks us of us is to put our love into action and “feed his sheep”.>



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Butch

posted September 25, 2006 at 11:39 pm


Kim, I’ve heard that sermon so many times I’m really sick of it. And, I don’t know if you qualify to teach it one more time. What action will you take on any value you feel is important, lead by action or a call to action. Kevin, feed what sheep and how? Again I go the the church of my choice and I’m taught the bible by the minister of my choice. I know you are sincere, tell me specificly what you want to do?>



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Butch

posted September 26, 2006 at 12:11 am


I made my last post asking for action then went to my Sojourners e-mail to find this quote below posted. And, I did say what I’m doing in a previous post. I read the following as tell me what you are doing not what I should do. “When Christian leaders go to government to call for sweeping structural change, we have more integrity and power when we can say: “We are part of Christian communities that are already beginning to live out what we are calling you to legislate.” Our call for costly changes in foreign policy toward the Two-Thirds World designed to implement greater global economic justice has integrity only if we are a part of Christian congregations that are already beginning to incarnate a more simple lifestyle that points toward a more just, ecologically sustainable planet. Our call for nuclear disarmament and international peace has integrity only if there is growing peace and wholeness in our families and churches. – Ronald J. Sider>



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Al

posted September 26, 2006 at 12:35 am


test>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 12:36 am


I don’t recall telling you what you should do. However, since you asked what I should be doing…I’m fairly involved, but can always do more and be more effective at the things I am doing. Also, supporting causes thate we believe in…such as the important work of Sojourners. Trading in apathy for passion. Taking the higher road and not allowing fear to paralyze us. Getting involved in being the visible Church. Living by example by intentionally paring back our consumptive lifestyles in a society where too much is not enough. Denying the tyranny of self. Voting with our pocketbooks. Showing others through our lives and service that we care about their well-being. Spending time getting to know them as people.>



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Butch

posted September 26, 2006 at 1:45 am


Kevin I don’t recall telling you what you should do. I ask you what you are doing, did not suggest you were telling me what to do. I do think it is more sermonizing. However, since you asked what I should be doing…I’m fairly involved, but can always do more and be more effective at the things I am doing. I m asking for specifics, what are you doing? Trading in apathy for passion. How? Unless you can be specific, I take it as more moralizing. Same for taking the high road , visible church , what are you doing in your church. What is the example of paring back and how can I pare back. tyranny of self , how did you tyrannize? What causes do you give to? The only specific example I see is getting to know them as people, whoever them is. You are probably so angry by now that you miss the intent of my response to your post, which is that I think you are throwing around all these platitudes leading nowhere. AND I think you want to go somewhere. And I may want to follow if you will be specific.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 1:48 am


Give me an example so I know where you are going?>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 1:54 am


LOL, I’m not angry. I’ll try to be more specific. I’m heavily involved in my church. We support a new school in rural India, I am involved with work with our local Indian tribe to preserve some of their important history through art, very involved with my large and growing family and am part of a group working with local working poor (health and nutrition). I am also locally politically active…environmental and peace and justice issues.>



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Butch

posted September 26, 2006 at 2:40 am


Kevin Where am I going, I feel that Jim Wallis is calling us to action. Would you care to lead me to follow any of these action plans or would you care for my input. I will tell you that some time ago while on our churches outreach committee, we considered a soup kitchen (insert your own term). Could never agree to do it but during that process I looked into economical meals. Found that there are many seeds, barley, oats, quinoa, several varieties of rice, and many others can be cooked, dried (not completely) and frozen. At that point they can be removed from a freezer and mixed for a cheap cereal. My thought, we could teach low-income families to fix a nourishing meal, this also fell on deaf ears. I’m whining just a little but not enough to respond to. If this fits into your work I can be more specific.>



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Ron Andrews

posted September 26, 2006 at 4:07 am


Kim, I believe we know God’s will best by studying the life, actions, and words of Jesus Christ. If we really want to keep it simple, we can refer to Jesus’s summary of the law: Love God and your neighbor. The rest of the Bible adds richness and texture, but does not change that admonition. If we perceive a conflict between the words of Jesus and any other words in the Bible, the words of Jesus get priority. I believe in liberal questions that ask how we will care for those among us who are less fortunate. I believe in conservative answers that stress personal responsibility On a practical level, I believe we will be better off, if we look for common ground rather than differences. I think a focus on fundamental values (rather than issues) facilitates that. If we all make a practice of stating our positions in terms of our values, then we can recognize the good in those who disagree with us. As an example, one of my friends is concerned about the poor and favors increasing AFDC, WIC, food stamps, and unemployment benefits. Another friend is similarly concerned about the poor and believes that the most effective way to help them is to spur the economy so that more will have good jobs. They both love their neighbors, but they disagree on tactics. That doesn’t make either of them right or wrong or good or bad. Because they respect each other, they can (and have) worked together for the common good. Compare this to the all too typical scenario where liberals think conservatives are heartless and conservatives think liberals are brainless. The politics of division can get you elected, but it wont help you govern.>



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Butch

posted September 26, 2006 at 4:55 am


Ron, well thought out and I agree with your observation. Now what do want to do and how do want to do it? Or, do you want to stand off and observe and report on the view from some academic or philosophical height.>



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tt

posted September 26, 2006 at 3:22 pm


It seems to me the more conservative voices have left the discussion. And if I was to be cynical, I would say just like they have left the public schools, the cities, the common good and so on to build their stress free, ingrown, insulated ‘christian’ world. Probably unfair, but sometimes it seems like that to me.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 5:35 pm


Butch, I am interested in your method for creating a low-cost nutritious cereal. Point me to a Website or other resource so I might learn more. One of the difficulties of helping the working poor is that often they arrived at their present circumstances having come from more affluent backgrounds. Many hang onto the behaviors they learned when they had more money and view help as a loss of dignity and so work hard to put up a facade that everything is OK, when in fact, they are in dire straits. So, they purchase high cost, low nutrition fast food or convenience foods which let them appear “average”, and yet they are usually in deep financial trouble. Others accept any help they can get. My hope would be that, outside of basic assistance which comes first, that the church could offer grassroots financial counseling to these folks. Most I speak with, are very deficient in their understanding of financial matters or how to get navigate through their situations. tt, Perhaps our conservative Christian brothers and sisters have been involved just enough with those that you mention to understand the complexities involved, and are unsure about or unwilling to get immersed in the fray? Jesus work is messy.>



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tt

posted September 26, 2006 at 5:45 pm


Kevin, Yes you are probably right, I certainly don’t want to pretend it’s easy or that we won’t get burned when we delve into the ‘fray’ as you call it. I also believe that with the huge popularity of people like Joel Osteen and others that insist God wants us to be rich (See recent cover of Time magazine) – there is an increasing mentality that people who are poor are poor because of their spiritual condition and if they got things ‘straigtened out’ with God all would be well – which really relieves me of any responsibility. (ironic it’s almost like India’s caste system in a different way) It’s a message that is really reaching the itching ears of certain Christians who already are skeptical of the ‘godless’ public schools and unwed mothers and other poor and is a great excuse for me continuing to pile up stuff and wealth without feeling guilty.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 5:48 pm


Butch, An additional comment…as you are probably aware, jobs, transportation, housing, relationship problems, childcare, healthcare and all the other things that make up life are also usually in the mix of problems these people face as well. But for the luck of the draw, we could be in their shoes.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 6:00 pm


tt, Isn’t it a sad commentary? Prosperity theology is so unbiblical, but people use have used the bible to justify all sorts of mayhem, so I guess it should not surprise us…or veer us off track! As frustrating as it is, I believe we should continue to follow Jesus’ great commandment and lead by example. The world has never appreciated the unconditional grace and love of God anyway. It assaults some folks worldview…their ideal of retributive justice. So, as the salt of the earth, let’s go and make it real salty…may not be very good for the blood pressure, but sure adds flavor!>



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Kim

posted September 26, 2006 at 6:09 pm


Butch, I’m sorry if I came off as sermonizing, that was not my intent. The point of the discussion was not to talk about what we were doing, but what we valued. As far as what I do, I sponsor a child in brazil, I volunteer at many community outreaches through my church, I vote, I write letters to my representatives and political leaders, I engage my friends and family in discussions such as these, I work closely with the youth of my church challenging them to live out their faith, I have gone on several mission trips both in and out of the country where we worked on building and taking care of physical needs (as opposed to standing on the street corner trying to convert people), I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. Ron, I agree that we need to focus on what we have in common. I understand exactly what you are saying about two different means to the same end. My family and I struggle with this all the time because we disagree on how to implement our values. I also agree that our differences do not make us right or wrong. I think the root issue is that we feel this need to categorize things, and if people disagree with us we feel the need to put them in the “wrong” category. How do we change this? The obvious answer is to start with ourselves, but when we run across this kind of opposition what do we do about it? How do we get people who have completely conflicting ideas of how to act upon a value to come together to make a positive difference?>



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tt

posted September 26, 2006 at 6:12 pm


You know Kevin you are so right. Even some of my energy I’m expending complaining about this phenomenon could be better utilized doing something positive. Actually I’m still coming out of a very conservative church atmophere and still trying to sort things out (how can I still be a Christian when I find myself in sympathy with parts of the Democratic platform? That may sound silly but when one way of thinking is so engrained in you and everything else is labeled not only ‘non christian’ but evil – you do start to wonder if I’m still a Christian at all – it’s just been tough to reject some things and still figure out what I really believe.) Whew, I think that explains why I have this need to question and ‘call out’ the Christian right at this point in my journey – because I’m still in the middle of it and haven’t been willing to walk away from them completely – but maybe it’s not the best use of my energy. It’s refreshing to think along the lines of your perspective – to actually move forward and still have a strong, active faith even if it doesn’t fit the mold I’m used to. Thank for allowing me to blather on.>



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Kim

posted September 26, 2006 at 7:09 pm


Kevin, I too want to say I am glad to read what you have shared. I whole-heartedly agree with you. tt, A word of encouragement, I know where you are coming from. I have been there myself. Questioning is the best thing you could ever do to help solidify your faith. I have never been afraid to question, but I have been afraid to share my conclusions. God is so much bigger than we make him out to be, he is not afraid of your questions. He is also not afraid to give you the right answer, even if it goes against conventional wisdom.>



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Butch

posted September 26, 2006 at 11:05 pm


Kevin, The whole grain formula is this; cook or boil the grain as if you were preparing beans. After the whole grain oats, wheat, rice, many, many more, are plump with moisture but not cooked to mush, then drain and lay them on some surface to dry about 3-6 hours then bag and freeze. They will remain separated fairly well, remove from freezer mix to taste, a little honey, sugar, or spices, add water or milk, soy milk, rice milk and eat cold or hot. Add 1 only oz of meat and fresh vegetables and you have a very nutritious meal. Cheap If you bought these bulk many people could be fed cheap. Here is a meal I really like, canned jack mackerel boiled in bread n butter pickle juice or add spices to taste. 1 tin can will feed 4 with my mixed whole grain gruel with spices to taste. A meal for 4 for less than 1 dollar. I think I pay .74 for jack mackerel retail. All of these things could be purchased bulk and wholesale and maybe get the cost under .50 US Dollars. tt, quit arguing with anyone, pick a spot and volunteer or go to work. You don t need approval or to be part of any group to work on something you think should be done. Stop chasing or massaging your own doubts and act. You will find doing something will bolster your faith leave less time for doubt.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 11:05 pm


It’s great feeling when you know you’re not alone in questioning. I came from a very conservative background as well (religious and political). I am part of a large family and with the exception of a couple of close cousins, the rest of the family is very Christian Right. It is a challenge, but I determined some time ago to stand firm. It has forced me to do much soul searching and study in order to stave off their onslaughts. There was a time when I was just like them, so that’s humbling to think about. I believe people have much in common regarding root values. I think that often the solutions to the issues that values speak to can be so complex and inter-related that people just lose hope in dealing with the immensity of the problems and give up. Also, we are a culture that looks for easy answers, whether those answers are from a simplistic biblical formula or from over-reliance on legislative solutions. What Jesus taught, I believe, is that we can’t use laws and policies and formulas to insulate ourselves from people. You just can’t get around that. Personally, I value relationships and honestly, some of my closest encounters with God have happened when I least expected them…and usually occurred as I became involved in the lives of others (often in spite of myself). I value kindness a lot. I find that kindness softens even the hardest people and opens them up. Sometimes people take advantage when you’re vulnerable, but I have determined not to allow fear of that to paralyze me anymore. Many of those who need our help shut down due to that fear. They have been hurt so much in their lives that they’re broken…but then, aren’t we all at some level?>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 11:09 pm


Butch, I like your approach…there is much wisdom in it.>



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tt

posted September 26, 2006 at 11:17 pm


Okay Kevin – that is just incredibly helpful. Thank you.>



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KevinK

posted September 26, 2006 at 11:45 pm


Butch, Thank you for the grain formulas. I intend to follow your recipe and try this for myself. This may be a great thing to offer the folks in the “soup kitchen”. It remains to be seen if I will have any better luck than you had when suggesting this. The cost basis is most attractive as well. I have used canned jack mackeral quite a bit. Actually quite tasty and nutritious. It makes a very good sandwich when prepared like tuna, with mayo and pickle.>



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Ron Andrews

posted September 27, 2006 at 2:24 am


Butch, I’m not sure what you expect from participants in this forum. In this venue, my goal is to exchange ideas. I’m a husband, father, and engineer who is trying to make a difference where I can. I supported our previous governor in his attempt to teach values in public schools (he was long on style, but short on execution.) I supported a family member who wrote a book about values education in schools. At work I try to consistently ask: “What are the values upon which this decision will be made?” I try to do the same thing at church. When I retire from my engineering job, I hope to get more involved in public policy decisions on some level.>



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Butch

posted September 27, 2006 at 2:26 am


Kevin, you said; Personally, I value relationships and honestly, some of my closest encounters with God have happened when I least expected them…and usually occurred as I became involved in the lives of others (often in spite of myself).” I feel that this is the lesson of Sister Theresa (sp) in India, did she have time for soul searching, no she was to busy feeding the hungry. When you act, the world will react and some type of interrelated, symbiotic result will happen in spite of your stated purpose. I hate the abortion issue but it is such an easy example. Get out of my face with what is right , go do what you think is right. Not marching outside an anti-abortion committee office or an abortion clinic. Anti-abortion, work with a woman who has chosen to carry full term on how to cope with her situation. Abortion clinic, work with a woman who has chosen to abort on how to cope with her situation. If you are doing either of these you will not have time to preach to us about your particular right thing to do. Burn you anti-sign and go to work with those who need help.>



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Butch

posted September 27, 2006 at 2:51 am


Ron, I really understand your frustration with my position. Please don’t think I’m criticizing your heart. My take is that Jim Wallis has called us to act. To find the space in the middle where we can agree then act on that agreement or go act according to our heart, faith, whatever. I’m screaming at us to act and stop screaming at us to stop acting. Let me suggest a middle spot. A pro/anti abortion clinic. You walk in the door, go to the desk and register that you want help to avoid an abortion or you want help to get an abortion. Down the hall on the left are counselors to help with avoiding an abortion; on the right are counselors to help you get an abortion. After the counseling there is a door at the end of the hall to help you deal with the decision you’ve made. If you work all day in either clinic you will not have the energy to scream at each other or if you do then work a 10 hour shift instead of an 8 hour shift. Or, stay up all night with her after the abortion or, stay up all night feeding the child.>



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KevinK

posted September 28, 2006 at 6:44 pm


Butch, You’re comments are like a breath of fresh air, brother!>



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Butch

posted September 29, 2006 at 4:43 am


Kevin, regardless of what we might disagree on there is clearly a lot in the middle we would agree about. The problem I see is we are having a dialogue between us, and I do enjoy it, we haven’t engaged enough or I’ve run them off. My email is wilddog_202@yahoo.com Keep me posted on the things you are doing.>



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tt

posted September 29, 2006 at 7:46 pm


Butch, I don’t think you’ve run anybody off, we’ve all probably been so inspired by the dialogue, we’re all out ‘doing things’ now instead of talking about it. Well it’s possible you know – it has been an enjoyable interaction and helpful too. Have a great weekend.>



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Butch

posted September 30, 2006 at 4:49 am


Kevin, tt, You are both clearly good hearted and your responses are kinder than I probably deserve. I started this line of thinking while volunteering as a little league coach. I noticed that many of the unprofessional parent/coaches like myself, offered things like “reach down deep”, “step up”, “be a leader”. I watched the kids trying to respond, but didn’t know how to respond. They needed to have specifics to “DO”, not undefined slogans. We all have feelings and it is easy to follow someone with slogans that seem to fit our feelings. Go work in an area that best fits your feelings and you will know if it is right for you. Change sides if you like then work with the people affected not the political side work in the trenches.>



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Anonymous

posted October 1, 2006 at 9:50 pm


Ron, Butch, Kevin and others, There have been many good thought written since I was last on and it is impossible to do justice to all of them. I will pick only one. Using our values to decide on whom to vote is most difficult. Generally we are thinking about ones position on a specific issue and we ignore so many of the candidates other values. He may support your primary value while being blind to others. Following the age old concept that the end justifies the means. Choosing good values comes first. A moral person lives up to his/her values. Having picked values such as many of you listed, i.e. honesty, fairness, love, equality, respect of other, good manners, equal education, equal opportunity, open discussion, responsibility that man has to the universe and the environment. These are just a few. If individual decisions were made with the morale conviction to uphold these values, we would see our government making different decisions. We would be making different decisions. We may be capable of establishing good values but lack the morale fortitude to uphold those values. One can present abortion as murder or as the destruction of a female’s egg. An egg that may have been fertilized by an immoral act. Aborting the egg aborts the outcoume of an immoral act or the unintended fertilized egg while making love. These are acts of man, not of God. We constantly work at straightening out the screw-ups of man. God gave man free will. Values are often formed by our families, through reading (education) and experience. (These are the three ways most all learning takes place.) We use the Holy Spirit that is in all people, (because we were created in God’s image) to guide us toward the right values and to grant us the morale strength to stand behind those values. Once we think we know what is right for others, judge them, condemn them and try to control them, I believe we no longer follow the teaching of Christ. If you remove from the bible all references of teaching, serving, clothing, feeding, etc. you would have a very small phamplet left. That is what our bible teaches. What are the values important to a nation? That is a big topic. Sara>



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Anonymous

posted October 1, 2006 at 9:59 pm


Butch, I have been out of town. I will get an e-mail to you on the Child Advocacy Program soon. Sara>



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Alan B

posted November 21, 2006 at 1:35 pm


kevin s. wrote “Of late, the “religious right” has been vocal on issues of school choice, the pledge of allegiance, the teaching of evolution, public prayer, and banning (or at least restricting access to) pornography.” I see little of the Gospel of Jesus in these ‘moral’ concerns. The gospel (Good News) of Jesus says “I was hungry and you fed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me.” He did not say: “I was educated, and you diaproved of the subject!; I was a citizen, and was told I could not swear allegiance to my country without swearing allegiance to God, and so you campaigned for me!; I was in school, and my teacher could not begin class with prayers, so you planned to ovthrow the judicary for me!” Jesus was clear, “Love your nighbour as yourself.” I remember my parish priest explaining that this principle is easy to understand but hard to practice. “Love yourself!” simply means this: When you are hungry, you find food to eat, cold, you find heat, etc.,” “Love your neighbour as yourself.” simply means that if your neighbour is hungry, you find food for them to eat, etc!” And Jesus is not the king of this world. When Jesus was offered all the Kingom’s of the world, it was by Satan – he responded by statng that “One should love God alone!” By putting this world first – “the desires of the flesh etc.,” and not God and his Kingdom, one is worshipping the god of this world. Jesus never sought to be a politician, nor did he command his disciples to go and make politicians of others. The magnifcat says it all “He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.’ Jesus said “Seek not riches on earth, but riches in heaven.” He also said his disciples would be dispised by the powerful, not that they would be the powerful’s alies. Alan B>



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