God's Politics

God's Politics

Verse of the Day: ‘Do justice’

posted by jmcgee

[God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

- Micah 6:8

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Ralph Reed to Jim Wallis: Rejecting the Liberal “Straw Man”

posted by jmcgee

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

Jim, you make the point that there are many issues of moral concern beyond marriage and abortion. I don’t think there is a disagreement between liberals and conservatives of faith on this point. Pro-family leaders have worked tirelessly on a range of foreign policy issues, including ending genocide in the Sudan, support for Israel, and promoting human rights in China. Walter Russell Mead, the Henry Kissinger Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, points this out in an outstanding article on the impact of religion on U.S. foreign policy in Foreign Affairs.

The claim that religious conservatives focus on one or two issues or somehow believe that other issues lack a moral component is a straw man. Conservative people of faith have worked on a broad agenda, including anti-poverty measures and minority home ownership. Nearly 2 million minority families have purchased their first home under President Bush’s home ownership initiative.

One challenge we face in the dialogue about faith is the tendency to focus on controversy over healing and reconciliation. Where religion and politics intersect, the media spotlight generates more heat than light. If a religious leader speaks out on gay rights, media coverage is extensive and often sensational. But when Franklin Graham helps tsunami victims or the Southern Baptist Convention assists Hurricane Katrina victims, there is scant press coverage. So we must do more to raise the profile of works of compassion outside the prevailing stereotype that defines religious folk engaged in public life.

Yet people of faith must address the central moral questions of our time. As Taylor Branch so accurately portrays in the third and final volume of his history of the civil rights movement, the central moral issues of the 1960’s were civil rights and Vietnam. Martin Luther King?s decision (contrary to many other civil rights leaders) to voice his opposition to the Vietnam War was highly controversial. Slavery was the dominant moral issue in the pre-Civil War period, and religious leaders and all Americans had no choice but to confront it.

In our own time, issues of life are prominent in our politics, especially since Roe v. Wade. Religious conservatives did not create this issue and did not seek it out to benefit the Republican Party; indeed, most of them were Democrats until the 1980’s. But the nation’s conscience is unsettled by one out of every three pregnancies ending in the death of an unborn child, and people of faith should address it persistently and prominently. And when the courts began to impose a redefinition of marriage, people of faith were right to speak out consistent with their beliefs and values.

In the end, what separates religious conservatives from their liberal coreligionists is not a broad versus a narrow agenda, but rather a liberal versus a conservative agenda. We differ on the war on terrorism, how best to alleviate poverty, and the appointment of judges. We bring to those discussions not only our theology but our philosophy of governance and personal political leanings. Taking one side or another on these issues does not make one a better Christian, Jew or Muslim. Hopefully, our faith causes us to take positions as a matter of conscience, and faith should also bring a measure of civility and mutual respect to the discussion that is all too often lacking in our public discourse.

Our faith should cause us to pursue what is right as we can best understand it with a measure of humility. For now, we can only know in part and understand in part. We are flawed and imperfect vehicles seeking to do God’s will. We should acknowledge it more often.

Jim, isn’t there a connection between the reticence of liberals toaddress abortion and marriage as moral issues and the view held by manyAmericans that the Democratic Party is unsympathetic to their religious concerns?

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?

Duane Shank: Daily News Digest

posted by gods politics

Darfur. “A global day of action is held calling for peace in Darfur… Activists rallied in several major cities, calling on Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed.”

Interrogation. “President Bush’s national security adviser signaled on Sunday that he was seeking a compromise with the Republican senators who are rebelling against the administration’s proposal to explicitly permit certain severe interrogation practices against terrorism suspects.”

Faith and Politics. “Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns.”

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Full news summary:

Darfur. World rallies for peace in Darfur – “A global day of action is held calling for peace in Darfur… Activists rallied in several major cities, calling on Sudan to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed.” Global Protests Call for Intervention – “In New York, a crowd in Central Park estimated by organizers at about 20,000 demanded that the Bush administration pressure the Sudanese government to stop the killings and displacements in Darfur and to allow a U.N. peacekeeping force to enter the country.” UK faith leaders pray for Darfur – “Religious leaders pray for peace in Darfur outside Downing Street as part of an international day of action.” UN hears outcry to act soon on Darfur – “World leaders will have their pick of trouble spots to focus on when they gather this week at the United Nations, but the area that both human-rights activists and U.S. officials say is in urgent need of decisive action is the Darfur region of Sudan.” As Peace Mission Nears End, War in Sudan Intensifies – “As the African Union prepares to abandon its troubled peace mission to Darfur, the region is descending ever more steeply into war.”

Peacekeeping. Peacekeeping Grows, Strains U.N. – “The United Nations is set to field its largest peacekeeping enterprise in its 61-year history, with more than 100,000 troops and police to be deployed by year’s end in missions around the world.”

Interrogation. Compromise Called Possible on Interrogations – “President Bush’s national security adviser signaled on Sunday that he was seeking a compromise with the Republican senators who are rebelling against the administration’s proposal to explicitly permit certain severe interrogation practices against terrorism suspects.” Why GOP trio is bucking the White House – “For the Bush White House, this week’s showdown with the Senate over US treatment of detainees sets up a rematch with a triumvirate of GOP senators who have been the president’s strongest supporters in the war in Iraq – and his most effective critics.”

Iran. Two Tracks on Iran: Keep Talking, and Weigh Penalties – “After intense talks about Iran’s nuclear program, the United States and other major world powers face two unappealing choices as the United Nations General Assembly opens this week: introduce a resolution in the Security Council for sanctions against Tehran that may not be tough enough to make a difference, or delay any punitive measures, rendering their diplomacy on Iran meaningless.”

Faith and Politics. I.R.S. Eyes Religious Groups as More Enter Election Fray – “Both religious flanks are looking nervously over their shoulders at the Internal Revenue Service, which this year announced a renewed effort to enforce laws that limit churches and charities from involvement in partisan political campaigns.” IRS Orders Pasadena Church to Yield Documents on ’04 Political Races – “Stepping up its probe of allegedly improper campaigning by churches, the Internal Revenue Service ordered a liberal Pasadena parish to turn over all the documents and e-mails it produced during the 2004 election year with references to political candidates.”

Rally here a first, testing Dobson’s appeal in region – “James Dobson, the evangelical radio psychologist and powerful conservative activist, will be at Mellon Arena Wednesday for the first major Religious Right event ever held in Pittsburgh, and the first Stand for the Family Rally outside the South and the Plains states.”

Poverty. Poverty rates rise in many suburbs – “In much of suburban Chicago, poverty rates are rising, according to information released by the U.S. Census Bureau late last month.”

Pope Benedict and Islam. In a Rare Step, Pope Expresses Personal Regret – “Pope Benedict XVI sought Sunday to extinguish days of anger and protest among Muslims by issuing an extraordinary personal apology for having caused offense with a speech last week that cited a reference to Islam as “evil and inhuman.”

Rev. Forbes to retire. Minister of Riverside Church to Step Down – “Dr. [James] Forbes told that congregation yesterday that he planned to retire in June after 18 years as senior minister. He said in an interview that he wanted to concentrate on a new ministry aimed at “maximizing the witness for spiritual revitalization and the nation’s spiritual revi
talization.”

Op-Eds

JAMES CARROLL: Judge, jury, and torturer – “ … the White House argument is straightforward: terrorists are such a mortal threat that established due process must be suspended. In particular, the classified secrets of anti terrorist operations must be so closely held that the most basic pillar of jurisprudence — the accused’s right to know and respond to evidence — must be discarded. The legislation was drafted by Franz Kafka.”

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Lost chances to contain nuclear arms – “In recent years, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons has been a major preoccupation of US foreign policy. But what if our best efforts fail? What if Iran gets the nuclear bomb? Or if a North Korean nuclear test vaporizes any doubts of its arsenal?”

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Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
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Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

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Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

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