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Religious Leaders Urge Bush to Redeem ‘Shameful’ Legacy

posted by nsymmonds

By Matthew Streib
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) Catholic and evangelical social justice leaders on Thursday (Jan. 24) urged President Bush to use his upcoming State of the Union address to turn around what they called his faltering moral legacy.
Frequently referring to the state of American public policy as “shameful,” the representatives of five major religious organizations said Bush has sidestepped pressing religious concerns, despite his recurrent religious rhetoric.
Specifically, they said the White House has failed to deal with growing poverty at home and abroad, turned a blind eye to torture, ignored climate change, and neglected the human suffering from the war in Iraq.
“We have yet to fully sort out the legacy of an explicitly evangelical president, who sadly has had such a truncated vision of what a moral leadership looks like,” said the Rev. David Gushee, president of Evangelicals for Human Rights.
“I am hopeful that the evangelical community as a whole has been chastened by that and is open to reconsidering what we think a truly evangelical moral leadership would look like.”
The four other participants were the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA; Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action; the Rev. Paul de Vries, board member of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Sister Anne Curtis of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy.
Gushee, an outspoken opponent of torture, said it is “hard to overstate the devastating effect of this policy on the moral standing of the U.S. in the world…”
Sider, however, praised the Bush administration for its endorsement of faith-based initiatives, which “leveled the playing field” for religious groups seeking federal funds, even though Sider said Washington has failed to provide enough money for church-based social services.
For her part, Curtis urged increased funding for the estimated 4.2 million refugees who have fled the violence in Iraq. “Not only have they been horribly traumatized by the violence of the war, but they continue to struggle to find and meet their most basic of human necessities,” she said.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.



  • pagansister

    Good luck with that “request”. It’s taken these folks almost 2 complete terms to figure out that the man they helped elect, a “fellow Christian”, who can’t even put 2 sentences together, hasn’t done what they wanted? Must have take a “revelation” to fgure that out!

  • Nate W

    To be fair, pagansister (but I guess fairness doesn’t seem to be your cup of tea), I know that some of these folks, like Sider and Gushee, have been pretty critical of Bush for a long time, and were in fact critical of Bush-style politics since before the man was ever even in office.

  • pagansister

    NateW:
    Glad to hear that it didn’t take Sider & Gushee 2 terms come to the above request.

  • nnmns

    I’m glad a very few evangelical and Catholic leaders (??) are owning up to some of the damage the clear choice of evangelical and many Catholic leaders in the last two elections has caused.
    It’s a start. Let’s see how many waves they can make; will a talking head ask any of them for an opinion about him on the air?
    And I see part of their goal is to get more support from the public trough; this would be more convincing without that.

  • Nate W

    People like Gushee and especially Sider are already making some waves within the evangelical community, mostly among the young, who are abandoning stereotypically “evangelical” politics in droves. The older guardians of the old evangelical political orthodoxy are pretty resistant to people like them, however. We’re just waiting for all those raised on Robertson, Falwell, and Dobson to die off, and then I think the real changes will start becoming more apparent.

  • nnmns

    “We’re just waiting for all those raised on Robertson, Falwell, and Dobson to die off,…”
    That will take too long! You’ve got to fight them. Fight them in the pews, fight them in the clergy-picking committees, fight them in the pulpits; heck, fight them in the parking lots. If you are for a more moderate church, make your churches more moderate. You’ll do us all a favor.

  • Reeking Havoc

    “Punishment-based religions don’t bring out the best in me. They scare me and make me afraid to learn and grow. I prefer religions based in love or awareness. they have the opposite effect.”
    http://reekinghavoc.spaces.live.com/

  • rage

    “The older guardians of the old evangelical political orthodoxy are pretty resistant to people like them, however.”
    There is plenty of young guardian evangelical guilt to be awarded, you know. Ted Haggard wasn’t quite the epitome of old guard geezerdom, and he regularly sat in on White Conference calls with the President. Without the efforts of a good number of these ambitious upstarts, many of Dumya’s faith-based initiatives never would have seen the light of day.
    The problem was that seven years ago, when the most good could have come from many of these bright young evangelical stars of these hugely successful church corporations saying no to Karl Rove, they succumbed to their greed and ambitions. For their own comfort, they dressed up a crime to mesh church and state and the sin to serve man in the guise of serving GOD with various disguises like blessing plans and expected prosperity for past good works. It was God’s reward to ministries doing His will in the world. They were winning America to Jesus, making this country a Godly nation, that prosperous City on a Hill that is a Beacon to the world. There are still too many pastors and church executives in bed with the government and crony contractors just for the money. What goes pretty much unreported is that there are a lot of megachurches boasting former and existing corporate executives with government ties serving as trustees and board members. John Hagee counts on and gets ample support from Leiberman and Delay to keep his quest in Israel alive. Pat Robertson is literally mining gold because of these wealth-based connections. These religious rats have their tails snagged in the same cracks as the rest of the ungodly Bush Administration, all serving at the pleasure and discretion of President Tarbaby, replete with the feathers of his many failures.
    Had the Bush Presidency enjoyed a single iota of success, this thread wouldn’t exist. But, Dumya has fecklessly reduced the Presidency of the United States to the status of the idiot event in the International Dimwit Games. (My apologies to idiots and dimwits everywhere. It is insulting to lump Dumya into your innocent numbers.) The religious institutions who supported his ascent through two terms of apocalyptic mayhem, heralding him as God’s handpicked son and king with whom they wanted to have a beer, now all balk at the stench of his tar, those unsightly feathers, and possibly getting that unholy crap from him on their seamless, clean white garments. The whole of Christendom is now suffering the wrath of humanity because a handful of the Churches’ most gullible zealots have been such easy prey to Rove’s manipulation of the wedge issues he knew yanked the chains of the sanctimonious and mission blinded. Now they need that to do the duty of publicly falling on his sword to exonerate the selfrighteous by distancing this mess from the very churches that once blessed the mess.
    Alas, there is yet no end in sight to the hypocrisy of the right wing.

  • Henrietta22

    Wow! that’s some speech rage, I hope you’re working for the Democractic Party in some capacity.
    All I wanted to say was: quote: Catholic and evangelical social justice leaders on Jan. 24…….
    Evangelical social justice leaders, (the moral majority leaders of seven yrs. ago). Same people, different agenda because of jumping on the liberals social justice aims when it became apparent that this was the new way to go. Jim Wallis, evangelical to the left, was probably their inspiration. Social justice also includes glbt, and the right of individuals to choose, and freedom in the armed forces for gays. Eventually they’ll have to come to terms with these also. Life is long and hope is always present.

  • jestrfyl

    This is definitely asking for an “Amazing Grace’ moment. Unless our dear president is lost at sea or stuck in traffic on the Beltway, I doubt this sort of repentance is very very unlikely. He will simply go down in history as the greatest political con man and most shameful waste fo political capitol on record.

  • TRUTHSEEKER

    It saddens me to read the speech written on this site. I hope that most of you are not Christians! I read no love, just hate. Are any of you looking for truth or just want to whine and complain? In 2000, I was part of a movement by the Holy Spirit to pray G. W. Bush into office. It wasn’t only Karl Rove, but many people praying night and day for at least 6 months. President Bush has not always made decisons as I have thought he should, however, I know that he is a good honest man, and has done what he thinks he can working with the Congress that he was given. His Supreme Court appointments have been outstanding, no terrorists attacks on us. Only attacks of hate from our own people. Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders, have you been doing your job? Please start! Maybe if we pray together, there’ll be less hate, more wisdom, better culture, the possibilies are endless.

  • pagansister

    Truthseeker:
    It is hard to have respect for the current person in the White House who has absolutely no clue on how to run the country…but thinks he does! He is an arrogant man with a false sense of importance. Invading a country and starting a war is one example of his “brilliance” in office. What has that accomplished except to get our soldiers killed and maimed? He has managed to get the whole world to hate us. I am proud to say I didn’t vote for him either time. He can’t get out of office fast enough!
    He is an honest man? Right and so are Rove, and Rumsfeld. Don’t think so. His supreme court appointments are a shame, and just because we haven’t had any terrorist attacks again on us has nothing to do with him, believe me.
    I have respect for the office of President, but no respect for the man in the office at the moment.

  • nnmns

    TS, I hope you prayed for Bill Clinton, who suffered from about 100 times as much “attacks of hate” by Republicans.

  • nnmns

    “In 2000, I was part of a movement by the Holy Spirit to pray G. W. Bush into office.”
    Aside from the motivation of any holy spirit that would want to inflict GWB on the US, I also wonder about the very logic of that statement.
    Presumably the “Holy Spirit” is “God”, right? So your god is arranging for a bunch of people to pray to it to make GWB president? Why didn’t your god just go ahead and make him president? What effect did all those prayers have, do you think?

  • sinsonte

    “In 2000, I was part of a movement by the Holy Spirit to pray G. W. Bush into office.”
    Then it’s time to impeach the Holy Spirit for abuse of power.

  • pagansister

    sinsonte & nnmns:
    Ditto on your posts.

  • Anonymous

    “truth” seeker,
    “I read no love, just hate.”
    Sorta what many American citizens ‘read’ in George W Bush’s maladministration.
    “In 2000, I was part of a movement by the Holy Spirit to pray G. W. Bush into office.”
    So now we can put part of the blame on you. I’m sure Goerge’s shoulders appreciate it.
    “It wasn’t only Karl Rove, but many people praying night and day for at least 6 months.”
    And look what it wrought upon America – no longer the land of the free.
    ” President Bush has not always made decisons as I have thought he should, however, I know that he is a good honest man”
    BWAHAHAHAHAAA! “Honest”??? Ever hear the one about weapons of mass destruction? “Good”??? Wanting to exclude some citizens from the protections of the Constitution is NOT “good”. Taking a country to war on the basis of a lie is NOT “good”.
    “His Supreme Court appointments have been outstanding”
    Pardon me while I choke. Puppets is more like it.
    And what about that Harriet Miers fiasco? The firing of much-needed Arabic translators? The firing of Attorneys General? The deficit/debt mayhem? The “Patriot” Act? Gitmo? Abu Ghraib?
    “no terrorists attacks on us.”
    No, but merely a populace living in a constant state of fear.
    “Only attacks of hate from our own people.”
    Deserved hate, imho. Look what he has done to America’s standing in the world.
    “Scripture tells us to pray for our leaders, have you been doing your job?”
    Praying he’d make better decisions, praying he’d stop lying, praying he’d learn to speak, praying he’d stop dividing the country – yes, I’d say we’ve done our job.
    “Please start! Maybe if we pray together, there’ll be less hate, more wisdom, better culture, the possibilies are endless.”
    Except, of course, none of those things happened (or were even WANTED) under Bush. Instead ya got a “President” you could sit down and have a beer with – fat lot of good THAT did for America. Think of Ashcroft and his draping of a statue of Justice!!! That’s SOME funny idea of a “betteer culture” ya got there. “Wisdom”??? Invading Iraq was “wise”??? “Less hate”??? You obviously aren’t a minority in America.
    Make better choices!

  • Henrietta22

    People understand the Holy Spirit as they wish to, and because of what they want to happen in their lives. Especially when it is a ‘group’ thing that WC mentions. I think the term Holy Spirit is used too loosly by most denominations of Christians. Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, how this Spirit works in our lives isn’t because we ask, pray or even understand by most people. If you can explain it at all to someone else, good luck, because we all are on different spiritual levals.

  • truthseeker`

    Thanks Henietta22. I will try to make it understandable, even though I hardly understand it myself. Early in 2000, I was on a prayer journey to have a more deeper relationship with God, (as in Christian God). The devotional I was using encouraged you to ask God for big things and not just the little things in life ie, please find the car keys. So I decided to ask for two things, one for God to heal my daugther from a gentic disease that will cause her to go blind in approx. 10 years and for GW to become President. Once I had made that decision, I found myself paying during the day, praying in my dreams, waking up and praying some more. The night of the election, God gave me peace, remember the hanging chads? Months later visiting an out of towner and sharing this strange experience I had had, He told me that I wasn’t the only one that God had called for this purpose, and that people were even now being called in the same way during GW’s term.
    I believe that my desire for GW vs Gore to be President was and is mostly because of the abotion issue. We now have killed 42 million babies in our country since Roe v Wade. How do you think God sees that? Were is the outrage against us taking innocent life? God have mercy! It is do to God’s mercy and prayers of believers, plus GW’s efforts to protect us that we have not have had another terrorist attack. Talk about shameful legacy!!!! 42 million babies killed in this country! God have mercy.

  • nnmns

    Uh, they aren’t babies, they are blastocysts, embryos and fetuses. And they weren’t killed, they were aborted (though I don’t know about the number; sounds high). I can go into what the difference is but I just did that on the archbishop/coach article so I’m a little reluctant to.
    And I hope your duaghter finds the right medical help any you can afford it.

  • truthseeker

    nnmns:
    Yes I did pray for Cinton, still do. Pray for Hillary too. Remember the Scripture says pray for your leaders, that includes local, state and national. Wouldn’t it be wonderdul to join in prayer for all these individuals. They face many temptations every day and many are not prepared for all that is thrown at them. Sad to say greed, selfishness, power are still battles we all face. But folks in government are all on the front lines of battle and they need those at home to hold them up before God. So maybe, if our leaders aren’t what we want them to be, just maybe part of the blame rests on our shoulders. Join the Battle, start to pray!

  • truthseeker

    nnms:
    Thanks for wishing my daughter well. Nothing can be done for her medicaly, whether we could afford it or not.
    Apparently, you do not believe life begins at conception? There is so much harm that is done by killing these babies. Not just a dead child who will never grow and be what God wanted him/her to be, but the damage that is done to mother and fathers emotionally and physically after an abortion. Thank God we are seeing the results and ministries are now helping families cope with these loses.

  • pll

    Wow, what a contrast in understanding. Unborn babies get a demeaning name like the Blacks, Jews, Disabled, and inconvinent whomever in the past. Now its babies, Bush, and the religious right. Who will be next? In Kenya where my daughter is working being of the wrong tribe can be a death sentence. The diatribe and hate on this site is as bad and incredibly is often over the desire to kill our own babies. Mabe if we had more respect for life and each other at home we would be better equiped to help bring peace to others.

  • pagansister

    To all those who feel that a necessary (yes, it can be necessary)abortion isn’t right…..easy….just don’t have one. However, you don’t have the right or job to tell another woman that she shouldn’t have one. It is really none of your business. NO woman makes that decision easily. Don’t feed me all the help that the pregnant woman can receive etc. You aren’t the one who would be carrying to term and giving birth. You’re not the one dealing with raising and feeding that child that you can’t afford. Child abuse is common with unwanted children, and death occurs in some cases. Don’t feed me the God thing. She/He isn’t raising that child either.
    Basicly, it is totally and absolutely none of your business. It is a private decision.
    Try making sure sex education starting in Kindergarten, and progressing through school, is available (not just the “don’t have sex deal”)along with condoms and other birth control methods, when they are old enough. Teach them responsibility, of course, but children are having sex early and need to know what to do if they decide to have sex. Obviously, no sex is the ideal, but unrealistic.

  • Nate W

    Pagansister,
    “To all those who feel that a necessary (yes, it can be necessary)abortion isn’t right…..easy….just don’t have one.”
    What you don’t seem to understand is that to most pro-lifers, that statement is equivalent to, “If you don’t think a man should beat his wife, just don’t beat yours.” You know, not too long ago (and still today in some places), whether or not a man beat his wife would have considered a “private decision,” and one that many men might not have been able to make easily. But then it again, they were the ones who would have had to put up their wives, so in the end, I guess it was no one else’s decision but theirs to make, right?
    You see, as long as people believe that the unborn possess the same basic humanity and the same inalienable rights as the born, any pro-choice argument like the one you just made is going to sound just as horrible to them as what I just wrote surely sounds to all of us here.

  • nnmns

    “Apparently, you do not believe life begins at conception?”
    Yes, a totally undeveloped, parasitic life form begins at conception, and it slowly develops and in about nine months it becomes a person. It’s a gradual process, not all or nothing.
    “You see, as long as people believe that the unborn possess the same basic humanity and the same inalienable rights as the born…”
    Why would they? They start out as a zygote of one cell. In about three weeks there are 500 cells and about then it’s implanted in the uterine wall. And so on. So to give one cell or 500 cells or a whole bunch more than that inalienable rights is silly. And if you choose to call it human, it’s your definition but I’ve seen humans and that’s not a human.
    To give a zygote or embryo or fetus status and rights comparable to those of a person, in particular to the woman carrying it, is to say that woman is only a factory. I don’t choose to say that to the women in my family or even to women I don’t know.

  • pagansister

    NateW:
    A man beating his wife involves 2 fully grown people, with one harming the other. The zygote or embryo cannot live outside the womb….which belongs to the woman. The woman has personal rights, as does the woman who is getting hit. Even a pro-lifer ( AKA anti-choice) should be able to understand that. They don’t want to.
    I do,however, find your example interesting.

  • truthseeker

    Every one has the right to choose: have sex /not to have sex, wear a condom/ not to wear a condom, but the chose stops at killing the life of another.
    I have 3 half brothers and 2 half sisters, if we had been born 20 years later, 3 of us would not be here. I think each of us has added something positive to this world, if only by our presence. Life is not easy, but I do not think it is supposed to be. I have been all over the world, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Europe.I have seen women working in the hot sun breaking bricks with a mallot for pennies a day. Separating the chafe from the wheat by throwing the wheat into the air. Seen the divestation of HIV/Aids in Africa, Moms and Dads dying, leaving the small children to be absurbed by other relatives or the community, living in a 4 X 8 dung hut. No furniture, no nothing except the dirt floor and when it rains, the water floods the place. So you say, kill the babies so that they don’t have to suffer, so that the rest of the community doesn’t have to use what meager supplies are available! Let’s all play God and tell them not to have any children and lets let our Moms and Dads play God and decide to abort (kill). It really is what your perspective on life is. I’m really glad that I was born even though we were poor. My Dad worked hard to provide for all of us and that was good. The people in the 3rd world work hard for what they have too and love their children too. Look at this way, if you HAD to, which child would you have aborted?

  • Nate W

    Pagansister,
    Most pro-lifers believe that the unborn have rights too, hence their pro-life position. Even a pro-choicer ought to be able to understand that, but it seems you don’t want to.

  • cknuck

    I wonder what goes through the mind of a man who uses God to promote his own selfish and destructive aggressions, greed and revenge with little or no regard for the rest of the world. what a deceiver.

  • nnmns

    “Every one has the right to choose: have sex /not to have sex, wear a condom/ not to wear a condom…”
    If the anti-abortionists had their way we wouldn’t be able to choose to wear a condom or not. A lot of them also oppose contraception.
    “So you say, kill the babies so that they don’t have to suffer, so that the rest of the community doesn’t have to use what meager supplies are available!”
    I don’t know who you’ve seen on here saying to kill any babies. No one at all, I think. That’s the problem with using language carelessly, perhaps on purpose.
    When you say something like that people think of laying babies out and ruthlessly killing them. I’d find that at least as abhorrent as you do but in fact a lot of those babies die because there’s not enough food or water or such and that’s because their families and families around them have more children than they or their land can support and that’s often because birth control isn’t available to them or perhaps they don’t know how to use it and that may be because of conservative religious people in the US whom Bush lets tell our aid agencies how to do their jobs.
    So people who say things like you are saying are responsible for some agonizing deaths that could have been prevented by birth control or perhaps by abortions, which are not agonizing deaths.

  • pagansister

    Truthseeker:
    I totally understand that a pro-lifer believes that the unborn have rights. I just disagree. I do believe if at all possible that an abortion should take place ASAP, not at 6 months, when it is indeed able to survive outside the womb. Women should be able to make up their minds way before then. But again it is not up to me to make that decision for her, it is the woman’s decision. I’m past having to make that decision, age wise.
    If my life was in danger due to a pregnancy which child would I have terminated? Both, because they weren’t children until they arrived. I would have had a chance to try again. My first pregancy was easy until labor…breech birth. If our lives had been in danger, my husband would have told the doctor to save me…as he could make another child, but not another me. So it is prospective. Fortunately it wasn’t a Catholic hospital. The 2nd birth was in a Catholic hospital. At one time Catholics would let the mom die,to save the kid. Don’t know about now.
    I also understand that the folks you mentioned in your travels love their children. No one is saying they don’t. But how many of those children die, after a few months or years because of the conditions they live in? The strong survive, and the weaker ones don’t. I’m not sure how a mother lives with the deaths of many of her children, hoping that some survive to adulthood and perhaps live a better life. Birth control is a wonderful thing. (no I’m not advocating abortion as a form of birth control, as fortunatley other methods should be available to folks, even in the pooer countries you mentioned).

  • pagansister

    The above post at 10:51 AM should be addressed to both truthseeker AND NateW.

  • pagansister

    Just wondered how this discussion on the Shame of Bush’s admin. turned out to be an abortion rights discussion? Oh well.

  • Nate W

    “If the anti-abortionists had their way we wouldn’t be able to choose to wear a condom or not. A lot of them also oppose contraception.”
    And yet a lot of us don’t, and very, very few of those who don’t support contraception would actually want to make it illegal, since the use of contraception is not the moral equivalent of abortion according to Catholic teaching, and it would make little sense to outlaw its use for non-Catholics.

  • feetofclay

    “The thing is that, who is on his way out to pasture, doesn’t really have to lift a single finger to assuage the damage his administration has wrought with indifference on our cherished reputation of the faith.”
    Make that shameless indifference!

  • Anonymous

    Nate,
    “Most pro-lifers believe that the unborn have rights too, hence their pro-life position. Even a pro-choicer ought to be able to understand that, but it seems you don’t want to.”
    Sorry. We DO “understand” the anti-choice position. We just happen to disagree with it.

  • Anonymous

    Nate W.,
    “A lot of them [the anti-choice] also oppose contraception.”
    And yet a lot of us don’t”
    The “President” does. He even signed legislation to prevent ANY aid to foreign countries that would promote the use of contraceptives – or ANY birth control other than “abstinence only”.
    “and very, very few of those who don’t support contraception would actually want to make it illegal”
    Pardon me if I don’t believe you.
    “since the use of contraception is not the moral equivalent of abortion according to Catholic teaching”
    I believe you are wrong in this, but be that as it may, the Catholic Church ain’t the boss of me. Why should any non-Catholic give 2 hoots what the RCC sez?

  • cknuck

    Hello what’s wrong with abstinence? Not screwing people you don’t intend to have a relationship with is a no brainer unless your brain has left its location to reside elsewhere in your body.

  • pagansister

    cknuck:
    There is nothing wrong with abstinence, but since sex is part of life, in lots of teenagers, and adults, the opportunity to enjoy that part of life doesn’t always come with “using the brain.” Perfect situation is when you are in a relationship, but that isn’t always the way things work out either. (how many married people divorce?) Thus, the mighty condom, or other methods of birth control are important to have available. If those don’t work, then the option of termination should be available also.

  • jestrfyl

    If the Holy Spirit is the one responsible for Bush’s languishing in the White House, then I fully understand why so many people find Christianity a questionable path! The many is a puppet, and Cheney’s hand is the one up his – well, he ain’t a stick puppet, if you know what I mean. The man has not simply embarrased the nation and shredded any possibility for international cooperation. He has cost thousands of lives for the sake of an inter-family duel with Hussein. His greed and insensitivity have led to the widened chasm between the wealthy (himself and his puppet master) and the poor. Do not be surprised to learn that his family has benefitted from increased oil prices, the foreclosure on homes, and the bust in the stock market. This is not the work of the Holy Spirit, unless God has repeated the mistake made with calling Saul to be Israel’s first king (very doubtful).
    Let’s not blame God/Spirt/whatever divine force for the cupidity and laziness of the American voters. Our only hope is that this generation of voters has a greater vision and sense of hope than did “majority” (certainly in doubt)of the voters in ’00 and ’04.

  • recovering ex-Pentecostal

    “Hello what’s wrong with abstinence?”
    Nothing. Well, at least nothing except no one practises it.
    Question: if you don’t intend to marry the person, can it really be called “pre-marital sex”?

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