Evangelicals Urge Trump to Release People From Immigration Detention Facilities

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Court evangelical Samuel Rodriguez

Here is the Associated Press:

NEW YORK – Nine leaders at evangelical Christian organizations are urging the Trump administration to release people from immigration detention facilities “who do not pose a threat to public safety” during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly those who are elderly or otherwise at higher risk for contracting COVID-19.

In a letter sent Monday to Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the evangelicals called for alliances with religious and other local groups to help find released detainees “safe accommodations in which to ‘shelter in place’ for as long as such practices are advised.” Such actions to aid social distancing in detention, the faith leaders wrote, would help staff as well as detained migrants.

“Our concern is rooted in our Christian belief that each human life is made in the image of God and thus precious, and, like you, we want to do everything possible to minimize the loss of life as a result of this pandemic,” the prominent evangelicals wrote.

The evangelicals signing the letter said they would “encourage the many churches and ministries within our networks to provide any assistance they can” to help released detainees shelter safely.

Shared with The Associated Press in advance of its public release, the letter was signed by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; and Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council, among others.

Read the rest here.

Rodriguez is a prominent Trump court evangelical, but has often broken with the president on immigration issues.

Remember the Elderly

Elderly

This is an important reminder from Shai Held, president, dean, and chair in Jewish Thought at Hadar.  Here is a taste of his recent piece at The Atlantic:

Why do I say “the elderly”? In its biblical context, the obligation to honor parents is a command given to grown children (as are the Ten Commandments more broadly—you don’t tell children not to commit adultery nor to covet their neighbors’ fields). When you are an adult, the Bible instructs, you must not abandon the elderly. Giving voice to a pervasive human fear, the Psalmist prays, “Do not cast me off in old age; when my strength fails, do not forsake me!”

What does it say about our society that people think of the elderly so dismissively—and moreover, that they feel no shame about expressing such thoughts publicly? I find myself wondering whether this colossal moral failure is exacerbated by the most troubled parts of our cultural and economic life. When people are measured and valued by their economic productivity, it is easy to treat people whose most economically productive days have passed as, well, worthless.

From a religious perspective, if there is one thing we ought to teach our children, it is that our worth as human beings does not depend on or derive from what we do or accomplish or produce; we are, each of us, infinitely valuable just because we are created in the image of God. We mattered before we were old enough to be economically productive, and we will go on mattering even after we cease to be economically productive.

Varied ethical and religious traditions find their own ways to affirm an elemental truth of human life: The elderly deserve our respect and, when necessary, our protection. The mark of a decent society is that it resists the temptation to spurn the defenseless. It is almost a truism that the moral fabric of a society is best measured by how it treats the vulnerable in its midst—and yet it is a lesson we never seem to tire of forgetting. “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old,” the Bible says—look out for them and, in the process, become more human yourself.

Read the entire piece here.

Teaching MLK’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

King in Jail

After a couple weeks focusing on “creation” in my Created Called for Community (CCC) course at Messiah College, we have shifted gears slightly to focus on the meaning of “community.” Our first reading on this front was Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963). We read it alongside “A Call for Unity,” the white Birmingham clergy’s statement criticizing King’s visit to the city. King’s wrote his “Letter” as a response to “A Call for Unity.”

There are lot of ways to teach “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In a history course, I would use this text to teach something about the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. While the past always teaches us something about the present, my primary goal in any history course is to provide students with a thorough knowledge of the past so that their engagement with the present might be richer and more informed.

CCC is not a history course. Since we read and discussed “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” as part of a unit about “community” in America and the larger world, my pedagogical assignment was to help students see what King might teach us about the meaning of this elusive idea.

But I remain a historian at heart. How could we approach such an important text without some historical context?  As part of the work of sourcing this document, I showed the class a short video from Voice of America:

We began our conversation with “A Call for Unity.” I asked students to read the affixed signatures to the document and tell me something about the men who affirmed it. Eight Birmingham clergy signed it–two Episcopalians, one Baptist, one Roman Catholic, one Jewish rabbi, two Methodists, and one Presbyterian. They were all white.

For our purposes, I asked the students to imagine a different title to this document. What if we changed the name to “A Call for Community?” What kind of community were the white spiritual leaders of Birmingham defending?  Students noted several characteristics of this community:

  1. Birmingham was a community that had “racial problems.”
  2. Birmingham was a community that required members to obey the law. If people in the community wanted to change the law, they needed to do so through the court system. But in the meantime, the law must be “peaceably obeyed.” The law in question, of course, was segregation based on race.
  3. Birmingham was a local community. The people who held power in this community did not look favorably on outsiders telling them how to live. This was particularly the case regarding the aforementioned “racial problems.” These clergy wrote, “We agree with certain local Negro leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation of racial issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can be best accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area, white and Negro, meeting with their knowledge and experience of the local situation.”
  4. Birmingham was a community that did not want Martin Luther King Jr. coming to town with his “extreme measures” designed to undermine the social order.  Of course, white supremacy and segregation defined this social order. King’s “extreme measures” were peaceful protests.

I thought it was important to pause at this point and remind students that Birmingham, Alabama in 1963 was a community. When many of them hear the word “community” they think of something positive. Community is a warm and fuzzy feeling about togetherness and mutual care. Many students who enroll at Messiah College say they are attracted to the “sense of community” they feel when they visit campus.  This is all well and good. But yesterday I wanted them to see community in a neutral way. My students did not approve of the kind of community the Birmingham clergy defended in “A Call for Unity,” but it was a community nonetheless.

A few of them had a hard time attaching the word “community” to a segregated city like Birmingham. As Christians, many were bothered by the fact that the religious and spiritual leaders of this city defended such a community. Two students, in post-class conversations, made connections to the anemic state of the Christian church in 1963 and what they perceived to be the weakness of the white churches today in the midst of suffering, oppression, racism, the environment, abortion, political power, etc.

It was now time to turn to King. Why was King in Birmingham? Nearly all the students who spoke noted that the city’s African-American community invited him to come. Not everyone living in Birmingham was happy about the kind of community the white leaders were advancing in the city.  If Birmingham’s African Americans wanted to end Jim Crow, they would need some help. They turned to King.

Why else was King in Birmingham? King came to this southern city “because injustice is here.” We talked about his comparison to the Apostle Paul, a spiritual leader who left Tarsus and brought the Gospel to the Greco-Roman world. Paul was also an “outside agitator.” He challenged local gods and disrupted the peace in places like Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Phillipi, Athens, and Thessalonica.  Since some of my students are familiar with the Acts of the Apostles, I thought this might be a good place to linger for a while.

But I also wanted to get to the fourth paragraph of King’s letter.  He writes:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states.  I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham.  Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever effects one directly, affects all indirectly.  Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea.  Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

My students were quick to note that the Birmingham clergy’s vision was local, but King’s vision was national.  We paused and reflected on words and phrases like “interrelatedness,” “network of mutuality,” “single garment,” “narrow,” and “provincial.” I thought this exercise was important for our understanding of “community.” When King says “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” it should cause us to think about local community with a little more complexity.

This was a lot to ponder, and time was running out. I said that I wish I could do an entire first-year seminar on King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” because it was such an intellectual and moral feast. I only saw one student roll her/his eyes. 🙂

I continued to push the theme of community. Where do we look if we want to find the things that a given community values? One of the ways we do this is by examining a community’s understanding of right and wrong as embodied in its laws. King had a lot to say about this in the letter. How should we distinguish between “just” and “unjust” laws? Here is King:

One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws.  Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.  I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”  Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God.  An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law….Any law that uplifts human personality is just.  Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality.

We spent some time talking about what King meant by “personality.” With a little prompting, they began referencing Genesis 1 and 2 and Bruce Birch’s essay on the “ethic of being.” If we believe, with the Judeo-Christian tradition, that we are all created in the image of God, then the human person (“personality” in King’s language) is dignified.  A law is unjust when it strips people of human dignity.  Several students gravitated to King’s words about Hitler: “We should never forget that everything Adolph Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was ‘illegal.'” King added: “Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.  Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.” Powerful stuff.

With only a few minutes left in class, I pointed them to King’s understanding of American nationalism.  National communities make appeals to history. King invoked the ideals of the founding, including Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. If I had more time, I would have steered students toward something I wrote back in 2011:

When we think of the defenders of a Christian America today, the Christian Right immediately comes to mind. We think of people like Glenn Beck (who despite his Mormonism has joined forces with many Christian nationalists), David Barton, Peter Marshall and David Manuel, or Newt Gingrich. All of these public figures have championed the idea that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. Their careers have been defined by the belief that this country needs to return to its Christian roots in order to receive the blessings of God.

Rarely, if ever, do we hear the name Martin Luther King, Jr., included in this list of apologists for Christian America. Yet he was just as much of an advocate for a “Christian America” as any who affiliate with the Christian Right today. Let me explain.

King’s fight for a Christian America was not over amending the Constitution to make it more Christian or promoting crusades to insert “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance (June 14, 1954). It was instead a battle against injustice and an attempt to forge a national community defined by Christian ideals of equality and respect for human dignity.

Most historians now agree that the Civil Rights movement was driven by the Christian faith of its proponents. As David Chappell argued in his landmark book, Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow, the story of the Civil Rights movement is less about the triumph of progressive and liberal ideals and more about the revival of an Old Testament prophetic tradition that led African-Americans to hold their nation accountable for the decidedly unchristian behavior it showed many of its citizens.

There was no more powerful leader for this kind of Christian America than King, and no greater statement of his vision for America than his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail….”

In the end, Birmingham’s destiny was connected to the destiny of the entire nation—a nation that possessed what King called a “sacred heritage,” influenced by the “eternal will of God.” By fighting against segregation, King reminded the Birmingham clergy that he was standing up for “what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.” (italics mine)

It sounds to me that King wanted America to be a Christian nation. The Civil Rights movement, as he understood it, was in essence an attempt to construct a new kind of Christian nation—a beloved community of love, harmony, and equality.

Read the entire piece here.

Today we discuss Robert Putnam’s classic essay, “Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital.” I want to bring my 6th-grade bowling trophy to class, but I can’t seem to find it.

Joe Biden on Faith and Politics

Biden adOver at Religion News Service, thee former Vice-President and current Democratic candidate for President reflects on the ways his Catholic faith informs his politics.

Here is a taste:

Today’s politics are too toxic, mean and divisive. People are too quick to demonize and dehumanize, too ready to dismiss all that we have in common as Americans.

That’s beneath us as a country. It doesn’t reflect our values; it’s not who we are. That’s why, since I first declared my candidacy for president, I’ve said: I’m running to restore the soul of our nation.

I first learned those values growing up in a Catholic, middle-class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Claymont, Delaware. I learned them at my father’s dinner table, at Sunday Mass and at St. Paul’s and Holy Rosary Elementary. The nuns there taught us reading, writing, math and history — as well as core concepts of decency, fair play and virtue. They took as a starting point the teaching from the Gospel of Matthew: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

My whole idea of self and family, of community and the wider world, stems from those lessons. They drilled into me a core truth: Every single human being deserves to be treated with dignity. Everyone. The poor and the powerless, the marginalized and vulnerable, the least of these. That has been the animating principle of my life and my faith.

Scripture is clear: It’s not enough to just wish the world were better. It’s our duty to make it so.

And when my father would remind me, again and again — “Joey, there’s no greater sin than the abuse of power” — I knew: It’s never enough to just abhor or avoid the abuse of power; you have to stand up to end it, wherever it’s found.

That’s what first drew me to public service decades ago — during the civil rights movement, when Americans of all faiths were called on to put our values into action, to fight the heinous abuse of power that is segregation and bigotry.

It’s why I fought to pass the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 — to confront the domestic violence that so many back then tried to dismiss as a “family matter,” and to instead give survivors a voice and a path to justice and recovery.

It’s why I’ve always stood up for working families — for a higher minimum wage and for family and medical leave; for unemployment, overtime pay, collective bargaining rights and workplace safety.

For me, leadership — and basic human decency — has always meant confronting the abuse of power, and fighting back against anyone who exploits the vulnerable for personal gain.

Read the rest here.

Anyone who read this entire piece will notice that abortion is not mentioned.  I want to know how Joe Biden’s Catholic faith informs his views on this moral problem.  What will he do to reduce the number of abortions in America?

National Cathedral: “Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous”

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The spiritual leaders of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. have had enough.  Here is their recent press release titled “Have We No Decency?:  A Response to President Trump:

The escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President of the United States has evoked responses from all sides of the political spectrum. On one side, African American leaders have led the way in rightfully expressing outrage. On the other, those aligned with the President seek to downplay the racial overtones of his attacks, or remain silent.

As faith leaders who serve at Washington National Cathedral ¬– the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance – we feel compelled to ask: After two years of President Trump’s words and actions, when will Americans have enough?

As Americans, we have had such moments before, and as a people we have acted. Events of the last week call to mind a similarly dark period in our history:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. … You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”

That was U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch on June 9, 1954, when he confronted Senator Joseph McCarthy before a live television audience, effectively ending McCarthy’s notorious hold on the nation. Until then, under the guise of ridding the country of Communist infiltration, McCarthy had free rein to say and do whatever he wished. With unbridled speech, he stoked the fears of an anxious nation with lies; destroyed the careers of countless Americans; and bullied into submissive silence anyone who dared criticize him.

In retrospect, it’s clear that Welch’s question was directed less toward McCarthy and more to the nation as a whole. Had Americans had enough? Where was our sense of decency?

We have come to accept a level of insult and abuse in political discourse that violates each person’s sacred identity as a child of God. We have come to accept as normal a steady stream of language and accusations coming from the highest office in the land that plays to racist elements in society.

This week, President Trump crossed another threshold. Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city. Where will he go from here?

Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.

These words are more than a “dog-whistle.” When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human “infestation” in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation. Violent words lead to violent actions.

When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours.

As leaders of faith who believe in the sacredness of every single human being, the time for silence is over. We must boldly stand witness against the bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and xenophobia that is hurled at us, especially when it comes from the highest offices of this nation. We must say that this will not be tolerated. To stay silent in the face of such rhetoric is for us to tacitly condone the violence of these words. We are compelled to take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism, whether it comes to us through words or actions.

There is another moment in our history worth recalling. On January 21, 2017, Washington National Cathedral hosted an interfaith national prayer service, a sacred tradition to honor the peaceful transfer of political power. We prayed for the President and his young Administration to have “wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties that they may serve all people of this nation, and promote the dignity and freedom of every person.”

That remains our prayer today for us all.

The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar BuddeBishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith
Dean of Washington National Cathedral
The Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas
Canon Theologian of Washington National Cathedral.

Michael Gerson: Christians Are In “Grave Spiritual Danger” Under Trump

trump-liberty

Michael Gerson continues his full-blown frontal assault on Donald Trump from the pages of The Washington Post.

In yesterday’s column Gerson admits that evangelical Christians may have it easier under Trump.  For example, today Trump reinstated a ban on using U.S. funds to promote abortions in foreign countries.  We will see if this appeal to evangelical concerns continues when Trump gets around to appointing a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

But evangelicals, Gerson argues, must take seriously three other important dimensions of their faith and political witness in the age of Trump.

  1. Trump is a nativist who devalues immigrants.  Evangelicals must take him on when he demeans other human beings this way.
  2. Evangelicals need to remember that religious liberty does not only apply to them.  It applies to Muslims as well.  If they refuse to grant the same degree of religious liberty to Muslims they are ultimately shooting themselves in the foot. As Gerson writes, “hypocrisy is a form of self-harm.”  Evangelicals should not fail to show love to their Muslim neighbors, especially since they fear what will happen to them now that Trump is President.
  3. Evangelicals should be cautious about seeking political power.  Gerson writes: “when religion identifies with a political order, it is generally not the political order that suffers most.”

He concludes:

In politics, Christians should not be known primarily for defending their institutional liberty, as important as that is. They should be known for a Christian anthropology that puts the dignity of life — of every life — at the center of the political enterprise. And they should be known for courage in applying this commitment, without prejudice, to every party and ideology.

There are temptations of pride in this prophetic role as well. (Obviously, some of my regular readers might sigh.) It is easy, through an excess of outrage, to become the parody of a prophet. But Christian faith, at its best, points to a transcendent order of justice and hope that stands above politics. So it was in the abolitionist struggle and the civil rights movement. So it needs to be in the Trump era.

Read the entire piece here.

The Origin of Christian Human Rights

MoynCheck out Lilian Calles Barger interview with Samuel Moyn, history professor at Harvard and author of Christian Human Rights.

Here is Barger’s summary of Moyn’s book:

Samuel Moyn is Professor of Law and History at Harvard University. InChristian Human Rights (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), Moyn provides a historical intervention in our understanding of how the idea of human rights in the mid-twentieth century came to be. He argues that contrary to current thought, that sees it as part of the long-legacy of Christianity, or the triumph of liberal democracy, it has a more complicated history. The notion of human rights was inspired by a defense of the dignity of the human person. It first arose just prior to WW II as part of the reformulation of the liberal idea of human rights, deemed morally bankrupt, taken up by conservative religious thinkers. Moyn argues that the long-held Christian concept of moral equality of human beings did not translate into political rights. Rather the reformulation of human rights in the 1940s was a Catholic communitarian defense against totalitarian, capitalism and political secularism. The language of rights was extricated from the legacy of the French Revolution “rights of man” to become a religious value checking the political power of the state with religious freedom as a key concept. The philosophy of “personalism” articulated by Jacques Maritain recast democracy and human rights in a Catholic vein becoming enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the ascendancy of Christian democratic parties at mid-century. Secularized after the 1960s, human rights became an increasingly uninspiring concept unable to do the work it promised. Moyn suggests transcending this mid-twentieth Christian legacy and notes the need to find a new effective transformative creed.

Listen to the interview here.

 

Quote of the Day

…the real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such. They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars. The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow. It can even reach the point of being blind to Lazarus begging at their doorstep (cf. Lk 16:20-21). Lazarus, the poor man, is a figure of Christ, who through the poor pleads for our conversion. As such, he represents the possibility of conversion which God offers us and which we may well fail to see. Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5) which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.

From Pope Francis’s Lenten Meditation, 2016

Michael Gerson on What Evangelicals Can Learn From the Pope

Gerson is an evangelical, but he also wants to seek common ground with the message of Pope Francis.  He has hard words for the Christian Right and looks to Francis as a model for evangelical public engagement because the Pope is acting like Jesus and considering the dignity of people.

Francis: “The church is not an NGO, it is a love story.”

And he also compares Pope Francis to Taylor Swift in the first minute or two. Hilarious.

Why Have Progressives Been Silent on the Planned Parenthood Video?

Very few progressives seem to be speaking out against what a Planned Parenthood doctor is saying in this video:



The progressives on my Facebook and Twitter feeds have said almost nothing.  The only person of the religious left who has commented is Charles Marsh, a religion professor at the University of Virginia.  Here is what Marsh said yesterday on Facebook: “So far only the conservative and right-wing media are treating the Planned Parenthood story as an ethical crisis. A missed opportunity for Democrats and liberals to affirm the sacred character of created life.”

(One exception is Arit John’s piece at Bloomsburg Politics). 

Ed Stetzer, writing at Christianity Today, wonders why evangelical progressives have been so quiet. Here is a taste:

The Planned Parenthood video has received (and deserved) wide coverage. It should been seen by all who can handle watching it. Actually, if you care about justice, I think you should take the time to watch the whole video. The entire unedited version is available, despite many only referencing a “heavily edited” version.
Many have commented and that’s encouraging. Yet, some have been conspicuously absent, when they’ve spoken up on so many other issues.
In my last post, I was very clear the video does not say quite what the “Center for Medical Progress” wants it to say. However, along the same lines, the video doesn’t say what Planned Parenthood wants it to say either.
There are plenty of people pointing out the discrepancies in both statements, but the people who are strangely silent are the leaders of the Democratic Party and some progressive Christians who are often aligned with them.
To date, no high-ranking Democrat in the United States has commented on the video. That’s unfortunate, because progressives should be leading the fight against this grotesque act of selectively removing and preserving aborted fetuses’ organs for scientific use…
Deeply rooted in the foundation of our nation is the belief that every human being has dignity and the right to live in that dignity. As progressives, we further believe that the government plays a crucial role in protecting that dignity, especially among those who face adverse societal conditions: the poor, the unemployed, the uninsured, immigrants, the LGBT community — and yes — pregnant women and their unborn children.
And he is right. The silence has been deafening.
Stetzer continues:
Many others will debate the politics and the next steps, but I am wondering: where are the religious voices from the left on this issue?
Where are those bloggers, and speakers, and social justice organizations who have spoken up on so many injustices? (I will happily post those who’ve spoken up for the unborn child in this situation.)
Where are the mainline denominational leaders speaking up, while millions of people in their churches have heard the news or watched the video and wonder where their church stands?
And, most of all, where’s the voice of some of those progressive evangelicals who once promised that, though they were broadening the pro-life agenda to include peace, the environment, and social justice, assured us they would not lose sight of the life of the unborn?
And one more time:
Sadly, the outrage over the contents of this video has mostly been found among conservative voices, mainline voices are largely absent, and progressive evangelical voices are few.
Many appear concerned about the source and the editing of the video. But let’s not discount the tragedy because we don’t like those who brought it to light. “The video is misleading and heavily edited!,” you say, but is what’s clear in the unedited version is not horrible enough for your to say something?
At the end of the day, we have a video over two hours long discussing what really takes place in the world of the abortion industry. And, that’s a justice issue.
What do you think?  Is Stetzer onto something here?  
Is it possible to separate the obvious editing of the video and the fact that it was made with a hidden-camera under false pretenses, from the serious ethical problems with Dr. Nucatola’s comments?  

I am with Christopher Hale on this one.
And speaking of hiding a camera and catching someone saying something inappropriate, no one seemed to let Mitt Romney off the hook when this video appeared in 2012.
I have not been able to find anything about this video at Sojourners or Slactivist, two progressive evangelical blogs that I read regularly and often find to be very useful and sometimes even “prophetic.”
And now I will return to my usual fare of history-related posts….

Lessons from the Chick-fil-A–Shane Windmeyer Friendship

From Elizabeth Tenety at The Washington Post:

Shane Windmeyer, executive director of the LGBT group Campus Pride, wrote a hugely viral blogpost for the Huffington Post this week in which he explained how he became friends with Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-fil-A 

The fast-food chain has drawn nationwide criticism from gay rights activists in recent months because of Cathy’s statements on marriage and Chick-fil-A’s support of anti-gay organizations. After Windmeyer’s group led a nationwide boycott of the chain with a “Five Simple Facts about Chick-fil-A” campaign in the summer of 2012, Cathy reached out to him. Campus Pride suspended its boycott; Windmeyer and Cathy’s subsequent, still-evolving friendship allowed the unlikely pair to enjoy a football game together on New Year’s Eve.


Windmeyer was raised Catholic, but although he still defines himself that way, he no longer attends church services regularly. “I don’t want to not feel welcome anymore,” he says.

Could Windmeyer’s popular column represent one possible way forward amid the bitter stalemate between gay rights activists and the — often religious — supporters of traditional marriage?

From an interview with Windmeyer about his friendship with Cathy, here are five lessons for people on both sides of the marriage argument:

1.  Let’s talk to each other 

2.  Let’s see each other as humans worthy of dignity

3.  Let’s understand what our differences really are and let’s seek to find common ground

4. Let’s not be serious all the time

5. Let’s all be willing to give a little
 

Why Are Americans Becoming More Pro Life?

According to a very recent Gallup Poll, the number of “pro-choice” Americans has reached a record low at 41%.

Ashley McGuire, the editor of altcatholicah, a website that is devoted to “exploring faith and gender,” offers some reasons why Americans are becoming more pro-life:

1.  The fetus has been humanized.  She writes:
Modern science has helped us to understand with intricate detail the amazing phenomenon that occurs at the moment of fertilization. From then on, a pregnant woman can track the extraordinary chain of events that is triggered in the new life within her with a slew of Web sites and iPhone apps. She learns her baby’s heart starts beating at a mere 21 days after conception (before many women learn they are pregnant). She meets her baby on the ultrasound screen at eight weeks as opposed to at the end of nine months.

2.  Abortion has been used in the world to undermine the rights of women.  She writes:
…we have seen the way abortion is used in the world to undermine the rights of women, whether it is forced abortion in China, gender-selective abortion worldwide or its concentration among poor and minority women. Abortion is increasingly hard to square with women’s empowerment when it is the single greatest contributor tipping the scale towards a world with fewer women.

3.  The pro-life movement has framed the debate as a civil rights issue, meaning that it is not just the religious who are pro-life.  She writes:
It is a civil rights issue. At stake is the most elemental right we have as a human being, the right to be alive, the right not to be killed, regardless of one’s race, gender, or “viability.”

Read her entire piece in The Washington Post.

OK–it is time for the ideologically diverse readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home to have at it.

Catholic Leaders Slam Santorum and Gingrich for Their Remarks on Race and Poverty

The U.S. Catholic bishops oppose racism and support government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits. 

As you may know, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have said some very harsh things on the campaign trail about “black people,” food stamps, and the best ways to deal with poverty.

40 Catholic leaders and theologians have written an open letter to the two Catholic GOP presidential candidates rebuking them for rhetoric that violates the teaching of the Church.  Here it is:

As Catholic leaders who recognize that the moral scandals of racism and poverty remain a blemish on the American soul, we challenge our fellow Catholics Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to stop perpetuating ugly racial stereotypes on the campaign trail. Mr. Gingrich has frequently attacked President Obama as a “food stamp president” and claimed that African Americans are content to collect welfare benefits rather than pursue employment. Campaigning in Iowa, Mr. Santorum remarked: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” Labeling our nation’s first African-American president with a title that evokes the past myth of “welfare queens” and inflaming other racist caricatures is irresponsible, immoral and unworthy of political leaders.

Some presidential candidates now courting “values voters” seem to have forgotten that defending human life and dignity does not stop with protecting the unborn. We remind Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum that Catholic bishops describe racism as an “intrinsic evil” and consistently defend vital government programs such as food stamps and unemployment benefits that help struggling Americans. At a time when nearly 1 in 6 Americans live in poverty, charities and the free market alone can’t address the urgent needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. And while jobseekers outnumber job openings 4-to-1, suggesting that the unemployed would rather collect benefits than work is misleading and insulting.

As the South Carolina primary approaches, we urge Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Santorum and all presidential candidates to reject the politics of racial division, refrain from offensive rhetoric and unite behind an agenda that promotes racial and economic justice.

Here is my take on Gingrich’s commitment to the sanctity of human life.