Saturday, April 30, 2005

Regarding Bubba(s)

I am more than happy to engage in honest, respectful dialogue with people who disagree with the positions I take on this blog.

Those whose intention is to post the equivalent of electronic graffitti will discover that I will persist in erasing their gang insignias.

Fundamentalist Batting Percentages, Reprise

Whenever the Religious Right gets desperate to convince mainstream Christians to see things their way, they often pull out a bat and try to knock people out of the Christian ballpark.

Their favorite club is the "You can't be a Christian if you don't agree with me!" stick. Jerry Falwell is an MVP at swinging this bat. Just last September he said, "You cannot be a sincere, committed born-again believer who takes the Bible seriously and vote for a pro-choice, anti-family candidate."

If that's not a home run, it is at least a triple. In the swing of a single sentence he made a connection that questioned the sincerity (first base), salvation (second base), and spiritual fidelity (third base) of anyone who doesn't vote for candidates he approves.

Still, it frustrates the Religious Right to see a runner standing on third base. They've got to drive their point home. That's why they always have a clean-up hitter on deck. The clean-up man swings the "You've got to be a baby killer!" stick. This one often clears mainstream Christians from the ballpark, but not because they are convinced. They leave because they don't know how to respond to people so insulting.

I've learned that the only way to hold your own in a political game with Fundamentalists is to turn the tables on them. That's why I always keep a quote from C. Everrett Koop handy. C. Everrett Koop was the Surgeon General in the Reagan Administration. He co-authored, with Francis Schaeffer, the book and film series that educated most evangelicals about abortion -- Whatever Became of the Human Race. In Bill Martin's book, With God on Our Side, Koop explains why he dropped out of the abortion controversy:

If the pro-life people in the late 1960's and the early 1970's had been willing to compromise with the pro-choice people, we could have had an abortion law that provided for abortion only for the life of the mother, incest, rape, and defective child; that would have cut the abortions down to three percent of what they are today. But they had an all-or-nothing mentality. They wanted it all and they got nothing.

Note that the exceptions Koop described coincide exactly with the exceptions that Southern Baptists supported before the takeover of the SBC. Since the takeover, Southern Baptists have shifted to the "all-or-nothing mentality."

The truth is, even if the Fundamentalists were correct about all abortions being murder, then Fundamentalist intransigence is responsible for 97% of the murders and compromising moderates are guilty of 3%. None of us will come out of this guiltless, but one percentage requires a lot less grace.

Friday, April 29, 2005

On Southern Baptist's Irresponsible God

Southern Baptist ethicist, Ben Mitchell, describes the use of contraception as a form of abortion. He says, the pill creates "a hostile environment in the uterus so that the embryo is expelled. That's chemical abortion, plain and simple." Ethics Daily quotes Mitchell further:
Some pro-lifers who believe that life begins at conception say "morning after" contraception is really a form of abortion, because in some cases the pills work by preventing a fertilized ovum from implanting in the wall of the woman's uterus.

"A so-called fertilized egg is an embryo," said Ben Mitchell, a consultant on biomedical and life issues for the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "An embryo is a very young human being."

"The morning-after pill is another technological fix for a sexually promiscuous and anti-natal culture," said Mitchell, an associate professor of bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. Primary users, he said, are "sexually active women who do not want the responsibility that goes along with having sex."

When Mitchell studied this issue, he should have learned that enormous numbers of human embryos, or in his words "very young human beings," spontaneously abort through natural processes. At some point, those who profess to have thought through these issues might be expected to wonder why God could not also be accused of treating so many embryonic human beings "irresponsibly."

If every embryo is indeed a "very young human being," why would a loving God who designed a good universe create a process so wasteful of human life?

To my knowledge, Southern Baptist ethicists have never addressed this issue.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Conservatives V. Neo-Cons

Once again, the British prove to have better insight into our politics than do Americans.

The Guardian reveals that Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, are working to undermine the nomination of John Bolton as U.N. Ambassador.

Clearly, Powell and Armitage have decided they can best serve their country from outside the administration.

The best way to understand the struggle that is currently going on within the Republican party is to read James Mann's The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet. Bolton is the only player in this drama that is not caricaturized on the cover the book -- but there is plenty about the role he plays within the book.

The stakes are extremely high in this chess match. It is a struggle for the heart and soul of the GOP. When the game is over the GOP will be either a party of conservative capitalists creating a global marketplace, or a party of neo-conservative imperialists who create vassal states and exploit their resources.

The Neurological Roots of Sympathetic Imagination

Scientists studying "mirror neutrons" may be discovering the neurological roots of "sympathetic imagination."

The article talks about "mind reading" and "empathy." I prefer to subsume this ability "to pretend to be in another person's mental shoes" under the general category of "imagination."

Whatever it is called, it may provide neurological evidence for an ability that some have treated as unverifiable.

I think the ability to exercise our imaginative capacities sympathetically is a vital component in the formation of our conscience.

Religious Right Wants 'Constitutional Armageddon'

Barry Lynn, National Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State gave an apt description of the religious leaders for whom Senate Majority leader Bill Frist is working. Lynn said,

"The people he's dealing with are not going to rest until there's a constitutional Armageddon in which the religious right controls all three branches of government."

The circus surrounding the Schiavo case and the power politics of "Injustice Sunday" have clearly awakened many people to the theocratic agenda of the Religious Right.

Britt Towery at Ethics Daily does a good job of describing the dangers that abound when church services promote political agendas.

Tomorrow a conference in New York City will be filled with people who once thought that Fred Clarkson was overstating his case by describing the right as "theocrats." Today they know just how close the "Religious Far Right" is to controlling all three branches of our government.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Atheism: The Forbidden Topic

Mike Whitney has a daring article on the Axis of Logic website. He says, "Let's Let Atheists Back Into Politics."

There is a glaring error or two in Whitney's essay (The founding fathers of the American Revolution [1776] were not influenced by the French Revolution [1789]), but the experience of discrimination that prompted his article is real. He says,
Face it, atheism in America is a lonely experience. Atheists are widely distrusted and there is a palpable undercurrent of discrimination directed at them, even though it is less noticeable than the prejudice aimed at other groups. In many ways, atheists are social pariahs; America's leper colony. Just about everyone is wary of atheists, as the polls repeatedly indicate. . . .

The fact is, atheism simply doesn't exist in America. It is the forbidden topic, like homosexuality 20 years ago. . . . Regrettably, in our "free" society, no one is even allowed to openly debate the issue.
I am in frequent contact with atheists and agnostics. They are an embattled minority. Some are frightened by the militancy of evangelical Christians. Others are getting angry and militant themselves. The Religious Right has been using them as a scapegoat and foil to stir up theocratic sentiment and action for more than a generation. As is currently happening in Idaho, they are the one's who are really being denied a voice in the public square.

At times, atheists can be as fanatical as evangelical Christians in expressing their religious convictions. The chief difference being that atheists are eager to engage in genuine dialogue with people who question the reasons for their unbelief, while most evangelical Christians systematically avoid genuine dialogue with anyone who questions their beliefs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Digging up Racist Roots

Max Blumenthal has an outstanding article in Nation Magazine about the racist roots of Tony Perkins, the organizer of the so-called "Justice Sunday."

Racist roots run just below the surface of a lot of prominent preachers and politicians. Today they know to keep it under cover.

My biggest surprise is learning how valuable a mailing list of racist "good ole boys" can be. Had I known that, while I was living in Houston I would have recorded the names and addresses of disgruntled ex-church members and neighbors who delighted in attending David Duke's rallys.

Now all I have is a list of moderate, Mainstream Baptists. Nobody has ever offered me anything for that.

Apology to Mohler

Yesterday I chided Al Mohler for statements that Reuters reported he made at the so-called "Justice Sunday" event in Louisville. Quotes from that blog were reported in a story by Ethics Daily.

Associated Baptist Press has identified James Dobson as the speaker of the comments that Reuters attributed to Mohler. I apologize for chiding Mohler for comments that Dobson actually made.

I still recommend the video about his takeover of Southern Seminary.

Molly Ivins on James Dobson

Molly Ivins deals with the Radical Religious Right's demand to end the filibuster in two succinct paragraphs:
How God got involved in all this is a bit of a mystery. Some Christian Dominionists decided the Almighty is in favor of changing Rule 22. Led by James Dobson, who runs Focus on the Family, they decided 22 is "a filibuster against the faithful," implying and in some cases stating that anyone who opposes them is anti-Christian and probably working for Satan.

Last time I checked, no one had elected Dobson to decide who is a Christian and who is not. It's a joke that the right wing claims it is against "judicial activists." What they want are judicial activists who agree with them. These people don't want to govern, they want to rule.

Nobody says it better.

Baptists Confront Sex Trafficking

Ethics Daily reports that European Baptists are challenging the "Modern-Day Slave Trade" that takes women from their home countries and forces them into prostitution.

Estimates of the number of women enslaved by the European sex industry are staggering. It is a problem around the world. An organization called Global Women has been calling attention to this problem for a number of years.

Can Conscience Prevail over Politics?

Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst with 27 years experience, asks "Can conscience prevail over politics?" in the confirmation process for our U.N. Ambassador.

I'm praying that it does, but my personal experience in these matters is not encouraging. Within the Southern Baptist Convention over the past 25 years politics has beaten conscience in every case.

Most people find it inconceivable that their leaders could put personal ambition ahead of the people and institutions that they serve. They'll believe the flimsiest lies to avoid facing the truth. Frames trump facts.

Monday, April 25, 2005

On Loyalties and Allegiances

On September 12, 1960 presidential candidate John F. Kennedy addressed the Ministerial Association of Greater Houston and made one of the most eloquent statements on behalf of church/state separation ever spoken:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril.

Finally, I believe in an America where religious intolerance will someday end--where all men and all churches are treated as equal--where every man has the same right to attend or not attend the church of his choice--where there is no Catholic vote, no anti-Catholic vote, no bloc voting of any kind--and where Catholics, Protestants and Jews, at both the lay and pastoral level, will refrain from those attitudes of disdain and division which have so often marred their works in the past, and promote instead the American ideal of brotherhood.

That is the kind of America in which I believe. And it represents the kind of Presidency in which I believe--a great office that must neither be humbled by making it the instrument of any one religious group nor tarnished by arbitrarily withholding its occupancy from the members of any one religious group. I believe in a President whose religious views are his own private affair, neither imposed by him upon the nation or imposed by the nation upon him as a condition to holding that office.

I would not look with favor upon a President working to subvert the first amendment's guarantees of religious liberty. Nor would our system of checks and balances permit him to do so--and neither do I look with favor upon those who would work to subvert Article VI of the Constitution by requiring a religious test--even by indirection--for it. If they disagree with that safeguard they should be out openly working to repeal it."


He addressed those ministers, mostly Baptists, to allay their concerns that he would be obligated as a Catholic to give more allegiance to his church and his pope, than to his country and its constitution.

The concerns of those Baptist ministers was not entirely unwarranted. It is important to know ahead of time how politicians prioritize their loyalties and allegiances. Concerns about divided loyalties and the compromises necessary for political office led some early Anabaptists to forbid their members from serving as magistrates.

Frederick Clarkson has written a blog about "The Pontifical Secret" revealing that concern to protect the institution of the Church can also lead to dangerous compromises. Compromises so serious that an enterprising American prosecutor might discover sufficient evidence to indict the new pope for "obstruction of justice."

On Rich Men, Camels and Needles

Paul Krugman's editorial in today's New York Times lacks a biblical reference to give it the gravitas that some people will need to recognize it as authoritative. Otherwise, it is right on the mark. I've supplied the biblical reference at the end. Here's a little of what Krugman says,
The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income. . . .

But Americans are feeling a sense of dread: they're worried about a weak job market, soaring health care costs, rising oil prices and a war that seems to have no end. And they're starting to notice that nobody in power is even trying to deal with these problems, because the people in charge are too busy catering to a base that has other priorities.

"And Jesus said to his disciples, 'Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'" (Matthew 19:23-24)

How many times does Jesus have to tell us before we get it?

Mohler Misleads at Injustice Sunday

Al Mohler, once described as the "Baptist pope" after he authored a creed that led to the dismissal of dozens of career missionaries, led the charge for Southern Baptists at "Injustice Sunday." Here's what Reuters said about his presentation:
During the broadcast, Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, portrayed minority Democrats and "about six or eight very squishy Republicans" as obstructionists to judicial appointments.

Mohler said those senators need to hear from conservatives who are concerned about the courts and blocked judicial appointments.

"Let them know that you don't want them to delay and you don't want them to postpone," Mohler said. "Tell them that you care and that you will remember how they vote."

Among those "six or eight very squishy Republicans" is Senator John McCain -- not a man known to cave-in under pressure.

For anyone who might think it wise to examine Mohler's steadfastness and integrity before following him into battle, I would advise viewing the filmed documentary of Mohler's takeover as president of Southern Seminary. The film is titled, Battle for the Minds: A Controversial Film about Fundamentalism and Women by Steven Lipscomb. Here's a phone number where you can obtain a copy 1-800-343-5540.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Frist Determined to Exercise Nuclear Option

Senate Leader Bill Frist thinks the 200 year old tradition of filibustering extremist nominees is wrong. He plans to push ahead with what has been called the "nuclear option" because of the chain reaction of division it will cause within the Senate and the country.

Here's a link to AP's report of Frist's statement at the "Injustice Sunday" rally in Louisville.

Social Justice Sunday Makes a Statement

An ecumenical crowd of 600 people gathered at Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville for "Social Justice" Sunday, a rally to counter the theocratic GOP rally called "Justice Sunday" being held in the same city. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that,
The Rev. Jim Wallis, author of the book "God's Politics" and editor of the Sojourners Christian-ministry magazine, urged like-minded congregations to "wake up" to what he called a Republican-led "religious war" intended to usher in a "theocracy."

The "religious right," Wallis said, has tried to "steal our faith" and turn it on its head.

"How is it that Jesus has somehow become pro-rich, pro-war and only pro-American?" asked Wallis, a United Church of Christ minister. "Justice Sunday is an attempt to hijack Christianity for a partisan and ideological agenda, and it's time to take our faith back."

Wallis' metaphors about "religious war" and "hijacked" faith are apt. The weapons are "ballots" instead of "bullets." Mainstream Christians will be forced to ride in the back of the bus until we start turning some of our activism into votes at the ballot box.

Moderate Baptists Stepping Forward

Kudos to Joe Phelps and the 17 Baptist ministers in the Lousiville area who asked a Louisville church to cancel its so-called "Justice Sunday."

Kevin Ezell, pastor of the church organizing a political rally declaring those who vote against ending the filibuster in the Senate as "against people of faith," questioned the motives of Phelps and the other ministers saying, "The biggest story here is that he wants to be on TV, he wants to be in the paper. He needs to spend more time reaching people than criticizing other churches."

Ezell needs to practice what he preaches.

(Thanks to Chuck Currie for calling attention to this story.)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

It's time to tell the truth

Melissa Rogers, of Wake Forest University's Divinity School, has an op-ed about "Injustice" Sunday in yesterday's Baltimore Sun. Here's a little of what she says:
It's time to tell the truth.

There is no "filibuster against people of faith." Religious people are on both sides of the debate about the filibuster and certain Bush-nominated judges. And it's wrong for one of the country's foremost political leaders to lend legitimacy to a contrary notion. Just as no one should have to pass a religious test in order to hold political office, no one should have to pass a political test in order to claim religion or morality.

On "Injustice" Sunday

Tomorrow on the "Religious Talk" radio program I will be discussing Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's participation in the Family Research Council's so-called "Justice" Sunday with Rev. Russell Bennett. Bennett, now retired, served for more than 25 years as pastor of the Fellowship Congregational Church in Tulsa. He is a leader with the Interfaith Alliance of Tulsa.

The program airs "live" at 11:00 AM CST on KREF (1400 am) in the Oklahoma City area.

It also airs in "live streaming audio" over the internet at kref.com.

You'll need to download some free software to hear it. Here's how:

Click here go to surfernetwork.com and download the free software SurferNETWORK player (1.66 MB) -- the software is in the middle of the left-hand column, once the software is installed, go to kref.com and click on the speaker icon.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Peak Oil Imminent

The Guardian reports that "The end of oil is closer than you think."

What does that mean?
"Oil and gas dominate our lives, and their decline will change the world in radical and unpredictable ways." . . .

"Just kiss your lifestyle goodbye."

More on Depleted Uranium

Kudos to Axis of Logic for printing an informative article about the dangers associated with the use of depleted uranium in our munitions. Here's an abstract of the article by Doug Rokke, Ph.D.
ABSTRACT: Depleted uranium munitions are used during combat because they are extremely effective. However, in winning these battles through use of uranium munitions we have contaminated air, water, and soil. Consequently, children, women, and men have inhaled, ingested, or got wounds contaminated with uranium. Uranium is a heavy metal and radioactive poison. The toxicity is not debatable as the Director of the U.S. Army Environmental Policy Institute stated in a congressionally mandated report that "No available technology can significantly change the inherent chemical and radiological toxicity of DU. These are intrinsic properties of uranium" (Health and Environmental Consequences of Depleted Uranium Use in the U.S. Army: Technical Report, AEPI, June 1995).

When will the mainstream press stop sitting on this story?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Worse than Stagflation?

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan just warned the Senate Budget Committee that unless the U.S. begins to rein in the spiraling budget deficit and trade deficit the economy was at risk of stagflation "or worse."

What's worse than stagflation? Depression?

Does anyone remember a chairman of the Federal Reserve using language like this before in an official setting?

Following the Money

Thanks to Senator John McCain. Raw Story reveals that he has subpoenaed Ralph Reed and Grover Norquist to testify in the scandal over the lobbying funds from Indian gambling.

McCain says, "The only thing we're focused on is where the money went."

It looks like it funded more than overseas junkets and skyboxes for Tom DeLay.

A Cemetary for Divinity

Miguel De La Torre's essay Which God is Dead? is top notch.

A lot of people are clinging to dead gods. De La Torre aptly identifies the ones that need to be buried.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Not Giving Up

Kudos to Greg Horton at The Parish blog. He's written a couple blogs that every discouraged pastor ought to read.

His blogs Why Not Just Give Up? and Allow Me to Ask a Naive Question wrestle with issues that are central to the mission and ministry of the church in America.

Every time I read the gospels I ask myself, "Why did Jesus send the crowds away and focus his attention on discipling a handful of disciples?"

Is there something about discipleship that mega-church preachers don't get? Is there something about discipleship that people who attend mega-churches don't get?

Regarding Ratzinger

Yesterday I anxiously watched CNN to see who would be named Pope with my daughter-in-law Monica, a Roman Catholic. Before the announcement, as an outsider looking on with a little knowledge of what has been going on in Catholic theology, all I had to say about the matter was, "I hope they elect anybody but Ratzinger."

Now that Ratzinger has been elected Pope, Joan Chittister, E. J. Dionne, Norman Solomon, Frederick Clarkson, Max Blumenthal, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Bill Berkowitz , Leslie Scrivener and Greg Warner best express the wide range of reservations that many have about the new Pope.

Historical Illiteracy about First Amendment

Walter Shurden says Baptists have become "an historically illiterate people" regarding the First Amendment.

Speaking to a "First Freedoms" Conference held last week in Washington, D.C., Shurden diagnosed the Baptist vision saying, "With age, we Baptists have developed cataracts. Our denominational vision, once crystal clear on First Amendment issues, today is opaque. Impervious to the light of our denominational history and family commitments, we have blocked out heroic chapters of our very own story."

When Shurden drives home a point, he hits every nail on the head.

I am really sorry I missed this conference. My only consolation is knowing that on the same day I was making an impassioned speech of my own about the First Amendment to a group of students at the extension campus of Oklahoma State University in Oklahoma City.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Religious Leaders Weighing in Against "Injustice Sunday"

Rev. Martin Marty, America's premier church historian, has written a scathing essay in Sightings entitled "Furious with Frist" that denounced Senate majority leader Bill Frist's participation in the Family Research Council's forthcoming Sunday telecast against filibusters. He said:
Most of the international religion stories these days have to do with theocratic suppressors of freedom, would-be monopolizers of religious expressions. We've been spared such holy wars here. But Frist and company, in the name of their interpretation of American freedom, sound more like jihadists than winsome believers. It would be healing to see them on their knees apologizing to the larger public of believers.

Rev. Brent Walker, Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee has also spoken out in an uncharacteristically forceful manner on this issue. He said,

"It is quite proper for people of faith to weigh in on the policy decisions of the day, including debates over parliamentary procedures like the filibuster rule in the Senate. But it is a shameful abuse of religion to suggest that God has taken up sides in the debate. There are people of faith on both sides; neither has God in their hip pocket on this issue."
Rev. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and raised a pertinent question:
With a religious conscience as enflamed as the conscience of anybody in the religious right, I oppose the election of judges who will, in the name of religion, make decisions that politicize religion and blunt the vitality as well as compromise the integrity of the rich religious community in this nation. Must my religious conviction be attacked as "anti-faith" simply because I do not agree with you when you attempt to destroy a democratic process that has been tried and true? If I feel that way as a person who is a member of your faith tradition, you only can imagine what people from other religious traditions and people within no religious tradition are feeling about such tactics and the implicit, if not explicit, endorsement of those tactics by you and other political leaders.
Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged Senator Frist to distance himself from the group saying:

"Sen. Frist should disassociate himself from the Religious Right's unseemly and increasingly shrill campaign to destroy the nation's independent judiciary. I am appalled that Sen. Frist would lend his support to this attack on our court system."

All of these men are persons of deep faith and conviction. None of them are "against people of faith." It is time for the religious right to stop denying the faithfulness of people who disagree with them.

Tenth Anniversary in OK City

Today is the tenth anniversary of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. 168 people lost their lives in an act of domestic terrorism. MSNBC recognizes that the radical right is still a threat, but there is no doubt that today most Americans feel more threatened by extremists in the Middle East.

MSNBC says that the Oklahoma City bombing split the radical right and that in the late 1990's the FBI cracked down on the "Common Law Court" movement. They neglected to trace links between the thinking of the "Common Law Court" movement and the congregants around Roy's Rock, and the protestors outside the Schiavo hospital room in Florida, and the participants in the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference in Washington, D.C. Those thinly veiled threats emanating from the mouths of Texas Congressmen Tom Delay and John Cornyn were addressed to somebody.

The mindset of the "Common Law Court" movement is still alive and well in Texas and Oklahoma and a lot of other states. It just went underground for a decade. It is already beginning to raise its head again and this time it has a lot more political clout.

For more information, I recommend Daniel Levitas' The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia-Movement and the Radical Right. Or, you could just listen to talk radio in Oklahoma and Texas.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Podcast Rankings

Most Popular Downloads from the "Religious Talk" radio program.

1. Frederick Clarkson Interview, Part 2 -- 4-10-05 interview with Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

2. Frederick Clarkson Interview, Part 1 -- 4-10-05 interview with Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

3. Jann Linn Interview -- 9-19-04 interview with Dr. Jan Linn, author of What's Wrong with the Christian Right.

4. End of Life Issues -- 4-3-05 interview with Sally and Terry Jackson about the Terri Schiavo case and end of life issues. Sally Jackson is a nurse practitioner who specializes in Alzheimers disease and neuro degenerative diseases at the VA Medical Center in OK City. She has also served on the hospital's ethics committee. Her first husband was in a vegitative state prior to his death. Terry Jackson is a Baptist minister who serves as a hospice chaplain.

5. David Berliner Interview, Part 1 -- 11-30-03 interview of Dr. David Berliner, author of The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud and the Attack on America's Public Schools. Dr. Berliner is professor of Education at the University of Arizona.

6. David Berliner Interview, Part 2 -- 11-30-03 interview of Dr. David Berliner, author of The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud and the Attack on America's Public Schools. Dr. Berliner is professor of Education at the University of Arizona.

7. Bud Welch Interview, Part 1 -- July 2000 interview with Bud Welch. Bud Welch's daughter, Julie, was a victim of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Bud speaks about his opposition to the death penalty and shares impressions from his conversations with the family of Timothy McVeigh.

8. Tsunami and Theodicy -- January 9, 2005 interview of blogger Greg Horton at the The Parish Blog about his December 28, 2004 blog titled "What to Do."

9. AU Video Opposing School Vouchers -- Videocast of a 30 second video produced by the Education Committee of Americans United for Separation of Church and State to oppose vouchers for private schools.

10. Bud Welch Interview, Part 2 -- July 2000 radio interview with Bud Welch. Bud Welch's daughter, Julie, was a victim of the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Bud speaks about his opposition to the death penalty and shares impressions from his conversations with the family of Timothy McVeigh.

11. Rob Boston Interview, Part 1 -- 2-23-03 interview of Rob Boston, author of Why the Religious Right is Wrong: About Separation of Church and State. Rob Boston is Associate Editor of Americans United's Church & State Magazine.

12. Keith Parks Interview, Part 1 -- 9-22-02 interview of Dr. Keith Parks. Dr. Parks is a past President of the SBC's foreign mission board and the retired Coordinator of CBF's Global Missions Program.

13. Keith Parks Interview, Part 2 -- 9-22-02 interview of Dr. Keith Parks. Dr. Parks is a past President of the SBC's foreign mission board and the retired Coordinator of CBF's Global Missions Program.

14. Charles Kimball Interview, Part 1 -- 11-24-02 interview of Dr. Charles Kimball, author of the best selling book, When Religion Becomes Evil. Dr. Kimball is Chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University.

15. T Thomas Interview -- interview on 4-17-05 with T Thomas, Coordinator of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. We discuss T's first year's work with CBFO and His Nets -- a ministry to prevent Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa by distributing insect repellent mosquito nets.

16. Charles Kimball Interview, Part 2 -- 11-24-02 interview of Dr. Charles Kimball, author of the best selling book, When Religion Becomes Evil. Dr. Kimball is Chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University.

17. Barbara McGraw Interview, Part 1 -- 1-11-04 interview with Barbara McGraw, author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in Pluralistic America.

18. Rob Boston Interview, Part 2 -- 2-23-03 interview of Rob Boston, author of Why the Religious Right is Wrong: About Separation of Church and State. Rob Boston is Associate Editor of Americans United's Church & State Magazine.

19. Barbara McGraw Interview, Part 2 -- 1-11-04 interview with Barbara McGraw, author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in Pluralistic America.

New Blog for Mainstream Christians

I've set up a new blog for Mainstream Christians who would like to publicize what they plan to say or do at their church this Sunday in response to "Justice Sunday." Here's a link to Mainstream Christians.

New Counterterrorism Tactic Unveiled

Truthout has uncovered a novel tactic for eliminating the threat of terrorism -- eliminate the annual report about international terrorism. Here are some details:
The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered. . . .

Current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.

"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Clarkson Podcasts Proving Popular

The podcasts of last week's Frederick Clarkson interview are proving very popular.

The interview, split into 2 podcasts, has been posted for less than a week and already holds first and second place for the number of podcasts of the "Religious Talk" radio program that have been downloaded. The second half of the interview has been downloaded a few more times than the first half. In case you missed either the first or second half of the interview, here are the links:

Part 1 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 4-10-05 "Religious Talk" radio interview of Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

Part 2 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 4-10-05 "Religious Talk" radio interview of Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

Podcast: T Thomas Interview

Dr. Bruce Prescott's "Religious Talk" radio interview on 4-17-05 with T Thomas, Coordinator of the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma. We discuss T's first year's work with CBFO and His Nets -- a ministry to prevent Malaria in sub-Saharan Africa by distributing insect repellent mosquito nets. Click here for just the mp3 of Hali Thomas' Flute solo at NorthHaven Church.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Challenging the Rule of Law?

Cass R. Sunstein, professor of law at the University of Chicago, identifies three stages in the right-wing assault on the judiciary. The first stage (1955-1980's) called for "restraint," the second stage (1980's-2005) called for "originalism," and the third stage (2005- ) is a conservative "activism" that calls for judges to read the Constitution and law "as if it fits with the Republican Party platform." He concludes:
Now, the battle over the confirmation process has become enmeshed with this third and most extreme stage of conservative thinking. What we are seeing, for the first time, is a fundamental challenge to the rule of law itself.

With all due respect to professor Sunstein, I don't think it is the "rule" of law itself that is being challenged. It is "rules" of law that have served us well for 215 years that are being challenged.

The Religious Right and their political underlings are committed to the "rule" of law -- they are just operating under what they consider to be a "higher" law than the Constitution.

As long as the Constitution is read in conformity with their interpretation of "Biblical law," the "rules" of law under which our nation operates are fine. If not, rules like separation of powers and principles like separation of church and state can and must be swept away (such specific language is not in the Constitution anyway).

Our country is being led by theocratic "culture warriors" who have already declared that the U.S. is a "Christian Nation" (Frist endorses David Barton's revisionist history) and they are already working to enforce their version of a "biblical worldview" on our country.

It looks like the theocrats will accomplish their objectives before most people realize that they are truly "revolutionaries," with no love for democracy and little respect for the rights of minorities, who are using political processes to destroy the basis for pluralistic society.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Evangelical Quiz for Presidential Candidates

Question: How do you convince Americans that theocracy is better than democracy?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Question: How do you get enough votes to repeal the First Amendment?
Answer: You can't. There aren't enough evangelical Christians.

Question: How can you establish theocracy without changing the constitution?
Answer: Get judges to interpret the First Amendment as establishing a theocracy.

Question: How can you get judges to interpret the First Amendment theocratically?
Answer: Elect them, bully them, and elect people who will appoint theocrats.

Question: How do you get the votes needed to elect theocrats?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Question: How do you change the judiciary when filibusters screen out theocrats?
Answer: Put an end to filibusters.

Question: How do you get Americans to support ending filibusters?
Answer: Tell evangelical Christians that they are being persecuted.

Yesterday's Washington Post made it clear that Bill Frist wants to pass the quiz. Ending the filibuster will make him the evangelical favorite for being the next GOP Presidential candidate.

Today's New York Times makes it clear that Frist and theocratic leaders will be working side-by-side to convince America's evangelicals that a vote to block theocratic judges is a vote "against people of faith."

Thursday, April 14, 2005

IMF Issues Warning to U.S.

As the U.S. House passes permanent estate tax repeal, the International Monetary Fund is warning us that this administration's stewardship of the economy is threatening the stability of the world's economy. As reported by the Financial Times:
"The US external deficit has so far been financed relatively easily, aided by continued financial globalisation," the report said. "However, the demand for US assets is not unlimited... a continuing sharp rise in US net external liabilities will carry increasing risks."

As well as the possibility of a disorderly decline in the dollar, the fund identifed the possibility that inflation pressures lead to a spike in US interest rates, and the high and volatile oil price as key risks to the global outlook.

The Bush administration's pledge to halve the US fiscal deficit is not credible, owing to a number of items left out of the budget arithmetic, and "insufficiently ambitious" in any case, the report said.

Meanwhile, the administration's most trusted and prescient advisors are hounding "activist" judges (appointed by the Reagan administration) out of their churches and holding rallys to stack the judiciary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Podcast: Frederick Clarkson Interview, Part 2

Part 2 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's "Religious Talk" radio interview of Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

Broken Pendulums Don't Swing

Gene Lyons editorial, "A wake-up call for the Sane Majority" is outstanding. I would just add a word of caution about his use of the "pendulum" metaphor.

Lyons says political moderates are waiting "quietly for the metaphorical pendulum to swing to the center."

Moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention were using the same metaphor and precisely the same words to allay "alarmist" concerns that the SBC was being taken over by Fundamentalists.

The "alarmists" were right. The pendulum got stuck. The SBC moved to the right and the moderates who are awake have left.

Now, literally the same Fundamentalists are organizing rallies to takeover the courts. If all moderates do is wait "quietly" for the pendulum to swing back to the center, it won't happen in their lifetimes. It may not happen in the lifetimes of their children and grandchildren.

We are dealing with patient revolutionaries who are using democratic processes to install a theocracy. When they are through, democratic processes will no longer be operative.

Henry Kissinger, writing a different context, accurately described our present situation:
Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent, they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertion of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework. The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions. Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstances are considered balanced and sane. . . . But it is the essence of revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion.

Use Two Tiers

Bob at the "I am a Christian Too" blog has expressed some reservations about the limitation he sees Barry Lynn putting on religious speech in the public square. He quotes Lynn saying,
Laws made by legislators must be rooted in constitutional values and reasoned analysis, not someone's personal take on scripture. Put bluntly, if your representative in Congress can't explain a vote on abortion or the environment without "proof-texting" it to the Bible, he or she has failed to do the work of a legislator in America.

He asks, "Is Lynn suggesting all speech in Congress must be stripped of references to religious moral arguments?" He thinks, "Legislators should be able to frame their positions in any way that speaks to their constituents, even 'proof-texting.'"

Bob's discomfort over what Lynn is saying could be quickly cleared up if he followed a suggestion put forward by Dr. Barbara McGraw, who is on the National Advisory Board of Americans United. In her recent book, Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in Pluralistic America, McGraw suggests that there are two tiers in America's public forum and she identifies a morality that is appropriate to each. The morality of the civic public forum preserves by force of law the "sacred ground" that is necessary to preserve a just and equitable pluralistic society with religious liberty for all. The morality of the conscientious public forum is preserved by persuasion, not by force of law, as diverse individuals and groups promote their competing visions of the common good. Using this distinction, Lynn's comments would refer to the civic public forum. The work that Jim Wallis is doing, which Bob is trying to preserve, is properly part of the conscientious public forum.

I suspect that Barry Lynn has something like McGraw's distinctions in mind as he speaks and writes. I know that he has read McGraw's book and he has interviewed her on his radio program. I recently posted my own radio interview with her in two podcasts (here and here). Here's a link to a blog that I wrote last summer reviewing her book.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Podcast: Frederick Clarkson Interview, Part 1

Part 1 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's "Religious Talk" radio interview of Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy. Clarkson is an expert on the radical right.

Max Blumenthal's Undercover Report

Kudos to journalist and fellow blogger Max Blumenthal for his undercover report of Rick Scarborough's "Judicial War on Faith" conference. Nation Magazine has posted Max's article "In Contempt of the Courts."

It's no surprise to me that my own U.S. Senator's chief of staff provided the most outrageous quotes. His sentiments accurately reflect the perspective of his boss.

Most Oklahomans, however, just think they elected a "Christian."

Dobson Equates Supreme Court and KKK

Thanks to Media Matters for posting another outrageous quote from James Dobson.

On his April 11, 2005 radio broadcast Dobson said,
I heard a minister the other day talking about the great injustice and evil of the men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan, that roamed the country in the South, and they did great wrong to civil rights and to morality. And now we have black-robed men, and that's what you're talking about.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Payday Some Day

I was reminded of R. G. Lee's famous sermon "Payday Some Day" when I read yesterday's Op Ed by Paul Volker, former chair of the federal reserve. The article, printed in the Washington Post, is called "An Economy on Thin Ice."

A day of fiscal reckoning is looming on America's horizon. It doesn't look like a sonrise to me.

When the homeless and hungry knock on my door, I think I'm going to buy them a tent and encourage them to camp-out on the manicured suburban lawns of the right-wing evangelicals who dismantled the social safety net and directed the money to churches for faith-based initiatives.

Too Busy Revising History

Frederick Clarkson has posted some more relevant information about David Barton whose Capitol tour has touched off a controversy.

At the end of his blog Clarkson posted a link to Barton's speaking schedule. One place you won't find listed there is Oklahoma City on May 5th.

May 5th is the National Day of Prayer and we are planning another Interfaith Day of Prayer and Reflection at the Oklahoma State Capitol. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has agreed to speak at our event this year.

For the evening of May 5th, I invited David Barton to debate Barry Lynn about the place of the ten commandments in American civic life. Barton declined. It looks like he's too busy revising history to submit his views to scrutiny.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Frist Getting More Heat for Barton Tour

First Welton Gaddy of the Interfaith Alliance wrote Senator Bill Frist and asked him to disassociate himself from David Barton's revisionist history tour.

Now Ralph Neas with People for the American Way has written Frist and asked to withdraw his sponsorship of the tour.

Jeremy Leaming of Americans United has also weighed in and called Barton's "misguided tour" "Christian Nation" propaganda. Americans United has a lot of information about Barton's misinformation on their website.

The Baptist Joint Committee has not yet addressed Barton's tour, but they do offer a critique of Barton's taped presentation of "America's Godly Heritage."

Fred Clarkson on the Internet

Fred Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy was my guest on the "Religious Talk" radio program TODAY (4-10-05) at 11:00 AM CST.

The program was broadcast on KREF (1400 am) in Norman, Oklahoma.

The program was also broadcast in LIVE STREAMING AUDIO over the Internet at kref.com

To listen to any "Religious Talk" radio program when it is "live" you'll need to click here go to surfernetwork.com and download the free software SurferNETWORK player (1.66 MB -- It is near the bottom of the page in the left hand column). Once the software is installed go to kref.com and click on the speaker icon at 11:00 CST on a Sunday morning to hear the program.

Listeners who would like to and ask questions can use this toll free line -- 1-866-355-KREF.

I'll post a podcast of the interview sometime this week.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Gaddy Writes Frist

Kudos to Dr. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance, for writing Senator Bill Frist and asking him to distance himself from David Barton.

It is time for all politicians and preachers to distance themselves from revisionist historians like Barton who mythologize American history.

On Massive Impeachments

Rick Scarborough, frontman for Jerry Falwell and twice defeated Fundamantalist candidate for President of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, is busy stirring things up in Washington, D.C. Yesterday, he organized a conference called "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith."

Tom DeLay, speaking under a cloud of scandals and ethics violations, delivered a message by tape and said we have "a judiciary run amok."

The most ridiculous statement, however, came from the chief of staff of my own U.S. Senator:
"I am in favor of impeachment," Michael Schwartz, chief of staff to Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said in a panel discussion on abortion, suggesting "mass impeachment" might be needed.

You can be sure that the first judge on the list for impeachment will be Florida Judge George Greer who presided over the Terri Schiavo case. Judge Greer has already been hounded out of the membership of his Southern Baptist church.

For twenty-five years Baptist laymen have closed their eyes to what the Fundamentalists were doing to moderates within their churches. "It's just a preacher fight," they said over and over again. Well, it's surely not just a preacher fight any more.

People who divided a Christian denomination firing Seminary presidents and professors and then massively terminated career missionaries won't loose a wink of sleep over dividing a nation with "massive impeachments" of judges.

Pocket Picking Propaganda

Helen Thomas has a column in Hearst newspapers that exposes the way this administration has "managed the news" to the point that the GAO has labeled some of it "covert propaganda."

The worst thing about the propaganda that is currently coming out of the White House is not that it is "covert," but that it is explicitly designed to convince people to give the President permission to pick my pocket of my social security benefits.

Having got that off my chest, you can be sure that the President will never let me into one of those "townhall meetings" where he discusses his plans for Social Security with legions of mindless drones.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

3 Strikes, But Still Not Out

The Wall Street Journal is saying "Republicans Splinter on Bush Agenda." Polls show that the administration's plans for Social Security, the majority's plans to nuke judicial filibusters, and the right-wing's hijacking of Terri Schiavo's tragic family feud, are all unpopular -- even among Republicans.

At present, there are few signs that Republican leadership is ready to step out of the batter's box on any of these issues.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Hazardous Calling

The Halifax Herald Limited is reporting that Novia Scotia Baptists are mourning the loss of two missionaries in Guyana. Richard and Charlene Hicks were in Guyana translating the Bible into an indigenous South African language.

Police think robbery was a factor in their murder.

Looking for "Good Christians"

The San Francisco Gate is running an interesting story called "Where are the Good Christians."

The author's definition of "Good Christians" falls somewhat short regarding divine incarnation:
They are the ones who understand that Jesus was, quite simply, one hell of a powerful teacher, and healer, and mystic, and visionary, a pacifist, a liberal, a feminist, the ultimate outsider, one of the finest examples in all of history of how to radiate pure love and compassion and divine interconnection and Lord knows we could all use more of that.

But I wholeheartedly agree with this conclusion:
They are, in short, those who understand the deep irony that, when it comes to religion, the ones who scream and stomp and whine the loudest are often the ones who understand their faith the least.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Raising the Toxicity Level of the SBC

Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton wrote a book called Toxic Faith: Experiencing Healing from Painful Spiritual Abuse which should be in the library of every Baptist church. It helps those who have been abused by a form of religion that wounds the soul rather than healing it.

Over the past twenty-five years, Southern Baptists have experienced a lot of abuse at the hands of their pastors. Now that the abusers have purged the denomination of healthy leadership, they are preparing to wed her to the even more rigid and abusive Independent Fundamental Baptists.

For Fundamentalist takeover leaders, this is a prudent decision. After a decade of abuse at the hands of Independent Fundamental Baptists, Southern Baptists will completely forget the moderate servant leaders and wounded healers that were banished from the denomination and will fondly remember the takeover leaders as benevolent dictators.

Religious Right's Theocratic Agenda on Track

The LA Times story, Senate Primed for Filibuster Showdown provides an interesting discussion of how the U.S. Constitution's separation of powers is coming to an end. It is the prelude to ending the Constitution's separation of church and state. This agenda is not hidden:
Now, as the majority party under a Republican president, they want to reshape the federal court system to curb what they see as its liberal bias -- especially in decisions on social issues such as school prayer, civil rights and abortion.

Both principles, separation of powers and separation of church and state, protect the rights of minorities. The Theocratic right has worked for decades -- ever since the civil rights era -- to achieve the power necessary to change the constitution. They intend to establish the Christian religion. Then you can be sure that they will try to revise the Constitution to ensure that it can never be changed again by democratic means.

To see the impending threat to religious liberty, just read these paragraphs with the first amendment protections for minority faiths in mind:

Democrats say the filibuster provides protection from "tyranny of the majority."


They note that the framers of the Constitution intended the House of Representatives to be run by the majority, but specifically designed the Senate as a forum where the minority party and small states would be given greater weight.

Taking away the filibuster, the Democrats argue, would fundamentally alter the character of the Senate and, by extension, the balance between majority rule and minority rights enshrined in the Constitution.

"The whole design was to protect minority interests," said Sheldon Goldman, a professor of political science and an expert on judicial history at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. "So what is being proposed now is of immense historical proportions."

But Republicans argue that Democrats are using the filibuster in a way the framers did not intend -- not to block legislation, but to withhold the "advice and consent" the Constitution requires the Senate to give on presidential nominations to the executive and judicial branches.

If you wonder what kind of treatment people of minority faiths can expect in their "Christian America," just look at the heavy-handed way the Theocrats are treating the minority party. Democrats and moderate Republicans are already being treated as second class citizens in this country.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Podcast: End of Life Issues

Dr. Bruce Prescott's 4-3-05 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Sally and Terry Jackson about the Terri Schiavo case and end of life issues. Sally Jett Jackson is a nurse practitioner at the neuroscience center at the VA Medical Center in OK City. She specializes in Alzheimers disease and neuro degenerative diseases and has also served on the hospital's ethics committee. Her first husband was in a vegitative state prior to his death. Terry Jackson is a Baptist minister who serves as a hospice chaplain.

Ethics Today

Ethics Daily has a particularly good run of stories today. Robert Parham, recovering from treatment for leukemia (so keep on praying for him with me), notes the influence of the Pope in informing the world's conscience and traces the recent history of troubled relations between Southern Baptists and Catholics. Robert Guffey, one of the brightest lights among Baptist pastors, offers some valuable guidelines for reflecting on the Schiavo case. Jim Evans, a true champion of religious liberty, provides thoughtful critique of the propriety of sectarian prayers at governmental events.

And that's only half of their line-up for today.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Podcast: Barbara McGraw Interview, Part 2

Part 2 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 1-11-04 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Dr. Barbara McGraw. Dr. McGraw is Associate Professor of Legal, Ethical and Social Environment at St. Mary's College of California and author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Podcast: Barbara McGraw Interview, Part 1

Part 1 of 2 of Dr. Bruce Prescott's 1-11-04 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Dr. Barbara McGraw. Dr. McGraw is Associate Professor of Legal, Ethical and Social Environment at St. Mary's College of California and author of Rediscovering America's Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America.

Friday, April 01, 2005

On Baptist Hate Mongering

Now that Terri Schiavo's body has come to rest, it would be best for everyone to let her rest in peace. But some refuse to do so.

The editor of the Oklahoma Baptist paper has decided that Schiavo's death is a call for hatemongering. In an article entitled "Hate what God hates" he says, "Part of loving what God loves is hating what God hates." What follows is a tirade about "hands that shed innocent blood." He exclaims,
The blood of a disabled, special needs person is on the hands of our nation's governmental leaders. Since we elect our national leaders or elect those who appoint the judiciary, we are people with blood on our hands.

Throughout his screed he equates the death of Terri Schiavo with an "extermination."

Some Baptists may be accustomed to a hyperbolic, guilt-tripping style of rhetoric, but the rest of the world is not. Such language is inflammatory, incendiary, dangerous and self-defeating. It serves to do nothing more than further polarize positions and entrench opinions.

Jesus never encouraged hate, he commanded that we love everyone -- even our enemies -- with a self-giving, sacrificial love. The first thing that should be sacrificed is the rhetoric of hate.

Apathy is the opposite of love, not hate.

On the Quote in Church & State Magazine

Those interested in knowing the source for the quote in Barry Lynn's Church & State Magazine editorial "Politics and Proof-Texts: Why I Disagree with Jim Dobson and Jim Wallis" will find it in my February 3, 2005 blog.

Faithful Progressive Interview

Thanks to the Faithful Progressive blog for posting an interview of me.

Faithful Progressive has been posting a weekly interview of moderate and progressive bloggers. It also posts some of the most insightful theological and political analysis on the net.