Friday, November 28, 2008

Footage of Third Trade Center Tower Falling (Revised)

In the Youtube video above, Fox News reporters comment as Tower 7 at the World Trade Center implodes.

Outside New York City, few people realize that three towers fell on 9-11. Tower 7 was not struck by an airplane. It is the only steel frame building ever said to collapse due to fire.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Read Some Original Baptist Sources

Over the weekend Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, commented on my blog about the "Misguided Rhetoric at First Baptist Dallas." Jeffress quotes a commentary from former Supreme Court justice Joseph Story (1779-1845) as an authoritative interpretation of the original intention of the U.S. Constitution.

Associate Justice Story was a child when the Constitution was being written and was merely ten years old when it was adopted (1789). Undoubtedly, his understanding of the intentions of our nation's founders was from second-hand sources and hearsay evidence that would not bear scrutiny in a court of law.

Furthermore, Story was from Massachusetts, the state that was the very last state to disestablish the church and bring its state constitution into line with the federal constitution. Massachusetts did not disestablish its church until 1833 -- the same year that Story's commentary was published. On the topic of church-state separation, both Story and his native state were obviously out-of-step with the rest of the people in the country.

I've been suggesting to Jeffress that he read source documents instead of second-hand documents for his understanding of the intentions of the founding fathers and the mindset of revolutionary America. The primary source to read is James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance. Madison is the primary author of the Constitution and of the Bill of Rights.

Jeffress would know that if he knew his Baptist history. It was Baptist evangelist John Leland and the Baptists in Virginia who convinced Madison that he had better add the First Amendment if he wanted to get the Constitution ratified in Virginia. After the U.S. Constitution was adopted, Leland wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Rights of Conscience Inalienable" (1791) that explained the intention of the First Amendment and Article VI of the Constitution:

"The federal constitution certainly had the advantage of any of the state constitutions, in being made by the wisest men in the whole nation, and after an experiment of a number of year's trial upon republican principles; and that constitution forbids Congress ever to establish any kind of religion, or to require any kind of religious test to qualify for any office in any department of federal government. Let a man be Pagan, Turk, Jew or Christian, he is eligible to any post in that government."
(L. F. Greene, ed. The Writings of John Leland. New York: Arno Press, 1969, p. 191)

Regarding the inequities of the state constitution in Massachusetts, here's what Leland said to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1811:

Government should be so fixed, that Pagans, Turks, Jews and Christians, should be equally protected in their rights. The government of Massachusetts, is, however, differently formed; under the existing constitution, it is not possible for the general court, to place religion upon its proper footing. (p. 358)
In times past I could only quote the references and hope that readers would be able to find a copy of Leland's writings in a local library. Today, anyone can download the book from Google Books and check the reference for themselves at their leisure both online and on their own laptops and computers. So there is no longer any excuse for Baptists to not be familiar with the writings of the Baptist leaders who led the struggle for religious liberty in America.

Here's a link to "The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland." (1844)

Here's a link to Massachusetts Baptist leader Isaac Backus' "Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty: Against the Oppressions of the Present Day" (1773).

Monday, November 24, 2008

Podcast: Joann Bell Interview

Dr. Bruce Prescott's 11-23-08 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Joann Bell (27 MB mp3). We talk extensively about her experience as a Plaintiff against the Little Axe Independent School District in the early 1980's.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Podcast: Bell vs. Little Axe in a Nutshell

Here's a link to a brief (90 seconds) audio excerpt (mp3) from a Religious Talk radio interview I did several years ago with Joann Bell, Executive Director of Oklahoma's office of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Joann summarizes her experiences as a complainant against practices and policies associated with before school prayer meetings at the Little Axe ISD in the early 1980's.

Joann is also featured in an ACLU video on "America's Constitutional Heritage: Religion and Our Public Schools." Here's what she said about her experience in the video:

Joann: I got my own obituary in the mail. My kids were threatened constantly -- their lives. I was told my kids were not going to survive. They said my house would be burned. The threats to burn my home was the one that I probably should have taken the most seriously. I just couldn't see in an civilized area -- I considered that these people would not ever do that. But my home was firebombed. Unless you've ever had a fire -- the devastation is something you cannot even begin to describe. To lose everything you've ever had. And with four children you really accumulate a lot of things -- the trophies. Everything that you saved, your baby pictures, the little things -- your marriage license. You lose everything. There's nothing hardly that can be saved. One of the things, the very few things that survived the fire was the christening dress of my daughter. We have three sons and we have a daughter that we're very proud of and this was her christening dress and that little hat was melted. It's one, it's one of the things that you'd like to pass on and let them use it for their children. This is just an example of things that were ruined and what our family lost in the fire. Because we essentially lost everything we had.
Eventually, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit put an end to the unconstitutional endorsement of a fundamentalist Baptist religiosity in that school district.

Some of the most enduring reporting about the case was done by the National Catholic Reporter.

Joann will be a guest on my radio program again this Sunday. We'll talk a lot more about her experiences with the Little Axe ISD then.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

TFN and the Texas SBOE Science Hearing

Kudos to the Texas Freedom Network for getting educators and scientists out in force to observe and testify at the Texas State Board of Educator's science hearing. They came to oppose teaching "intelligent design" in public schools.

TFN posted a live blog through the hearings yesterday. The SBOE's response to teaching sound science was not encouraging.

What the fundamentalist Christians who have taken over the Texas SBOE don't realize is that they are driving thoughtful, intelligent young people away from faith. In Oklahoma, one of the state's most prominent atheist organizations is filled with twenty- and thirty-somethings who grew up in fundamentalist churches, mostly Southern Baptists. When they carefully examined the evidence for evolution, as opposed to creation science and "intelligent design," they tossed the Christian faith right along with the pseudo-science they associate with it.

The chief problem with fundamentalist Christianity is that it's god is too small.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Shameful Behavior By Baptists

Robert Parham has posted a story on Ethics Daily about a shameful split vote among Baptist laymen serving as Supervisors of Henrico County, Virginia that denied a Muslim congregation permission to build a mosque and community center. Parham writes:

Baptists split their vote over an issue which essentially centers on the religious majority's commitment to the religious minority's right to religious liberty, the right to build a house of worship. Religious discrimination in the United States against Muslims isn't new. Nonetheless, it is surprising and disappointing when it takes place in the southern cradle of Baptist religious liberty.
I plan on sending Richard W. Glover and James B. Donati, Jr. a copy of a good book on Baptist history. Their education on Baptist history and distinctives is woefully deficient. I'm also going to send one to Baptist bystander Virgil R. Hazelett, the manager of Henrico County, who maintained a complicit silence during the vote.

It is particularly shameful for Virginia Baptists to discriminate against religious minorities. 230 years ago, when they were the minority facing religious discrimination, Virginia Baptists were at the forefront of efforts to separate church and state and secure religious liberty for persons of every faith.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What's the Matter with Preachers in Kansas?

Raw Story has posted a story and a video about a church sign in Wichita, Kansas denouncing the election of Barack Obama.

The pastor of the church knows that Obama professes to be a Christian, but he insists that "we have a Muslim President" and "This is a sin against the Lord." Placing himself upon the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), the pastor declares that "The main point of the marquee is to cause the Christians to understand he is not a Christian."

What's the matter with preachers in Kansas? Fred Phelps isn't enough? Now we have Mark Holick. Do they have no shame about bearing false witness? (Ex. 20:16) Have they ever read the sermon on the mount? (Matt. 7:1-5) When are they ever going to discover that the gospel is "good news" (I Cor. 15:1-11) and start preaching about that?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Second Wave or Last Gasp

Mark Ray has posted an insightful essay entitled "Is the Second Wave of the Conservative Resurgence Coming to Fruition" for the Baptist Studies Bulletin. By "second wave" Ray is referring to the fundamentalist takeover of Southern Baptist State Conventions. He makes note of the recent resurgence of fundamentalist successes in relatively tranquil state conventions like Texas, Alabama and North Carolina and concludes:

As denominations continue a steep decline in attendance at annual meetings, diminished financial resources, and loss of talent pool through the severing of longstanding institutional ties, Fundamentalists may awaken one day to discover that it's unclear exactly what it is they've actually "won." That which remains may be unrecognizable or even non-existent.
I agree. Perhaps we should call this "second wave" the last gasp of a body suffering from fundamentalist induced asphyxiation.

On the Politics of Irresponsibility

Kevin Mattson hasw posted some valuable book reviews under the title "Has Conservatism Cracked Up?" at the Dissent Magazine website. Here's an insightful paragraph:
What makes conservatism so unpalatable today is its inability of its adherents to accept responsibility for the results of their own ideas and the consequences of their political theories. The conservative mind dreads having the historical tables turned on it. Since 1968, conservatives have blamed liberals for a failed track record—arguing, for example, that the Great Society didn’t tackle the problem of poverty and sometimes exacerbated it. Now with the track record of George W. Bush plain to see, conservative intellectuals fear liberals can return the favor. “Comeback” is the contemporary conservative circumvention. It is the call to ignore the historical record, to wipe the slate clean, as if ignoring the past can be squared with the conservative project of appreciating tradition. So we have the neoconservatives with their “what if” argument about Iraq or the conservatives who dissociate from—while simultaneously relying upon—the Christian right’s activist base. This is the most manifest form of a contemporary politics of irresponsibility.
Hat Tip to Robert Cunningham for calling my attention to this essay.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Krugman Calls for 600 Billion Stimulous

In an essay entitled "Depression Economics Returns", Economist Paul Krugman, recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, says the U.S. is already in the realm of depression economics. The size of the stimulous he says we need to pull us out of this depression is eye-popping:
All indications are that the new administration will offer a major stimulus package. My own back-of-the-envelope calculations say that the package should be huge, on the order of $600 billion.
News reports are already indicating that there was a record decline in retail sales last month, unemployment claims are soaring, state unemployment insurance funds are depleted, and the end is not yet in sight.

Some of the most alarming news is coming from the nation's third largest city and President-elect Obama's hometown, the city of Chicago. The mayor has advised the city to prepare for mass layoffs.

Info on New Baptist Covenant Regional Meetings

Ethics Daily has posted a story about the plans for New Baptist Covenant Regional meetings.

In January 2008 more than 15,000 Baptists from across the United States, Canada and Mexico met for the first ever meeting to celebrate a New Baptist Covenant. The covenant represented the commitment of more than 20 million Baptists in North America to fulfill our "obligations as Christians to promote peace with justice, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick and the marginalized, welcome the strangers among us, and promote religious liberty and respect for religious diversity." The covenant also reaffirmed our "commitment to traditional Baptist values, including sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and its implications for public and private morality."

The leaders of the New Baptist Covenant, representing more than 80 Baptist Conventions, fellowships and organizations in North America, agreed to meet collectively every three years to renew this commitment. Between these triennial meetings, the leaders of the New Baptist Covenant called for regional meetings that would gather to unite Baptists from our various Conventions, fellowships and organizations to celebrate, exhort, network and encourage one another in fulfilling the obligations of our new Baptist Covenant.

Brian Kaylor's report on Ethics Daily provides information about three of the NBC regional meetings that have been planned -- in Birmingham, Ala., in January, Kansas City, Mo., in April, and Norman, Okla., in August.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sex and the Pulpit

When I was a teenager at a Baptist church, preachers were constantly telling boys and girls not to hold hands during church services. Naturally, we perceived that as a challenge to do so and couples often came up with some creative ways to both openly and secretly defy ministerial bans on handholding.

As a teenager, I never quite knew whether the preacher's opposition to intertwined fingers was prompted by his own desire to control every aspect of our young lives or whether they thought God frowned on every form of premarital touching. I just know that holding hands with a girl was never more exhilerating than when it was done during a service at a Baptist church.

I mention this to provide some psychological background for my uneasiness with a new trend among preachers of Baptist churches. Gone are the days when Baptist preachers stand behind pulpits and issue mandates against handholding. Today, some Baptist preachers have become so hip that they preach from beds in order to exhort their married congregants to add daily sex to their list of spiritual disciplines. I'm not making this up.

I'm still not certain whether such preaching is prompted by the preacher's desire to control every aspect of his congregant's lives. I am fairly certain that if Jesus gave a sermon on a bed, it would have been recorded in the gospels right along with his sermon on the mount and the sermon on the plain.

I'm also a little worried that if more preachers make sex obligatory, it will start taking some of the fun out of sex.

Summarizing Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives

Bill Berkowitz has done a masterful job of summarizing the work of the Bush administration's faith-based initiatives. Here's the paragraph that leads into more detailed discussion of six of the worst examples of the corruption and cronyism perpetrated by this administration:

Despite the administration’s ceaseless touting of its “compassionate conservativism” and its desire to unleash the “armies of compassion” to deal with the nation’s social ills, Bush’s faith-based initiative never made it out of Congress; no effective legislation was passed. Team Bush was able to establish Faith-Based and Community offices at eleven federal agencies, and the initiative spread its tentacles into a host of other federal, state, and local government agencies. Thirty-five governors and more than seventy mayors, both Democratic and Republican, have established programs modeled on the federal Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, though it was rife with scandal. In short, despite the lack of congressional approval, Bush’s faith-based initiative has burrowed its way into the political landscape.
Unfortunately, as Berkowitz reveals, Obama plans to continue the office. Without doubt, we will be summarizing his administration's abuses whenever he leaves office. Giving taxpayer money to churches is a bad idea. Only the names and political orientations of the abusers will change.

It will be interesting to observe whether the right-wing religionists so eager to receive government funding start singing a different tune when the dollars begin to flow to liberal churches rather than conservative churches.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Regarding the Abortion Issue

The New Republic has posted a valuable essay by Damon Linker, author of The Theocons, discussing why the religious right will not fade quietly into the sunset after this election. The single issue that prompts millions of evangelicals to vote lock-step with the right is abortion. Linker offers some advice to president-elect Obama. Here's some of it:

Obama could follow the lead of Bill Clinton in combining a stalwart defense of the right to choose with an acknowledgement that the decision to have an abortion is a choice that troubles the consciences of many millions of Americans--including many millions who steadfastly support abortion rights. Clinton's "safe, legal, and rare" served him well in this regard, but surely an orator as gifted as Obama could forge an even finer phrase or passage of prose to capture the often tragic moral complexities surrounding this most divisive of issues.
I agree with Linker that finding some middle ground on the abortion issue is what Obama needs to do to address the concerns and allay the fears of American evangelicals. I disagree, at this late stage in the struggle, that "an even finer phrase or passage of prose" will be enough to make a difference.

Most evangelicals in America are too lazy to reseach both sides of an issue. They rely on authority figures to do their thinking for them.

Obama has the weight of office, but his rhetoric on this issue holds no weight in their thinking. The people whose rhetoric holds weight with them on this issue are their pastors. Most of them have already made up their minds. Their positions are now so rigid that foetal life increasingly trumphs maternal life.

Should any evangelicals decide to examine the complexities of this issue, I have a couple podcasts to recommend. They are an interview (split into two parts) that I did with a member of a church I once pastored. Here and here are links to my 11/28/99 "Religious Talk" radio interview with Rose Pena.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Remember the Poor During Economic Crisis

Last week, a journalist asked me for a comment on an article in the Baptist Times last week about Christian leaders urging world leaders not to forget the poor in the midst of the ongoing global financial crisis. That story has cycled off the Times' website, and no follow-up story has appeared, so I guess I'll post my response myself. Here it is:

I applaud those groups who have stepped to the forefront of efforts to assure that world governments honor their commitments to the U.N. Millennium goals. I encourage all moderate and mainstream Baptists to put this on their daily prayer list and make it a priority in their vocal and visible incarnational witnessing efforts.

The current financial crisis irrefutably demonstrates the interrelatedness of the human community and the imperfections of our economic systems. All Christians should measure the adjustments necessary to correct and amend our economic systems by the adjustments and improvements made to asure that the least among us have the resources and opportunities necessary for them to become self-sufficient.

The U.S. has pledged $16 billion toward the U.N. Millenium Development Goals. This amount is pitiful in comparison with the trillions recently committed to rescue the institutions of wealthy American financiers, brokers and bureaucrats whose reckless greed and irresponsible stewardship led to our current economic meltdown. If, or when, inflation and/or devaluation reduces the value of the dollar, Christians should insist that the U.S. meet its obligations toward the U.N. Millenium Development Goals with dollars equivalent to the value of our currency when our commitment was made.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On the Revival of Democracy

Evangelical Christians have long been praying that the United States would experience a third great awakening. Yesterday, when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, they witnessed the most profound confirmation imaginable that their prayers have been answered.

Ironically, evangelical Christians (mostly Southern Baptists) are the Americans least likely to perceive that a new spiritual awakening has dawned upon our land. More than any other single group in this country, they are blind to the hand of Providence that has become visible at this moment.

A prodigal nation has come home. A loving father is running out to meet us with rings and new robes. The barbeque pit is smoking and the entire world is prepared to join the celebration. Only, the father's elder sons are missing.

Come to the party, evangelicals! This is truly one of democracy's finest hours.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Countdown to Change in America

This blog will automatically update itself as election results are released.

I'll do a little live blogging in the comments section. Reader comments and responses are welcome.

Will a Machine Win the U.S. Presidency?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Misguided Rhetoric at First Baptist Dallas

Robert Jeffress, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, preached a passionate sermon entitled "America is a Christian Nation" yesterday. The sermon was full of sound and fury signifying nothing except that the pastor is completely misguided regarding the meaning of the First Amendment to Constitution of the United States.

The source of Jeffress misguidance was cited early on in his sermon. He credits David Barton who spoke at his church not long ago.

The historical and legal inaccuracies broadcast in Jeffress' sermon are too numerous to waste time and space enummerating. Here's one of his most egregrious historical inaccuracies:

Jeffress states that Jefferson's 1802 letter to Danbury Baptists, the letter in which Jefferson uses the wall metaphor for separating church and state, was written to allay Baptist fears that he would establish the Congregational Church and thus deprive them of their religious liberty.

No one of intellectual integrity who had invested even an hour reading source documents from the hand of Thomas Jefferson himself would contend, as Jeffress did, that Jefferson's wall metaphor merely opposed the establishment of any Christian denomination rather than opposing the establishment of any religion.

For the benefit of Jeffress edification and education, here are some links to more accurate information about the original intent of the First Amendment than he has been receiving from David Barton:

Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson (1779)
Letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson (1802)

While he's catching up on his education, it wouldn't hurt Jeffress to read the famous speech that George W. Truett, one of his predecessors at First Baptist Dallas, gave about Baptists and Religious Liberty.

Defining Progressive Faith

I think progressive faith has at least ten characteristics. It is conscientious, chastened, hopeful, strong, humble, growing, questioning, dialogical, active and interdependent.

1. First, and foremost, a progressive faith is a conscientious faith.

I understand conscience to be an exercise of human understanding or imagination that involves three steps.

The first step is an act of intellectual (mental) distantiation that produces self-consciousness -- it is the ability to step outside yourself (whatever "self" is) and look back at yourself (as though you were looking at yourself in a mirror).

The second step is an act of sympathetic imagination by which you look at the world from the perspective of another.

We often hear this described by the phrase, "Walk a mile in my shoes." My good friend Foy Valentine, now deceased, once told me jokingly that doing this had proven highly profitable for him. He said that, whenever he did it he got a new pair of shoes and was a mile away before the poor guy he took them from knew what was happening. That's one of the reasons why I think conscience formation requires a third step.

It requires an act of reflexive self-consciousness. In simplest terms, this is the ability to put yourself in the place of others and to look at yourself through the eyes of others.

Essentially, this defines progressive faith as a faith that practices the Golden Rule.

Jesus of Nazareth gave the rule a positive formulation when he said "Do to others as you would have them do to you," (Luke 6:31 (NIV)) but the Golden Rule is not unique to Christianity.

Judaism teaches, "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man." (Hillel, Shabbath 31a.)

Islam teaches, "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself." (Hidith)

Even Buddhists, some whom deny the existence of any God, teach, "Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." (Udana-Varga)

Some formulation of the Golden Rule or some principle of respect for other persons seems common to all religions and philosophies.

2. Second, a progressive faith is a chastened faith.  It is a faith that sorrowfully acknowledges the pain, suffering and injustice that its own community has inflicted on others.

Chastening occurs when persons of faith look at themselves and their faith through the eyes of people of different faiths.

Christians need to look at themselves through the eyes of Jews -- particularly, through the eyes of those who were herded into boxcars and slaughtered like cattle in the holocaust.

Jews need to look at themselves through the eyes of Muslims -- particularly, through the eyes of those who were displaced from their homes in Palestine.

Muslims need to look at themselves through the eyes of Bahai's.

We all need to look at ourselves through the eyes of the hungry and the homeless, the impoverished and the imprisoned.

All of us need to summon the courage to honestly look at ourselves through the eyes of others who are strange and foreign to us and/or who have been injured and ignored by us.

If we do that, I believe that we will begin to view things the way that God views them.

3. Third, a progressive faith is a hopeful faith.

It is a faith that exercises a sympathetic and creative imagination to transcend the past and present realities of self, family, community, and nation to envision a world with a more benevolent, loving and hopeful future.

Guilt, shame and sorrow all summon us to search for forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, regeneration, renewal, recreation, transformation, a new birth, -- i.e., some better way of living.

If life is just an endless cycle of violence, conflict and strife, then there is not much reason for a hopeful future.

4. Fourth, a progressive faith is a strong faith.

It is a faith that is strong enough to demand both equal rights in civil life and genuine respect in social life for those who have other convictions and different worldviews -- while remaining firmly committed to its own convictions and worldview.

Fundamentalist faiths can achieve power, but they can never be strong. All fundamentalisms are weak faiths that compensate for their inadequacies by scapegoating those who differ from them.

Fundamentalists fear differences and social change and the "other." They react to their fears by fight or by flight. Whenever they fight, they demonize and destroy whatever makes them afraid and insecure.

Faith can never become strong until it overcomes its fears and insecurities and begins to respect the integrity of conscientious difference.

5. Fifth, a progressive faith is a humble faith.

It is a faith that acknowledges the finitude and fallibility of all humanity. It recognizes that all forms of interpersonal communication and understanding fall short of perfect comprehensibility.

Different faiths privilege different expressions of faith as conveyed by different texts, practices, and rituals. Some make absolute claims for the authority of their competing texts, practices, and rituals.

Generally, it is not necessary to directly challenge the authority of these differing truth claims. It should be enough for all to acknowledge that no matter how sacred, perfect and privileged these texts, practices and rituals are believed to be, all historical faiths are subject to differing interpretations and understandings by adherents within their own faith tradition. Humility, therefore, is proper for people of all faiths.

No system of communication is adequate to fully express the meaning of the Divine. No language is perfectly transparent.

While some interpreters of religious traditions may be considered authoritative, infallibility is an attribute that is best reserved for the Divine.

6. Sixth, a progressive faith is a growing faith.

It is a faith that is growing, expanding, striving for depth and never satisfied with its progress. It is a faith that is incomplete, unfinished, and has never arrived.

Progressive faith does not lay claim to human perfectibility in this life.

7. Seventh, a progressive is a questioning faith.

It is a faith that is undaunted by critical thought. It is not a blind faith that expects adherents to surrender their intellect.

Instead, it practices what Paul Ricouer calls the "hermeneutics of suspicion" because it desires to be more than a projection of human wishes and desires, more than an opiate for the masses, and more than merely a slave revolt by which the weak seek to gain power over the strong.

Progressive faith welcomes doubt and raises questions because it knows they are necessary for the extension of understanding, for spurts of growth and for the testing and strengthening of genuine faith.

8. Eighth, a progressive faith is a dialogical faith.

It extends itself both by random acts of kindness and by deliberate acts of compassion and mercy.

It refuses to extend itself by force of law or arms.

Whenever it seeks to convert others, it seeks to do so by persuasion and example shared in moments of genuine dialogue.

9. Ninth, a progressive faith is an active faith.

It gives more than lip service to love.

It puts love in action by waging peace and working for justice.

It is faith with the courage to put itself at risk by publicly opposing injustice and by actively resisting it by non-violent means.

10. Finally, a progressive faith is an interdependent faith.

It recognizes both the value and the interdependence of all life on this planet.

It is a faith that affirms and honors the claim that future generations have on the present by responsibly stewarding the resources that make life possible on this planet.

(This is reposted from a July 15, 2006 blog from the Progressive Faith Blog Conference.)