John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin doesn't represent change. It represents the solid hold the extreme right-wing still has on the Republican Party. The NYT Times reports:
Social conservatives were relieved and highly pleased.
“They’re beyond ecstatic,” said Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition. “This is a home run. She is a reformer governor who is solidly pro-life and a person of deep Christian faith. And she is really one of the bright shining new stars in the Republican firmament.”
If Governor Palin is the future of the Republican Party their future isn't looking very bright.
Bill Burton gets it right:
“Governor Palin shares John McCain’s commitment to overturning Roe v. Wade, the agenda of Big Oil and continuing George Bush’s failed economic policies — that’s not the change we need, it’s just more of the same.”
She's even to the right of John McCain on the environment. Palin has been the governor of a small state for only two years and before that she served as the mayor of a township of only 9,000 people. She clearly isn't qualified to serve as the president of the United States in the event something were to happen to McCain.
Update: This story is just amazing. Pat Buchanan says that Palin was one of the supporters of his 1996 presidential campaigns. Buchanan, we all remember, is that fringe racist and anti-Semitic character who became the hero of the extreme right wing in America during his presidential campaigns of 92 and 96. If Palin was a Buchanan follower it speaks volumes about her own character.
These have been four incredibly interesting and sometimes moving days for me here in Denver and what an honor to be here on such an historic night. Let me repeat what I said on June 1, 2007:
Today I want to share with you that I am declaring my support for Barack Obama’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America and will join his campaign as a writer on the new official campaign site “People of Faith for Barack.”
All of the candidates running for president in 2008 bring different gifts to the debate over our nation’s future and my endorsement of Senator Obama is not a reflection on any of them but rather because of my faith in the senator’s leadership and ideas. I believe in Barack Obama.
As a minister in the United Church of Christ, I trust deeply in the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state and my endorsement is therefore a personal one and does not reflect on the church I serve or my denomination. But as a citizen I believe that all Americans must engage in the political process as individuals for democracy to thrive. So I choose to add my voice today with millions of other Americans concerned about the direction of this nation.
Barack Obama has shown leadership on the most pressing moral issues of our day – such as the war in Iraq and the global AIDS crisis. During his time in the Illinois Legislature and in the United States Senate he has demonstrated that his values cannot be compromised by prevailing political winds.
Christians, Jews, Muslims – all people of faith in America – share in a deep and abiding love for this nation. But many of us, as William Sloane Coffin would have said, have a “lover’s quarrel” with America. We know things can be better. We know all Americans need health care. We know that no one should be homeless in the world’s richest nation. We know that global warming threatens God’s own earth and that as the stewards of creation we are called forth to protect this planet. We are also called to be peacemakers in times of conflict.
Barack Obama shares these values and when elected president will embody them as he makes decisions in the Oval Office. When that day comes we will be a better nation.
Listen to the podcast of this statement:
(click with the RIGHT mouse button on the hyperlink and choose “Save Target As” and save to your desktop or other folder – once downloaded click on the file to listen).
Nothing that has happened since that time has made me question my support for Senator Obama, In fact, after meeting him now twice and watching him throughout this campaign season my respect has only grown.
I hope that during this convention the American people have come to see his character and his wisdom. It's an exciting moment to be an American.
Today the second meeting of the Faith Caucus was held here in Denver at the Democratic National Convention. Everything that happened today will be obviously overshadowed by the historic events of tonight – Barack Obama’s acceptance speech and all the fireworks. But I want to chronicle just a bit about what happened at the Faith Caucus.
Two panels of religious leaders representing America’s diverse faith traditions spoke about issues of concern to the nation’s faith community.
The first panel was devoted to international issues:
Sister Simone Campbell spoke from NETWORK spoke about poverty, AIDS and the need for pre-natal care and the role America can play in supporting developing nations.
Dr. Preeta Bansal, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, told the delegates and guests that the U.S. needs to press allies on the need for religious freedom and other issues such as women’s rights.
Climate change was the issue discussed by Dr. David Gushee , with Evangelicals for Social Action.
The University of Denver’s Dr. Claude d’Estree spoke about the issue of human trafficing.
All of these speakers brought important issues to the table. They urged action in a future Obama Administration and helped education the public further on issues of real concern to people of faith. I hope readers here will visit some of the links I’m providing to learn more.
The second panel focused on voter outreach and how people of faith can ethically and legally engage in the political process. This is, of course, an issue that I have preached on and thought on long and hard. My own bottom line is this: religious people have every right to be involved with partisan political issues but our religious institutions (churches, etc.) have no place on that battlefield. Churches (using my own context) should be about building the Kingdom of God and not about winning the White House. It is important, therefore, to note that most of the participants in the two days of Faith Caucus meetings appeared as individuals and not in their organizational capacities.
One person who did appear representing his organization was The Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, director of The Interfaith Alliance and host of Air America’s State of Belief. He reminded participates that America needs to be a place that includes all people of faith – along with people of no faith – and that a president should never been seen as trying to use his or her office to promote a religious agenda. I concur.
Governor Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Committee and a member of the United Church of Christ, made much the same point during a surprise appearance.
Rabbi Steve Gutow from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (someone I first met while in St. Louis when I was attending seminary) also echoed that idea. He said that faith ought to inform our decisions but that there always needs to be room for disagreement and dialogue.
Visit People of Faith for Barack for more information and on-going discussion.
Last night former U.S. Senator Bob Graham sat next to me right before Bill Clinton took the stage. This afternoon DNC Chair Howard Dean came back the Faith Caucus meeting and made a few remarks. By coincidence he took the seat to my immediately left. I ended up having a chance to have nice talks with both. Both of them are members of the United Church of Christ.
U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton gave a powerful statement of support for Barack Obama and also reminded Americans about what is really at stake this election year.
I am honored to be here tonight. A proud mother. A proud Democrat. A proud American. And a proud supporter of Barack Obama.
My friends, it is time to take back the country we love.
Whether you voted for me or voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team, and none of us can sit on the sidelines.
This is a fight for the future. And it’s a fight we must win.
I haven’t spent the past 35 years in the trenches advocating for children, campaigning for universal health care, helping parents balance work and family, and fighting for women’s rights at home and around the world ... to see another Republican in the White House squander the promise of our country and the hopes of our people.
And you haven’t worked so hard over the last 18 months, or endured the last eight years, to suffer through more failed leadership.
No way. No how. No McCain.
Barack Obama is my candidate. And he must be our president.
Click here for the full speech.
Senator Clinton said what Democrats needed to hear.
I wonder if Portlander Sue Castner heard the speech? Senator Clinton said:
I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?
Well, Ms. Castner, I have to ask: As Senator Clinton asked, were you in it for her or were you working for a better America? I hope that answer is clear in your head.
Democrats here in Denver held today what was billed as their first-ever “Faith Caucus” meeting. Delegates and guests heard from leading religious leaders about issues of concern to America’s diverse faith community: poverty, abortion, Iraq, and health care were among the topics addressed.
Former U.S. Rep. Tim Roemer, now aligned with a Roman Catholic public policy group, talked about the need to find “common ground” on the issue of abortion. He endorsed legislation that would provide more health care for pregnant women and quipped that Republicans were pro-life only until the child was born. Roemer, quoting Robert Kennedy, urged increases in programs – like health care and child care.
The Rev. Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite concurred. Thistlethwaite, professor at Chicago Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, told the assembled that she was a pro-choice pastor. But she argued it wasn’t really a choice when woman were forced to make a decision about abortion because of financial considerations. She went on to endorse Barack Obama’s pro-choice position – one that is in line with what Roemer and Thistlewaite articulated.
A protester briefly interrupted Thistlethwaite's presentation. The Rev. Jim Wallis, who was moderating the discussion, said to the crowd there had been enough yelling on this issue over the years and that now we needed real dialogue. Wallis is an evangelical whose beliefs fall into that pro-life category. The discussion around abortion may have generated the most heat but, as mentioned earlier, other issues were discussed. A second panel met directly after the first to talk about Obama’s faith-based initiative plans.
In many ways, the second panel was (to me anyway) more interesting than the first. There was a thoughtful discussion among Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Prof. John Dilulio, and The Rev. Otis Moss, Jr. that boiled down to this: how can religious institutions truly maintain their prophetic voice if they take government funding? All agreed, however, that Senator Obama’s faith-based and neighborhood initiative plan was light-years ahead of President Bush’s failed effort. Rabbi Saperstein said that Bush’s efforts failed because it didn’t respect the separation of church and state (money is being used for proselytizing under Bush) and because the program had quickly become politicized (churches whose clergy or members supported Bush got grants while others didn’t).
On a personal note, this was the first time that I was able to meet many friends who I talk with and / or e-mail with on a regular basis. That included Susan Thistlethwaite, Joshua DuBois, Paul Monteiro and Paul Raushenbush. There was also time to talk with two Oregon delegates highly involved in faith outreach efforts back home.
After the faith caucus had ended, I walked the 10 blocks to the Trick or Vote VIP Happy Hour hosted by Oregon’s own Mandate Media and The Bus Project (along the way I ran into Al Franken). While there I got to speak briefly with friends Jefferson Smith and Chisholm.
Tonight Hillary Clinton will be speaking at the Pepsi Center. I'll be watching from my hotel tonight instead of inside the center to make room for additional Clinton supports. Many Obama supporters are giving up their seats to Clinton fans as a sign of respect for her historic race. I watched two young women break into tears this morning when talking about how much Clinton’s race meant to them as women who want to be in public service.
The Faith Caucus will resume meeting on Thursday. i've been invited to sit on one of the panels.
Tonight was pretty darn exciting. President Carter. Jesse Jackson Jr. Speaker Pelosi. Caroline Kennedy. SENATOR KENNEDY! Michelle Obama. A good house band. What can you say?
You had to be impressed with Ted Kennedy. He not only passed the torch but reminded Americans what the core important issues are for Democrats: with universal health care right at the center. Senator Kennedy's speech in the midst of his health crisis brought a lot of people to tears. He has been the "lion of the senate" and on issues such as housing, health care, equality, and education. If he is unable to return - or forced to remain away from the Senate for an expended period of time the only person who can fill Kennedy's role is Hillary Clinton.
Michelle Obama did a wonderful job on introducing herself and her family to the American people People who witnessed her speech saw that she is just like the rest of us: concerned about our communities, committed to her children, and committed to her own family. She was strongly received by the delegates and guests.
In related news, Faith and Public life held a forum here today. My flight came in too late to attend. But check out their blog.
Tomorrow I'll be attending the DNC's Faith Cacus meeting. More to report after that.
On the agenda for tomorrow night: Senator Clinton.
Hello from the Pepsi Center where the House Speaker has just led the delegates in a vote adopting a new party platform. I arrived early this afternoon and have just been trying to find my way around. Tonight Michelle Obama is speaking. I'll have more on that later this evening.
Less than 12 hours from now I'll be flying across the West toward Denver and the Democratic National Convention. This will be my first convention - sort of. In 1984, I was a Gary Hart delegate to the Model Presidential Nominating Convention here in Portland. The convention - which drew over 4,000 high school students who would spend a year before the convention itself studying up on the race and related issues - also drew the major presidential candidates. Bobby Kennedy. Jimmy Carter. George HW Bush. Ronald Reagan. Michal Dukasis. Jesse Jackson. Bill Clinton. George W. Bush. Two teachers, Jim Barlow and Bill Pressly, were the coordinators of this massive undertaking. Bill worked with the students to produce a political platform while Jim concentrated on working with the student-run campaigns. These conventions went on from 1964 to 2000. My attention was captured forever by this exercise in political democracy (brought to you by public schools, no less). So before I leave for Denver I want to say thank you to Jim and Bill for serving as teachers who valued crtical thinking and who made their students engage in studies that married real world experiences with text books and class room discussions.
In just about 48 hours I'll be leaving for Denver where I'll join thousands of delegates and supporters of Barack Obama and Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention. The Obama campaign has made an unprecedented effort to reach out to voters for whom faith is a central part of their lives. I've been proud to be aligned with that effort as a member of People of Faith for Barack. The convention itself will be an extension of those efforts.
"Senator Obama is a committed Christian, and he believes that people of all faiths have an important place in American life,” said Joshua Dubois, Obama For America Director of Religious Affairs. “He's proud to work with the Democratic National Convention Committee on a Convention that fully engages people of faith in dialogue, celebration and prayer. We are honored that so many religious leaders are reaching across partisan and ideological lines in this Convention to address the values that matter to Americans."
“Democrats have been, are and will continue to be people of faith – and this Convention will demonstrate that in an unprecedented way,” said Leah D. Daughtry, CEO of the DNCC. “As Convention CEO and a pastor myself, I am incredibly proud that so many esteemed leaders from the faith community will be with us to celebrate this historic occasion and honor the diverse faith traditions inside the Democratic Party.”
There will be an Interfaith Gathering on Sunday, August 24th (which I'll have to miss). It will be held at 2 pm at the Wells Fargo Theatre and will feature Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist leaders.
For the first time the DNC will host Faith Caucus meetings. Here's a rundown:
Tuesday, August 25th
Thursday, August 28th
Faith in Public Life will also be sponsoring some important gatherings:
On Monday the 25th Faith In Public Life, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Beliefnet are cosponsoring "The Shifting Faith Vote: What It Means for this Election," a panel discussion at The Big Tent assessing how the changing values debate among religious voters will impact the general electorate, the campaigns and the media. Time's Amy Sullivan will moderate, and FPL Director of Organizing Strategy Rev. Ron Stief, Alexia Kelley, Zack Exley, Steve Waldman, and Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith will share their experience and expertise on the topic.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ron will moderate a Starz Green Room Panel – "New Faith Voters: What it Means for this Election and the Country," with Rev. Jim Wallis, Celinda Lake and Rev. Dr. Derrick Harkins, discussing the electoral implications of religious voters' independence and broadening agenda.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice is sponsoring "a reception with inspirational music to honor religious leaders and activists who safeguard and promote reproductive health and reproductive justice." That event is scheduled for Wednesday, August 27th from 1:30-4:30 pm. Click here for more.
A "Unity Breakfast" is scheduled for Thursday, August 28th to mark the 45th anniversary of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" address on the National Mall. Martin Luther King III and others will be in attendance.
I'm looking forward to attending these events and blogging about them as they occur.
Catholics United issued the following statement on Joe Biden's selection as Barack Obama's running mate:
“Catholics United believes Senator Biden’s selection as vice presidential candidate is a positive development for Americans who respect leaders who have strong religious, family, and personal values. Senator Biden’s well-known commitment to his Catholic faith has inspired his advocacy on issues such as genocide, universal health care, education, workers’ rights, and violence against women. His faith has helped him to find solace during times of tragedy and crisis.”
Click here for the full statement.
Will Joe Biden of Delaware be the Democratic nominee for vice-president?
The first time I heard about Senator Biden was during his abortive run for the presidency in the 1988 cycle. He pulled out in 1987 after he mistakenly used words from a British politician without attribution (which he had provided on countless other occasions).
His failure in the race for the White House that year turned out to be providential for the country. As the chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee he was able – once out of the race – to use his energy and full attention in leading the charge to reject Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Shortly thereafter he became seriously ill with a brain aneurism. He said at the time he'd been having headaches during the presidential campaign but had ignored them. Biden might have died had he not been forced from the race.
I met him during that campaign. Then-U.S. Congressman Les AuCoin was chairing Biden's Oregon effort (and part of his circle of national advisers) and I was a high school student volunteering for AuCoin. So the congressman and his staff let me tag along when Biden came to Portland for an event. What has always stood out for me from that encounter was how Biden – a Roman Catholic – talked about his faith as part of his stump speech.
There's a line that he used in a debate earlier this year when he was running for president again:
Trust the American people. They're ready. They're ready to get up. There's a hymn in my church -- our church -- some of us here -- that says, may he raise you up on eagles wings and bury you on the breath of dawn, and let the light shine. It's time to raise this country up.
He used nearly that exact line back in 1986 (or 87 – whenever it was he came to Oregon).
Faith has clearly been an important part of his life.
Biden is a progressive and thought of as extraordinarily intelligent (if not a wee bit too talkative). He might be one of the only politicians in America that lists the on-going genocide in Darfur as one of his top issues. He's not on the same page as Barack Obama on all the issues but a vice-president shouldn't be a clone or a yes-man. I'm convinced he would serve an Obama Administration well in nearly any capacity.
NPR.org, August 22, 2008 · The Rev. Marvin McMickle bridges religion and politics as pastor of Cleveland's influential Antioch Baptist Church. He says he fights for fairness and justice from the pulpit. And he'll be bringing that activist verve to Denver, his first political convention.
For McMickle, who is African-American, the symbolism of this election is great. Seventy-eight years ago, his distant cousin was killed in Kentucky as he tried to register to vote. Now McMickle will be casting a ballot for Barack Obama, the first major-party African-American presidential candidate. Exhilarated, he says he never expected this in his lifetime. He's bringing his wife and 28 year-old son to Denver to share in the moment.
Click here for the full story.
It's worth noting that Senator Obama's speech will fall on the 45th anniversary of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" address on the National Mall.
John McCain doesn't have a plan to fight poverty or homelessness like Barack Obama does. John McCain doesn't believe government has much of a role in fixing the mortgage lending crisis. And John McCain seems to think the poverty level is around $3-5 million a year. I suppose when you've got SEVEN homes of your own it might become easy to loose touch with the struggles of ordinary Americans.
Before Ralph Reed became the #2 man to lobbyist Jack Abramoff he was the #2 man to Pat Robertson, founder of the conservative Christian Coalition. As I wrote in 2006,
Robertson and Reed created an image of Jesus that was pro-war and unconcerned with the poor and marginalized. Their work has been so influential that many Americans – and certainly many in the media – have come to believe that to be a real Christian you must be a conservative Republican.
Thankfully, that image is changing this year.
But why is John McCain still hanging out with Ralph Reed? Reed was very involved in the lobbying scandal that sent Abramoff off to jail. Why is John McCain using Ralph Reed to raise money? Shouldn't a presidential candidate have higher ethical standards?
We've only got 12 days left to raise the money needed by the United Church of Christ to air our new commercial this fall. Can you make a donation and get this progressive message of faith and hope on the air? Click here.
Rumor has it - and there are a lot of rumors flying around today about the presidential election - that John McCain is still seriously considering Joe Lieberman as his running mate.
Please, please, please do it.
...GOP sources say McCain and his close friend Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) still haven’t given up hope on making what some believe would be a game-changing decision by tapping Lieberman.
What do John McCain and Joe Lieberman have in common? What brings them together and what drove the pro-choice Lieberman out of the Democratic Party? Their mutual support for George W. Bush's war in Iraq and their general neo-con foreign policy leanings. (In this photo we see W and Lieberman hugging uncontrollably).
Picking Lieberman would make the election about Iraq and the failed foreign police goals supported by Bush, McCain and their old friend Joe.
That's a debate that Barack Obama can win. Americans know that Bush and McCain have led America astray. Those failures will define a McCain-Lieberman ticket. And Barack Obama has a plan for ending the war and for making the world a safer place.
I'll note here that every single Christian denomination - with the exception of the Southern Baptists - went on record opposing the invasion of Iraq and have been critical of how that war has been waged ever since.
The evangelical wing of the Republican Party would just implode. If you thought the eruption of Mt. St. Helens was something to behold just watch the headquarters of Focus on the Family when news of a McCain-Lieberman ticket hits. Yes, McCain is to the right of President Bush on many foreign policy issues but he loves Planned Parenthood and once marched with MLK. He's changed since those days and now hangs out with a Republican crowd and has left the progressive days of his youth far behind. But the Right will never forgive McCain for bringing a Planned Parenthood-loving abortion supporter on the ticket.
And the rest of America? Lieberman is seen as a turncoat politican who will abandon his principles and friends just to get a little closer to the center of power. His approval ratings in his home state of Connecticut are below 50% - at their lowest margin in 14 years of polling.
One week from today I'll be in Denver for the Democratic National Convention. This will be my first convention and by all accounts it promises to be an exciting one. It was over a year ago that I first endorsed Senator Barack Obama for president and I look forward to watching him accept the nomination. I've been invited to spend time with those responsible for the senator's outreach to faith communities (there will be "faith caucus" meetings on Tuesday and Thursday) and the Oregon delegation has been kind enough (thank you super-delegate Jenny Greenleaf) to invite me to several Oregon-related events. Check back here at www.chuckcurrie.com starting next Monday for regular reports. As always, the views you read on this site are my own and do no reflect (particularly on partisan political matters) the views of my denomination or local church.
To learn more about the role of religion in politics please feel free to download my Nov. 4, 2007 sermon - The Politics of Jesus - which dealt with the role of the church in political affairs. Use the below link to download the podcast of my sermon for your iPod or personal computer.
(click with the RIGHT mouse button on the hyperlink and choose “Save Target As” and save to your desktop or other folder – once downloaded click on the file.
Related Link: Majority Of Christians Support Obama
The people of Parkrose Community United Church of Christ and Zion United Church of Christ held a joint worship service this morning at Portland's Blue Lake Park. This followed Saturday's Peace Bubble Cafe Fair & Concert held on Saturday at Parkrose High School. The Rev. Jerry Leggett, creator of the Peace Bubble Cafe, preached this morning on Luke 6:27-31. Above Jerry leads songs during this morning's worship service. Below is a photo from Saturday's concert. More photos and video to come soon!
Did you hear about the Bertha, Minn. church that kicked out a 13-year old boy with autism? If not, here's the background. When a reporter from The Oregonian called to ask for my reaction my first response was to say:
When Jesus said that how we treat the 'least of these' in society was akin to how we treat God he was talking about 13-year old Adam Race, the autistic boy kicked out of a Minneapolis church because of disruptive behavior.
But I also know the issues are complicated. The story that The Oregonian ran the next day focused in part on the life of a young man and his family - a family that I know - that have also faced the difficulties of autism in church:
Anne Kayser, 45, is the mother of Tom Kayser, 17, who is autistic and has attended First United Methodist Church in downtown Portland his whole life. There have been, she says, some difficult moments. When he was noisy and people who didn't know him turned around in the pew to complain. When he was younger and sometimes aggressive, he would lash out at other children in Sunday school. His parents volunteered to teach his class so they could monitor his behavior.
And the time someone suggested Tom be trained as an acolyte, his mom had doubts. "You want to put a lighted stick in this child's hand and have him walk between hundreds of people?" But he did, with only one close call.
"Now Tom sits with us through the worship service. We've worked on that for years," she says. "He loves classical music, that is his passion. First Methodist is known for sacred choral and organ music, and Tom responds to that."
But, she says, she would not have kept taking Tom to church unless she believed it was valuable to him on another level. "Tom can't understand the theology he hears from the pulpit, but I know he understands that he belongs. He feels at home, safe in a church where he knows most of the people. There is a need for that -- in his life and for most people."
The Rev. Chuck Currie, interim minister at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ in Northeast Portland, says churches deal with disruptions all the time: "crying children, homeless people walking in off the street, people suffering from mental illness speaking out during sermons."
Sometimes, other worshippers' first reaction is "kick them out," he says, but that can't be the ultimate response. "Our call as a church is to minister not just to the well-behaved and the well-dressed. The church needs to be open and affirming of everyone, or it ceases to become a place where you can honestly proclaim the Kingdom of God."
Click here to learn more on these issues from the UCC Disabilities Ministries.
The economic agenda favored by George W. Bush and John McCain has destroyed the American economy - budget surpluses have turned to budget deficits, poverty levels are up, and fewer Americans have health insurance. But the good folks at Wal-Mart still beleive in the Bush-McCain dream. The NYT reports:
The A.F.L.-C.I.O and three other pro-labor groups will urge the Federal Election Commission on Thursday to rule that Wal-Mart acted illegally by warning many store managers and department heads that a Democratic victory in November would hurt the company by helping workers unionize.
The pro-labor groups plan to file a complaint with the commission on Thursday asserting that Wal-Mart warned so vigorously that the Democrats would enact pro-union legislation that the company had engaged in illegal express advocacy.
The pro-labor organizations — including the Change to Win Federation, American Rights at Work and WakeUpWalMart.com — argue that federal regulations make it legal for companies to engage in such political advocacy with high-level managers, but not with low-level managers like Wal-Mart’s department heads, who are often hourly employees.
Learn more about Wal-Mart here.
A poll by the Barna Group, a Christian polling and research organization says Democrat Barack Obama maintains a nine point lead over Republican John McCain among Christians. The poll finds that the race is tightening. Among the key findings -
1) Of the 18 faith groups identified in the polls, McCain is only leading among evangelicals and it's a narrow lead. Obama leads among the other 17 faith groups identified including the born again vote (Barna notes that would mark the first time in more than two decades that the born again vote has swung toward the Democratic candidate.
2) McCain has a narrow lead among evangelicals but a third say they're undecided and McCain's support is weakening among the group...
As i've said time and time again, good people of faith (any faith) can come to honest but different conclusions about who to vote for. There is no Christian candidate in this race. God is not a Republican...or a Democrat, as Jim Wallis would say.
At the same time, I believe that this poll shows that voters are clearly seeing past the smoke screen of lies put up by opponents of Senator Obama's progressive change agenda. Americans are seeing Barack Obama for what he is: a man of deep faith committed to ending the war, providing health care for all Americans, combating poverty and reconciling the broken parts of our nation.
We returned from a short yurting trip late this afternoon to find the Oregon Symphony Orchestra about 50 feet from our doorstep performing their summer concert in the part series.
It seemed like a few thousand people were there to listen. This is a great project.
John McCain had affairs during his first marriage and left his wife (who had been injured in a car accident) for a beauty queen. Newt Gingrich had an affair with a Congressional staffer while leading the impeachment of Bill Clinton – who had an affair with an intern – and left one of his wives (he's been divorced a few times now) while she was recovering from cancer. And let's not forget the divorced Ronald Reagan.
So now we can add John Edwards to the list of the fallen. I admired Edward's commitment to fighting poverty, to his call for us to become "One America" again, and his seeming devotion to his wife and family. Like most people who've admired the senator, I feel let down. He risked so much by running for president while having an affair. What if he had won the nomination and the affair then became public? America – not just the Democratic Party – would have been injured by the fallout. Edwards says that during the course of his career he "started to believe that I was special and became increasingly egocentric and narcissistic." Add reckless and hypocritical to that list. He was clearly never qualified to serve as the President of the United States.
That doesn't mean that John Edwards doesn't have something to offer the nation. People sin (if you want to use a theological term for failure). All of us. We sin in highly personal ways (affairs, lying, stealing) and we sin in corporate / societal ways (polluting the environment, waging immoral wars).
Each Sunday at my church (and at many others, of course) we – pastor and parishioners - take time during worship to confess our sins before God and to ask for God's forgiveness.
What matters at least as much as the sin is how we seek to redeem ourselves. How Senator Edwards redeems himself in the eyes of his family is his business. But I hope that he finds a way to address those "egocentric and narcissistic" parts of himself in a public sense as well so that his talents might one day benefit the common good once again. Remembering that we are all sinners ought to instill in us the ability to offer forgiveness when it is asked for. God's unconditional love for us shows us the path.
The Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writes today in The Washington Post:
I never thought I would write these words, but where is James Dobson of Focus on the Family when you really need him? Why are the "family values" evangelicals silent when John McCain campaigns at the famously raunchy Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and suggests that his wife might compete in the "Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant--Bikinis on the Beach?" According to Jim Caple of ESPN, this is "essentially a topless beauty pageant. And occasionally bottomless, too." I'm absolutely certain this does not reflect the kind of "Christ-centered marriage" about which Dobson so frequently lectures.
Checking the websites of both Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council today, however, there is no mention at all of McCain's lack of respect, even in jest, for his own wife. "With a little luck, she [his wife, Cindy] could be the only woman ever to serve as both the first lady and Miss Buffalo Chip" McCain told the bikers who revved the engines of their motorcycles to show approval. In fact, there is no mention of this whatsoever by the "family values" crowd. It was up to The Wall Street Journal to observe "John McCain appeared yesterday evening with bikini-clad women donning leather chaps and roaming an open field littered with beer cans."
Family values do matter in a candidate and these need not be the values of the Focus on the Family. But if evangelicals like Dobson are going to support McCain, it is fair to ask them to act on their own principles and object when the candidate is so far out of line in regard to what basically any Christian would regard as decent marital values. In truth, Dobson is said to just be 'considering' endorsing McCain, so I suggest he take the biker rally appearance into account in making that final decision.
As Dr. Thistlethwaite writes, it's the hypocrisy that matters. But James Dobson doesn't appear bothered with such little things as moral consistency.
I’ve been surprised by the response since announcing that I will not serve as Senator Obama’s vice-president. Therefore, in the best interests of the nation I will be a candidate.
I’ve been well vetted by more than 20 years of media coverage in Oregon, not to mention that really long psychological exam required of UCC ordination candidates (I was declared basically mentally fit…except something about delusions of grandeur about one day becoming the vice-president.)
I don’t have any finances to speak off. If you really want dirt on me go read my blog and then just take things out of context – that’s the Republican Way.
I’d be an advocate for President Obama’s policies. And, of course, I have a few ideas of my own. Friday nights should be a national holiday so that all Americans can watch Battlestar Galactica.
We should end homelessness and provide universal health to all Americans within 2 years. Like Senator Obama, I opposed the war from the beginning. Unlike the last few vice-president’s, I don’t play golf. However, I believe the vice-president should be entitled to center court seats at all Blazer games. Finally, I’d have to turn the VP’s residence into a shelter for homeless families with children. Grits will have to be served every morning at the White House mess.
And in a break with current vice-presidential protocol,I promise the people of American not to spend my eight years in hiding - or to shoot any of my best friends.
I would also feel called to offer a morning prayer at an interfaith gathering at church or other place of worship near the White House.
Liz would be an excellent Second Lady. We could put her in charge of whatever see wants to do.
If, however, Senator Obama makes a different choice, I would be willing to serve his administration in any capacity -as long as I could stay in Portland. Let’s be honest, if you had the choice would you rather live in DC or Portland? I thought so. We might really just consider moving the White House to Portland on a permanent basis.
As I noted today on the UCNews Blog, interfaith religious leaders are calling on the two major party candidiates to "use their primetime slots at the nominating conventions to offer plans for combating poverty," according to a statement released by the National Council of Churches.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes:
Since 2000, the number of poor Americans has grown by more than 6 million.
In 2006, the number of people living in extreme poverty, that is, with incomes below half the poverty line, remained the same at 15.6 million people. The number of Americans living in extreme poverty remains the highest level on record, since data first became available in 1975.
Economic policies supported by George W. Bush and endorsed by John McCain have created a deep crisis in our nation - one that is moral and economic.
So what will John McCain do to reduce the poverty he has helped create? That's hard to know. He doesn't list anything about poverty on his website. Poverty isn't even listed as an issue to be addressed in his economic plan.
Senator Barack Obama, on the other hand, offers voters a detailed plan to help combat poverty.
You can watch Senator Obama adddress the issues involved for yourself.
Portland's Parkrose Community United Church of Christ and Gresham's Zion United Church of Christ will sponsor a day-long event in east-county to promote peace.
JERRY LEGGETT'S PEACE BUBBLE CAFÉ (www.peacebubblecafe.org) will be held Saturday, August 16th at the Parkrose Community Peace Labyrinth at Parkrose High School on the corner of NE Shaver and NE 115th Portland, OR. Singer, songwriter, and story-teller Rev. Leggett is a United Church of Christ minister traveling the country to promote peace through art and entertainment. This event is open to all people of all faiths and beliefs.
The Peace Bubble Café is a mobile, multimedia art and entertainment exhibit, featuring live music and a public kiosk for innovative resources that promote peace and nonviolence. The Café is designed to create a spontaneous space for the audiences to listen to peace tales, hear songs that inspire, and participate in a national video compilation of thoughts on peace."
The PEACE FAIR runs from 2:00 – 6:00 pm and admission is FREE. Come learn how local folks are striving for peace in our community and in our world by wandering through the booths sponsored by peace-loving organizations. Fun crafts and activities for the kids will be provided in most of these booths, while youth, young adults and older adults can take time to learn about the organization – and yes, it's okay for you to have fun too! Come have some family fun, meet your neighbors and other peace loving folk in your community.
The INTERACTIVE CONCERT with Jerry Leggett begins at 6:00 pm. The admission is $10.00 for adults and children of families attending get in free. Bring your blanket and picnic basket for a family picnic and concert! The concert on the lawn will be comprised of upbeat music performed by Jerry Leggett. He will do interviews with folks in the audience that will then be posted to youtube.com and viewed by thousands. He will ask the questions: "What does peace look like for you?" and "What peace message do you wish to offer to the next President of the United States?" Mixed in with the music we will enjoy some play time by way of cooperative games led by Patsy, the Peace Bubbles' Facilitator of Fun!
100% of the proceeds from the ticket sales will go to help establish the Peace Bubble as a permanent traveling exhibit for the Dayton International Peace Museum (the only Peace Museum in the United States.) Go to www.daytonpeacemuseum.org for their amazing and hope-filled story.
For concert tickets, general information, or vendor applications for the Peace Fair, or to volunteer, please contact Camie Pugsley at email@example.com or call 503-253-5457. You can learn about Zion UCC at www.uccwebsites.net/zionuccgreshamor.html and more about Parkrose Community United Church of Christ at www.parkroseucc.org.
From The New York Times:
The presumptive Republican nominee has embarked on a bare-knuckled barrage of negative advertising aimed at belittling Mr. Obama. The most recent ad compares the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton — suggesting to voters that he’s nothing more than a bubble-headed, publicity-seeking celebrity.
The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.
Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain on the ploy, saying, quite rightly, that the Republicans are trying to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills.’’
But Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, had a snappy answer. “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” he said. “It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.’’
The retort was, we must say, not only contemptible, but shrewd. It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack.
It also — and we wish this were coincidence, but we doubt it — conjurs up another loaded racial image.
The phrase dealing the race card “from the bottom of the deck” entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.”
Click here for the full editorial.