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“Evangelicals … deserting the religious right in droves”

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An intriguing article from the Baltimore Sun by Thomas Schaller details a sea change in American politics. Do you think this could represent a renewal of emphasis on developing character and passions like those of Jesus (previously eclipsed by 20th century zeal for doctrinal and political orthodoxy)?

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“Evangelicals – especially the new generation of pastors and young people – are deserting the religious right in droves,” wrote Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics, in a February commentary in Time. “The evangelical social agenda is now much broader and deeper, engaging issues like poverty and economic justice, global warming, HIV/AIDS, sex trafficking, genocide in Darfur and the ethics of the war in Iraq.”
For example, somebody should alert the Republican presidential aspirants to the declaration issued this spring by a coalition of top evangelicals that renounces “torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees” and calls for the United States to embrace the Geneva Conventions. During last month’s South Carolina debate, with the notable exception of Arizona Sen. John McCain, the GOP candidates tried to out-macho each other on the treatment of detainees…. Mitt Romney boasted that he’d like to “double Guantanamo,”

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Written by Monte

June 23, 2007 at 12:53 pm

N.T. Wright’s definition of evangelism

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N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham

N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham

“When the church is seen to move straight from worship of the God we see in Jesus to making a difference and effecting much-needed change in the real world;

when it becomes clear that the people who feast at Jesus’ table are the ones in the forefront of work to eliminate hunger and famine;

when people realize that those who pray for the Spirit to work in and through them are the people who seem to have extra resources of love and patience in caring for those whose lives are damaged, bruised, and shamed;

then it is not only natural to speak of Jesus himself and to encourage others to worship him for themselves and find out what belonging to his family is all about but it is also natural for people, however irreligious they may think of themselves as being, to recognize that something is going on that they want to be part of.

In terms that the author of Acts might have used, when the church is living out the kingdom of God, the word of God will spread powerfully and do its own work.”

Surprised By Hope, p. 267  (h/t Lon Marshall)

Written by Monte

August 23, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Human rights and the image of God

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Jim Wallis quotes the Pope’s U.N. speech:

The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict.

I hear it this way: “Human rights” is a measure of the morality of our world.

The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security.

Promoting human rights = improved worldwide security. Imagine, say, Israel and Palestine, and how different American policy would be toward them if human rights were the goal. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 1, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Selling snake-oil to the Christian right?

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Many of my colleagues are pretty sure that Muslim extremists are planning all-out war on the USA. Some have attended conventions (with names along the lines of “Conference on the Christian Family) where well-known guest speakers made the case that Islam is inherently against us. Some have 20th-century eschatological views that hold war to be inevitable, and a necessary step toward the return of Jesus Christ. John Hagee, a preacher who advocates that view, has had considerable influence in Washington, D.C.

Now it appears that three of the better-known authorities may be hucksters. Consider these excerpts from a story called Snake Oil Sellers of the Christian Right? from the Inter Press Service, reprinted in CommonDreams:

WASHINGTON, Feb 21 (IPS) – The U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs came under heavy criticism earlier this month from Muslim and religious freedom advocacy groups after it invited to a conference three self-professed “former terrorists” with strong links to the Christian right. […]0222 06

Collectively known as the “3-X Terrorists”, Walid Shoebat, Kamel Saleem and Zacharia Anani are front line soldiers in the U.S. “culture wars” […]

To supporters, the 3-X represent “moderate” voices; they are self-professed Muslim extremists who converted to evangelical Christianity and are now exposing Islam for what it really is. To critics, they are frauds, accused of fabricating much of their past exploits as mass murderers in order to peddle their Islamophobia on the lecture circuit and on cable news networks, including Fox News Corp. and CNN. […]

The relationship between the evangelical Christian Right and 3-X runs deep, with connections to Reverend John Hagee’s Christian-Zionist Christians United for Israel (CUFI), as well as Focus on the Family, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Stories for angry religious people (readings for Sep. 16, 2007)

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Once again, Jesus has been devoting his attention to “a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation.” And once again, some religious folks are appalled. Jesus responds with three parables, two of which are included in this week’s texts: the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin.

Remember the first hearers: these are stories told to angry religious people. They wanted exclusion on the basis of lifestyle; he wanted inclusion of all.

Friend of mine has a bumper sticker that says God bless the whole world: no exceptions! That’d be like Jesus. And these are parables for those who disagree.


Proper 19 (24) September 16, 2007
Luke 15:1-10; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Jeremiah 4:11-12,22-28; Psalm 14

To see these stories in another language or another English version, click here.

Luke 15
The Story of the Lost Sheep
1-3By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

September 10, 2007 at 1:00 pm