Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Interfaith Peace Summit in Naples

The pope kicked things off with an open-air mass, but, for some reason that escapes me, refused to be a formal delegate. Once more he shows less competence in interfaith peacemaking than his predecessor, John Paul II.  Read the story here.  Let’s all add our prayers for the summit. With politicians doing little or nothing for peace and justice, we need religious leaders and persons of faith and conscience to do all they can. 

 Among the heavy hitters attending the conference as delegates were: Bartholemew I, Orthodox Patriarch; Rowan Williams, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury (titular head of the global Anglican communion and a leading ecumenical theologian); R. Yona Metzger, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Imam Ibrahim Ezzedin, senior imam of the United Arab Emirates.  I hope some major Protestant figures were there, including representatives of the historic peace churches.

October 22, 2007 Posted by | interfaith, peacemaking | Comments Off on Interfaith Peace Summit in Naples

Let Them Freeze

Having vetoed the Children’s Health Insurance Program’s expansion and renewal (against the wishes of bi-partisan majorities in Congress and 81% of the American people), allegedly because he wanted to “put poor children first” (even though the poor are covered under Medicaid), U.S. Pres. George W. Bush now is trying to cut off heating assistance to the the poor this winter.  Heating oil prices are expected to be at record highs, too.

Fiscal conservatism? Not from a man who blew record government surplusses in his first year in office and has turned the government into a bloated cash cow with no-bid contracts for businesses that have connections to him or Cheney!  Fiscal conservatives have been horrified by the Bush administration. 

Compassionate conservatism? Cutting off heating assistance to the poor is neither compassionate nor conservative; it’s a blatant attempt to make even more billions for his cronies in the oil business at the expense of the poor–including the poor children he claimed to want to “put first.”

Family values? Pro-life? Sure, because letting the poor freeze to death so promotes a “culture of life” and so helps families, right?

The casual cruelty of this administration never ceases to amaze me.  I realize that someone born into incredible wealth, who went to private schools and never had to study because his father bought him passing grades; whose family bought his way into Yale and into Harvard Business School, and out of drunk driving and cocaine charges; whose father used his connections to keep him out of Vietnam and then out of trouble for being Absent Without Leave; whose father and family friends bought him one business after another when he ran them into the ground;  I realize that someone from such a background of incredible privilege has a hard time understanding people who work 3-4 jobs to keep their kids fed and clothed and healthy.  But someone who was truly a “compassionate conservative” would TRY.

Here is a president who, more than any other in our history, has worn his Christian faith on his sleeve. (Even Jimmy Carter, whose election led Time to dub 1976 the “Year of the Evangelical,” who taught Sunday School even while in the White House and witnessed to Chinese Communist leaders, did not parade his faith in public as much as Bush.) Did his church never tell him, did he never read in the Bible, about God’s concern for the poor?  When “elected” in 2000, Bush brought together evangelical leaders who worked with the poor and asked them to help him “get it.” But obviously they failed miserably.

According to legend, France’s Marie Antoinette, when told that the peasants were starving because they had no bread, replied, “Then let them eat cake.”  Going her one better, Bush apparently says of those who cannot afford to heat their homes this winter, “Let them freeze.”  SHAME.

October 22, 2007 Posted by | economic justice | 4 Comments