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

Blogging/Web Round-Up

  • On Torture: Melissa Rogers notes that Evangelicals for Human Rights will host a national summit on torture this coming Fall with the title, “Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul.” The Anabaptist/Baptist in me is skeptical of both generic “religious faith,” and the constantinian, civil religion notion of a “national soul,” but I expect good things to come from the conference anyway. 
  • Chris Sanders is beginning a series of posts on Thinking Theologically About Torture.
  • Helen Thomas, dean of the Washington Press Corps, comments on Bush’s admission that he approved of torture.
  • A cameraman for Al-Jazeera, imprisoned in Guantanemo Bay, Cuba for 6 years without charges, claims that he and others housed there were routinely tortured and compares torture morally to terrorism.

Oaths:  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught his disciples to refuse to swear any oaths at all. Since the time of Constantine, most Christians have refused to take Jesus seriously at this point with oath-taking being common in Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism, and all kinds of Protestantism. In this nation, we even use Bibles in administering oaths–having people swear on a book that includes Jesus’ ban on swearing!! But some Christians have tried to follow Jesus and refuse to use oaths: Anabaptists (Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren, the Amish, Hutterites, etc.) and Quakers especially.  There were enough Quakers in early post-Revolutionary U.S.A. that the U.S. Constitution allows for presidents to “Affirm” a promise of office rather than swear an oath of office. (The Quaker Herbert Hoover affirmed. The lapsed Quaker, Richard M. Nixon, as the later Nixon tapes revealed, had no problems with swearing!)

Well, now a California public school teacher, a lifelong Quaker, has been fired for refusing to swear an oath of loyalty–based on a 1952 law designed to ferret out Communists!

Bob Cornwall over at Ponderings on a Faith Journey has more on this amazing story where religious liberty is not practiced in America.

Related to loyalty oaths, of course, is the whole question of Christian blind obedience to political authorities, a curious habit usually blamed on Romans 13.  Thom Stark, therefore, is doing everyone a big favor by outlining the numerous approaches to Romans 13 and the question of Christians and civil authority on his blog Semper Reformanda.


John McCain admitted that the war was all about oil and then tried to say that only the first Gulf War was about oil, not this one. (If Dems don’t use this against him all the way to November, they are too stupid to win.)

Meanwhile, my friend Dan Trabue has been writing a series of blog posts on our addiction to oil. Check them out.

Evolution and Intelligent Design: I need to get back to my series on this topic.  Meanwhile, David Congdon, has used the release of the movie Expelled to give Four Theses Against “Intelligent Design.”  Good job, David.

Finally, Aaron Weaver, the Big Daddy Weave of non-fundamentalist Baptist bloggers, has announced his upcoming marriage!  Alexis Cooper seems far more intelligent and beautiful than he deserves (as is absolutely the case with my own spouse, Rev. Kate Westmoreland-White!). This, once more, proves the superior kindness of women! As my Jewish friends have taught me, Mazel Tov, Aaron and Alexis!

May 3, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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