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

Near Future Plans for this Blog

This is an odd blog, standing at the intersection of faith and politics.  Part of the reason I began blogging in 2005 was because most blogs run by Baptist theologians, ministers, seminary students, biblical  scholars, etc. to that point came from the conservative to fundamentalist side of the theological  spectrum and from conservative political viewpoints (usually of a “Christian nationalist” or even “theocratic” nature).  I wanted to be part of the effort to show that Baptists were far more diverse.  Those other strands include the left side of the evangelical spectrum; liberal and/or progressive theologies; Anabaptist, liberation, Black Church, immigrant, Global South, feminist, LGBTQ (and allies), postliberal, postmodern, and many more.  I represent several of those strands in my own story, but I have never sought to make the blog solely about me.

In recent months, this blog has concentrated on political  issues in a narrow sense.  I won’t omit those postings, but I think they need to become less prominent for awhile.  I will be returning to my series on Baptist peace churches; I will profile creative Baptist ministers; I am creating a page on famous Baptist biblical scholars (since the rise of critical scholarship) and will follow it with one on theologians.  I will also start a series on Baptist theological scholars in non-Baptist seminaries which I call “Profiles of Baptist Scholars in Diaspora.”

I will intersperse these  with posts of a more ecumenical interest including returning to my series on Christianity and Evolution.  In April, I have promised a series of posts making the moral case against the death penalty. (So far, I have just been giving news stories and cheering recent developments.) I have several book reviews pending on both religious and  political topics.  And I hope to include some things that are just for fun,  too.

I hope this outline meets with your approval, Gentle Readers.  I won’t abandon news and comments about things political, but I will try for more balance.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | blogs | Comments Off on Near Future Plans for this Blog

Join Sen. Webb’s Campaign for Criminal Justice/Prison Reform

I have been reporting on the great work of Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) to reform the U.S. Criminal Justice/Prison System. 

On 26 March 2009, Sen. Webb introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009.  The legislation would create a blue-ribbon commission to every aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system and make comprehensive recommendations about how the process can be reformed, top-to-bottom!  Why do we need such a comprehensive review?

  • With 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. houses 25% of the world’s reported prisoners.
  • Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980.
  • Racial discrimination is especially evident in drug-related criminal sentencing:  African-Americans are only 12% of the U.S. population and only 14% of monthly drug users, but they are 37% of those ARRESTED on drug charges; 59% of those CONVICTED on drug charges, and 74% of the convicted drug offenders sentenced to prison! In other words, whites use most of the illegal drugs in this country, but if you are a white drug user, you are much less likely to be arrested for your drug use than a black drug user.  If you are a white drug user who happens to be arrested, you are far less likely to be convicted than a black user. And, if you are unlucky enough to be a white drug user who is convicted on drug charges, you are MUCH,  MUCH more likely to be given probation or sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program than to prison, but your black friend caught during the same drug raid will probably get prison time!!
  • Four times as many mentally ill people are in prison as are in mental health hospitals.
  • Approximately 1 million gang members reside in the U.S., many foreign-based; Mexican drug cartels operate in 230+ communities across the country.
  • Post-incarceration re-entry programs are haphazard and often non-existent, undermining public  safety, and making it extremely difficult for ex-offenders to become full, contributing members of society.  This, in turn, leads to high rates of recidivism.

So, what can you do to help?  One, subscribe to Sen. Webb’s website on the bill.  Two, write your Congressional Representative, urging her or him to introduce this bill into the House of Representatives.   Three, write both of your U.S. Senators, regardless of party, and urge them to co-sponsor Sen. Webb’s bill.  Four, write a letter to the editor of your local paper in support of Sen. Webb’s commission and of comprehensive criminal justice/prison reform.

March 29, 2009 Posted by | criminal juste | , | Comments Off on Join Sen. Webb’s Campaign for Criminal Justice/Prison Reform