Archives: February 2005
This page lists reports and commentary from all of February, 2005
Find all stories from
For items archived from December,
2004, click here.
from November is listed on another page.
of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
Looking toward Easter ...
"A Prayer at the
Empty Tomb" is a short poem shared with us by Witherspooner Bill
LeMosy. It awakens reflection on conversion and compassion, justice
and wisdom, faith and transformation.
On the subject of torture:
Is anything OK in post-9/11 America?
column in today's New York Times relates the experience of Maher
Arar, a Canadian citizen who was picked up in the fall of 2002 by John
Ashcroft's Justice Department and shipped off to Syria for a year of brutal
treatment -- thanks to the US's pattern of outsourcing torture, now renamed
You may want to read this editorial comment, and then read
"A Resolution and
Confession on the Torture and Abuse of Prisoners," adopted by the 2004
Another Jewish group supports selective divestment
This note has just come to us from Kathleen
Eschen-Pipes, a Presbyterian Minister in Santa Cruz, CA.
Yet another Israeli group comes out in
support of selective divestment. Best known for its work to support
conscientious objectors, New Profile seeks to civil-ize Israeli society.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,
A Day in the Life of the Homeless in America
It's too easy to see homelessness as one of those big
Social Problems that's just there, and too big to deal with. But a
recent AP story reminds us of the human dimensions of "the problem," as AP
reporters and photographers spent 24 hours earlier this month meeting with
people who live on the streets and in shelters, following them to their
jobs, watching them in court and talking with those who try to help them.
Their report begins:
From villages to large
cities, homelessness has spread like dye through the weave of America's
social fabric. A single day in the life of the homeless reveals hundreds
of thousands without shelter, and blame goes to everything from the lack
of affordable housing and unemployment to drug abuse, mental illness and a
flawed foster care system.
The story is posted on
photos; it's also
on the AP site, but without the photos.
Announcing: Partners in Transformation Awards
Faith-based organizations and congregations that are (a)
operating an effective social service program with demonstrable, positive
results and (b) operating that program in collaboration with some
organization(s) OUTSIDE the faith community (e.g., schools, government
agency, police, secular nonprofits) are eligible to apply to win $5000 in
this contest being sponsored by FASTEN and the Points of Light Foundation.
Visit www.FASTENnetwork.org for
details and a contest application. [2-28-05]
Washington Office suggests
urging House to restore civil rights protections in the Job Training
The proposed job training
bill would allow religious discrimination by religious organizations
receiving federal funding. The Washington Office has joined many other
religious groups in calling for the restoration of civil rights protections
to the bill.
has issued a similar call for action.
Protesting the Iraq war: We're not
A number have people have raised the question to your WebWeaver (and more
broadly) about why the churches and others are not getting more vocal in
their opposition to the US war in Iraq, rather than simply accepting it.
Well, some people in the community of faith will be raising
their voices in the coming weeks to remind our nation and our government
that the war was wrong to begin with, and hasn't improved with age.
Sojourners reminds us that "Saturday, March 19, 2005,
marks the second anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The human and
financial costs of war on all sides continue to mount at an alarming pace.
In these dire times people of faith are called to raise their voices for
They encourage people to mark this anniversary by
organizing a vigil or a memorial service in their own hometown on
the weekend of March 18-20, 2005.
And they provide helpful organizing kits and more.
Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase urges support of Taco Bell rally
in Louisville, March 12th
Speaking out of his own visit with Immokalee farm workers
in Florida, and having seen what many of the Mexican workers go through in
his own state of Arizona to find work in the US, Ufford-Chase reminds us
that "The church at its best remembers that we are customers, employees,
franchisers, farmworkers, and executives; that we are created for community
and that justice is a community concept. All of us are children of God,
called to recognize God's image in one another, and commanded to live in
ways that promote God's shalom (well-being; just-peace)."
Details on the Rally, March 12th.
Money, morals & Israel: The
Presbyterian case for divesting from Israel
Vernon Broyles, associate for corporate
witness for the General Assembly Council of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.), recently provided a clear articulation of the background of the
PC(USA) action to consider divesting from corporations providing material
support for the destructive aspects of Israel's occupation of Palestinian
in Christian Century, he concludes: "It is time for us to join
forces----Christian, Jewish, Muslim----to demand of our leaders a secure and
lasting peace in the region. The people of Israel/Palestine must have it;
peace in the region and the world requires it; and our God commands it. If
we could manage that, the discussion of divestment would be irrelevant.
Thank God for those who already have shown the courage to begin."
You can also read two critical responses to
from Barbara Wheeler, president of Auburn
Theological Seminary in New York City, who argues that divestment will in
this case be both ineffective and unwise.|
Youdovin, who is executive vice president of the Chicago Board of Rabbis and
president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.|
responds to their criticisms.
unify, not divide, says Madeleine Albright
The people of the world can longer afford to allow religion and religious
leaders to divide them, former Secretary of State and U.N. Representative
Madeleine Korbel Albright told the annual gathering of the Consortium of
Endowed Episcopal Parishes February 25.
So what do you think? Can
religion really play a uniting role in our world?
What can we do to help that happen?
Please send a
note and we'll share it here!
More on the
approval of Eily Marlow for ordination
More Light Presbyterians congratulates Eily
Marlow on her approval for ordination, and a colleague in chaplaincy at
Macalester College expresses appreciation for her ministry.
A visitor attacks
Peter Hodgson's theological critique of the US war in Iraq
He calls it a "diatribe" and writes to "pontificate" in
Read Hodgson's essay:
Part I, "A Theological
Critique of the War on Terror," and
Part II, "Theological
Virtues in an Age of Terror."
Presbytery of Milwaukee approves Eily Marlow for
By a convincing (and perhaps
surprising) vote of 104 to 20, the Presbytery of Milwaukee last night acted
to approve Elizabeth (Eily) Marlow for ordination. Ms. Marlow has long been
active in the Presbyterian Church, through the National Network of
Presbyterian College Women and various other programs. She is currently
serving in the chaplaincy at Presbyterian-related Macalester College in St.
Paul, MN. The presbytery action was notable as a strong endorsement of a
woman who has been very open and honest in affirming her orientation as a
Interim Executive Presbyter Anne Fisher commented that she
was very pleased with the tone and demeanor shown during the discussion of
the action. She added that members showed a real respect for one another,
and a willingness to listen seriously to differing views on a controversial
The Rev. David Oliver-Holder commented that her statement
of faith was "outstanding." He added that after a couple very busy weeks,
"yesterday, as I was reading her statement of faith in preparation for the
meeting, I was amazed to find, by the second paragraph, how calm I had
suddenly become. Peace in the presence of Truth. I also respond well to good
theology, and hers is very good."
There's more in a press
release from the Presbytery of Milwaukee
Theological Virtues in an Age of Terror: Truth, Courage, Justice,
A month ago we posted Peter Hodgson's
theological critique of
"the war on terror."
And now the sequel!
Hodgson has also looked at the war through the lens of the traditional
Christian "theological virtues" of truth, courage, justice, love, and hope.
If you're seeking ways to engage supporters of the war in the kind of moral
reflection they seem to want, here's a good place to begin!
Conference on American
Churches and the Palestinian meets in Austin, Texas
Palestinians speak about rights violations and about their persistent hope
Rev. David Oliver-Holder reports on a conference held
February 11th and 12th on the campus of Austin
Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The conference, on the theme "To Loose
the Chains of Injustice - Isaiah 58:6: American Churches and the
Palestinians," was presented by Friends of Sabeel - North America, the
Roman Catholic peacemaking group Pax Christi USA, and the Austin-based
Interfaith Community for Palestinian Rights. The event attracted more than
220 people from all over the United States.
The 2005 Earth Day Resource: Sacred Oceans and Seas
(prepared by the National Council of Churches Eco-Justice Working Group) is
available online at
For a direct link:
This year's resource includes sermon notes, a bulletin
insert, youth activity ideas, adult study notes, and information on God's
For copy of the printed resource, contact
A COMPANY OF SOLDIERS:
A PBS film airing tonight shows the soldiers' story of
fighting in Iraq
The film A COMPANY OF SOLDIERS will be broadcast next Tuesday night
(February 22) on PBS at 8 PM (Central time). It is the soldiers' story of
fighting in Iraq - a month in the life of the 1st Battalion of the 8th
Cavalry stationed in South Baghdad. It was shot last November during one of
the most dangerous times for that unit. A COMPANY OF SOLDIERS was made by
October Films under the umbrella of the PBS Frontline Series and we'd like
to ask you to email this to everyone you know with a request for them to
send it on to everyone they know.
One word of warning is that the film graphically shows the risks and
consequences of what it is to fight in Iraq - so if you haven't told your
loved ones, they might be in for a shock. One senior confidential source at
the Pentagon who has seen the film told us: "It is compelling stuff. It
proves once again that it is our Soldiers who are our best spokespeople. It
is not only courageous filmmaking (both figuratively and literally), but
it's also an example of very insightful filmmaking. The film captures our
Soldiers' humanity, putting a human face on a very complex set of issues -
that is priceless stuff."
Tomorrow, Feb. 22: National Call-In Day to urge Congress to
close School of the Americas
SOA Watch calls on you to call your
Representative and Senators on Tuesday, February 22, and urge them to
support legislation that would close and investigate the SOA/WHINSEC once
and for all! These three calls can truly make a difference! Congressional
offices count how many calls they get on a specific issue, and these counts
help influence political support and policy decisions.
central committee encourages consideration of economic measures for peace in
-- PC(USA) action cited as example.
The World Council of
Churches (WCC) central committee,
meeting in Geneva, Feb. 15 - 22,
has reminded the Council's member churches that "with investment funds, they
have an opportunity to use those funds responsibly in support of peaceful
solutions" to the Israel/Palestine conflict.
As an example, the WCC governing body mentions the
"process of phased, selective divestment from multinational corporations
involved in the occupation" now being implemented by the Presbyterian Church
(USA). "This action is commendable in both method and manner, [and] uses
criteria rooted in faith."
|FASTING FROM VIOLENCE AGAINST
In its material for Week 2 of a
Lenten Fast From Violence, the
National Council of Churches calls on us to join in
"fasting from violence against creation." This might involve concrete
actions to reverse the processes that are leading to global warming, the
depletion of fisheries, shrinking habitat the threatens thousands of
species, the decline in air quality, and more.
Is your stuff yours? The answer isn't
Conservative arguments again
"takings" clause in Constitution will challenge government's power to act
for the common good
Seeking to limit government seizures,
conservatives take the issue to court. The issue of "takings," or the
government's authority to take private property for legitimate public use
under the law of eminent domain, has been a matter of
concern to the Presbyterian Church, which has affirmed the need for such
authority so that governments can act for the broader public interest in
protecting the environment.
Conservatives will be taking two rather obscure cases to the court, arguing
that the "takings" clause in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution "is meant
to protect property owners and should be used to strike down regulations
that interfere with the profit of an individual or corporation. That might
mean regulations allowing the government to take your house ---- or
environmental regulations that are costly to businesses or health and safety
standards that businesses find onerous. Even minimum-wage laws could be
deemed unacceptable under this theory."
opposes anti-gay marriage amendment to state constitution
At its meeting on January 25, 2005, the Presbytery of Milwaukee adopted a
resolution against the proposed "marriage amendment" to the state
constitution. The resolution includes a careful listing of arguments
for the position against such an amendment.
resources and calls for action on eco-justice
Peter Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice
Ministries, reminds us of the important things being presented to us by the
National Council of Church.
Sign on to GOD'S MANDATE statement
Read and use "God's Earth is
Sacred," a theological statement
Use Earth Day materials for Sunday,
Kyoto Protocol goes into effect - and can provide economic
With the implementation of the Kyoto
Protocol for action against the emissions that are causing global warming,
Worldwatch sees new economic opportunities as nations shift to new energy
technologies, and living standards improve. The US, of course, is
staying out of it all.
Read the story on the
Lenten 'Fast from Violence' Resources
The World Council of Church is encouraging
Christians to enrich their observance of Lent by focusing on how we might
work together to overcome the violence in our culture. The U.S. Committee
for the Decade to Overcome Violence: Churches seeking Reconciliation and
Peace (2001-2010) (DOV) invites Christians to enter into the Lenten season
with a focus on the growing violence in our world and the need for peace and
They also provide detailed ideas for "fasting
from the consumption of media violence, especially geared towards young
Also -- We recently mentioned a call by church leaders call for Christians to fast and pray on
Fridays during Lent for a just resolution of the Taco Bell boycott
Budgets are Moral Documents!
The religious left links economic disparity and moral values
Utne Webwatch has posted a brief summary from Sojourners
of some of the growing flow of
dealing with issues in the federal budget from a progressive faith
And Sojourners editor
Jim Wallis has written a brief statement affirming that indeed, budgets
are moral documents. And he raises sharp questions about the moral values
reflected in the President's budget proposal.
Sojourners also provides
a web page for sending quick
notes to Congress about the budget issue.
And check out
reflections on the federal budget,
a clear, concise analysis of the President's
proposed budget for 2006, from the Presbyterian Washington Office.
Where does US stand on UN proposal to end world poverty?
A day after President Bush's inaugural
speech, in which he made sweeping statements about America's role in global
security, world-renowned economist Jeffrey Sachs and his Millennium Project
presented the UN with a 3,000 page report that outlines how to improve world
security and cut world poverty in half by 2015. Leaders from the United
Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Rwanda, Pakistan,
Tanzania, Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, and Botswana have since vocalized
support and been listed on the project's Web site. So far, the US has been
conspicuously silent on the subject.
short article, and find links to other good sources.
Advocacy site for Sudan opens
The Sudan Advocacy Action Forum (SAAF)
announces the launch of its new Web site at
Sharing news and advocacy information on
Sudan, the site is a ministry of The Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, organized
as a Christian grassroots effort to advocate for a just and lasting peace in
SAAF is comprised of dedicated individuals
with complementing skills who have come together to increase advocacy
efforts and outreach focused on Sudan. Rapid growth of SAAF has come through
the PCUSA, Reformed Church in America, and individual congregations of other
denominations and non-denominational groups. While SAAF gets administrative
support from the Presbyterian Church (USA), it is an ecumenical group
primarily of Christians united in the same goal to work together to achieve
a just and lasting peace in Sudan.
The SAAF site promises situation updates,
prayer requests, lobbying and other action steps, and guidance for
contributions. Individuals who want to follow Sudanese advocacy more
actively can sign up for emailed reports and updates from the Website.
More on Sudan and
Jewish leaders continue to reject PC(USA)'s explanation
ADL accuses church of siding with Palestinians
Presbyterian News Service reports on a recent meeting of a representative of
the PC(USA) with leaders of the Anti-Defamation League in West Palm Beach,
Florida, in yet another effort to reach some understanding of the 216th
General Assembly's action to consider divestment from corporations that
profit by supporting Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The ADL leaders apparently continued to reject the
Presbyterian Church action, with Abraham Foxman, ADL national director,
labeling it as "moral hypocrisy."
the full story.
More on George W. Bush and
Earl H. Tilford,
professor at Grove City College, objects to Berry Craig's comparison of the
President's style and that of the Emperor Napoleon.
MRTI still in
research phase of divestment process related to Israel, Palestine
Ecumenical partners' actions creating 'movement,' says
The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment
(MRTI) is continuing to research which corporations the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) should target for a General Assembly-mandated "process of
selective, phased divestment" because of their involvement in the Israeli
occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
The group expects to identify which companies to engage in
dialogue -- the first step in the process -- at its next meeting, scheduled
for Aug. 4-6 in the Seattle area, said Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, the lead
researcher for MRTI.
Letting your voice
be heard ... on staff dismissals and on divestment
Many Presbyterians have been
concerned about the abrupt dismissal of two national staff people in
November, 2004, and about threats to the PC(USA)'s long-standing program for
responsible investment. We've gathered some suggestions for people
whom you might contact to let your thoughts be made known to those most
reflections on the federal budget
The Presbyterian Washington Office has
published a clear, concise analysis of the President's proposed budget for
2006, focusing on slashes in Medicaid, the Food Stamp Program, child care
for low-income families, education, and community food and nutrition
programs. That is coupled with the President's proposal to make his huge tax
cuts permanent, to the benefit of the affluent. Added to that is increased
military spending - and that's not counting the cost of the wars in Iraq and
The Bulletin includes a
"Faith Reflection on the Federal Budget,"
from the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs. The signers
of the statement raise the crucial question of the budget: "[D]oes it uphold
values that will strengthen our life together as a nation and as part of the
Finally, the Bulletin reminds us of a
resolution adopted by the
1997 General Assembly, which set forth "guidelines for the church and
government to follow in promoting the general welfare of the poor."
Theologians warn of
'false gospel' on the environment; call Christians to repent of sins
In an effort to refute what they call a
"false gospel" and to change destructive attitudes and actions concerning
the environment, a group of theologians, convened by the National Council of
Churches USA, has released an open letter calling on Christians to repent of
"our social and ecological sins" and to reject teachings that suggest humans
are "called" to exploit the Earth without care for how our behavior impacts
the rest of God's creation.
A review of Jim Wallis' best-seller,
God's Politics: Why The Right Is Wrong and The Left
Doesn't Get It
Jim Wallis of Soujourners has hit the best-seller
lists with this prophetic/evangelical survey of the US political scene.
Robert Boehlke, Presbyterian minister and long-time professor of Christian
education at one of Indonesia's major theological seminaries, summarizes
the book's main points and offers some critical thoughts.
|Fasting for justice
Church leaders call for Christians to fast and pray on
Fridays during Lent for a just resolution of the Taco Bell boycott
The Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the
General Assembly of the PC(USA), has joined leaders from the Roman Catholic
Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the National Farm
Worker Ministry in calling for Christians to fast and pray on Fridays during
Lent for a just resolution of the Taco Bell boycott.
A visitor comments on Bill Moyers' retraction of words
attributed to James Watt
publicizing the apology by Bill
Moyers concerning the remarks he made about James Watt without checking
his sources. I was not a fan of Watt's policies, but the particular
quotation attributed to Watt by Moyers had sounded far-fetched to me, and
I'm glad to know that it was not true. And in fact Moyers's speech had
bothered me in general, because I know many evangelicals (myself among them)
who are very much concerned about the environment indeed and feel it is
God's charge to us that we care for it responsibly. Moyers's claim that
evangelicals don't mind if the environment is despoiled, because it would
supposedly hasten the return of Christ, is definitely not true of
evangelicals as a group (if it is true of any of them); certainly I had
never heard of such an idea until I read his speech, and yet I belong to a
very large evangelical church.
Thanks again for your willingness to link to the apology.
Deborah Milam Berkley
First Pres., Bellevue (WA)
Maryland clergy urge Equal Access to Marriage
Forty-three of the seventy-three Christian clergy from across
the state of Maryland who have endorsed a "Statement on Equal Access to
Marriage" gathered on Tuesday, 2/8/05, to release it publicly at a press
conference. The seventy-three clergy are from eight Christian denominations:
American Baptist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America, Metropolitan Community Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United
Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, and the United Reform Catholic
That All May Freely Serve
has posted the press release and statement both in
Word format and in
would have loved George Bush
Berry Craig, a professor of history in
Paducah, Kentucky, plays with what he sees as similarities between Napoleon
and the current president of the United States, primarily in their abilities
to convince the common people that their leaders, who were using them, were
their best friends.
Presbyterian Washington Office provides lots of helpful issue updates:
Three current major issues:
|Social Security |
Last summer, the 216th General Assembly of the PC(USA)
passed a resolution, Reaffirming the Importance of Our Nation's Social
Insurance System (Social Security and Medicare). It reaffirms past policy;
noting that Social Security and Medicare were enacted to promote the
general welfare and to assure a guaranteed income and health care for U.S.
workers. As noted by The Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, in a letter to
congregations: "These programs enable older Americans, people with
disabilities, and their families to live life in fullness." [Read
|Border Crossing: Minors in Jeopardy |
The Arizona desert is beautiful at just about any time
of year. Yet for migrants who have been driven from their homelands
because of worsening economic situations, the desert is all too often
deadly in its beauty. More than 3,500 migrants have died trying to cross
the border since 1998; and at least 219 dead during 2004 on just the
Arizona border. In the search for economic survival, many migrants leave
their families and make the trek from Mexico or Central America to cross
the deserts of U.S. border states. They hold out hope of making enough
cash in the fields, farms, restaurants, and office buildings of America
---- not only to survive themselves, but also to have enough to send back
home so that their families might also eke out a living. [Read
|The Widow's Offering |
As the tsunami crisis unfolded, the Bush
Administration's announcement of its paltry donation of $15 million in aid
incited enough criticism that the amount was increased ---- to $350
million! The criticism sparked a debate: Is the U.S. stingy in what it
gives to the developing world? In terms of percentage of national income,
the U.S. is at the bottom of the list of developed countries. [Read
The 109th Congress has begun its first session. The
Washington Office provides its outlook for congressional action in nine
issue areas. If you are committed to influencing laws and policies, here's a
great place to start.
Reinhold Niebuhr, we need you now -- and NPR will help us
in our need!
An upcoming Speaking of Faith
program on NPR and its companion website will feature the work of Reinhold
Niebuhr, one of the twentieth century's outstanding public theologians.
"Moral Man and Immoral Society" is the title of both the program and one of
Niebuhr's outstanding books ... a work that is strikingly relevant today.
Anyone interested in how Christianity can speak cogently to issues now being
debated in American public life should tune in beginning February 10.
The program will look at Niebuhr's foundational idea,
"Christian realism" -- a pragmatic middle way between religious idealism and
religious arrogance. It will examine how his theology influenced leading
figures in law, culture, and politics, and how he continues to influence
contemporary thinkers on the right and the left, in America and abroad. It
will probe the enduring questions Niebuhr brought to the crises of his day,
through public activism and such books as The Nature and Destiny of Man
and Moral Man and Immoral Society. Niebuhr was also the author of
"The Serenity Prayer," which is now translated and recited in virtually
every language in the world.
the Christianity section of about.com
Get more information and links on the Public Radio web site.
How about seeing "Hotel
Rwanda" as an authentic portrayal of "the Passion of the Christ"?
Brian McLaren, the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge
Community Church in Spencerville, Maryland, reflects on this film out of his
own visit to Rwanda and concludes that "if
we really had the mind and heart of Christ, this is the movie we would be
urging people in our churches to see."
Poll: Most PC(USA) members unaware of GA divestment
Presbyterian ministers, members
divided over divestment
A recent survey by the
PC(USA) Research Services office indicates that
most Presbyterian laity are not aware of the 216th General
Assembly's decision to "begin a process of phased, selective divestment" of
companies profiting from the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
More laity -- 42 percent of members and 46 percent of elders -- oppose
selective phased divestment than favor it (28 percent of members, 30 percent
of elders). But pastors favor the Assembly's action by a 48 - 43 percent
margin and specialized clergy favor the divestment decision by a margin of
64 -24 percent.
Read the rest of the
The Layman attacks one of the major evangelicals on the "Peace,
Unity and Purity" task force
Layman, in the person of Editor in Chief Parker Williamson, has accused
Dr. Mark Achtemeier, one of the leading evangelical members of the Task
Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church, of a "departure from the
Biblical tradition" in his classroom teaching at the University of Dubuque
Theological Seminary. Williamson writes that Achtemeier "told a seminary
class on Jan. 27 that his position on homosexuality represents a 'departure
from the Biblical tradition.' "
Achtemeier has responded in a letter to PresbyWeb that this charge (and
much else in Williamson's article) is "categorically false." He has demanded
an apology and a retraction from the Layman.
Mr. Williamson has responded that he will do no such thing.
The exchange has generated some interesting
comments posted on PresbyWeb, including:
Moyers article is challenged by James Watt
We recently linked to
the text of
Bill Moyers' talk ("There is no tomorrow") in response to his reception
of the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the
Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Arguing that evangelical
Christians and their views now dominate the political scene in Washington,
he warned that their expectations of the impending apocalypse lead to their
passionate support of Israel as the best way to bring on the return of
Christ. He added that these views also lead to a careless attitude toward
the environment - since God will take care of it all anyway. He cited former
Secretary of the Interior James Watt as an example of that view.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune this morning published
a letter from
James Watt denying that he ever said what Moyers says he said. They also
published a statement from Grist magazine (which Moyers had drawn
upon for his quote from Watt) retracting what they had published. This was
followed by a
letter from Moyers himself, apologizing for not checking his sources.
[You may need to run a search on the Star Tribune web site to find Moyers'
[For the Grist retraction, scroll down through
Mr. Watt's letter.]
We regret our minor role in perpetuating what is
apparently a long-standing distortion of Mr. Watt's views.
Given the Layman's refusal to retract what it
said about Mark Achtemeier, Moyers' response makes an interesting contrast.
Fortress Press releases text
for a new generation of theologians
Constructive Theology: A
Contemporary Approach to Classical Themes presents an exciting and
engaging way for today's students to encounter theology.
Coordinated by Serene Jones of Yale
Divinity School and Paul Lakeland of Fairfield University, nearly fifty of
North America's top teaching theologians (members of the Workgroup on
Constructive Christian Theology) have devised a text that allows students to
experience the deeper point of theological questions, to delve into the
fractures and disagreements that figured in the development of traditional
Christian doctrines, and to sample the diverse and conflicting theological
voices that vie for allegiance today.
We recently posted a
letter by Veterans for Peace to former President
Jimmy Carter, expressing concern about the US' continuing use of depleted uranium ammunition, with
all its long-term health effects.
Dr. Earl Tilford, speaking as
a career military man, expresses his disagreement with the notion that
depleted uranium should be a concern.
Veterans for Peace exchange letters with former President
Jimmy Carter on the US' continuing use of depleted uranium ammunition, with
all its long-term health effects
received this note from Witherspooner Gary Campbell
I thought you might want to share with members of
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Witherspoon Society and Binational Servants
the following message from Veterans for Peace National Administrator Woody
Powell with exchange of letters between VFP member Bill Compher and former
U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Read the text of the two
From School of the
weeks until the DC Lobby Day, actions and
national call-in day: tell Congress to close the SOA/ WHINSEC!
February 21 and Tuesday, February 22
|NCC Middle East delegation concludes visit, issues
'Barriers do not bring freedom'
An 11-member delegation from the National Council of Churches USA has
recently returned from a two-week visit to the Middle East. Delegation
members asked those with whom they met: "Is there a new window of
opportunity for peace?" In the statement entitled "Barriers Do Not Bring
Freedom," the delegation concludes, "A sliver of hope for peace does exist,
but we feel strongly the moment must be seized now or the future will remain
Read the rest of the
story, including the members of the delegation, and the full text of
We recently posted a note
encouraging people to support fair trade, and to urge the Presbyterian
Church to do the same.
Barton responded to our note by adding this good point:
Yes, we should encourage our Church to buy fair trade
items, but [we should] also consider using recycled paper products.
God bless, Paz, Harold
Presbyterian Church surpasses
tsunami appeal goal
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has received $3.26
million in individual contributions for tsunami relief aid following the
devastating Dec. 26 disaster in Southeast Asia, and expects to receive over
$500,000 more from congregations and presbyteries.
The total means the disaster response arm of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has surpassed its tsunami aid goal of $2.5
million, which it set in an appeal issued in early January.
PDA is dispatching a three-person team of South Asians to
begin working in Sri Lanka with the fishing industry and looking at issues
related to vulnerable women and widows.
The staff firings:
procedural vs. substantive "due process"
Gordon Shull of Wooster, Ohio, has commented
before on the dismissal of two national staff members.
We recently reported on the action of the
General Assembly Council concluding that the dismissal was carried out
according to proper procedures. Dr. Shull responds to this statement by
pointing out that the important
questions which he
raised earlier have not been touched -- and notes that what may looks
like a "whitewash" will not serve the church well.
Urging our church to encourage
Help us find the ways!
At the Ghost
Ranch seminar last summer, co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
and the Witherspoon Society, participants talked about asking the General
Assembly to adopt procurement policies that encourage fair trade. We are now
in conversation with GA agencies, and are looking for ways to encourage our
church to support fair trade in its purchasing. We'd like to hear your
Out with the old deadly sins, in with the new
The British public no longer believes that the Seven
Deadly Sins have any relevance to their lives and think they should be
brought up to date to reflect modern society.
According to a new poll, the original list of cardinal sins - anger,
gluttony, sloth, envy, pride, lust and greed - do not have the power they
The poll, commissioned by the BBC, found that people now believe cruelty -
not one of the original seven - is Britain's worst sin. Almost four in ten
selected cruelty as the worst modern-day sin, followed by adultery, bigotry,
dishonesty, hypocrisy, greed and selfishness.
story in The Scotsman for some interesting and varied comments.
What do you think of the New Improved Sins?
Just send a note to be
PresbyWeb for pointing us to this
Some resources for Black
Negro History Week was
established in the 1920s by Carter G. Woodson. February was chosen as the
month in which both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were born.
Extended to a month-long celebration in 1976, Black History Month is an
opportunity to emphasize the history and achievements of African Americans.
Web sites you may want to visit:
Thanks to Edgehill United Methodist Church, Nashville, TN
From Gene TeSelle, February 6, 2005
Do you have other resources (on-line or
otherwise) to suggest?
Please send a note
and we'll share it here.
from a new John Witherspoon
We've recently received
an interesting note from someone who is portraying John Witherspoon in the
musical "1776." In the process he's enjoyed learning good things about
-- partly from our web site.
New York man charged with mail threats to PC(USA)
FBI arrest made on Feb. 3.
young New York man was arrested on February 3 and charged with sending a
letter to denominational officials threatening Presbyterian Church (USA)
congregations with arson.
Jeffrey A. Winters, 25, of Queens, NY, was arrested
"without incident" after a search of his apartment, according to the
Kentucky Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He is charged
with interstate communication of a threat to injure another person.
The arrest is tied to an anonymous handwritten letter
received at the Presbyterian Center on Nov. 9 threatening "arson attacks
against Presbyterian Churches with people inside" and accusing the
denomination of anti-Semitism.
Two great chances to
learn more about the US-Mexico border
Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase announces two coming
opportunities to explore issues of immigration, economics, and more on the
US-Mexico border, in April and October.
Social Security & Social Justice
As the debate over the future of Social Security grows more
urgent, we offer some resources from the Presbyterian Church and other
If you have other material that would be helpful, or
comments of your own,
please send a
note to be shared here.
One of those resources is on the PC(USA) web site: a very
helpful page indexing denominational and other
Social Security & Social Justice,
including statements of the Bush administration's "the sky is falling" point
of view, and the contrary assertion that "it's just rain!" Beyond that, they
link to church statements and other explorations of the issue. The whole
thing is provided by the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
With Liberty and Justice for All...
New York court rules that same-sex marriage is a
statement from That All May Freely Serve]
"In a historic 62-page decision, a New York judge ruled on
Friday that the Empire State marriage laws impermissibly discriminate
against same-sex couples. Justice Doris Ling-Cohan wrote that the liberty
interest at stake for the five plaintiff couples was nothing less than the
fundamental right to choose one's spouse, ruling that New York City, in
turn, would have to present a compelling reason for restricting marriage to
letter on the integrity of science
Herbert Valentine, former Moderator of the PC(USA), has forwarded an open
letter which makes clear that Christians are not all standing against
science. It may be a good way to tell the Religious Right that they do not
represent the Christianity that many of us know. The author is seeking
people who will add their names in support of the letter.
Open Letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
In an "open letter" to Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr., nearly 40 years after his death, a large number of progressive
clergy recall his vision and his challenge to patterns of racism and
injustice. Yet today they are compelled to point to the continuation of
white racism, and the sad fact that "many black people now have difficulty
seeing their connections to other black people. We have embraced societal
distinctions that separate us by age, education, gender, sexuality and
|Review team calls Detterick's
actions 'fully compliant'
Committee upholds process
for staff firings
The General Assembly Council (GAC) Personnel Subcommittee
has found that Executive Director John Detterick acted properly when he
terminated two high-level PC(USA) employees in November.
This report includes statements by the
and by the Advisory
Committee on Social Witness Policy, which states "ACSWP believes there
can be very little healing and reconciliation without justice in matters of
ethics of solidarity
Religion, conflict & peace discussed at World Social
At the World Social Forum meeting in Porto Alegra, Brazil,
as a kind of alternative to the gathering of the rich and powerful in Davos,
Switzerland, a global ecumenical coalition (including the World Council of
Churches) has sponsored a panel to explore the role of religion in
conflicts, and to identify resources within religion for overcoming
violence. The emphasis was on an ethic and spirituality that are relational
rather than individualistic. Solidarity and accompaniment were affirmed as
hopeful signs in an religiously pluralistic world.
Items archived earlier in
March, 2005 >>
Find all stories from
For items archived from December,
2004, click here.
from November is listed on another page.
of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!