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Religious tests for judges:
a step toward theocracy?

Religion as a litmus test for judges?
Stated Clerk calls on Frist to avoid condemning people of faith

Legal views of Frist's "nuclear option"

Gene TeSelle reports on a forum at Vanderbilt's Law School concerning the so-called "nuclear option" for the Senate, under which a parliamentary maneuver would bypass the Senate's cloture rule and allow a majority vote on the President's judicial nominees. The panel included two law professors and an African-American minister.

The Republican strategy was criticised as a politicization of the judicial confirmation process, and as giving religious sanction to a partisan political tactic.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist plans to join with the conservative Family Research Council, demanding support for judicial nominees on grounds of religious and moral convictions.   [4-19-05]


Many religious groups object:


Faithful America asks "Has the Religious Right fallen off the deep end?" They provide an easy process for sending notes of concern to members of Congress.


Interfaith Alliance President answers Frist attack on faithful Americans

Dr. C. Welton Gaddy calls on religious leaders and people of faith to oppose "the religious right's blasphemous redefinition of religion and scary redefinition of democracy." Gaddy's April 17th letter to Senate Majority Leader William Frist warns that Sen. Frist and many leaders of the religious right "appear unable to discern the difference between authentic faith and partisan politics.... thus fostering a redefinition of religion that is blasphemy and a redefinition of democracy that is scary."


Americans United has posted a recording of comments by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) to a closed-door "Washington Briefing" held on March 17-19 by the Family Research Council, a Washington-based Religious Right group. DeLay and Frist pledged that Republican leaders in Congress would work to implement the Religious Right’s controversial political agenda.

AU has also urged Frist to stay out of the April 24 TV event, with AU executive director, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, saying that "Sen. Frist should disassociate himself from the Religious Right's unseemly and increasingly shrill campaign to destroy the nation's independent judiciary. ... I am appalled that Sen. Frist would lend his support to this attack on our court system."


"The Theocrats"

On the tenth anniversary of Timothy McVeigh’s terrorist action in slowing up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, William Rivers Pitt reminds us that McVeigh came outof a rightist militia movement. He continues:

"That breed of extremist was on the outside looking in at the time. They have been replaced today by an extremist movement of surpassing menace. Like the militias before them, this new breed likewise represents the far-right flank of the GOP. Unlike their predecessors, however, this new breed enjoys unprecedented insider status. They are represented vigorously in Congress and the White House, and are calling many of the shots."

Specifically right now, "Majority Leader Frist is teaming up with the worst elements of the Theocrat armada in an attempt to paint Democrats in Congress as 'anti-Christian,' the ultimate purpose of which is to undo the generations-old recourse of the Congressional minority, the filibuster."



Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun urges: "Defend the Judiciary--and Counter the Right with a Progressive Spiritual/Religious Left."


Background:


The New York Times reported on April 15 on Frist’s planned TV appearance. The teleconference, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, will include some of the nation's most influential evangelical Protestants, such as Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Chuck Colson, the born-again Watergate figure and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; and Dr. Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.


The Washington Post says this move is "beyond the pale."


"Reclaiming America for Christ"

The Christian Science Monitor provides some general background on evangelicals’ effort to "reclaim America for Christ." Their aim is not simply to convert individuals, but to reshape US society. 

NCC general secretary voices deep concern

Dr. Robert Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA, has sent an open letter to the media, expressing his concern about the campaign being launched by the Family Research Council with the support of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, pushing the view that "those who disagree with them on President Bush's judicial nominees are ‘against people of faith.’" Edgar says this effort "serves to further polarize our nation, and it disenfranchises and demonize good people of faith who hold political beliefs that differ from theirs."   [4-19-05]

Dear Editor:

We are surprised and grieved by a campaign launched this week by Family Research Council and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who said that those who disagree with them on President Bush's judicial nominees are "against people of faith." This campaign, which they are calling "Justice Sunday," should properly be called "Just-Us" Sunday. Their attempt to impose on the entire country a narrow, exclusivist, private view of truth is a dangerous, divisive tactic. It serves to further polarize our nation, and it disenfranchises and demonize good people of faith who hold political beliefs that differ from theirs.

To brand any group of American citizens as "anti-Christian" simply because they differ on political issues runs counter to the values of both faith and democracy. It is especially disheartening when that accusation is aimed at fellow Christians. The National Council of Churches encompasses more than 45 million believers across a broad spectrum of theology and politics who work together on issues important to our society. If they disagree with Senator Frist's political positions, are these 45 million Christians now considered "anti-Christian"?

In the spirit of 1 Timothy 6:3-5, we urge Senator Frist and the Family Research Council to reconsider their plan. We will be praying for the Lord to minister to them and change their hearts so that they will not continue to take our nation down this destructive path.


Bob Edgar, General Secretary
National Council of Churches USA
New York City


From:

Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory
Director, Washington Office
Presbyterian Church (USA)202-543-1126 202-543-7755 (fax)
100 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Suite 410
Washington, DC 20002
eivory@ctr.pcusa.org

For more information, contact:
Rich Houston,
Presbyterian Washington Office,
100 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20002
202-543-1126, fax 202-543-7755.
Email rhouston@ctr.pcusa.org

From the Presbyterian Washington Office:

Advocacy groups for religious and civil rights urge people of faith to reject Senator Frist's co-option of religion      [4-19-05]

The Family Research Council (FRC) has organized a telecast scheduled for Sunday, April 24 that will portray those who oppose certain judicial nominations as "anti-Christian" or "anti-faith." The event is entitled, "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against Faith." Senate majority leader Bill Frist has agreed to participate in the event.

No one faith or political party holds a monopoly on morality in this country. To claim that individuals are "against people of faith" based upon their views about preserving the Senate filibuster is a smear against countless devout Americans. There are people of faith on differing sides of this as well as many other public issues.

The rhetoric associated with "Justice Sunday" is divisive and damaging to religion and politics. The "anti-faith" accusations of "Justice Sunday," and events of its kind, pit America's faithful against one another. They polarize our nation, politicize religion, and improperly sacralize our politics. Our elected leaders should not participate in efforts to divide Americans along religious lines.

Senator Frist should withdraw from participation in the "Justice Sunday" event or repudiate the notion that anyone who does not endorse a particular political and legal agenda is anti-religious. The Senate Majority Leader's participation in this event lends his approval and gives legitimacy to the featured messages of an event that is divisive and hurtful.

While the Family Research Council has a right to say what it wants, our elected officials have a responsibility to repudiate language that divides Americans along religious lines and smear people as "anti-faith" simply because they take another political point of view. This is especially true of the majority leader of the U.S. Senate who should defend his colleagues from such scurrilous and baseless accusations. There is no "filibuster against people of faith."

Judicial nominees are not opposed on the basis of their faith. There is every reason to assume that the 95% of President Bush's nominees who have received floor consideration, as well as almost all of the senators on both sides of the filibuster issue, are people of faith.

Checks and balances, such as the filibuster, help protect religious liberty in America. A great achievement of our democracy is our stalwart commitment to protect the voice of its minorities. Throughout our nation's history, certain people of faith have often occupied this minority status. How ironic if, in the name of religion, upholding the voice of the minority should now be perceived as an affront to faith in this country!



Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory, Director
Washington Office
Presbyterian Church (USA)
202-543-1126 fax 202-543-7755
100 Maryland Avenue, N.E., Suite 410
Washington, DC 20002
eivory@ctr.pcusa.org


For more information, contact:
Rich Houston,
Presbyterian Washington Office,
100 Maryland Ave. NE, Suite 410
Washington, DC 20002
202-543-1126, fax 202-543-7755.
Email rhouston@ctr.pcusa.org

 

GA actions 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 of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.
 

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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 thoughtful community.

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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 lightening up.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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