Archives: January 2006
This page lists reports and commentary from all of January, 2006
All postings from
Our coverage of the 2006 General
Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
Human rights advocates face six months in prison for civil disobedience
opposing controversial U.S. Army training school
Trials begin in Columbus, Georgia on Monday, January
30; grandmother, priests, retirees, nun, students among those prosecuted
On Monday, January 30 thirty-two people ranging in age
from 19 to 81 will begin federal trials for peacefully walking onto a
military base in protest of a controversial Army training school. Each
person faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine for this act of
nonviolent civil disobedience.
The rest of the story >>
Here (at last -- sorry!) is the full text of the first of
the overtures being sent to the General Assembly to "delete B" and provide a
new Authoritative Interpretation that would eliminate earlier official
statements condemning same-sex relationships as a bar to ordination.
For this overture, plus the text of all the concurring
overtures (many with distinctive rationales), go to
PC(USA) web site.
Washington Office provides a Biblical & Theological
Along with the numerous
surveys of the "outlook for
2006" in various areas of social concern, the Presbyterian Washington
Office has just published a paper offering a theological reflectionon why it
is important for people of faith to be engaged in the issues facing us as
members of a greater society. How should faith shape our public, social and
political actions? This Biblical & Theological Perspectives, entitled "Through
the Work of Our Hands and the Meditation of Our Hearts: Defining
Spirituality for Contemporary Justice Seekers," was written by Dr.
Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty. A Presbyterian minister, she is now a member of the
theology faculty at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky.
full paper >>
That All May Freely Serve National Conference
March 16-March 19, 2006
Calvin Center, Hampton GA
[from That All May Freely Serve]
Called by the life and teachings of Jesus, compelled by our faith and
charged by our conscience, we advocate for an inclusive church that honors
diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons as
full members. Full membership includes eligibility for ordination to the
offices of elder, deacon, and pastor.
That All May Freely Serve invites our regional partners,
allies, friends, and families from around the country to a national
gathering hosted by TAMFS-South at the Calvin Center in Hampton, GA,
approximately 45 minutes south of Atlanta.
For more information, a conference schedule, and to
register online visit our web site.
Questions? Send a note to
Two more presbyteries support overtures for
Last Saturday, January 21, the Presbytery of the Redwoods concurred with
the Heartland ordination overture by 64-16. The presbytery also concurred
with the Santa Fe overture to amend the Rules of Discipline restricting the
filing of accusations from those outside the bounds of a presbytery and that
vote concurring with Santa Fe was 73-7.
And on January 27, the Presbytery de Cristo in southern Arizona approved
a concurrence overture from the Session of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church,
Tucson, by a vote of 48 to 38.
Adee states his belief that a total of 20 overtures have now gained
approval in presbyteries, seeking to remove barriers to ordination for lgbt
Thanks to Lisa Larges, Regional Partnership Coordinator
All May Freely Serve, and Michael Adee, National
Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians,
for these reports.
reports on the No2Torture conference
organizer Carol Wickersham writes:
Please check out the lead story in Presbyterians
Today by Evan Silverstein. He has done a remarkable job of giving a
sense of the content, process and intent of the meeting. All of the
presenters are quoted! It was wonderful to have a mighty group of 50, but
now the word has gone out to thousands more.
So let us keep the faith and keep building the momentum,
the article and see the photos >>
5 Reasons Torture is always Wrong
And why there should be no exceptions.
Christianity Today Magazine has published a lengthy article by David P.
Gushee, professor of moral philosophy at Union University in Jackson,
Tennessee, considers carefully the US administration’s efforts since 9/11 to
justify its interrogation techniques as something other than torture.
Perhaps "torture lite"??
But he concludes that for five very basic reasons,
Christians must say No to torture – lite or regular:
|Torture violates the dignity of the human being|
|Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the
demands of justice. |
|Authorizing torture trusts government too much.|
|Torture dehumanizes the torturer.|
|Torture erodes the character of the nation that
A longer version of this essay >>
Reminder from the Washington Office of the
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Ecumenical Advocacy Days
What would a faithful vision of global security look like?March 10-13, 2006
Come find out. . .
Challenging Disparity: The Promise of God
– The Power of
For general information on the
You are invited to attend the
GLOBAL SECURITY AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS DANGER TRACK
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice
March 10-13, 2006
In a world awash with conventional and nuclear weapons, where groups,
nations, and individuals resort to acts of terror, how do we develop
policies that will make the U.S. and all of the nations of the world more
secure? This track will explore that question.
Building on the momentum of the successful effort in 2005 to stop the
nuclear bunker buster, the track will focus on responding to U.S. policies
on nuclear weapons. Issues related to the use of torture by the U.S. will
also be considered. The track will also examine the war in Iraq with the
Middle East track and consider how overcoming hunger and poverty might
enhance national and global security.
Together we will explore ways that Christians can organize in our
communities to address issues related to global security.
Details on the
Global Security track >>
Registration Fee: $140 (includes lunches and Sunday banquet). Student
scholarships are available.
Hotel rooms are available at the conference site, the Doubletree Hotel
Crystal City. Reserve by Feb. 9 for the discounted rate of $99 per room
(same rate for 1 to 4 people/room).
Presbyterian Washington Office presents the "outlook for
2006" on many issues of concern
These are very
helpful resources for anyone who wants to understand, and perhaps have some
impact on, legislation and policies in Washington.
Each topic is listed here, along with the headline on that
document. Click on each topic to jump to that document.
Making the Crucial Connection between Land Deprivation and Extreme Poverty
Rights & Religious Liberties
Congress to Look at Immigration Reform, Domestic Spying and Voting Rights
Legislative Progress Unlikely, though Midterm Elections May Provide Needed
Can the United States Rebuild Global Trust?
Uninsured Americans Increase, as Congress Struggles with Budget and Cuts in
Congress Pursues Tax Cuts and Moves toward Slashing $40 Billion from
Challenges from the Left, as the U.S. Goes Deeper in Colombia, and Ponders
Mexican Security Fence
Pivotal Year for Israelis and Palestinians as Bush Administration Struggles
with Iraq, Syria and Iran
Reproductive Rights, Trafficking and Public Education at Top of This Year's
|Looking back to look ahead:|
The Civil Rights movement
with a special look at Birmingham
Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, Gene TeSelle, has gathered good materials
for background reading on the civil rights movement, and presents some books
that relate especially to Birmingham. So before many of us head for
Birmingham and the 217th General Assembly in Birmingham, you may
want to dip into some of these as a way to experience the city with new
A Song of Empire
How about a little poetry? Not a
cautionary tale, exactly, but a little cautionary verse for American
Oh, sing a song of Empire great;
Our country right or wrong!
We’ll sing a song of Empire great;
We’ll be forever strong!
rest of the poem >>
from the mega-church world
Brian Cave, a student at Union Theological Seminary, New York, has sent
a note about a book on "seeker churches," otherwise known as
mega-churches, and the insights they may offer into ways that churches can
understand and relate to the changing culture of our time. It is
Seeker Churches, by Kimon
More -- including interesting quotes >>
A way to support those excluded from ordination
Lynne Reade has been a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian
Church for almost 40 years. On January 15 she was granted her request
to her Session that she be released form the exercise of ordained office, to
stand in solidarity with all those faithful Presbyterians who are excluded
from ordination because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Copy her application
for release to use if you choose to take the same action >>
Add your name in opposing torture|
Princeton statement now open for signatures.
statement originally issued with the title "The Soul of Our Nation Is at
Stake: Religious Voices Opposing Torture," has now been posted on a new
website, and those who support its opposition to torture in the name of
faith in God, are invited to add their signatures and support to the
declaration. It now has a new title: "Torture Is A Moral Issue: A Statement
of the National Religious Campaign against Torture."
You can read the text of the declaration
on our website, or
click here to go to the new site of the
National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Scroll to the bottom
of the page to add your name.
is also available in PDF
A report on the
conference from Carol Wickersham >>
Presbytery of Boston passes ordination overture to remove barriers to full
membership & ministry for LGBT persons and their families
With an appeal from the Gospel of
Matthew, the Presbytery of Boston has approved a Delete-B/Remove AI overture
calling for an end to discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender Presbyterians. Michael Adee, National Organizer of
More Light Presbyterians, estimates this is the eighteenth presbytery
approving an ordination overture to the General Assembly in Birmingham.
including the text of the overture >>
Washington Office of the
Presbyterian Church (USA)
PresbyAction Network: One Final Chance to Stop Budget Cuts and TANF
Changes -- Call Your Rep This Week
In December, the House voted 212-206 and the Senate voted 51-50 (with
Vice President Vice President Cheney casting the tie-breaking vote) to pass
a budget reconciliation spending reduction package (S 1932) that would cut
more than $39 billion over five years from programs affecting low- and
moderate-income people. However, the Senate passed a version slightly
different than the House, so the House must pass the Senate version before
the legislation can go to the President for signature.
The House is expected to vote on these budget cuts on February 1, so you
have one more chance to contact your Representative and urge that they vote
NO on the budget package that would severely impact those most in need in
Details and suggestions for
Signers sought for a Women’s Call for Peace
Anuradha Mittal, of the
Oakland Institute, sends this
I am one of the initial endorsers of this exciting new
campaign: Women Say No To War! From now until March 8,
International Women's Day, we will be gathering over 100,000 signatures on
the Urgent Call for Peace in Iraq (below). On March 8, we will deliver the
signatures to the UN, U.S. embassies, consulates, and federal offices all
over the world. This is your opportunity to unite with international women
everywhere, and voice our opposition to the illegal war in Iraq.
(PLEASE NOTE: Men in solidarity with 'WOMEN
SAY NO TO WAR' are invited to join us! )
The text of the
Call for Peace, and links to add your name >>
Why Is Religion so Violent?
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst,
offers a quick tour of about a dozen books that explore the connections,
so much discussed these days in relation to Islamism, between religion and
violence. They offer a variety of understandings that may help us seek
ways to expand the peaceful potential of religious faith, and to defuse
the impulses to violence. The
full article >>
|Another source for progressive, non-violent hymns
Bill LeMosy adds this
One source for non-bloody hymns is Worship in the
Spirit of Jesus: Theology, Liturgy and Songs Without Violence. It's by
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Bret Hesla. Mr. Hesla contributed some interesting
new hymns along with piano (and guitar chords for some) accompaniment.
To see details and to order
You Know You’re Living In 2006
1. You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2. You forgot how to play solitaire with real cards.
3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
The rest of the list >>
registration forms are now online
The Seminar page will provide
you with links to the full catalog, and links to separate registration forms
for the Abiquiu campus and the Santa Fe campus.
conference on torture: disturbing and energizing, with the rich
diversity of "an amazing coalition"
Carol Wickersham, who initiated the No2Torture group within the Presbyterian
Church, offers this report on the conference held January 13-15, 2006, at
Read the declaration of the conference,
THE SOUL OF OUR
NATION IS AT STAKE: RELIGIOUS VOICES OPPOSING TORTURE
PBS offered this report on the Princeton conference
Taking on Torture
More than 100 Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious leaders and
thinkers met this month at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey to
try to take a more public and more vigorous lead in the debate on U.S. use
of torture in the war on terrorism.
|Presbytery of the James will be asked to
affirm "call to say no to torture"
|Reports from Miami witness
Organizers of the Miami Witness against Torture, held
January 5-6, are posting more of the presentations, worship materials, and
group reports. Details and links >>
|Amnesty International Launches
'Tell the Truth About Torture, Mr. President'
Campaign urges full, honest disclosure of U.S. acts of
torture during State of the Union Address.
For details and to sign petition
Bush urged to specify U.S. policy on torture
Retired military leaders express concern after the president made ambiguous
remarks on the new ban last month.
A group of retired military officers urged President Bush
on Thursday [January 19, 2006] to spell out how he would enforce a ban on
the torture of U.S.-held prisoners, complaining that he muddied the issue in
a statement last month that some experts said signaled he would bypass rules
for treatment of detainees when he saw fit, even after he signed them into
Bush reluctantly accepted the ban, pushed by Sen. John
McCain (R-Ariz.), after scandals over abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib
prison in Iraq, harsh interrogations at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay,
Cuba, and reports that the CIA ran secret prisons abroad to hold terrorism
Retired military leaders, including Marine Gen. Joseph P.
Hoar, who was commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said Bush should
clarify his stance after his statement last month.
Read a Reuters report in the L. A. Times >>
SOA Watch urges: Be a part of the 2006 Legislative Campaign
They also call for support for anti-SOA activists as they are
taken to court and sent to prison for their stand
Amos prophesies against torture
Matthew R. Schlimm, of Duke University, has published a very good article
in the Society of Biblical Literature Forum, on "Teaching the Hebrew Bible
amid the Current Human Rights Crisis: The Opportunities Presented by Amos
Acknowledging that "these oracles do not delineate a developed doctrine
of human rights in times of war," nevertheless Schlimm shows how "each of
Amos' six oracles against the nations condemns war crimes broadly understood
as inhumane actions committed in times of violence. Each crime that Amos
focuses on would be deemed, at least by today's standards, a crime against
humanity and a severe human rights violation."
The full article >>
Thanks to Terri Brink, on the e-list of No2Torture
To join the
No2Torture e-list >>
Bechtel vs. Bolivia: The People Win!!
We have reported earlier on the efforts
of US multinationals to gain private control of water supplies, especially
in Latin America. A major struggle has gone on in Bolivia, where Bechtel
Corporation has worked for six years, with the help of the World Bank, to
take control of the water supply in the city of Cochabamba.
On January 19, 2006, Jim Shultz of The Democracy Center
("Helping people build democracy from the ground up"), reports:
The Cochabamba water revolt which began exactly six
years ago this month will end this morning when Bechtel, one of the
world's most powerful corporations, formally abandons its legal effort to
take $50 million from the Bolivian people. Bechtel made that demand before
a secretive trade court operated by the World Bank, the same institution
that coerced Bolivia to privatize the water to begin with. Faced with
protests, barrages of e-mails, visits to their homes, and years of
damaging press, Bechtel executives finally decided to surrender, walking
away with a token payment equal to thirty cents. That retreat sets a huge
Details and background >>
A Policy of Collateral Damage
A troop drawdown in Iraq could mean more civilian casualties
The January 13 air attack on a Pakistani village, which
killed many civilians and perhaps a few al-Qaida members, illustrates the
United States' policy of bombing from the sky and letting the chips (and
bodies) fall where they may. As Seymour Hersh reports in The New Yorker,
the US military now seems to be relying on drawing down troop numbers on the
ground while shifting focus to its air assault capabilities.
Nick Rose provides
summary of this issue, and links to many reports and analyses, in Utne
Lobbying reform proposals put forward by House Republican
and Democratic congressional leaders are "reform lite"
Statement of Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook:
The lobbying reform proposals put forward by both
Republican and Democratic leaders to curb influence-peddling abuses in
Washington appear to get at some of the most obvious and outrageous abuses
perpetrated by felon and former super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But they fail
to reach the heart of the problem - the influence of special interest money
in politics. More >>
The meltdown of the middle class
by Jerry M. Landay,
a former CBS News correspondent and journalism professor, who writes now for
Media Transparency, which reports on "the money behind conservative media."
His report begins:
"There's bankruptcy and there's bankruptcy. We learn that
in 2005, more than two million Americans filed for bankruptcy -- one in
every 53 American households -- many having fallen prey to excessive medical
costs, and/or maxed out on their credit cards. It's the highest number of
bankruptcies on record. It coincided with Congressional passage of
legislation misleadingly labeled The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and
Consumer Protection Law. ... Now, many Americans may never escape the
clutches of indebtedness."
This, he says, is part of a larger trend, "in which the
gulf between the privileged management class and the rest of us grows wider
and wider, in which a new corporate aristocracy will preside over ever more
impoverished proles, a destructive socioeconomic process in which the middle
class merges into the underclass. ... The middle class has been the
architect and maintainer of a healthy democracy -- well educated, informed,
aware. It works hard, the living symbol of upward mobility, a place you can
always reach if you try. Out of the great middle class came the potent
activist concern for equal opportunity, the defense of the poor and needy,
and enlightened justice.
"But the middle class in America is eroding as the
national wealth is shifted upward. It's getting tougher to hold onto jobs
headed overseas, to afford suitable housing, to meet escalating bills for
energy, medical care, education, food and transportation."
The rest of
the story >>
With thanks to author Jerry M. Landay and to
A new Witherspooner comes in from the cold. Or rather the
We received this note on January
17. We invite YOU to follow Barbara Howard’s fine example, and join
Dear Doug King,
I am a 75 yr old that has just discovered the
Witherspoon Society! Where in the world was I all these years you may ask
-- I was born and raised here and have spent my life in Houston, Texas,
most of it as a Baptist. When I became a Democrat I found the Presbyterian
Church USA and the more liberal and progressive I became, I found a few
like minded souls. One of these friends goes to the same church I do, his
name is Charles Stogner, and he gave me one of your publications.
Now the sad part is I live on Social security and can't
afford to join even though I would so much like to.
However I wanted you to know how thankful I am to know
that your publication exist and you are associated with the PCUSA. My
church is Westminster Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. Thank you for
keeping up the good work and sending out much needed information to those
of us surrounded by the "Bush dogma." It's like a drink of cool water in
the desert. We need to step up as Christians and take back the values we
have allowed to be so shamefully used by the right wing. I applaud you and
I believe our spiritual crisis is real; you are my heroes!
A little note: We’ve added Ms. Howard to our membership
list with a complimentary membership for 2006. We’re glad she’s with us! And
we’ll welcome YOU, too.
information about us >>
Join us online! >>
Update from the Washington
Office, Presbyterian Church (USA)
for Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Space Is Limited!
In 2005 more than 900 persons from at least 26 denominations gathered in
Washington, D.C. and participated in workshops, training and advocacy for
international and domestic social justice issues. The March 10-13 event
promises to be bigger and better. Advocacy Days 2006 will include:• Major speakers
• Chance to
advocate with your members of Congress
• Bring your faith
values into the public square
• Fun and more…
March 2006 represents the early stage in many of the mid-term House and
Senate campaigns. Your advocacy will be invaluable in helping to insure that
issues of justice for persons who are poor are not ignored. Check
www.advocacydays.org for updates,
or e-mail email@example.com
Human Rights Watch says U.S. has a strategy of torture
The Bush administration has a deliberate strategy of abusing terror
suspects during interrogations, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday in its
annual report on the treatment of people in more than 70 countries.
The human rights group based its conclusions mostly on statements by
senior administration officials in the past year, and said President Bush's
reassurances that the United States does not torture suspects were deceptive
and rang hollow.
''In 2005 it became disturbingly clear that
the abuse of detainees had become a deliberate, central part of the Bush
administration's strategy of interrogating terrorist suspects,'' the report
The rest of the story
in the New York Times >>
THE SOUL OF OUR NATION
IS AT STAKE:
RELIGIOUS VOICES OPPOSING TORTURE
We have just posted an updated version of
declaration from the Conference on Human Rights and Torture, with some added
signatures, including that of PC(USA) Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase
NOTE: Organizers of
the conference are planning to publicize this statement widely in
religious and secular publications, seeking many more signatures in the
hope of gaining the attention of political decision-makers. They will
begin this as soon as the Internet facilities can be set up – so keep
Extremism too close for comfort
Death threats forced a Presbyterian-related conference center
in Florida to shut its doors briefly last month and to cancel a scheduled
youth-leadership event for a Muslim group that was forced to meet in a
A national conference on
progressive Christianity starts January 24 in Berkeley
The 105th annual Earl Lectures of Pacific School of Religion
will focus on the meaning and potential of progressive Christianity at a
time when public discourse is dominated by the Christian right. The lectures
carry the general title of "Gathering the Beloved Community: Voices of Faith
for the Public Square" and will take place January 24-26, 2006, in Berkeley.
Featured lecturers and preachers are James Forbes, senior
minister at The Riverside Church in New York City; media and religion
scholar Diane Winston; feminist theologian Kwok Pui Lan; Holocaust scholar
Hubert Locke; and Delwin Brown, dean emeritus of the host Pacific School of
Religion. The lectures and worship services are free and open to the public.
For more information,
click here or call
510/849-8274 or 800/999-058.
Late bulletin --
Globe awards offer reasons for celebration..
Certainly we can celebrate the fact that "Brokeback Mountain" won the Golden
Globe award for Best Motion Picture Drama, with its moving portrayal of love
between two cowboys, and the terrible price they and others paid for that
love because of society’s prejudices. But there’s more. After all,
how many Presbyterian organizations have Golden Globe-winning movie stars
named after them?
Conference on Torture draws 165 religious leaders
This note is from the Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Coalition
for Peace Action &
Peace Action Education Fund.
First, see links below to excellent press coverage of this
weekend's Conference on Torture, attended by 165 religious leaders from
across the US, which launched the National Religious Campaign Against
Torture. I'm especially pleased that The Trentonian, a very
conservative newspaper, featured photos and quotes about our Conference on
Sunday's entire front page and most of the third page! Unfortunately, the
first link below only has the story, but it was tremendous coverage aimed at
a constituency we hope to reach on this issue! News 12 New Jersey television
also covered the event.
The Trenton Times >>
Featured speakers included Ray McGovern, creator of
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, who served as a CIA analyst
for 27 years; Retired General Richard O'Meara, and James Yee, a former
Muslim chaplain at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, who was arrested,
charged with espionage and treated like the "enemy," until charges against
him were dropeed and he received an honorable discharge.
The Trentonian >>
In this report Ray McGovern is quoted as saying of
torture: "It’s not wrong because it’s condemned by law. It’s condemned by
law because it’s wrong." When asked if he gave any weight to the argument
that torture tactics are necessary in today’s "war on terrorism" because
it’s a new kind of war, McGovern answered immediately, "No weight at all.
Torture is terrorism."
A note from your WebWeaver: We will soon have a
report from three members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship who
participated in this event. One of them described her experience there as
"mind-blowing .... high-power ... stunning." So we gather it was pretty
Also -- don't miss "THE
SOUL OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE," the declaration adopted by supporters
of the conference.
a new educational resource on
Biblical views of sexuality &
The Rev. Barbara Swartzel Anderson, PCUSA
clergywoman and pastor, has written a new education resource that Michael
Adee, National Field Organizer of
More Light Presbyterians, recommends for us by individuals, congregations,
youth groups, campus ministries, seminary communities and MLP chapters.
We are happy to post the full text here. Adee adds that "you can copy
this for your use. Please know that this educational resource is copyrighted
by the author and generously being shared with MLP by her."
Adee also says, "Please do circulate and share this new educational
resource. It could be very helpful to persons who seek "more light" on what
the Bible says and does not say about human sexuality, marriage,
homosexuality, same-sex relationships and same-sex love, hospitality, and
what it means to be family and to be the Church."
For more educational resources go to
US Empire wins ... respect??
The government of Venezuela, gaining financially from its large oil
production and sales, has gone shopping for weapons, like any good modern
Pres. Hugo Chavez wants to buy 12 planes (transports and
surveillance planes) from Spain. The US has refused to grant an export
license to Spain, since the planes contain US technology.
So Pres. Chavez has said he might stop selling oil to the
US (about 15% of US energy imports). Spain meanwhile has agreed to sell the
planes anyway, simply removing the taboo US parts and replacing them with
parts from European sources.
And so our power grows. Or, ummm ...
On Chavez’ seeking the planes, and threatening to stop selling oil >>
readiness to work around the US objections >>
"The Soul of our Nation is at Stake" -- religious leaders
speak out against torture
The Conference on Human Rights and Torture,
held this weekend at Princeton, has issued a declaration endorsed by many
participants and other supports of the event.
Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all
religions hold dear. It degrades everyone involved -- policy-makers,
perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation's most cherished
ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are
shocking and morally intolerable.
It also expresses concern over the President's statement, as he signed
the McCain amendment reaffirming the ban of torture, that he believes he is
not bound by this restriction.
|Cincinnati Presbytery passes
overture to amend 1978 GA Policy Statement on homosexuality - a call from
the Midwest for change!
Today the Cincinnati Presbytery has sent an overture to
the GA that would seek to delete seven of the most insulting statements in
the GA's 1978 Policy on Homosexuality. The vote was 79 to 74 with 4
abstentions. Three reports,
plus the text of the overture >>
The Martin Luther King
you don't see
Witherspooner Dwight Lawton calls our attention to the fact that as we
remember and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we hear much about his
ringing calls for civil rights, but little about what may be his most
challenging calls, toward the end of his life, for economic justice and for
peace. And, he says, it seems just as true today, "with most mass
media, Congress and the White House still accepting the perpetuation of
Faithful America urges:
EVERYONE Deserves a Living
This Sunday, had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived, he would celebrate his
77th birthday. If he were here today he would no doubt be asking YOU - as a
person of faith and conscience - to stand with him in a cause for which he
was passionate - a living wage for all workers.
need you help organize a prayerful and meaningful event in your faith
community that enables you and those in your circle of concern to help move
local, state, and federal government officials toward a just, compassionate,
and appropriate living wage.
Theological Task Force members in their
Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity has spoken collectively in its final
report. Presbyweb has offered to post an op-ed article by the members
individually. They are posting the 16 articles they have received in
alphabetical order, one or two at a time.
• Why I support the
Task Force report –
by P. Mark Achtemeier
"...In short, I support the task force report because I am convinced it
represents a step toward a more faithful, truthful, and sustainable way of
working through our differences as we seek together to be the one body of
Christ in mission to the world."
• A more faithful,
life-giving way of "being
church" – by
"...The Peace, Unity, and Purity Task Force experience is one of the best I’ve
had as a Presbyterian... and I long for the wider church to have this same
experience of unity in Christ even as we continue to disagree on important
It seems to be impossible to access these pages from outside the
Presbyweb site. So apparently you'll have to go to
PresbyWeb home page and see if you can find your way from there.
Note: You will be asked to register to access this
site, and to make a contribution to continue using it.
|WCC'S 9th Assembly to affirm
"A world without poverty is not only possible but is in keeping with the
grace of God for the world" affirms a call that will play a central role
at the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Porto Alegre,
Called "AGAPE - A Call to love and action", the
six-page document summarizes the results of the work done by the WCC and
ecumenical partners on economic globalization since the 8th Assembly in
Harare in 1998. It also calls churches "to act together for transformation
of economic injustice".
Raising the roof in Mississippi
500 volunteers clear storm debris, fix 75 houses in weeklong 'blitz'
Presbyterians organized and funded a six-day roofing
"blitz" during the week after Christmas, to aid hurricane survivors, fixing
homes in Biloxi, Long Beach and Bay St. Louis, all in Mississippi.
Volunteers, most of them Presbyterians, came from as far
away as Ontario, Canada, to participate in the $250,000 effort, which was
coordinated by Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), Mississippi
Presbytery and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gulfport.
Most of the building materials used in the effort were bought with
contributions raised through a PDA appeal issued shortly after Hurricane
Katrina. So far, the disaster-response agency has raised $20 million for
church rebuilding, pastoral support and general community work, according to
PDA's coordinator, Susan Ryan.
New claims of Guantánamo torture
Fresh claims of torture and abuse at Guantánamo Bay have
been published by Amnesty International to mark the US detention center's
The London-based human rights group said 500 detainees
continued to be held without charge or trial and repeated its call for the
center to be shut.
More from the BBC
|Thought for the day -- or the decade
A tyrant must put
on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less
apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider godfearing
and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him,
believing he has the gods on his side.
Torture is terrorism
Co-Pastor of Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, responds
to numerous writers on PresbyWeb who have scolded Presbyterian church
leaders who have been critical of US use of torture. He concludes: "General
Assembly Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase is a blessing to our church for many
reasons, including his leadership against torture. I plan to join him and
others at No2Torture meeting in the Miami on
Also ... Presbyterians gathered in Miami on January
5-6, 2006, to stand against the continuing US use of torture.
Carol Wickersham, organizer of the Presbyterian-related
No2Torture group, offers a first,
informal, and personal report on that No2Torture Public Witness. We
will add more reports as they come in.
Her report >>
For God and guns, against gays
Lincoln wouldn’t recognize the Republican Party in his native
Witherspooner Berry Craig describes the Republican Party
chair in Larue Country, Kentucky, birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, as
exemplifying a "party of theocracy" and born-again Christianity that is very
different from Lincoln’s modest spirituality and commitment to ending human
Craig's essay >>
National Security Agency mounted massive spy op on
Baltimore peace group, documents show
National Security Agency has been spying on a Baltimore anti-war group,
according to documents released during litigation, going so far as to
document the inflating of protesters' balloons, and intended to deploy units
trained to detect weapons of mass destruction, RAW STORY has learned.
According to the documents, the Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a
Quaker-linked peace group, has been monitored by the NSA working with the
Baltimore Intelligence Unit of the Baltimore City Police Department.
The Sago mine disaster – not
The Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO,
provided a helpful examination of the political and economic factors
underlying the explosion in the West Virginia mine on January 2. They
also offer links to a number of other analyses.
Church Leaders' Summit held in Saint Paul, MN
During an important
series of meetings among various groups working for justice and full
inclusion for lgbt Christians, Martha Juillerat was honored on her tenth
anniversary as National Program Director of Shower of Stoles Project.
This celebration also marked the transition and transfer of the Shower of
Stoles Project to the Institute of Welcoming Resources.
Religious Right rallies again for a conservative court
The Philadelphia Inquirer provides one report of the
"Justice Sunday III" rally held in Philadelphia on Sunday, Jan. 8, primarily
in support of Samuel A. Alito Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination.
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority,
described President Bush's nomination of Alito as the culmination of a
lengthy effort to "mobilize people of faith and values."
A protest rally across the street from Greater Exodus
Baptist Church included several dozen gay-marriage advocates, AIDS
activists, and other groups who criticized the event as a dangerous
intermingling of politics and church. In a conference call held in advance,
liberal religious leaders described "Justice Sunday" as a bid by the
Christian right to control the judiciary.
The full report
More progressive hymns
The Rev. Bill LeMosy has
shared with us four hymn texts that he has written, which he hopes might
"fit the bill" for a request by the
Rev. Dorothy Duquette for hymns that are suitable and nourishing for a
progressive Presbyterian congregation.
>> For Advent:
Dreamers, Awake This Holy Day
>> For Epiphany:
The Magi Came from Far Away
>> The Lordship of Christ:
Come to the Feast
We have also posted previously a number of the hymn texts
written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. Here are a few samples:
You Formed Us in Your
Image, Lord -- a hymn for families
Creator God, You Made the Earth
-- celebrating the God of creation
A Voice Was Heard in Ramah
-- for the day after Christmas
There are more from Ms. Gillette. Just do a little
Google search on this site (and others).
Justice for All ... or "Justice Sunday III"?
Tomorrow, Sunday, January 8, will see the third in a series of events held
by the Religious Right to shape the federal courts in the ways they want.
The group Faithful America urges people concerned about
"justice for all" to sign a petition to let our Senators in Washington know
that the religious conservatives are not the only people of faith who care.
Millions of Americans of faith
are about to be misrepresented in Washington through a well funded and
heavily promoted effort called "Justice Sunday III." This attempt by
politically-aligned right-wing religious fundamentalists aims to pressure
Congress to load the courts with ultra-conservative judges. Congress must
not hear only from religious fundamentalists. The rest of us deserve a
hearing, too. You can help make that happen by signing the following
petition, which will be sent to your Senators in Washington.
To sign the
Americans United welcomes Florida Supreme Court decision
striking down school voucher plan
liberty watchdog group calls ruling a victory for public education and
AU news release >>
Biblical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives
by North Como Presbyterian Church
A Presbyterian congregation has just published an extensive
survey of source material – Biblical, theological, and scientific – on
questions of sexual orientation and behavior, and how Christians might deal
with these within the church.
The book notice
New website launched to strengthen progressive Christian
Pacific School of Religion (PSR)
is initiating a new website ministry to strengthen progressive Christian
voices in public discussion across America. Launching of January 24, it will
be called The Progressive Christian Witness (PCW) and found at
Another comment on Israel and
A Presbyterian Church
member sees the complexities, but defends the church’s divestment effort
(and reporting of world issues) in response to
criticisms from Eric Geller
"Bringing in the Sheaves"
– and the politics of Advent and Christmas
The Rev. Thomas Davis, pastor of Hanover Street Presbyterian Church in
...., offered a quick, clear look at the political dimension of Mary’s song
(the Magnificat), and visit of the Wise Men, and Christmas in general.
Seeking hymns for progressive Presbyterians
We recently posted a request by a Presbyterian pastor for
help in finding hymns with words
that are appropriate for congregations of liberal/progressive convictions.
The Rev. Mitch Trigger offers some
The Rev. Bill LeMosy sends
some hymns of his own.
notices from the Presbyterian
Peacemaking Program -- lots of helpful information about events and
Clergy Letter Project provides materials for focus on
science and faith – and evolution! – on Sunday, February 12, 2006
A New Year greeting for all --
As the new year begins, we live in hope. Not of a violent
apocalypse wherein our enemies get their comeuppance. But of a time when
walls begin to crumble. And a time when we all yield this quivering planet
to the Spirit of peace.
May the shalom and salaam of God be with you.
This New Year greeting came to us from Witherspooner
Rev. Bill LeMosy, who has agreed that we might share it with all who visit
Reflections for Epiphany --
Christianity and Empire
As Epiphany approaches, Witherspooner Byron
Bangert reminds us that the story of the wise men also includes the
slaughter of the male children in the area of Bethlehem – a clear
confrontation between the reign of God and the rule of Empire.
Overture on torture issue proposed by San Francisco church
Calvary Presbyterian Church of San Francisco has produced
a new overture on the torture issue which will be voted on by Presbytery at
its January 10th meeting. The issue does not end with the legislation
recently sponsored by Senator McCain. The proposed overture calls for
investigation and creation of a public record of what we have done and
accountability wherever the law has been broken. The evasions and hiding
behind legalisms will continue until the whole horrible apparatus is exposed
to daylight and the consequences of law breaking are made to fall on the
The text of the overture >>
Introduction and background information >>
2006 Ecumenical Advocacy Days for
Global Peace with Justice
"Challenging Disparity - the Promise of God, the Power of Solidarity"
Friday, March 10, 2006 to Monday, March 13, 2006
In 2005 more than 900 persons from at least 26 denominations participated
in workshops, training and advocacy for international and domestic social
justice issue. 2006 promises to be bigger and better.
brochure in PDF format >>
Faith-based organizations face suits
Groups using federal funds are accused of proselytizing
The Chicago Tribune reports that while faith-based
groups are barred from proselytizing or engaging in other obvious religious
activity when using federal funds, some are accused of doing just that in
their programs to encourage teenagers to abstain from premarital sex or help
substance abusers fight addictions.
Lawsuits by the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for
Separation of Church and State, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation
accuse the faith-based organizations and the government of violating the
constitutional separation of church and state. Meanwhile, experts say
the Bush administration is doing too little to monitor religious groups
receiving federal money.
Policies: The Presbyterian Washington
Office provides a helpful summary of policy statements previously adopted by
PC(USA) General Assemblies
The Iraq War. Genocide. Globalization.
September 11, 2001. The war on terror.
A new study guide from the National Council of Churches USA helps you make
sense of the world.
For the Peace of the World
A Christian Curriculum on International Relations
Pastor seeks good "liberal/progressive
Presbyterian pastor Dorothy Duquette, who is serving two
small churches in Minnesota, elaborates on her request:
I would love information on updated words for traditional hymn tunes. That
is part of what I am looking for. I appreciate hymns with inclusive language
for God and people. I'm also looking for Lent and Easter hymns that offer
alternative understandings of the saving nature of Jesus' death and
resurrection besides the sacrifice model.
I am not a musician, but I enjoy music very much and it is an important part
of my spiritual life. Besides some new hymns, I am also looking for good
music that I can add to my collection. I am frustrated by a lot of the
Christian music /artists that I have listened to because the theology is
usually conservative. Is there anyone out there who is offering music with a
more liberal Christian perspective?
Thanks so much for your help!
So – who can offer some suggestions?
We invite you to send them to us, so we can share them
with others who no doubt are looking for such music, too.
here to send your response to us, and directly to Rev. Duquette as
The 2006 Ghost Ranch catalog is on-line! Registration
begins in mid-January.
The 2006 list of Ghost Ranch seminars has been posted on the
internet. Although registration will begin in mid-January, you and your
family and friends can view the seminar line-up to begin preparing your
spring, summer and fall adventures. If you would like to sign up for the
Holy Week Retreat, please contact the registrar at 505.685.4333, ext. 152 or
179, as soon as possible.
For those of you who still receive both print and e-mail versions, the
mailed version should reach your mailbox around the second or third week of
January. Registration forms and other pertinent information will be
available and posted soon. Please do not try to register by using a form
from a previous year.
to the full catalog >>
We especially invite you to check out one seminar that
will be presented in partnership with The Witherspoon Society, Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation:
Economy, Ecology and Empire
July 17-23, 2006
For two weeks in the summer of 2004, four hundred
delegates to the 24th General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed
Churches gathered in Accra, Ghana, adopting a statement of confession and
commitment to changing, renewing and restoring the economy and the earth.
During our week together we will examine the realities of our world that
have made this statement necessary.
Search for Executive
The Presbytery of Hudson
River is seeking an Executive Presbyter "to partner with us in creative
ministry, renewal, re-visioning, grounded in the Triune God."
1/2/06 ... and Happy New Year!
Are U.S. donors forgetting the poor?
In an editorial
this morning (January 2, 2006) the Minneapolis Star Tribune raises
this question, noting that the amount of charitable giving "directed
specifically to people in poverty is shrinking, by some measures quite
dramatically. Total giving is on the rise, but increasingly the money goes
to health or educational institutions -- whose efforts on behalf of the
disadvantaged may be surprisingly meager -- or to arts and cultural
organizations that, it can be argued, serve chiefly the middle and upper
What's your impression of this concern? Do you see
the same tendency for less charitable giving directed toward the poor?
Just send a
note, and we'll share it here.
"Anti-terror" effort continues to grow
Washington Post offers more background on CIA interrogations and torture
"Everything is done in the name of self-defense, so they
can do anything because nothing is forbidden in the war powers act," said
one official who was briefed on the CIA's original cover program and who
is skeptical of its legal underpinnings. "It's an amazing legal
justification that allows them to do anything," said the official, who
like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity
of the issues.
The rest of the story >>
A Jewish observer -- Mr. Eric Geller -- questions
why divestment ranks among the top
ten PC(USA) news stories of 2005.
Is "real nature" separate from (or even free from) human, and vice versa?
Peter Sawtell of Eco-Justice Ministries reflects on those
beautiful nature scenes in his new calendar – and ponders the assumptions
they suggest about nature and humanity.
In the world of nature calendars -- and the lovely
Sierra Club ones are only one example of the genre -- the full beauty of
nature is ruined if people are present. Within this iconography, "nature"
and humanity occupy completely different realms.
The ongoing debate questions the aesthetic assumption of
the calendars. Is "nature" something that is utterly different from the
human, or should we acknowledge the interconnections between the two? At
its most challenging form, the question asks if it is even misleading to
use language that conceptually separates "human" and "nature." Ethicist
Larry Rasmussen wrote, "We could learn to speak, for example, not of
humanity AND nature, but of humans IN and AS nature. ... We could
acknowledge that humans never rise above nature, never transcend it."
All postings from
Our coverage of the 2006 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!