Archive for January, 2010
This page lists our postings from all of January,
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
Updates on Haiti
Help Haiti – drop the debt
This call to action comes from
a new global web movement with a simple democratic
mission: to close the gap between the world we have,
and the world most people everywhere want.
To learn more about the Avaaz
on-line advocacy group,
Even as aid flows in to Haiti's desperate communities, money
flows out to pay off the country's crushing debt of over $1
billion racked up years ago by lenders and governments.
The call for full
cancellation of Haiti's debt is building steam across the world
and has won over some leaders while rich lender countries are
rumored to resist. Time is short: G7 finance ministers could
reach a final decision next week at their summit in Canada.
Let's raise a
massive global call for justice, mercy and common sense for the
people of Haiti in this hour of tragedy. Avaaz and partners will
deliver the call for debt relief directly to the summit.
Click here to sign the petition and pass this email to friends.
Click here for more about this action >>
‘Tithe Wall Street bonuses for Haiti’
NEW YORK —
January 27, 2010 — Global humanitarian agency
Church World Service (CWS) today launched a novel
fund-raising campaign for Haiti earthquake relief: calling for
Wall Street’s financial industry leaders to tithe their bonuses
for the reconstruction of Haiti following the disaster that
killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed much of Port au
Prince and the country’s fragile infrastructure.
More on the Supreme Court decision:
Big money vs.
The End of
Restraint: Alito, Roberts, and judicial modesty
Stuart Taylor Jr.,
writing in the Feb. 1, 2010, issue of Newsweek, calls the
court’s 5 to 4 decision in thee case of Citizens United v. FEC a
“blockbuster, precedent-smashing Jan. 21 decision unleashing
corporate executives to pour unlimited amounts of stockholders'
money—without their consent—into ads supporting or attacking federal
candidates. Indeed the 5–4 decision would allow any big company to
spend a fortune attacking candidates whom many, or even most, of its
stockholders would rather support.”
He then condemns the
decision as “a perverse interpretation of the First Amendment, one
that will at best increase the already unhealthy political power of
big businesses (and big unions, too), and at worst swamp our
elections under a new deluge of special-interest cash. More
ominously still, Citizens United v. FEC lends credence to liberal
claims that all five of the more conservative justices are ‘judicial
activists,’ the same imprecation that conservatives have for so
long—and often justifiably—hurled at liberal justices.”
The full article >>
Hypocrisy: Dick Durbin's got a good idea.
Jonathan Alter also
writes in the Feb. 1, 2010, issue of Newsweek, says that the
court’s action sets “a new standard for judicial hypocrisy – [as it]
struck down the laws of 22 states and the federal government” – and
this from the court’s conservatives who have regularly condemned
their more liberal bench-mates for “judicial activism.”
Alter sees the
decision as leaving little room for change, unless Congress follows
the lead of Sen. Dick Durbin and enacts a campaign-reform bill that
would establish “a public-financing system that rewards candidates
who attract small donors.” That might be coupled with legislation
like that in Britain, which forbids corporations to get approval
from their shareholders for any political contributions.
The full article >>
|The U. S. as “officially a plutocracy”
Blogger John Shuck has given space for an
interesting discussion of the Supreme Court’s action, which he
declared makes the U. S. “officially a plutocracy.” The Rev. Bob
Campbell, who contributed good comments to this website before here,
has been involved in the conversation on the
“Shuck and Jive” blog as well.
Human rights advocates given maximum federal prison sentences
of six months for direct action opposing the School of the
News release from
January 25th, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010, U.S. Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth
sentenced three human rights advocates to six months in federal
prison for carrying a protest against the School of the Americas
onto the Fort Benning military base in Georgia. This school,
re-named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Cooperation, is a controversial U.S. Army training school for
Latin American soldiers.
Century offers a provocative article
by L. Gregory Jones, dean of Duke University Divinity School in
Durham, North Carolina, reflecting on a recent study showing
that “loneliness is contagious and that it spreads through
social networks. A lonely person can affect people as many as
three degrees of separation away. If someone directly connected
to me is seriously lonely, for example, I am 52 percent more
likely to be lonely. A second degree of separation leads to a 25
percent increase; a third degree, 15 percent. I may be affected
by the emotional reactions of my co-worker's spouse's brother.”
Americans may be especially vulnerable to loneliness, “in a
country where we subscribe to a myth of individualism and
underplay the significance of family, friendship and community.”
Loneliness may not seem to
be a matter for those focusing on social issues and questions of
justice, but it clearly affects the delicate fabric of our
society and reflects our culture in ways that can be deeply
damaging to people’s well-being. So for congregations to work at
community-building may be more important than we have sometimes
The full article >>
Big Money Talks – and the Supreme Court says its freedom of
speech must be protected
TeSelle, former Issues Analyst of the Witherspoon Society
We had suspected it for a long time, but now, thanks to a swing
vote by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the United States
is officially a plutocracy. On the dubious and probably perverse
principles that corporations are legal persons and that
political contributions are "speech" protected by the First
Amendment, restrictions on corporate contributions to issue
organizations (though not to specific political campaigns) have
basically been thrown out.
of his essay >>
Martha Juillerat and Tammy Lindahl invite you:
Send a message of peace to the Winter Olympics in
We have received an interesting note from
Martha Juillerat, who for some years played a vital role in
Shower of Stoles Project, beginning in the PC(USA) and
expanding to gather and display stoles from many
denominations that told powerful stories of men and women
who believe they are called to ordained ministry, but have
been excluded because of their sexual orientation – or who
are serving in ministry in spite of that barrier.
Martha and her spouse Tammy now live as a
happily married couple in Vancouver, where they own and
operate a thrift shop that benefits the Richmond Women's
Resource Centre and Alzheimer Society of B.C.
More about the Peace Project, and a request for
your message of peace >>
Campaign Against Torture urges:
Senator-elect Scott Brown to rethink his support of
waterboarding and other forms of torture.
21 Jan 2010
email Senator-elect Scott Brown and ask him to rethink his
position on waterboarding and other forms of torture.
January 19th, Scott Brown was elected to represent Massachusetts
in the U.S. Senate. During the campaign Mr. Brown publicly
proclaimed his support for the use of waterboarding and other
forms of torture. He said waterboarding is not torture and that
the U.S. has not used torture. He is mistaken on both fronts.
Brown will now be voting in the U.S. Senate on key legislation
concerning the conduct of interrogations and treatment of
detainees, we think that it is important that we attempt to
explain to him that waterboarding and other "enhanced"
interrogation techniques are forms of torture, are illegal, are
immoral, and are contrary to American values.
Senator-elect Brown and tell him that waterboarding and other
abusive techniques are forms of torture. Further, please explain
to him that you would hope, as a U.S. Senator, he would stand
for U.S. values and the rule of law and would oppose the use of
Click here for a model email which you can modify and then send
to Senator-elect Brown
Thank you for
Rev. Richard L.
Killmer, Executive Director
Thanks to Betty Hale for suggesting this for
Stop slandering the people of Haiti
Witherspoon member Tom F. Driver, who has spent decades focusing
on the issues of justice for Haitians, has sent this note to a
wide list of friends, inviting them to join in signing an open
letter to New York Times columnist David Brooks. Driver
is the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus
at Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Tom Driver writes:
Dear friends of Haiti:
The United States has given Haiti a lot of
misguided aid in the past. What it has never given is
respect. This must change.
Three days after the earthquake, columnist
David Brooks published
in The New York Times a slanderous article about Haiti.
he meant well, he spent 7 paragraphs spreading one of the oldest
and most damaging myths about Haiti that have circulated ever
since the Haitians freed themselves from French slavery in 1804.
He blamed Haiti´s poverty on its religion and culture. He said
that what Haiti needs now is "intrusive paternalism." That kind
of thinking is the greatest danger now hanging over Haiti's
I have joined
with my friend Carl Lindskoog, a scholar studying
Haitian-American communities, to compose an Open Letter to David
Brooks that explains how his views are so misguided and
injurious. The letter is attached to this message. It has
already been signed by more than 200 people, including Brian
Concannon, Director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy
in Haiti, and Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor at MIT.
To read the full
text of the open letter >>
To add your name online,
click here to sign open letter to David Brooks.
To read blog messages
about the letter,
click here. The blog is sponsored by the Institute for
Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
If you have a
website, please post our open letter there [or just link to it
Please circulate this message widely.
Tom F. Driver
The Paul Tillich
Professor of Theology and Culture Emeritus, Union Theological
Seminary in New York
Random Thoughts for the Day
1. I think part of a best friend's job should
be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during
an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I
didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their
directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting
if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at
least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
John Jackson’s Everything Is
More about Pat Robertson on Haiti's
to the devil"
A devil’s-eye view of Pat Robertson on Haiti
Minneapolis Star-Tribune published the following “letter
to the editor,” which was apparently submitted on behalf of
Satan by a "ghost writer" named Lily Coyle.
Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all
press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out.
And you make God look like a big mean bully who
kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over
that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a
pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be
evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put
it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and
impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I
strike bargains with people, they first get
something here on earth – glamour, beauty, talent,
wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians
have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was
before the earthquake. Haven't you seen
"Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing
going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks,
skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox –
that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so
not my style. Nothing against it – I'm just saying:
Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I
don't want to clip your wings – just, come on,
you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of
bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me
out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate
your own contract.
reports and materials on the crisis in Haiti >>
If you're working with Haitians living
in the U.S., or with U.S. citizens seeking to adopt Haitian
children, click here
for legal information that may be helpful
More from Haiti
LORD, WHEN WAS IT THAT WE SAW YOU?
from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
On January 12, a powerful earthquake hit approximately ten miles
from the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. An earthquake of this
magnitude would be devastating to any city, but in one of the
poorest countries in the Western hemisphere its effects are
catastrophic. Millions of people have been affected by this
disaster and tens of thousands—possibly hundreds of
thousands—are feared dead. With many of the established sources
of safety and security demolished—churches, schools, hospitals
and government buildings—survivors are searching for signs of
hope and help.
Church (U.S.A.) is responding through Presbyterian Disaster
Assistance (PDA). PDA is rushing an initial $100,000 from One
Great Hour of Sharing and designated funds to provide immediate
emergency relief to the affected people. Funds are being sent
through our ecumenical and local partners working in Haiti.
Presbyterian World Mission is gathering information on
safety and status of our mission personnel and ecumenical
partners in the area. For updates on the earthquake and the
church’s response, please visit
the PDA Web site.
Financial support for relief efforts can be designated to
Gifts can also be made by phone at (800) 872-3283,
weekdays between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (EST), and checks can be
mailed to Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, P.O. Box 643700,
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700.
What you can
As God’s people, we are called to stand in the
“GAP”— GIVE, ACT, PRAY.
Give – Financial support for relief
can be made online and designated to DR000064. Your gifts,
combined with those of others, provide a visible and tangible
demonstration of God’s care in the midst of this tragedy.
Recovery will be a difficult and long process, but Presbyterian
Disaster Assistance has time and time again modeled a faithful
response over the long haul.
Act – Congregations and individuals can
put together hygiene kits and baby kits to be distributed
through Church World Service. For information,
visit the PDA Web site.
Pray – Join with others in lifting up
the people of Haiti and those seeking to provide aid in this
critical time. As the eyes of the world turn to Haiti, let us
join our hearts in prayer.
PC(USA) missionaries, mission groups in Haiti reported safe
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responding
to earthquake tragedy
Presbyterian News Service reports:
Two Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) missionaries in Haiti and
mission teams from three PC(USA) congregations that were in the
country when the devastating earthquake struck Tuesday (Jan. 12)
have been accounted for.
The Haitian Red Cross estimated today (Jan. 14) that between
45,000 and 50,000 died in the late-afternoon 7.3-magnitude
temblor that struck near the Haitian capital of Port au Prince.
Much of the country, particularly areas around Port au Prince
are totally destroyed.
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has dispatched $100,000 from
One Great Hour of Sharing offering funds and issued a special
appeal to support ongoing relief efforts. The crisis response
team of Presbyterian World Mission is meeting at the
Presbyterian Center here virtually around-the-clock.
Haiti's "pact with the devil" myth
How Pat Robertson turned a country's origin myth into a cheap
invocation of Satanism
We posted a note
yesterday about evangelist Rev. Pat Robertson’s latest
astonishing statement, in saying that Haiti’s terrible suffering
has come upon them because they long ago made a pact with the
devil. Someone sent us a commenting: “Will Pat Robertson live
forever to spread his hate-filled notions??????”
Thomas Rogers, an associate editor at Salon, has interviewed a
professor of history and anthropology at UCLA about Haiti's
voodoo traditions, and concludes that “this is hate speech.”
One of the most callous reactions to the
Haiti disaster thus far has come from televangelist Pat
Robertson, who told viewers of his Christian
Broadcasting Network on Wednesday morning that he knew
the real reason for the quake: The country's
long-standing pact with Satan. ...
But is it a true story? We spoke with Andrew Apter, professor of
history and anthropology at UCLA, about Haiti's voodoo
traditions, the ignorance behind the evangelical community's
distortions and the real cause of suffering in the third-world
any truth to what Pat Robertson is saying?
Of course not! Haitians are Christians. Pat Robertson's language
is the reductio ad absurdum of the Christian right. It's so
absurd it's almost funny. This notion of a pact with the devil
is basically an echo of an old colonial response to the
successes of the 1790s Haitian revolution.
What is this pact he's talking about?
Presbyterian Writers Guild seeking best new author
Angell Award goes to best first book by a
From Presbyterian News Service:
The Presbyterian Writers Guild (PWG) is seeking entries for its
annual Jim Angell Award. The award has been presented each year
since 1996 to the Presbyterian author of the best first book
published during the previous calendar year.
Nominations are being accepted now for the best first book by a
Presbyterian author during the calendar year of 2009. Books may
be of any type - fiction, non-fiction, theological, how-to,
photos with commentary, poetry, etc.
We pray for Haiti
Brothers and Sisters in
As the eyes of the world turn to Haiti, let us join our hearts
God of compassion
Please watch over the people of Haiti,
And weave out of these terrible happenings
wonders of goodness and grace.
Surround those who have been affected by tragedy
With a sense of your present love,
And hold them in faith.
Though they are lost in grief,
May they find you and be comforted;
Guide us as a church
To find ways of providing assistance
that heals wounds and provides hope
Help us to remember that when one of your children suffer
We all suffer
Through Jesus Christ who was dead, but lives
and rules this world with you. Amen.
(Adapted from Book of Common Worship)
Reyes-Chow, Gradye Parsons and Linda Valentine
The Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) is responding to this earthquake through
Assistance and its partners. Presbyterian World Mission is
gathering information on the safety and status of our mission
personnel and ecumenical partners in the area. For updates on
the earthquake and the church’s response, please continue to
visit PDA. Initial reports indicate a large number of casualties
and widespread damage especially in the capital city of
You, too, can be part of
God’s answer to prayer for those affected by this disaster.
Information on the situation and prayers and worship resources
will soon be available. Funds from One Great Hour of Sharing are
already helping with the initial response. You can give to the
ongoing relief through
PDA account number DR000064.
Some other ways to respond to the crisis in Haiti
suggests two good
Give to Doctors Without Borders / Medicins
Doctors Without Borders — a group CREDO members support with
their phone bills — operates one of the only free trauma
centers in Port-au-Prince as well as an emergency hospital
in the capital for pregnant women, new mothers, and newborn
children. All three of its primary medical centers have
collapsed, but DWB/MSF has already set up temporary shelters
and is offering emergency care on the ground. For more info
on their work in Haiti
To make a donation
Tell Obama: Grant temporary protected
status to Haitians living in the U.S
President Obama must order his Department of Homeland
Security to halt immediately all forcible deportations to
the disaster zone and grant temporary protected status to
undocumented Haitian refugees in the U.S. To refuse to do so
would be irresponsible and immoral. To take action,
Friends Committee on National Legislation also encourages
contacting the President and your people in Congress to support
Temporary Protected Status for Haitians living in the U.S.
In Haiti, There is Anguish
In response to the disaster in Haiti,
Gillette has written a hymn, which she has shared with
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, and has kindly shared with us
as well. She offers it freely for use by anyone, or any
church, which supports PDA.
ST. CHRISTOPHER 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11 (“Beneath the
Cross of Jesus”)
In Haiti, there is anguish that seems too much
A land so used to sorrow now knows even more
From city streets, the cries of grief rise up
to hills above;
In all the sorrow, pain and death, where are
you, God of love?
A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost
A hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is
Where are you, Lord, when thousands die—the
rich, the poorest poor?
Were you the very first to cry for all that is
O God, you love your children; you hear each
May all who suffer in that land know you are
In moments of compassion shown, in simple acts
May those in pain find healing balm, and know
your love’s embrace.
Where are you in the anguish? Lord, may we
That anywhere your world cries out, you’re
there-- and suffering, too.
And may we see, in others’ pain, the cross
we’re called to bear;
Send out your church in Jesus’ name to pray,
to serve, to share.
Tune: Frederick Charles Maker, 1881
Text: Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn
Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Permission is given for
use by those who support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
visited Haiti on a mission trip when she was a Lebanon
Valley College student. Other hymns by Carolyn that
might be helpful for churches responding to this
disaster that are posted on the PDA web site include
Who is My Neighbor,
a hymn inspired by the parable of the Good Samaritan,
and God We've Known Such Grief and Anger,
Winfrey Gillette is the author of
Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor
Room Books, 2009)
Gifts of Love: New Hymns for Today’s Worship
(Geneva Press, 2000) and the
Limestone Presbyterian Church
in Wilmington, Delaware.
For more news reports from Haiti:
TruthOut is providing a "live blog" on the Haiti earthquake,
carrying news from a variety of sources.
For a (really really) different view of the
preacher Pat Robertson says Haiti made a pact with the devil
US evangelical preacher Pat Robertson levied
blame Wednesday for the devastating earthquake in Haiti on
Haitians themselves, saying that the country "swore a pact to
the devil" at its creation. "Something happened a long time ago
in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson
said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show "The 700 Club."
Well, it takes all kinds. But some
are pretty hard to fathom.
Case for Gay Marriage
marriage is an American value.
Help protect LGBT Ugandans from radical new bill
We have reported earlier on the efforts of
PC(USA) leaders to speak out against Uganda's moves to
declare homosexuality a crime, as well as
of U.S. evangelicals in stimulating the anti-gay mood
there. Now here's an invitation for
speak out, too.
A new law has been proposed in Uganda that
would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or even
death. With Uganda's Parliament about to return, we need the
U.S. government to strongly condemn the Ugandan government's
murderous campaign to jail and execute LGBT citizens.
To take action >>
The religious case for moving your money where your heart is
A week ago we posted a bit of
Huffington’s call for people who are concerned about the
power and apparent irresponsibility of the nation’s super-sized
banks to show their resistance by moving their own money to
smaller, more local or regional banks.
Now the Rev. Paul Raushenbush, who is the
Religion Editor for the Huffington Post and the Associate Dean
of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University, offers
an explicitly religious/theological/ethical perspective on the
same proposal. He concludes:
It may be time for us as individuals and
as churches, synagogues and mosques to move our money to
smaller banks that are connected and responsible to our
I encourage you in your congregation to
consider the following question regarding where you keep
How does my religious tradition view
money? What purpose does money serve in the ideal society
envisioned by my tradition? Does it matter how our money is
made? What is the best way to make my money serve the
ethical mandates of my tradition? Does my bank reflect the
values that I hold regarding money?
Each of us has many ways to live out our
religious convictions. One of those ways is to be conscious
and have a conscience about how we make, spend and where we
save our money. If you are interested in learning more go to
His full essay >>
Jin S. Kim is
second candidate for GA moderator
Minneapolis pastor is endorsed by Twin Cities Area Presbytery
The Rev. Jin S. Kim
Presbyterian News service reports that
the Rev. Jin S. Kim, founding pastor of
Church of All
Nations in Minneapolis, was unanimously endorsed June 9 by
the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area to stand for moderator of
the upcoming 219th General Assembly (2010). The Assembly will be
held July 3-10 in Minneapolis.
Elder Cynthia Bolbach of
National Capital Presbytery as candidates for the top elected
post in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The winner will
succeed the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow of San Francisco, moderator of
the 218th General Assembly.
Ray Bagnuolo offers an insightful look at the
ways anti-LGBT Christian crusaders clothe their efforts in talk
of love for the LGBT community – while working for their
“change” and their exclusion from ordination and from marriage.
Chances are that if you are a person who
is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender - and you have
struggled within the church - chances are, somewhere along
the way you heard these words: "We love you but hate your
sin." Nothing directed toward people who identify as LGBT
could be more disingenuous, more filled with hubris than
combining love for another with hatred of some part of their
Hamartia or ἁμαρτία, the Greek word for
sin frequently used in the Second or New Testament has the
meaning of "missing the mark." The idea that distance from
God is what needs to be shortened in our faith and personal
journeys removes the dialectical premise that Love either
replaces sin or leaves one in the throes of sin, pitied and
"loved" from a distance.
His full essay >>
San Francisco Theological Seminary names Laird Stuart as
Also served for two
years as a co-moderator of the Covenant Network
The Board of Trustees of San Francisco
Theological Seminary has elected the Rev. Laird J. Stuart —
pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in San Francisco since
1993 — to serve as the seminary’s new interim president,
effective March 1, 2010. Stuart succeeds Rev. Philip W. Butin,
who served as the seminary’s president from 2002-2010.
Stuart is well known by the seminary
community, having on the SFTS Board of Trustees from 1997-2006,
the final two years as chair. In 41 years of ministry, he has
served pastorates in Milford, Conn., Bergenfield, N.J., Grand
Haven, Mich., and St. Clair, Pa.
full report >>
Have Your Say" broadcasting live from Immokalee, today, 1pm EST
A special notice from
Noelle Damico, of the Campaign for
Fair Food, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The BBC's live listener call, tweet, blog, and text-in show,
"World Have Your Say" will be broadcast live from the Coalition
of Immokalee Workers' Community Center in Immokalee today, 1/11,
at 1:00 pm (EST), and online at Public Radio's WGCU (www.wgcu.org
) or BBC Radio (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/
). The Rev. Noelle Damico from the PC(USA) Campaign for Fair
Food will be one of the guests on this world discussion program.
This broadcast comes on the heels of President Obama's
proclamation designating January "National Slavery and Human
Trafficking Prevention Month". The BBC program with a global
audience will cast its own considerable light on modern-day
For all of the details on how to listen in and take part of
this global conversation, visit
As we remember the millions of people who are trafficked into
forced labor both here in the US and around the world, we
remember the rhetorical and challenging question that God poses
in the book of Isaiah, “Is this not the fast that I choose: to
loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to
let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?” (Is. 58:6)
PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food
The Rev. Noelle Damico
NY Office: 631-751-7076
Stop Texas from erasing Cesar Chavez and Hispanics from
This call for action comes
from the United Farm Workers
We urgently need your help to stop the Texas
state Board of Education from erasing Cesar Chavez and
all Hispanic historical figures from public school text books.
Since Texas is such a major textbook purchaser, such a move
could have a nationwide impact.
This Wednesday, Jan. 13, the state
board will take a preliminary vote
to adopt new standards for social studies texts.
These new standards would eliminate all Hispanics since
the conquest of Mexico in the early 16th Century.
Chavez, arguably the most important Hispanic civil rights leader
of the 20th Century, is among the historical figures to be
eliminated. One of Lowe’s so called "experts" said that Chavez
"lacks the stature…and contributions" and should not be
"held up to our children as someone worthy of emulation."
Also eliminated are a number of key Texas history makers such as
Irma Rangel, the first Hispanic woman elected to the state
Board members and their appointees have
complained about an "over representation of minorities"
in the current social studies standards.
This is ironic as Hispanics will soon comprise
the majority of all Texas public school students.
Please take a few moments right now to
send board Chair Lowe an e-mail.
Tell the TX State Board of Education not to allow a handful of
ideological extremists to revise history by eliminating people
Please click here to act now.
New Jersey Senate defeats gay marriage bill
The New York Times reported on January 8,
TRENTON — The State Senate on Thursday
rejected a proposal that would have made New Jersey the
sixth state in the nation to allow marriages involving
same-sex couples. The vote was the latest in a succession of
setbacks for advocates of gay marriage across the country.
After months of intense lobbying and hours
of emotional debate, lawmakers voted 20 to 14 against the
bill, bringing tears from some advocates who packed the
Senate chambers and rousing applause from opponents of the
measure, who also came out in force. The vote ends the
effort to win legislative approval of the measure, and sets
the stage for a new battle before the New Jersey Supreme
The story concludes:
After the vote, hundreds of supporters of
the bill gathered in front of the State House to exchange
tearful hugs and plot the next move in their effort. Among
them was Christi Sturmont, who said she and her partner were
dejected, but not despondent.
“We were holding out hope that we’d be
able to get married and have full citizenship,” she said.
“But now we’ll have to settle for second-class citizenship.
For now. We’re not done fighting.”
For the full NYT report >>
Presbyterian pastor and blogger John Shuck
responds with “A Saturday screed” which begins:
Portugal shows it is more decent and humane
than New Jersey (and virtually every state in the U.S.) by
voting for marriage equality yesterday. Thank you, Portugal!
Congratulations for standing up to the bullies!
The parliament approved the measure and it
will likely be signed into law by conservative president, Anibal
Cavaco Silva. ...
The bill removes a reference in the current
law to marriage being between two people of different sexes.
“This law rights a wrong,” Prime Minister Jose Socrates said in
a speech to lawmakers, adding that it “simply ends pointless
Righting a wrong. It is that simple, isn't it?
So what is the score on right vs. wrong these days?
Gay marriage is currently permitted in
Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Norway. Canada,
South Africa and six U.S. states also permit it.
We have a way to go. The largest obstacle to
justice, to righting wrongs, to being simply decent human beings
will be of course, Christians.
Let us consider the Christians. Here is what
they are up to as reported by The Raw Story:
The conservative American Family Association
is calling on President Barack Obama to fire Amanda Simpson,
Obama's transgender appointee to the Commerce Department,
because the appointment "puts the weight of the federal
government behind the normalization of sexual deviancy."
For the rest of Shuck’s strong, sharp comments >>
more on same-sex marriage >>
A litany for The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day –
addressing the issue of gun violence
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has just posted a litany
written for an interfaith service celebrating the Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and addressing gun violence. Feel
free to adapt or use the litany. If it is used, please include
the attribution: Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian
For the full text of the litany >>
Thanks to the Rev. Len Bjorkman of the
for calling this to our attention.
More on concerns for gun violence >>
Use your congregation’s facilities to help people who are
vulnerable to extreme weather such as the current cold wave
United States is suffering weather reported to be the coldest we
have experienced in a generation. According to a report from
AccuWeather.com, “Nearly the entire eastern half of the
United States is enduring bitterly cold temperatures not
experienced since 1985.” Such weather can be more than simply
uncomfortable, it can be, and is, deadly. When people are
unfamiliar with how to cope with such low temperatures or unable
to utilize coping strategies they might have had access to in
better economic times, these cold temperatures are dangerous and
conditions over the past year have placed many more families in
a situation where the weather has become an issue. PDA is
encouraging Presbyterian churches across the country to consider
how their facilities can be used as shelters or warming stations
for the many individuals and families that are affected.
Check with your
local government, your local
American Red Cross chapter or other churches to explore what
options might be available to your church to help serve those in
need of help during this cold wave. PDA will post information,
links and contact information for Presbyterian congregations
offering services that might be useful as you consider options
for your congregation.
American evangelicals’ role seen in Uganda anti-gay push
We recently reported on
a call by PC(USA) leaders for Uganda to reject a proposed
law which would impose the death penalty on gays.
Now the New York Times has carried a
report from Kampala, Uganda, that three American evangelical
Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been
widely discredited in the United States, arrived in Uganda’s
capital to give a series of talks on “the gay agenda — that
whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed
to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
For three days thousands of Ugandans,
including police officers, teachers and national politicians,
heard the Americans discussing “how to make gay people straight,
how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how ‘the gay
movement is an evil institution’ whose goal is ]to defeat the
marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual
Now the three Americans are trying to argue
that they had no intention of stoking the kind of anger that
could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence
for homosexual behavior.
One month after the conference, a previously
unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical
friends in the American government, introduced the
Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang
homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision
course with Western nations.
The full report >>
First candidate for GA moderator announced
Elder Cynthia Bolbach endorsed by National Capital Presbytery
LOUISVILLE - National Capital Presbytery has unanimously
endorsed the first candidate to stand for moderator of the 219th
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The
assembly will be held July 3-10 in Minneapolis.
Elder Cynthia Bolbach, 61, is a lawyer and
member of First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, Va.
"I feel called to stand for Moderator to help
our church - proud inheritor of the Reformed tradition - discern
how best to proclaim the timeless Gospel message to a 21st
century world that is multi-cultural and religiously
pluralistic," Bolbach said in a presbytery press release.
The rest of the story >>
Epiphany: A Celebration of Light & Revelation
A message from Michael Adee, Executive
Director of More Light Presbyterians:
In Christian tradition, we mark and celebrate
the mystery and wonder of Epiphany on January 6.
Epiphany. A celebration of light and
revelation. The word "epiphany" comes from the Greek word "phos"
meaning light. To have an epiphany means to come to a new
understanding, to experience a revelation, to have "the light
come on," and to see things in a new light. It is the
opportunity to see God and God's light in a new way.
Each time a person, family, church, campus
ministry or seminary community recognizes the need to open their
hearts, faith and lives to all of God's children, including
God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their
families, it is an epiphany. ....
Epiphany calls us to celebrate the wonder and
mystery of light, life, faith and grace. The Biblical texts
describe the wise men, three kings or magi being guided by a
star, by light, in their search for Jesus, the Christ child.
Their journey was guided by light, as is ours. Epiphany calls us
to go by another road as it did those wise men.
Michael Adee’s meditation is posted in full on the MLP website
Feminist theologian Mary Daly has died at age 81
Mary Daly, radical feminist theologian and a
mother of modern feminist theology, died Jan. 3 at the age of
81. She was one of the most influential voices of the radical
feminist movement through the later 20th century.
The news of her death, from National Catholic Reporter >>
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, former president
of Chicago Theological Seminary, and now a senior fellow at the
Center for American Progress, offers
a loving and lively remembrance of Mary Daly’s pioneering work,
and her “courage to sin big.”
Thanks to John Shuck, on his
shuck and jive blog.
1/4/2010 -- and Happy New Year!
Remember what all those angels kept saying at Christmas?
But the responses to the attempted explosion
on a Northwest airliner on Christmas day show what Glenn
writing in Salon, calls “the degrading effects of
terrorism fears.” His comment is headlined: “The
expectation that government provide absolute safety is both
dangerous and irrational.”
from Greenwald's essay >>
Peace and War in
Oslo -- a critique of Obama's use of "just war" theory
writing in the
January 4, 2010 edition of The Nation, offers a sharp
critique of President Obama’s use of the idea of a “just war” to
defend further U.S. escalation of military action in
displayed his usual rhetorical brilliance in Oslo and
acknowledged important principles of peace and nonviolence. But
his speech gave a distorted view of America's role in the world
and reflected a shallow understanding of the concept of just
A Happy New Year suggestion: move your money to a small bank
We received this note from a
Witherspoon/Voices member on New Year’s Eve:
"Happy New Year" I'm sending this to wish
us all a 2010 that has US citizens expressing "we the
people" more effectively. Consider what Adrianna Huffington
and her gang suggest. I don't have any account in one of the
BIG banks but I can at least suggest YOU
read this amazing idea! which may by the grace of God
plant other seeds for IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE in 2010!
Mary Louise Ellenberger
snippets from Huffington’s article >>
Ask Your Representative to Co-Sponsor the Jubilee Act Today
from the Witness in Washington Weekly,
published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) on December 29, 2009
The Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and
Expanded Debt Cancellation (HR 4405) cancels impoverished
country debt, prohibits harmful economic and policy conditions
on debt cancellation, mandates transparency and responsibility
in lending from governments and international financial
institutions, and calls for a U.S. audit of debts resulting from
odious and illegitimate lending.
Save the Date – March 19 - 22, 2010 – Ecumenical Advocacy
2010 Advocacy Days conference will be held at the Doubletree
Hotel in Crystal City, VA, just outside of Washington, DC. The
theme is, "A Place to Call Home: Immigrants, Refugees, and
the conference website to learn more and to register.
British evangelicals press candy makers to “Stop The Traffik”
The London-based evangelical newspaper,
Christian Today, reminds us that our conservative sisters
and brothers are engaging too in witness and ministry for
justice. A recent report describes a current campaign to get
manufacturers of chocolate candy, such as Cadbury and Nestlé, to
stop marketing candy made by workers who have been victims of
human trafficking. The report says the two companies have made
small steps in this direction, but note there is much yet to be
For the full story >>
This reminds us of the excellent efforts being
made by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to
promote fair trade (also known as just trade) through a
variety of programs.
More on the
Fair Food campaign >>
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
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!