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Archives:  November 2004

This page lists all reports and commentary from November, 2004.

Our coverage of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
All October reports are listed on the archive page for October
Click here for reports and commentary from September, 2004.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

People of faith can resist the war - by refusing in conscience to pay "war taxes"

Since World War II, the Presbyterian Church has provided at least some degree of support for those who in conscience have refused to bear arms in military service. This support has also included the possibility of refusal to pay taxes that would be used for making war.

Many people now find themselves seeking ways to stand against the present military actions of the United States, and one clear way to do that is through the Peace Tax Fund.

Presbyterian support for the Peace Tax Fund was expressed specifically in the rationale for the Human Rights Update that was presented to the 214th General Assembly, 2002. You can read the full text of the report, including the discussion of the Peace Tax Fund, which is on page 20.

Right now, the most urgent concern is to support the bill in Congress that would establish the Peace Tax Fund. This bill, HR 2037, will expire soon and be reintroduced next May with a new number. But letters to both House and Senate are needed now. Sample letters are available at the Campaign's website,

Go to their website also for more information and background on their campaign.

Church-State issues seen up close and personal

Witherspooner Berry Craig objects to a fellow Kentuckian's confident linking of George W. Bush's election to the will of God and the political preferences of Jesus.

Human Rights Watch calls on Caterpillar to halt bulldozer sales to Israel 

The action of the 2004 Presbyterian General Assembly, in calling for consideration of divestment for Caterpillar Inc., because of their sales to the Israeli army of a giant bulldozer for use in demolishing Palestinian homes, aroused considerable distress among American Jewish organizations and conservative Presbyterians whose understanding of Scripture leads them to give strong support to the State of Israel.

Other groups are now taking the same stand. One of America's major human rights organizations, Human Rights Watch, has now called on Caterpillar to suspend sales of its D9 bulldozer to the Israeli army on the grounds that they are being used to violate international humanitarian law in the occupied territories.

A crucial moment for radical faith

We recently pointed you to an article by Barbara Ehrenreich in which she called on the Democratic Party to take "the faith factor" (and faith-based values and concerns) far more seriously - but seeing the breadth and depth of what that really means.

Brian Jordan, of Palm Coast, FL, responds positively to this idea, urging that we see this as a moment of kairos - the crucial moment - for acting as disciples of Jesus, taking risks to proclaim that our ultimate concern is not purity but truth, love and justice. For all.

There is a progressive morality - and it's truly American

George Lakoff, writing in The Nation, argues that if progressives communicate their values clearly, most people will recognize them as their own, and as more deeply American than those currently put forth by conservatives. These values, he says, include "care and responsibility, fairness and equality, freedom and courage, fulfillment in life, opportunity and community, cooperation and trust, honesty and openness."

You can read the article in The Nation, or at TruthOut or AlterNet.

What would you name
as the progressive values
that could enrich and reform our political life today?
Just send a note
and we'll share comments here.

The Reverend Dr. Janie Adams Spahr charged in disciplinary action  

We reported on 11/22 that Redwoods Presbytery has filed charges against the Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, in response to an accusation brought by the Reverend James Berkley, of Bellevue WA. Mr. Berkley is the Issues Ministry Director of Presbyterians For Renewal.  

Presbyterian News Service has now posted a similar report.

Updates from the SOA vigil and protest at Fort Benning

For the latest reports, you can check the SOA Watch website

They have also posted a report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

There are others worth looking at, too. Just go to the SOA Watch home page and click on some of the links in the left border, under "In the news."

Read more on the School of the Americas.

Coalition calls on President Bush to take swift and appropriate action on severe violators of religious freedom

A coalition of religious leaders, religious freedom advocates, and human rights activists has called on President George W. Bush to act swiftly and appropriately in regard to Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam as newly-designated "Countries of Particular Concern for Severe Violations of Religious Freedom."

They say that "The President has an extraordinary and historic opportunity to demonstrate that the United States is interested in acting on religious freedom as well as speaking about it."

Presbytery of Baltimore votes 51-35 to approve a resolution supporting civil marriage for same gender couples      

Peter K. Nord, Executive Presbyter, has explained this important action in an open letter. 

The Reverend Dr. Janie Adams Spahr charged in disciplinary action  

Redwoods Presbytery has filed charges against the Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, in response to an accusation brought by the Reverend James Berkley, of Bellevue WA. Mr. Berkley is the Issues Ministry Director of Presbyterians For Renewal.  

More comments on the election, some in response to Gene TeSelle's "reflections on the election"
bullet"Where is our national conscience?"
Todd Huffman, M.D., a pediatrician living in Eugene, Oregon, sends a note probing this question. He wonders how it is in this great and wealthy nation "we are giving unwitting consent to allowing more and more of our fellow citizens, disproportionately children, to fall into vulnerability, and into poverty? We profess to pollsters a high regard for 'moral values,' and yet why isn't poverty immoral? Why isn't lack of medical care immoral?" 
bulletJohn Preston argues that progressives failed to impact the election effectively because "we haven't been explicit enough in connecting faith to our morality and politics."
bulletKaren Kiser appreciates Gene TeSelle's analysis of the election, but adds that Kerry lost for some other reasons as well.  

We're receiving lots of thoughtful comments on the recent presidential election.  We'll post as many as we can, as quickly as well can -- and we hope you'll contribute your thoughts as well!

Just send a note!

Comments from our readers

The actions of the 2004 General Assembly regarding Israel and Palestine have aroused considerable interest -- to put it mildly. 

bulletPresbyterian minister Earl Arnold, of East Syracuse, NY, writes in support of the GA actions. He suggests that the Assembly acted out of frustration, after years of calling on both sides to act for peace. Noting the diversity of views on Israel within the American Jewish community, he also urges that we continue to listen to the voices of our sister churches in Israel/Palestine.  
bulletJack Kessler  argues against the PC(USA) action to consider divestment in relation to Israel. It is, he says, "a quiet divestment of Israel's Bible and Savior from the church."
bulletKathleen Eschen-Pipes, a minister in Santa Cruz, CA, comments that PC(USA) criticism of the recent delegation visit to Hezbollah is understandable, but should be seen in the context of good efforts to improve our understanding of Islam, and to engage in dialogue with "our enemies."
To the Democrats:  "Act like Christians"

Barbara Ehrenreich advises the Democrats not to concede "morality" to the conservatives, but simply to "act like Christians."

That means following the example of the early Christians, "who stood against imperial Rome with their bodies, their hearts and their souls."

Hmm. Talk about your radicals!

This essay appears in The Nation, and can be found also on AlterNet.

Also .... some Democrats believe the party should get religion

And David D. Kirkpatrick, writing in the New York Times, reports that "some Democrats are scrambling to shake off their secular image, stepping up efforts to organize the "religious left" and debating changes to how they approach the cultural flashpoints of same-sex marriage and abortion." He describes a variety of approaches in this effort.

So what do you think the ethical stance
of progressive Christians
might offer to the left side of American politics?
Send a note
and we'll share it here!

School of the Americas Watch needs you to join in opposing "this school of torture and repression." THIS WEEKEND, November 19-21

For more information about the November 19-21 Vigil and Nonviolent Direct Action, including logistics, hotel and travel information, visit

A comment on the dismissal of two national church leaders

We recently reported on the sudden dismissal of two key Presbyterian Church (USA) staff members, Kathy Lueckert and Peter Sulyok, apparently because they participated in a meeting of a Presbyterian delegation in Lebanon with Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist organization.

We have just received one message expressing serious concern about this action, in which (says the writer) "our Presbyterian leaders disavow an authentic 'good news' initiative in peacemaking."

Celebrating the churches' "Social Creed" - and considering a new one

Gene TeSelle adds more thoughts on the relevance of this 100-year-old statement for our own time.

The 216th General Assembly called for conversations and studies to commemorate the centennial of the 1908 Social Creed of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. That statement called for reforms such as an end to child labor, the six-day week, occupational safety, a living wage, and other steps aimed at moving American society closer to what a "Christ-like God" was believed to want for all Americans.

Beyond celebrating the past, the action calls for looking forward with "a survey of key Christian principles to guide 21st century Presbyterians and others in addressing major and likely future concerns, such as the lack of health insurance for 44 million Americans, the outsourcing of jobs to countries without human rights or environmental safeguards, and the impact of growing economic inequality on our democracy ..."

This is obviously a project close to the heart of Witherspoon's values. As a first step toward supporting the study, Gene TeSelle offers a background paper on the Social Creed, and Chris Iosso explores some of the details of the 1908 statement, and what such a new statement might mean for us today.

Keklamenos' invitation to dialogue -- continuing the conversation

On July 17 we received a note from someone who requested anonymity as he/she invited us, as representing the progressive side of the Presbyterian Church, to join in "a genuine dialogue."

The writer, taking the name Keklamenos, stated clear affirmations of the grace of God and the authority of Scripture.

Keklamenos now responds to a recent note from Witherspoon member Sue Nichols Spencer.

PC(USA) receives arson threat  

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick has notified churches bodies around the country that the Presbyterian Center in Louisville has received an anonymous letter postmarked Queens, NY, which threatens arson attacks against Presbyterian churches in retaliation for "your anti-Israel and anti-Jewish attitudes."

Kirkpatrick has provided suggested actions for churches to take to protect their buildings.

Two top leaders of the PC(USA) have been dismissed by GAC Executive Director John Detterick

Kathy Lueckert and Peter Sulyok participated in a meeting of a Presbyterian delegation in Lebanon with Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist organization.

The politics of victimization 

We recently pointed to an essay by Rabbi Michael Lerner, in which he criticized liberals, and specifically the Democratic presidential campaign, for an attitude of arrogance toward Middle America - an attitude which helped the campaign of George W. Bush to gain support.

For a very different after-election take on the situation, you might look at an article by Mel Gilles, who has worked for many years as an advocate for victims of domestic abuse. He suggests that much of the post-election hand-wringing is very similar to the attitudes of people who are living through domestic abuse.

But at least one of our frequent visitors sees the situation in just the opposite way: the liberals (or whatever you call them) are so abusive toward the common folks that they will never win any real support from the people.

PC (USA) leaders send their messages to the church.

Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase expresses his thankfulness for his experiences around the church over the past few months.

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick ponders the season of Advent, observes the messy world in which we find ourselves, and notes how messy was the world into which Jesus was born.

A thought for the day:
Martin Luther King on Truth

I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' I come to say to you this afternoon, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.
How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow.
How long? Not long. Because the arm of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice."

Martin Luther King, Jr., on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery, March 25, 1965, at the conclusion of the Selma-to-Montgomery march.

Thanks to Gay House Welch, Vanderbilt University

Faith and values and the election -- continuing reflections   [11-12-04]
bulletAnother take on values ...

Witherspooner Bill LeMosy recommends an opinion piece published in yesterday's Des Moines Register. Tom Carney, a former Catholic priest and a former Register reporter, comments that the "moral values" claimed by so many Christians as motivating them to vote for George W. Bush seem very different from the ones which he grew up with, and which are still important to him.

He writes in part:

When I read and listen to what the majority of voters mean by moral values, I see and hear only references to issues such as same-sex marriage, stem-cell research and abortion. ... But the Bible and my tradition have much more to say about the treatment of others, especially foreigners and people different from us, and about honesty, humility and justice. And I'm supposed to apply those values to my communal life as a citizen as well as to my personal life.

bulletWitherspooner Amy Ukena urges people to support demands for an investigation of voting irregularities.
bulletOn the passage of anti-gay state marriage amendments, the Session of First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, California, calls these actions "mean-spirited, materially harmful, and incompatible with the God of love revealed in Jesus of Nazareth."
bulletIn response to Gene TeSelle's survey of the presidential election, one visitor expresses disappointment about "all these terrible things that you are saying about our wonderful President.You can read her note.
bulletRead more comments on faith, values, and the election.
Iraq:  a holy war from two sides?

Bruce Gillette shares two recent reports on how both sides in the Iraq war see themselves engaging in a holy war.

bullet Norman Solomon quotes a US Lt. Colonel as saying that "The enemy has got a face. He's called Satan. He's in Fallujah, and we're going to destroy him."
bulletAnd writing in the Toronto Star, Haroon Siddiqui notes holy-war convictions and passions on both sides, but adds:

This is not the Crusade. But the religious overtones do take on added meaning since the American commander-in-chief, just anointed by his electorate for being a committed Christian, claims that God guides his foreign policy.

So does Osama bin Laden.

So do many of the Iraqi insurgents.

bulletAnd Jill Rachel Jacobs, a writer and humorist living in New York City, writes a letter to God asking for a little clarification of the whole mess.
Vigil at the School of the Americas, November 19-21

Here's the latest information.

A reminder:
The Interfaith Alliance is sponsoring a
National Interfaith Dialogue Gathering, November 12 -14 in Washington, DC.

Keynote Speakers include Dr Diana Eck, Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard and author of A New Religious America, and Arun Gandhi, Director of MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

If you're in the area, you might join in!

Faith, values, religion -- and the election

If you've had it with the election, scroll down for other things!  But if you think the re-election of the President presents progressives with important challenges and opportunities, you might want to check out some of these reports and comments.

You'll find other helpful material listed below, but here are some interesting new items:

bulletGene TeSelle provides some general  post-election reflections -- what was surprising, and a lot that wasn't -- and the effect of "the religion gap" on the whole thing.
bullet Overcoming liberal arrogance and contempt for Americans who voted for Bush

Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun proclaims one of the deepest and most challenging analyses of the election: that in the recent campaign and its aftermath, liberals have shown "contempt" for the religious and moral concerns of those who supported Bush. And they have failed to set forth authentic values of their own - including the "compassionate attitude toward The Other" that they want, but have not shown to "those people" who are on the other side.

bullet God-talk and moral values

David Batstone, executive editor of Sojourners, looks at the "moral values" analyses of the election and sees that both sides were weighing values in their choices, but from two very different worldviews. It involves much more than abortion and gay marriage. Both groups see morality and values as matters of public concern.

But one view sees God as offering direct moral guidance, if not commands. (Especially to the President.) The other sees guidance in the life and teachings of Jesus, out of which Christians must make choices of their own.

One view sees a moral imperative to leave economic choices entirely to the individual, and the other sees economics as a matter of communal responsibility - caring for one another and for the community, as well as for the individual.

One group sees God as waging an apocalyptic battle again evil - a battle in which they are fighting on the side of God. The other see themselves also as engaged in a struggle, but it is not one in which the outcome is divinely ordained, nor is it a clear contest between forces of pure good and pure evil.

So it's not simply a clash of values, but a struggle between very different ways of reading the Bible and understanding how Christians are called to live out their faith.

Batstone sums it up with the words of Thomas Friedman, columnist of The New York Times: We are now "two nations under God."

bullet A Stolen Election?  Maybe not!

Kerry hadn't even conceded yet when the "We were robbed!" messages began to fly over the Internet. With stories abounding of voting problems and lots of confirmed cases of error, like the county in Ohio that registered an extra 3,893 votes for Bush, there's reason for concern. The Nation's David Corn looks at the rhetoric and conspiracy theories and finds that we probably didn't have a stolen election -- but that we do have an electoral system with enough flaws that it'll always be a possibility unless something changes.

bullet... but then again ...
There was "voter suppression and fraud" in Ohio, says Ohio reporter

The Columbus (Ohio) Free Press reports that "evidence is mounting that the 2004 presidential election was stolen in Ohio. Emerging revelations of voting irregularities coupled with well-documented Republican efforts at voter suppression prior to the election suggests that in a fair election Kerry would have won Ohio."

The article is by Bob Fitrakis, a Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Columbus State Community College. He has a Ph.D in Political Science and a J.D. from The Ohio State University Law School. He is the author of seven books, an investigative reporter, and Editor of the Columbus Free Press.

Thom Hartmann describes the appearance of similar problems in Florida.

bullet Values? How about the values of Jesus?

Speaking of values in the election, Steve Swearingen, of Anderson, SC, sent a letter to the editor of his local paper during the campaign, and shares it with us to add to this conversation.

bullet On gay marriage and laws against it

Kathleen Eschen-Pipes, a Presbyterian Minister in Santa Cruz, CA, suggests that we consider a "trial separation" between Church and State.

Now it's your turn!

We believe
the recent election challenges progressives to engage in the national discussion (if that's not too polite a term) on religion and moral values. We're posting a number of other essays that deal with this from various perspectives, and we hope you'll join in the conversation!

Just send a note, and we'll post it here. As usual, we ask that you identify yourself, at least by name, plus anything else you'd care to tell us about yourself. And we ask that you not engage in sarcastic or demeaning depictions of "the other side," whatever that may be.

Coffin documentary to air on PBS

"William Sloane Coffin: An American Prophet" ---- an hour-long documentary on the life and times of one of 20th-century America's most compelling social and religious critics -- is airing on PBS television stations this month.

Two interesting new websites
bulletBruderhof offers Peacemakers' Guide

Anyone can be a peacemaker. The site is described thus: "The Bruderhof Peacemakers Guide was created to inspire and empower you to work for peace, and to arm you with living proof of the power of nonviolence to effect change and resolve conflicts. Some of the peacemakers featured on this website are famous, others obscure, but all have dedicated their lives to building a more peaceful and just world through nonviolent means. For each you will find a short biography, an original portrait, and links to further reading.

"We've also supplied you with ammunition to help you convince those who doubt the practicality of nonviolence. In this section you'll find writings on nonviolence, reconciliation, conflict resolution, pacifism, and conscientious objection to military service, as well as free e-books on peace-related themes."

The site includes material on such peacemakers as Jim Wallis, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Merton, and Jun Yasuda.

bulletA new website boldly proclaims "Jesus Is a Liberal"

JesusIsALiberal is described by its creators as "a website for liberal and progressive thinking Christians. This website is for those who believe that the teachings of Jesus outline a liberal, progressive, tolerant, loving, open minded, holistic, and sustainable vision for our World."

Jonathan W. Logan, one of the creators of the site, says further: "While we come from three different Christian denominations, we all share one faith and a compelling belief in the positive good news of Jesus and His teachings and what they ask of us and require of us in living our faith -- good deeds, honesty (personal and professional), the cessation of violence & war, fairness & justice, a caring compassionate acceptance of others and tolerance for all whom we disagree with -- provided they do us no harm -- and a Liberal, Progressive, Tolerant, Loving, open minded, holistic, and sustainable vision for our World. There is so much work to do in this world!"

Can we live with our differences?

Responding to "Keklamenos'" invitation to dialogue among Presbyterians, elder Gordon Shull of Wooster, Ohio, asks whether we can "accept our honest differences and go about the business - together - of proclaiming the Kingdom?"

Doing Our Own Work: A Seminar for Anti-Racist White Presbyterians

That All May Freely Serve will offer a seminar at Carmel Retreat Center, Mahwah, NJ (45 minutes west of the Newark airport), for those who seek to deepen their commitment to confronting and challenging white racism in the church and where they live and work. Lisa Larges and Mieke Vandersall, the facilitators, add, "It is our experience and conviction that those of us who are white need to 'do our own work' - educating ourselves, confronting white supremacy, holding each other accountable, and demonstrating good faith as we seek to build genuine and lasting coalitions with people of color."

Their announcement continues: "This seminar empowers us to be more effective and responsible catalysts for transformation in the life of the Presbyterian Church and beyond. It gives us a starting place to address racial fractures and divisions within the movement for GLBT liberation. It equips us for healing, renewal, and working towards the actualized peace, purity and unity of the church."

The seminars will be held Feb. 25-27, April 1-3, and May 20-22.

You'll find more information on a flier in PDF format, or contact Mieke Vandersall (Coordinator/Evangelist for Presbyterian Welcome in New York City) or Lisa Larges (Regional Partnership Coordinator for That All May Freely Serve).

A chance to act for Choice

If you favor women's right to choose, you may want to contact your Senators and Senator Bill Frist today, to defend the possibility of the choice of Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) as chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. Specter is the only pro-choice Republican on the committee.

Thousands from the Religious Right are calling and e-mailing, and those who favor choice must be heard from too. Also, perhaps let Specter's office know that he has your support. 

Details and contacts are available here.

Covenant Network Conference talks about sex - as part of the image of God in humanity, and as a gracious gift

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Issues Analyst, reports on some of the many presentations and sermons at the Covenant Network conference, held at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, November 4 - 6.

More thoughts on the election     

Your WebWeaver is gathering a variety of comments and analyses of the election, with a focus on the moral concerns that seemed to weigh strongly in favor of George W. Bush -- and on those who urge progressives to articulate the moral dimension of their convictions as well.

bulletThe view from Scotland: The Rev. John Mann, an American Presbyterian pastor serving a church in Glasgow, Scotland, was asked in July 2004, to preach at the funeral of a teenage Scots soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He now reports on how his parishioners and neighbors are responding to four more years of what they call "the Bush Regime."
bullet Democrats must reclaim their moral agenda, says Robert Reich

Lots of commentators have fixed on Bush's use of the language of personal morality to explain why Kerry lost. Robert Reich makes the case that Democrats need to get in touch with their inherent social morality, rather than policy prescriptions, in order to win.

He points at a few possibilities:

Democrats used to talk in moral terms -- about fighting for civil rights, for example. What could Democrats say now and in the future? That it's morally wrong to give huge tax cuts to the rich while cutting social programs for the poor and working class -- especially when the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than it's been in more than a century. That we have a moral obligation to give every American child a good education and decent health care. That it's morally wrong that millions of Americans who work full time don't earn enough to keep their families out of poverty.

My faith -- and yes, it is a matter of faith, a great leap of faith -- is that in all these respects, and many more, this nation can become a more just society.

bulletA leader of Soulforce calls for continued struggle as the country moves deeper into crisis

Says Jimmy Creech, chairperson of the Soulforce Board of Directors, "Don't let go of your rage, your anger. Your rage is a sign you're alive and well, and understand what's happening!"

bullet Democrats need a religious left says Michael Lerner

Rabbi Michael Lerner, co-chair of The Tikkun Community, asserts that values that the Left already holds, like loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek, need to be embraced politically. People are voting not for their own economic self-interests, but for their deeper moral convictions, and progressives must appeal to that basic moral desire for "a framework of meaning and purpose to their lives that would transcend the grasping and narcissism that surrounds them."

Lerner is author of Spirit Matters: Global Healing and the Wisdom of the Soul

bullet "Kerry won," says one observer  (among others)

Greg Palast, a contributing editor for Harper's magazine, says that a disproportionate number of votes in Ohio and New Mexico were declared "spoiled" and thus invalidated.

bullet Progressives are "pathetically out of touch," says Earl H. Tilford, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of History at Grove City College


What are your thoughts on the election?

And especially, what about the role of religion, faith, and values -- in the election just past, and as progressives think about the future?

Please send a note -- or a link to something you find helpful, and we'll share it here.

And please tell us who you are!

11/3/04 -- The Day After
Well, it's over. The voting, that is -- but not the process of reflecting, rethinking,  regrouping that progressives of all sorts must now undertake.

On the morning of Election Day we invited you to offer comments on your voting experience, on the election, or whatever.

Here we'll offer some comments we've received, along with a variety of more extended reflections that strike us as helpful in one way or another.  

And if you have thoughts of your own, or from others, that you think would be helpful, please send them along!

Here's what we've received or found so far:

From our friends on the right:

bulletone prayer of thanks to God for the victory
bulletone awesome bit of sarcasm by a frequent and bitter critic of most of what we post here

But there's also

bulleta bit of poetry, just for fun
bulleta brief comment saying Bush won because "millions of religious single issue cult-like voters" turned out for him
bulleta thoughtful comment by Witherspoon member Bill LeMosy, who ponders the spiritual dimension of our situation.
bulletfrom Bruce Gillette, "ten reasons not to move to Canada," plus scripture readings that fit the day well.
bulletfrom Jim Wallis, editor-in-chief of Sojourners, thoughts on the important realization that the "progressive faith did not lose this election" -- because the "progressive and prophetic vision of faith and politics" was not really represented in the campaign.
bulletlinks to a variety of good analyses from

Please note:  These items do not all represent the thinking of your WebWeaver, and certainly are not a statement from the Witherspoon Society.  We are simply offering a variety of perspectives on questions that many of us will be pondering over the coming weeks.  Or years.

PC(USA) seeks accompaniers for Colombia

Church leaders there continue to be harassed, threatened

Dozens of volunteers are now being sought to serve as accompaniers with the Presbyterian Church in Colombia (PCI) to curb violence against its pastors and church workers.

The PCI has been asking for help for more than six months. During its September meeting the PC(USA)'s General Assembly Council approved sending accompaniers under the joint auspices of the Worldwide Ministries Division and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.
11/2/04 -- Election Day
A Prayer at the Time of an Election

Under your law we live, great God,
and by your will we govern ourselves.
Help us as good citizens
to respect neighbors whose views differ from ours,
so that without partisan anger,
we may work out issues that divide us,
and elect candidates to serve the common welfare;
through Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.

Copied from the Book of Common Worship of our Presbyterian Church (USA)
Thanks to Bruce Gillette, Wilmington, Delaware

Reflections on our elections

What's happening where you are?  What are you experiencing, thinking, feeling?
Please send a note, and we'll share our experiences here!

An Honest Election
By Marc Ash, executive director of TruthOut

Tuesday 02 November 2004

We stand at a crossroads for our nation. At issue is the fabric of American life. There is a perception that choosing the right leader is the most important thing. Surely that will matter, but even more crucial is our commitment to American values.

If you are thinking about voting twice, don't do it. If you are thinking of putting fear in the heart of your neighbor as he goes to cast his vote, think again. How we conduct this election will have more to do with the safety and security of our nation than who wins.

We have throughout our history held our free elections as a pillar of our democracy. Remove that pillar and you undermine all that is freedom. Even if this election is conducted fairly, the result will be disappointment for some. That is as it should be. The pain of that disappointment pales in comparison to the price we will pay should we fail to protect the integrity of the process itself.

When the Founders had concluded their work on the Constitution, Benjamin Franklin walked outside and seated himself on a public bench. A woman approached him and inquired, "Well, Dr. Franklin, what have you done for us?" Franklin quickly responded, "My dear lady, we have given to you a republic - if you can keep it." A quiet debate is being waged in the shadows of the country, once again, as to whether America is a republic or a democracy. It will be neither, if we fail to protect our right to vote.

Help your neighbor vote. Not just the one who agrees with you but the one who differs. Why? Because when this is over, that's the one you're really going to need the most.

Good luck to us.

US election -- one day away

It's time. The American people's choice of their next president is only hours away (lawyers and efficient voting machines [permitting]). If you have a vote it's time to put it into action. If you don't, it's time to wait in hope, fear, and expectation for a result that will help shape the life of everyone on the planet for the next four years.

This little reminder (like you need it!) gives us a bit of perspective from outside the USA.  It comes from, a London-based website which describes itself as "an online global magazine of politics and culture."

Baltimore ministers address their Jewish neighbors in light of the concerns about actions by the 2004 General Assembly

In an open letter issued not long after the Assembly, 16 minister members of Baltimore Presbytery expressed their concern about what they saw as the lack of even-handedness in the criticisms on Israel's actions in Palestine, while also noting that the statements did criticize attacks on innocent people by both sides. They also criticized the Assembly's action to continue funding for the "Avodat Yisrael" congregation in Philadelphia, noting that Baltimore Presbytery acted over ten years ago to remove a similar "Messianic" congregation from its roll as being incompatible with a healthy Jewish-Christian relationship.

Jack Sharp, one of the signers of the letter, sent it to us recently.

School of the Americas Watch invites you to ...
bullet support a bill in Congress to close the SOA, especially during the lame duck session beginning Nov. 16. 
bulletjoin the Witness for Peace - SOA Watch fact-finding delegation to Colombia, February 4-15,
bullet volunteer at the SOA Vigil: November 19-21, 2004

Read more about the vigil to close the School of the Americas

Our coverage of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
All October reports are listed on the archive page for October
Click here for reports and commentary from September, 2004.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

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

Our three areas of primary interest are:

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

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

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

If you like what you find here,
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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.


Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

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


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