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Archives:  August 2005

This page lists all reports and commentary from August, 2005

September, 2005 >>
July, 2005 >>
June, 2005 >>
May, 2005 >>
April, 2005 >>
Our coverage of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

More comments on the Theological Task Force report
bulletKen Smith, president of the Witherspoon Society, adds his thoughts on ways in which the Task Force report has fulfilled some of his hopes, but has badly disappointed others.
bulletThe Executive Committee of the Covenant Network has issued a statement in which they express appreciation for the report’s affirmation of the unity of the church, along with concern that it does not address the steps needed for a more just and inclusive church.
bulletThe Rev. Hal Porter writes to commend the statements by More Light Presbyterians and by their staff person, Michael Adee.
Presbyterian Church appealing for $10 million in Hurricane Katrina relief
Disaster specialists traveling to affected areas to help survivors

For situation updates, and a variety of ways to help, go to the PDA page
There you’ll also find bulletin inserts that you can download and copy for use on Sunday.

Did the Iraq War lose US New Orleans?

The journal Editor&Publisher carries an article by Will Bunch, showing how the terrible flooding in New Orleans has been caused partly by reductions in the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers on the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project.

Sojourners reminds us –
Act to protect our children from military recruiters

Buried deep within the No Child Left Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over students' private contact information to military recruiters. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds. As if that weren't bad enough, the Pentagon has now built an illegal database of 30 million 16 to 25-year-olds as another recruitment tool.

Rita Brock reports on Camp Casey

The Rev. Dr. Rita Brock, who has been deeply involved in Faith Voices and other groups working for the end of the war against Iraq, reported recently about her visit to Camp Casey and Cindy Sheehan.

She now tells of her latest visit there for an interfaith rally and prayers for peace

Two Witherspoon comments on the Theological Task Force report
bulletGene TeSelle offers a careful analysis of the paper, particularly its recommendations.
bulletDoug King considers some of the value issues involved in the recommendations.

And let’s hear the voice of one gay person responding to the Task Force report:

We are the object of Debate? How odd. How embarrassing for all.

Is that possible?

....are we like funding for highways or "entitlements" or lunch programs?

We are somehow Less this it?

Raise your hand if you think all people are equal.

Correct me if I'm wrong.....

I feel very differently. There is no force that can stop the Truth.

I am not a big fan of intimidation. Yes, let that "intimidation thing" go all means.

But a "cease-fire" doesn't mean a Whole Lot when all the volleys come from one side.

Peace (without justice) is the hallmark of every abusive relationship. Everyone knows that.

History and the Spirit will show us the way. We will survive and we will thrive.

PS: The recent TTF report does not make me feel Discouraged in general.....I only feel Discouraged for the institution.

Posted here with thanks to the author, who feels it necessary to remain anonymous.

On torture

"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them. There is almost no kind of outrage --- torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians ---which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
- George Orwell

Thanks to the e-list No2Torture

More on the final report of the Theological Task Force:

MLP expresses concern about ban on any further actions on ordination

The board of More Light Presbyterians has issued a statement on the final report of the Theological Task Force, saying they appreciate much of the material in the report, but are "dismayed" at the proposal that the next General Assembly take no further action on the issue of ordination. Further, while appreciating the process of discernment, they see the call for more talk as "deeply insulting" to lgbt persons and their families and friends.

They add: "More than a season of discernment, we call again for a season of illumination where openness and honesty are encouraged. We urge the Presbyterian Church (USA) to delete G-6.0106b from the book of order and we encourage Presbyteries to continue to send delete-B overtures to the 217th General Assembly."

More on the final report of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church

Read the full text of the report >>

bulletMichael Adee, More Light staff person, reflects on the Task Force report in a pastoral letter to MLP members and friends
bullet Presbyterians for Renewal offers a preliminary review – and it’s mixed
bullet Task Force members share personal thoughts on their work
bullet The Presbyterian Coalition expresses concern

Got comments? 
Please send a note,
to be shared here!


The Executive Committee of the Witherspoon Society is preparing a response to the report.


More Light Presbyterians is doing likewise.


The Covenant Network Board will meet in September to consider its response to the final report.

The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church has released its final report and recommendations.
bulletDownload the full text of the report, as a 38-page PDF file, from the PC(USA) web site.
bulletOutlook reporter Leslie Scanlon opens her report: 

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should enter a “season of discernment,” in which its ordination standards should not change, but local governing bodies should determine whether candidates for ordination have departed from those ordination standards – and whether a departure in a particular case “constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity.”   More >>

bulletThe Washington Post interprets the report as urging change, and allowing exceptions in matters of ordination.  The report begins:

After four years of work on the most contentious issues facing the church, a task force of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recommended yesterday that the 2.4 million-member denomination keep all its national standards for ordination but give local bodies the option of making individual exceptions for some gay ministers.   More >>

bulletThe Layman says the report "comes close to local option"   More >>

We will bring you an analysis of the report by Gene TeSelle, and a brief statement by our Executive Committee, within a day or two.  We hope.

Got comments? 
Please send a note,
to be shared here!

Drifting toward catastrophe

Ex-missionary says A-bomb memorials reinforce grim lesson world still has not learned

In June we posted a note from James Atwood, seeking signatures for the petition he was going to present as part of a Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation marking the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The petition called on the government of Japan to maintain the rejection of war which is part of their constitution.

He writes now reporting and reflecting on the visit: "If the planet is to survive, the world must accept the fact that using nuclear weapons on human beings is unconscionable."  

The New Face of the Global Justice Movement:
Taco Bell Boycott Victory - A Model of Strategic Organizing

An interview with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a community-based worker organization. Their members are largely Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. They recently won a landmark victory in their national boycott of Taco Bell this March 2005, when amidst growing pressure from students, churches and communities throughout the country, Taco Bell agreed to meet all their demands to improve wages and working conditions for Florida tomato pickers in its supply chain.

David Solnit is a direct action organizer, puppeteer, and the editor of "Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World." He is currently involved in organizing and popularizing people power strategies to end the Iraq war and occupation, and has worked for the past four years as an ally of CIW.

He interviewed CIW workers, and reports their responses to his questions about some of the major elements in their victory, including creating consciousness of their situation, building alliances [in which the PC(USA) was one partner] and networks, framing and telling their story, developing leadership skills among their farm-worker members, and planning campaigns with a series of clear, short-term goals that could be met and celebrated.

Read the rest of the story >>

Visit the Coalition website >>

Des Moines presbytery passes ordination overture

Thanks both to the Rev. Bill LeMosy and to More Light Presbyterians, we can report that the Presbytery of Des Moines Presbytery an overture to permit the ordination of lgbt Presbyterians, during its meeting this past Saturday, August 20, 2005. With 78 persons eligible to vote, the overture passed with 42 in favor, 34 opposed and 2 abstentions. In 2004, it was Des Moines Presbytery to pass the first ordination overture. This is the second time that the Des Moines Presbytery has passed an ordination overture.

Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians, notes that "The groundswell of ordination overtures being considered and passed continues all across the country. What happened in Des Moines Presbytery this past week illustrates once again that now is the time for change, now is the time for the Presbyterian Church (USA) to remove the anti-gay barriers within its church law and relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and our families. It gives evidence once again that people are ready for change, and for the PCUSA to reclaim its moral voice as a ‘reformed and always reforming’ faith tradition."

For more information, text and resources on ordination overtures, visit the MLP website.

Covenant Network comments on Theological Task Force release of first sections of report

We have earlier posted comments from the Witherspoon Society and More Light Presbyterians, responding to the draft first sections of the report on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church.  We apologize for losing track of the letter from the Co-Moderators of the Covenant Network, offering their views of the draft.

Among other things, they note that while the members of the Task Force affirm their respect for one another, they also says none of them has compromised on basic beliefs.  They comment, "It, therefore, remains unclear how the Task Force’s recommendations will help Presbyterians move from the same 'basic commitments' that they currently hold to a new circumstance in which we can live with less conflict and more 'patience, mutual forbearance, and dedicated communal discernment.' ”

California court affirms gay couples' parental status

The California Supreme Court on Monday became the first in the nation to grant full parenting rights and obligations to gays and lesbians who have children. In three closely watched cases, the justices set rules in an area where changes in family structure and advances in technology have outpaced the evolution of legal principles.

Read the story >>

Presbyterians say No to Torture

A grassroots group of Presbyterians, concerned about the treatment of prisoners captured and held by the US and our allies since the 9/11 attacks, has established a Yahoo Group to facilitate communication and information sharing. Learn more at

In introducing this Yahoo group "No2Torture," the organizers say:

"This Yahoo group is the result of a grassroots groundswell that began at the 2005 Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. Over 50 people came together to begin to organize as advocates for humane treatment of prisoners captured and held by the United States and our allies since the 9/11 attacks. We are motivated by love of God and our country, and by concern for captive and captors alike. To this end, we have decided to work, study and pray together and to take such action as we deem necessary to promote peace, justice and compassion. All who wish to join us are welcome. It is important to note that, while those who initiate this conversation are Presbyterian, motivated by the traditions and statements of our church, including the 2005 General Assembly Statement Against Torture and Abuse, we do not speak for the church."

More on the problem of torture >>

The SwiftBoating of Cindy Sheehan

The Bush Administration has moved as usual to smear a critic – this time the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq. That has worked in the past against such Vietnam veterans as John McCain, Max Cleland, and John Kerry. This time, says Frank Rich, it may not work as well. Even if the media continue to parrot the White House line, the people are catching on.

Read it on >>   OR in the New York Times

More on Cindy Sheehan and growing protests against the war >>

In the be-careful-what-you-pray-for department:

Don’t give Bush an exit strategy

Norman Solomon, author of the new book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, warns that much of the growing opposition to the war is based on concern that the war is failing. The Administration’s easy response to that may well be to escalate rather than "lose the war." If opponents of the war are serious, he says, they must make clear it’s the war they oppose, not just the possibility of losing. And getting out must be presented as the only way to deal with that.

Nuclear bunker busters

The Senate has included money for the nuclear bunker buster (designed to be used against deeply buried targets and underground bunkers) in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. The House version does not include this funding. A conference committee will meet in September to resolve the difference. Senators Domenici (NM), Cochran (MS), McConnell (KY), Bennett (UT), Burns (MT), Craig (ID), Bond (MO), Sen. Hutchison (TX), and Allard (CO) need to hear from their constituents on this issue.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation provides a way to send email.

Learn about nuclear bunker busters at

From the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program Update, 20 August 2005

Thanks to the Rev. W. Mark Koenig, Associate for Resources and Publications, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

You may want to join in ...

September Mobilization

Three Days of Actions
for Peace & Justice in D.C.

Saturday, September 24
Massive March, Rally & Anti-war Fair
Gather 11 AM at the Washington Monument

bulletSat., Sept. 24 - Operation Ceasefire Concert
bulletSun., Sept. 25 - Interfaith Service, Grassroots Training
bulletMon., Sept. 26 - Congressional Education Day and Mass Nonviolent Direct Action and Civil Disobedience, Linking Anti-war and Global Justice Protests

Within the three days of actions in D.C. there will be a special series of events dedicated to ...
Stop Torture!

Ideas for observing September 11

Pueblo Presbytery is sponsoring an "Interfaith Prayers for Peace Service."

Grace Presbytery has invited a Palestinian Christian, a Palestinian Muslim, and an Israeli Jew involved in peacemaking to spend September 8-15 in the presbytery.

Other ideas??  Please share yours!  Just send a note.

A late report from Crawford and Camp Casey

Jake Young, pastor and Witherspoon Vice President, is on his way home to South Carolina after visiting Crawford, Texas, and "Camp Casey," with a group from his congregation. He sends this quick report:

When we arrived we were saddened to learn that Cindy Sheehan was preparing to leave because her mother had suffered a stroke. We were concerned for her mother and family. And, obviously, there was much disappointment that the leader of the vigil would have to leave. What would happen now? Will this energy just dissipate? Will the media attention ebb? The answer to the last question is, "Of course!"

But what we saw emerge over the brief time we were there, was a renewed sense of energy and commitment to support our troops by advocating for peace. Just two or three hours after she left, people were no longer saying, "Will Cindy be back? When?" Instead, they began saying, "Cindy does not need to come back. She has been the catalyst. She can't be here holding our hands." And we began to look around and discover others right there at Camp Casey who could speak with the same moral authority as Cindy because they had lost sons and other family members in this immoral war. It was no longer a "cult of Cindy" but the emergence of a sharper focus on the topic that united all these people on a Texas roadside in the first place: peace.

The numbers visiting the Peace House in Crawford and Camp Casey out near the Western White House never diminished. They were actually burgeoning on Friday afternoon as we left following the formal noon Peace Vigil led by approximately 30 clergy. Not only is the energy and commitment alive and well in the peace movement at Crawford, it now embodies a sense of responsibility by all parties. This is not only about one grieving mother from California. It is about all of us who call this empire home.

More on Cindy Sheehan and growing protests against the war >>

"We know the bomb worked"

Dr. Earl Tilford responds to Dr. Gordon Shull note from yesterday, outlining an argument that the use of atomic bombs over Japan really did not hasten the end of the war.  Dr. Tilford says that the war ended, so that proves the bomb worked.

We didn’t need to use the Bomb on Japan

Gordon Shull, who taught US foreign policy throughout the cold war, and paid close attention to the Hiroshima issue, sent a comment a few days ago, in response to a note from Earl Tilford in support of the use of the bombs.

Dr. Shull sets forth his understanding of the circumstances surrounding the use of the atomic bombs over Japan, which lead him to view that action as unnecessary, or at the least rather unplanned.

More on Hiroshima & Nagasaki  

A thoughtful and informed Jew praises Presbyterian commitment to dialogue, and laments present policies of divestment.

Eric Geller refers to the PC(USA) study paper approved in 1987, called, "A Theological Understanding of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews."  He is apparently responding to the latest Presbyterian steps toward divestment. 

Read his letter >>  

The latest news of the accompaniment program in Colombia -- with a report from accompaniers Marilyn White and Jane Wood, and a request for help in maintaining this vital program. 
Vigils support Cindy Sheehan's action, saying No to the war
bulletA general report on the vigils around the country
bulletTwin Cities vigil draws over 1000
bulletPhotos from around the country
bulletNCC General Secretary Bob Edgar invites Bush to join Gold Star families at interfaith prayer service Friday outside Bush's ranch
bullet Sheehan blames the Jews?
That's one of the charges leveled against her in the Administration's usual response to criticism.  An anonymous writer sent us a note about it -- and we're happy to provide a response by Rabbi Arthur Waskow to that attack.
bulletBad Iraq war news and protests worry some in GOP on '06 vote

A very personal visit with Cindy Sheehan
Rita Nakashima Brock, following her appearance at the Faith and Freedom rally in Nashville, visited Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, Texas. She offers a very personal glimpse into what’s happening there.

Religious leaders rally in Nashville to present an alternative to the religious right’s "Justice Sunday II"

Conservative Christians press for confirmation of John Roberts to Supreme Court   

bulletGene TeSelle reports on the "Faith and Freedom" rally
bulletThe full text of Rita Nakashima Brock's address at the rally
bullet Local press reports on the various rallies, right and left

The 90-year-old founder of the French-based Taizé Christian ecumenical community has been stabbed to death at a prayer service.

Police detained a woman after the assault on Swiss-born Roger Schutz, who was known as Brother Roger.  Around 2,500 young people were at the Reconciliation church in Burgundy at the time of the attack.   The BBC reports >>

If you've been involved in the Taizé Community
and have reflections to share here,
please send a note.

Cindy Sheehan’s vigil for peace and truth  

If you’re following the many reports of one mother’s act of conscience on behalf of her son, killed in Iraq, here’s one great collection of articles and photos, including Ms. Sheehan’s own comments.

And William Pitt reports on the creation of the "Arlington West cemetery" by the activists who are accompanying Cindy Sheehan in Crawford, TX – and the harassment of the group, expanding finally to the deliberate desecration of the grave markers by one Larry Northern of Waco, Texas.   More >>

Join a vigil tonight!

Tonight, Wednesday August 17, vigils are being held across the nation in support of Cindy Sheehan's witness for peace.  More >>

Also ...

An interfaith prayer service will be held at the Camp Casey Memorial in Crawford, TX, Friday August 19, 2005, at Noon - U.S. Central Daylight Time.

A suggested prayer for use in the vigils is offered by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia

Cindy Sheehan’s vigil is of course being attacked from the Right.  More >>

If you have more to add --
news of activities, opinions of your own --
please send a note
to be shared here.

Presbyterians continue to pursue possible divestment from companies supporting Israeli occupation of Palestine

The Presbyterian Church’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee , meeting last week in Seattle, chose five multinational corporations Caterpillar, Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola and United Technologies for "progressive engagement" about business practices believed to contribute to violence in Israel and Palestine.

After several hours of discussion on Aug. 5, the MRTI committee unanimously selected the five companies and agreed to begin discussions with them about their involvement in the conflict.

See the Presbyterian News Service report >>

More on this story, including critical responses and criticism of those responses

NOTE:  The Witherspoon Society board has been and continues to be supportive of the action of the General Assembly and the continuing efforts of MRTI to seek effective ways of resisting the violence in Israel/Palestine.  The possible divestment of certain stock holdings is a way of opening dialogue with corporations about their actions that appear to perpetuate the violence.  Will it solve all the problems of the Middle East?  Not likely.  But it does offer one small step toward peace, and away from violence.  Can we do less?

Got comments on the MRTI action and/or the continuing debate?
Please send a note!

More on Hiroshima & Nagasaki
bullet"My God! What Have We Done?"   Sixty years ago this week, Father George Zabelka, a chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, met with the airmen who dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and gave them his blessing.  Years later he said, "War is now, always has been, and always will be bad, bad news. I was there. I saw real war. Those who have seen real war will bear me out. I assure you, it is not of Christ. It is not Christ’s way. There is no way to conduct real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus. There is no way to train people for real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus."
bulletBush and the Bomb --  While many still defend the nuclear attacks on Japan as "for their own good" – shortening the war and avoiding a greater loss of both Japanese and American lives – many scholars are now arguing that the use of the bomb neither hastened the end of the war nor saved lives.
bulletProf. Earl Tilford offers unreserved praise for the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

More on the vigil of Cindy Sheehan

War Mothers, Bush Are Worlds Apart

They were just a few miles away from each other Thursday, standing under a hot midday sun to express their concern about US troops dying in Iraq. But President Bush and the grieving mother outside his ranch were worlds apart on how best to honor the dead.

Bush said the United States must finish the job of bringing a stable democracy to Iraq. Cindy Sheehan and a growing group of war protesters who have joined her say the soldiers should come home immediately.

Our earlier note on Cindy Sheehan >>

Pork-laden energy bill concerns environmentalists

As analysts continue to pore over the details of the new omnibus energy bill Congress approved and President Bush signed last week, many are questioning the wisdom of providing numerous fossil fuel subsidies to industries that are making windfall profits. Indeed, Congress has asked for tens of billions of dollars to help nuclear, oil and coal companies that are hardly ailing as surging fuel prices throughout the U.S. and abroad generate record earnings.

Read a short report on emagazine >>

And see a longer article in the Washington Post >>

Colombia: Our Other War

Thomas Oliphant reported recently in the Boston Globe about the wide disparity between two different ways to visiting the war-torn land of Colombia. US legislators who serve as cheerleaders for the US war, and get the Administration’s well-designed tour see all the "progress" that is being made in pacification, development, and the "war on drugs." Rep. Jim McGovern takes his own style of tour, visiting with human rights workers, NGOs, and church leaders.

"According to McGovern ... the fruits of American policy through two administrations over the last half-decade have been death, drugs, and oppression. ‘The fact is there is no light at the end of the tunnel as long as we are merely feeding the status quo,’ he said last week."

Read the full article >>

Thanks to Anne Barstow and Tom Driver, Witherspoon members
and activists in the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Reflections on the conference on spiritual activism:
A progressive voice for the culture war?
by Doug King

We’ve reported earlier on the conference on spiritual activism that was held in July in Berkeley, CA, as a kick-off for a Network of Spiritual Progressives. More than 1200 people came together for four days for a first-time, remarkable gathering. Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, theological liberals and evangelicals, and lots more – all were drawn by an invitation to shape a positive progressive response to the conservatives’ success in making faith and values something on which they seem to claim a monopoly.

The main themes of the conference were clear, and were consistently asserted through the whole event: (1) America is in a crisis – the Right is right about that, and the Left has largely (and disastrously) ignored it. But the Right misunderstands the nature and roots of the crisis. (2) The real nature of the crisis is alienation: people are lonely – isolated from one another and from the natural human capacity to live in relationships, in community.

More >>

A couple more helpful items:

Questions and Answers on the Network of Spiritual Progressives >>

Another look at the Christian right

For another incisive statement of the challenge of right-wing Christianity in the US, you might look at "The Christian Paradox: How a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong," by William McKibben, published in the August 2005 issue of Harper’s Magazine. You’ll find a substantial excerpt on the Harper’s website.

Support Cindy Sheehan

MoveOn is taking out an ad in President Bush's local newspaper in support of Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is camped outside Bush's ranch in Texas asking for a meeting with the president. They'll publish the number of signers and the best comments in a full two-page spread in the newspaper nearest to Crawford (The Waco Tribune Herald) while Cindy holds her vigil. Can you sign and spread the word before the 3:00 PM Friday print deadline?

Sign the ad and send your comment >>

More on Ms. Sheehan’s witness to the real costs of this war:

Rage Against the Killing of the Light

Mid-August 2005 may be remembered as a moment in US history when the president could no longer get away with the media trick of solemnly patting death on its head. Unreality is a hallmark of media coverage for war. Yet - most of all - war is about death and suffering. War makers thrive on abstractions. Their media successes depend on evasion.

President Bush has tried to keep the loved ones of America's war dead at middle distance, bathed in soft fuzzy light: close enough to exploit for media purposes, distant enough to insulate the commander in chief's persona from the intrusion of wartime mourning in America.

What's going on this week, outside the perimeter of the ranch-style White House in Crawford, is some reclamation of reality in public life. Cindy Sheehan has disrupted the media-scripted shadow play of falsity.

The full article >>

Maureen Dowd asks, "Why No Tea and Sympathy?"

She notes: "It's amazing that the White House does not have the elementary shrewdness to have Mr. Bush simply walk down the driveway and hear the woman out, or invite her in for a cup of tea. But W., who has spent nearly 20 percent of his presidency at his ranch, is burrowed into his five-week vacation and two-hour daily workouts. He may be in great shape, but Iraq sure isn't."

Read the whole column >>

Looking again at Hiroshima

Arch Taylor, who served for many years as a mission co-worker teaching in Japan, reminds us that the justifications given by the US governments for the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are seen by some analysts today as much less convincing than they appeared at the time.

Parents and teens are taking more action to opt out of military efforts to gather information for recruiting

We have previously noted the efforts by parents and others to stop schools from providing personal information on their students to military recruiters. The LA Times reports on the growth of these efforts in the Los Angeles area.

Currently, the Army is having the most difficult time meeting its recruitment goals, falling more than 7,800 soldiers short of the nearly 55,000 enlistees it needed between Oct. 1 and June 30. The Army National Guard and reserves also fell short of their targets, as did the Navy reserves, and the Air National Guard.

Read the full article >>

Pres. Bush urges the teaching of "intelligent design" – and maybe you want to offer a faith-based response!

It’s not too late to affirm the complementary relationship between religion and science, rather than a pseudo-scientific version of biblical literalism.

In February we posted a letter being circulated with the goal of gaining 10,000 signatures of clergy. Michael Zimmerman of the College of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, who initiated the letter, has received nearly 6,000 signatures so far and is now making a further appeal for support.

We encourage you to take a look at the letter, and consider adding your name to the list.

Read the letter here >>

Go to Dr. Zimmerman’s site to add your signature >>

Toward a Network of Spiritual Progressives  (continued)

We're still trying to catch up with the conference in Berkeley of spiritual progressives.

Rabbi Michael Lerner offered the basic vision that brought the conference into being: a vision that would response to the real spiritual crisis in America by offering an alternative to a market-driven society which makes humans into tools for maximizing profit, and by calling forth basic human gifts of trust and relationships.

Lerner and the Rev. Jim Wallis responded to questions from conference participants and from the press -- dealing with matters such as what it means to be truly evangelical, how they find spiritual nourishment, and how the proposed network might deal with practical questions of supporting presidential candidates.

More from Jim Wallis: The Message Thing

Jim Wallis offers, in an op-ed piece in the August 4th  New York Times, a brief response to the current talk about the need for progressives to do a better job of "framing" the issues, an idea articulated most clearly by George Lakoff. He says that language is indeed important, but that "the message remains more important than the messaging."

So he names "five areas in which the Democrats should change their message and then their messaging." These are poverty, stewardship of the environment, abortion (where he seeks to offer positive alternatives to the unending "right to live" vs. "choice" debate), "family values," and national security.

Bush endorses 'intelligent design,' contending the theory should be taught with evolution.

The Boston Globe reports

Also on TruthOut

Americans United calls Bush endorsement of 'intelligent design' in public schools "irresponsible"

Moving toward a Multicultural Church

Ken Smith,  president of the Witherspoon Society, recently attended the Churchwide Transformation and Multicultural Connection, along with over 1100 others, in New York City.  He reports on the conference as part of a movement toward becoming a multicultural church -- partly in response to "our denominational commitment to increase our racial/ethnic membership and given urgency by the demographic shifts in our communities."  But it also, he says, grows out of a mandate "as old as our faith and deeply rooted in it; 'for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples' (Isaiah 56:7b) being just one of many examples."

His report, and more >>

CAFTA passes by 1 vote

The Administration’s strong-arming carried the day in the House of Representatives by a one-vote margin, against those who are working for peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas. As Witness for Peace comments, today "more people than ever are questioning the model of ‘free trade’ and looking for more positive alternatives."

Here are brief reflections from two groups that have been deeply engaged in this issue:

Witness for Peace urges continued work with members of Congress as they return to their districts in August – "thank those who voted right and let those who voted wrong know that you're still paying attention. This next step in holding members accountable for their votes is a key part in making progress for trade justice."

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, says "the CAFTA debate makes clear that a dramatic shift in U.S. trade politics has occurred, and the NAFTA trade model is dead."

Witherspooners and justice-seekers Tammy Lindahl and Martha Juillerat celebrate marriage in Vancouver

A news announcement from More Light Presbyterians 

On July 30, 2005, Tammy Lindahl and Martha Juillerat were married at Trinity United Church, Vancouver, British Columbia. More Light Presbyterians [and Witherspoon!] celebrate the love, commitment and marriage of Tammy and Martha. Both former Presbyterian clergywomen, graduates of McCormick Theological Seminary who served God in parish ministry, Tammy also served on the National MLP Board and Martha is the National Program Director of the Shower of Stoles Project. Tammy and Martha live in Minneapolis, MN.  More >>

September, 2005 >>
July, 2005 >>
June, 2005 >>
May, 2005 >>
April, 2005 >>
Our coverage of the 2004 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
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.

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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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