How Faith Speaks to Power

On Monday, I received an email invite from an organization that I follow online, Faithful America, that asked us to join Sister Simone Campbell who was going up to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to talk to and pray with members of Congress in support of ending the government shutdown.  The event was organized by an interfaith action group, Faith in Public Life.  Sister Simone Campbell is Executive Director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. She lobbies on issues of peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare and economic justice. During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, she wrote the famous “nuns’ letter” supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters, including LCWR, to sign on. This action was cited by many as critically important in passing the Affordable Care Act.

How could I resist such an invitation?  I couldn’t, and neither could my husband Bill. We weren’t the only ones who could not resist attending. The gathering of about about 150 people included religious leaders from different faiths, people of faith and people who were suffering because of shutdown.  The group was impressive.

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We met Jewish priests, Unitarian Universalists, Catholics, representatives from the Salvation Army and United Methodists and others.  And there was at least one Baptist, that is one American Baptist, and that would be me.

We held hands as people of faith, sang a Jewish song “Of Love and Justice I will Sing” and then Sister Simone prayed for our country.  As we walked down the hall of the our nation’s capitol congressional office building singing “Amazing Grace,” my eyes welled…inspired by being among this wonderfully diverse group of religious leaders gathered with common purpose in God’s name. This is really faith in action. Here is a link to an article in the Nation ezine that has a video of us moving out to visit the Congresspersons.

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We stood in the hallways singing quietly while Sister Simone met with various members of Congress.  She was to meet with some who supported sending forward a clean continuing resolution (which would stop the shutdown) as well as with some members who opposed it (the ones keeping the government in shutdown mode).  Some of them were friendly enough, like Representative Frank Wolf  (northern Virginia), who came out to greet the religious leaders….he supports ending the shutdown.  Others met with her.  Still others, like Eric Cantor (also of Virginia) weren’t available.

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My favorite moment was when the Jewish Priests, who spent time talking to Eric Cantor’s receptionist, ended the discussion by blowing a Shofar, a traditional Jewish horn like the one that Joshua used in the battle of Jericho. That’s what I call making some noise! Another favorite moment was a conversation I had with one of the security guards, who had a time trying to get the group to keep a path down the hallway and not sing too loud.  He was walking beside me when he said he loved to sing in his church choir.  I told him he could sing along with us–he said he shouldn’t because his voice was so loud that they always put him in the back of the choir. Then, as we headed down the stairs, he broke out singing with us–and yes, he has a nice voice.

I applaud Faithful America and its low-profile Executive Director, Michael Sherrard (here is the only information about him that I could find online), Sister Campbell, and Faith in Public Life, because they are truly in the business of putting their faith into action…and that’s the kind of mustard seed faith that can move mountains. Matthew 17: 20-21.

When we returned home, I learned that just about the time we were there was when Congress again failed to reach an agreement, giving the responsibility of working out a plan back to the Senate.  And as you all know by now, the Senate completed the job, those causing the scandalous shutdown and possible default were defeated, and late last evening our President signed the bill into action. God works in wondrous ways.

Yet, it is not a time for celebration. According to Elizabeth Warren this outrageous act of a few bullies in Congress has cost the American people approximately $24 billion.  I really believe these bullies are not thinking of what’s best for America and that they must have a secret agenda.  Am I the only one who thinks they’re really foreign undercover operatives whose goal is to bring down this country?  I guess I’ve watched too many 007 movies.

I just hope and pray that God gives ‘ears to hear’ to these people who are hellbent on hurting America and who claim they are doing it because they don’t like the Affordable Care Act, which, contrary to what they repeatedly say, has been amply approved by the American people.

If you’d like to comment to this post, please click the little balloon at the top and you’ll see the comments section.  Contact me if you’d like to receive these weekly posts by email. Please know that I always wish for you to know the love of God and thereby be filled with peace, joy, and hope.

Anti-American Christians?

I titled this blog “the hope of faith in action,” because I want to share how people of faith can come together to help the least of these–the poor, the underprivileged and all who need love, help and hope.  But history has proven that faith in action is not always a good thing, because faith can be misplaced and corrupted by selfish desires. Our country has been shut down, and the main perpetrators of this treasonous fiasco are religious zealots.

As I’ve said before on this blog, the United States of America is a wonderful country.  The founding principles gathered in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are to be applauded, especially the first Amendment’s protection of citizens’ freedom from government intrusion into religion.  While we cherish our freedom of religious belief, we are predominantly a Christian nation, and there are some very powerful “christians” who do not respect the right of others to disagree with them. They do not like to be voted down. They are not happy with the  people of the United States–this beautifully diverse body of people who call this land of freedom and opportunity their home–because they want the nation to look and to think more like they do.  We need to protect the United States from this kind of tyranny wielded by religious power.

I did not realize until recently the extent of power wielded by the many religiously based conservative think tanks and advocacy groups.  Conservative religious evangelicals have teamed up with the rich and powerful, claiming they are “the American People”– they claim to be the real patriots (which certainly doesn’t include me, and likely most of you, either).  Their actions prove them to be the ultimate hypocrites.

You’ve likely heard of many of them, including:  Americans for Tax Reform, the Family Research Council, and The Heritage Foundation with it’s political action wing Heritage Action.

I want to highlight for you today the Council for National Policy which, according to Lee Fang’s recent article in The Nation ezine, “Meet the Evangelical Cabal Orchestrating the Shutdown,”  “was once dubbed as ‘the most powerful conservative group you’ve never heard of’… a thirty-year-old nonprofit dedicated to transforming the country into a more right-wing Christian society. Founded by Tim LaHaye, the Rapture-obsessed author of the Left Behind series, CNP is now run by Christian-right luminaries such as Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins and Kenneth Blackwell.”

You really should read this article…it is eye-popping.

Fang reports that the  Council for National Policy joined with the Heritage Foundation to manage The Conservative Action Project, which “can claim large responsibility for the fact that Obama has been deprived more than any modern American president of appointing judges of his choice for the federal bench.” The Conservative Action Project is “an ad hoc coalition created in the early years of the Obama administration to reorganize the conservative movement.”

Just a few days ago, A New York Times article By Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mike McIntyre, “A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning”, walked through the plan this organization created to defund the Affordable Care Act, involving several of the  conservative religious-based groups, including a plan to boost the message of senators like Ted Cruz. Really! From this news report, guess who we learn is behind it all?  Our favorite friends: “The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.”

These are the groups that shut down the government of our wonderfully  diverse country.  They did it because they disagree with the choice that the people made about health care by re-electing President Obama–and because of their great dislike of our first African American President.  They can’t stand to not be on the winning side, so they came together to bully, using the power of their money and their religious zeal while co-opting the faith of their many followers and their representatives in Congress, in an effort to shape the United States into what they’d rather it be….more white, more conservative and more evangelical.  That’s not who America is, but they don’t care…they want to make us into their image.  That’s not only treasonous, it’s against the will of God. And it’s against the will of our founding fathers.  These “christians” are the ultimate hypocrites.

Reminds me of the story in Genesis of the people who were so drunk with their own power that they wanted to make a name for themselves by building a tower high into the sky….If you don’t know the story of the Tower of Babel, read it at Genesis 11: 1-9.

If you’d like to comment to this post, please click the little balloon at the top and you’ll see the comments section.  Contact me if you’d like to receive these weekly posts by email. Please know that I always wish for you to know the love of God and thereby be filled with peace, joy, and hope.

Ain’t I an American?

I sent this letter to the editor of the Washington Post in response to a front-page article with a quote from John Boehner. Since they didn’t publish it, I thought I’d post it here (with a couple of edits).  I’m wondering if anybody else feels like I do on this….

Headine:  House Speaker John Boehner tells President Obama that “the American people don’t want to shut down the government and don’t want Obamacare.”

Just who are the “American People” he’s talking about?  I was born in America, but I really do believe in and want the Affordable Health Care Act.  So, for all the people who agree with me, Boehner and his group must have decided that we aren’t really “Americans,” even though we  were born in this country.  Or they must have decided that we aren’t really people.  I hate to have been so summarily dismissed and discounted.

I think the far-right conservatives who like to call themselves “the American people” use the term as a bullying tactic to make those who agree with them feel superior to those who don’t, and that the use of the term was intentionally implemented by those who want to control America. They are people who would rather not have the country be what it really is, a wonderfully diverse people who have a legitimate right to challenge their conservative view of what’s best for America.

Maybe if the conservatives in Congress saw themselves as representatives of a group of Americans, rather than “the American people,” they would realize that the rest of the American people are represented by those other folks in the House and the Senate.  Maybe if they respected the right of other Americans to disagree with them, they might be more willing to compromise on an agenda that makes sense for all of  America.

And that would make them truly patriotic.