Saturday, June 12, 2004
Courtesy of our good buddies at Public Domain Progress, a BeliefNet article that almost restores our faith in faith. The Center for American Progress recently hosted a forum for progressive religious leaders who hope to reclaim the high ground from their knuckle-dragging colleagues:
"Long before there was a Jerry Falwell or a Pat Robertson or even a Tom Delay, there was a Martin Luther King Jr., a Dorothy Day and an Abraham Heschel," said [CAP President John] Podesta, a Catholic. "For them, justice and fairness in the community was inseparable from their faith in God. That's the real story of religion in American life and we're here to reclaim it."For more on lefty Christian activists who have not only read but paid attention to the beatitudes, visit the Sojourners website.
Conference speakers emphasized that most American social justice movements have had their roots in religion or spirituality. Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author for his book about the civil rights era, said American progressives can't ignore the influence of religion in the history of their causes. "The world since 1964 is a world created by Martin Luther King Jr., not Ronald Reagan," Brach said. "We inherit and live in a world that liberals created."
While participants spent much of the conference highlighting the historical role of faith in progressive causes, the purpose of the conference was not simply to celebrate the past. Religious liberals were also trying to figure out how public religion has been taken over by the religious right and political conservatives over the past 20 years. "Many of us feel like our faith has been stolen," said Jim Wallis, convener of Call to Renewal and editor-in-chief of Sojourners. "How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war and pro-American? It's time for a rescue operation."
Wallis said people of faith have a responsibility in this election year to let their religious consciences inform their voting.