Friday, May 06, 2005

Media Roundup from the Interfaith Alliance

You can read this issue online here.


Pennsylvania Clergy Call On Senator Specter To Protect Filibuster

“As the "nuclear option" clock runs down and Senate Republicans prepare to make good on their threat to dismantle our system of checks and balances by eliminating the filibuster, Republican leaders have called on the religious right to whip up fundamentalist fervor. But this morning Pennsylvania religious leaders gathered in Harrisburg to let it be known that Pennsylvanians of faith do not support silencing the minority in our Senate and do not support overturning our system of checks and balances. "A few days ago the people of this country were told by a colleague of yours, Senator Frist, that People of Faith are ALL of the same political point of view," thundered Rabbi Carl Choper who leads the congregation at Temple Beth Shalom in Mechanicsburg and serves as the convener for the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania. "More to the point, Senator Frist told the nation that People of Faith all held HIS point of view. Senator Specter, we are here today as Faith Leaders to say to you that this sort of intertwining of politics and religion is not good for politics or religion in this country." (TIA Press Release, 05-05-05)

Focus On The Family Garners More Attention, Energizes Activists On All Sides

“As Focus on the Family steps more forcefully into the political sphere, groups that have long sought to counter the influence of Christian social conservatives sense that momentum might be shifting their way. But political scientists caution that while secular and religious liberals may be more driven to offer an alternative voice in the current climate, a more likely scenario is that activists on both sides get energized. John Green, a University of Akron political scientist who specializes in religion and politics, said Focus' activities are winning points with its core supporters, which is far more important strategically than shaping mass public opinion. "In a closely divided electorate, intense minorities on one side or another really matter," he said. The Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, believes Focus on the Family's higher political profile also may cause disenchantment among some of its supporters. "When Dr. Dobson transferred his authority as a facilitator of healthy families to being a prognosticator about partisan politics, he brought along with him many people whose trust had been won in one realm that is now being played upon in another realm," Gaddy said. (Denver Post , “Focus stirs up both right, left,” 05-06-05),1413,36~53~2852730,00.html

Pat Robertson Says Threat To Judiciary Bigger Than 911 Terrorists

“….Acknowledging several passages from his new book - where he charged that liberals were engaging in "an all-out assault on Christianity," and that Democrats wanted to appoint judges who would "dismantle our Christian culture" - Robertson told ABC that the federal judiciary, as currently constituted, represents the biggest threat to America in its history. He warned: "They're destroying the fabric that holds our nation together." His interviewer, George Stephanopolous, asked whether Robertson was saying that the threat posed by federal judges was more dire than the Civil War, World War II, and the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11. Robertson replied: "I really believe that. ... I think that the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."

(Knight Ridder, “Pat Robertson continues religion-based attacks on judiciary, Democrats,” 05-01-05)

Christian Evangelicals Plotting To Remake America In Their Own Image

“It's February, and 900 of America's staunchest Christian fundamentalists have gathered in Fort Lauderdale to look back on what they accomplished in last year's election -- and to plan what's next….Meet the Dominionists -- biblical literalists who believe God has called them to take over the U.S. government. As the far-right wing of the evangelical movement, Dominionists are pressing an agenda that makes Newt Gingrich's Contract With America look like the Communist Manifesto. They want to rewrite schoolbooks to reflect a Christian version of American history, pack the nation's courts with judges who follow Old Testament law, post the Ten Commandments in every courthouse and make it a felony for gay men to have sex and women to have abortions. In Florida, when the courts ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed, it was the Dominionists who organized round-the-clock protests and issued a fiery call for Gov. Jeb Bush to defy the law and take Schiavo into state custody. Their ultimate goal is to plant the seeds of a "faith-based" government that will endure far longer than Bush's presidency -- all the way until Jesus comes back….The godfather of the Dominionists is D. James Kennedy [Coral Ridge Ministries]…” (Rolling Stone, “,” 05-08-05)

Democrats Seek To “Religionize” Public Remarks

“God does not side with the Republicans, Sen. John Kerry said in a fiery speech last week, accusing Republican leaders of politicizing religion to further their agenda. This week, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy quoted Jesus from the Bible. It was a rebuttal, he said, of Republicans' claims that Democrats are "against people of faith." Rep. John W. Olver, an Amherst Democrat, said he's considered buying an "anthology of good Biblical quotations" that he'd use to neutralize Republicans' religious references. Some observers and lawmakers say the Democrats' use of religious language reflects an adjustment following their electoral losses last fall. President Bush, who ended a speech on Wednesday with "God bless you all," successfully mobilized the evangelical right in the November elections.” (Sentinel and Leader, “Dems beefing up on Bible quotations,” 05-01-05)

President’s Faith Based Initiative Targets Hispanic Community

“As a Baptist minister, the Rev. Luis Cortes has long sought to build a national network of Hispanic churches, one that would bring new power to an emerging minority. As an elected official, President Bush has long sought a more diverse Republican Party, one that would lure more blacks and Hispanics to a dominant conservative bloc. These days, the two are united by faith, friendship, and a line item in the federal budget called the Compassion Capital Fund. Operating from a converted envelope factory in North Philadelphia, Mr. Cortes's organization, Nueva Esperanza Inc., has one of the largest contracts of the 44 groups chosen to provide the training to smaller organizations and distribute the federal cash. With $7.4 million, it has worked with 180 small programs from Miami to Seattle, making Mr. Cortes one of the most prominent Hispanic evangelicals in politics, even though he has found it more difficult than he expected to bring fledgling programs to scale.” (NY Times, “Hispanic Group Thrives on Faith and Federal Aid,” 05-03-05)

Debate Over “Justice Sunday” Is A Faith-Debased Debate

“…The current faith-debased debate is over Democrats' attempts to use the filibuster to block a handful of President Bush's judicial nominees. Republicans did the same thing to some of President Clinton's judicial nominees. Democrats claim Bush's nominees are extremists. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Presbyterian, and other Republicans claim the nominees are being blocked because they are "people of faith." Apparently, the 205 Bush judicial nominees the Democrats haven't tried to block are atheists….Not to be out-faithed, the Interfaith Alliance, the Religious Left's continuing effort to counter the fund- and ruckus-raising on the right, took an opposing view. "Justice Sunday was not about religion; it was part of an ongoing power grab to take over the courts and reverse decades of progress for minorities, women, the environment, workers' rights . . . " said Rev. Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.” (Memphis Commercial Appeal, “Raising a filibuster to high heaven,” 05-02-05,1426,MCA_646_3740296,00.html


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