An Evangelical Manifesto
Sojomail - May 8, 2008
The way the war on drugs has been pursued is one of the biggest reasons for the growing racial disparities in criminal justice over all.
- Ryan S. King, a policy analyst with The Sentencing Project, which recently released a report describing large disparities in the rate at which blacks and whites are arrested and imprisoned for drug offenses, even though the two groups use illegal drugs at roughly equal rates. (Source: The New York Times)
But other studies show that when you ask people what they think about Jesus, you get answers like: compassionate, loving, caring, hung out with sinners and poor people, for peace. We have a serious image problem. People think that we should stand for the same things as Jesus did. So it's time to change the image.
A substantial group of evangelical leaders are trying to do just that. This morning, a new statement, An Evangelical Manifesto: A Declaration of Evangelical Identity and Public Commitment, was released in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 />
On the first point, the manifesto says:
It then goes on to identify seven "beliefs that we consider to be at the heart of the message of Jesus and therefore foundational for us." They are primarily theological affirmations, including:
On the question of public life, the manifesto recognizes that the political categories of left and right simply don't fit religion, and it is a big mistake to try to fit religion into them. The people I meet across the country are yearning for a moral center to our public life and political discourse, with a fundamental emphasis on the common good. They want to understand better the moral choices and challenges that lie beneath our political debates. More and more people want to see a common-good politics replace the politics of individual gain and special interests.
The manifesto affirms that:
I very much affirm the views expressed in the manifesto and was happy to accept an invitation to be one of the charter signatories. Click here to read the statement, a helpful study guide, and to see who the charter signatories are.
"Arise, then, women of this day!" goes the Mother's Day proclamation. But this is not your wake-up call to french toast and flowers. Instead, this phrase was the rallying cry for the first "Mother's Day of Peace" back in 1870—back before the day became laden with Hallmark and guilt. Julia Ward Howe, the creator of Mother's Day, pleaded with women to speak out against war, not only for the sake of their sons, but for the sons of mothers across the globe. Today, mothers must not only seek peace for their sons, but for themselves.
One of Jesus' most in-your-face stories, and a personal favorite of mine, is the Parable of the Dishonest Manager in Luke 16. I would loosely paraphrase its central insight as follows: "If you have the sense God gave a dog, you will realize that you can't hold onto money very long anyway, but you can keep the friends you make by giving it to those in need. You do the math." The passage doesn't say anything about burning sulfur, just about priorities and how to take the long view.
Earlier last month, I was able to attend a press screening for the James Carroll documentary Constantine's Sword. In this film, Carroll takes the audience on a visceral and visual tour, noting those points in history -- starting with the reign of Constantine -- where Christianity melded with the political empire. Lest anyone think such actions are a thing of the past, several documentaries I just saw at the Tribeca Film Festival serve as visceral reminders of the ensuing carnage that still happens when the church becomes too closely aligned with the state. I sat through Milosevic on Trial, transfixed as the trial and excerpts from the graphic video and photographs that were introduced as evidence unfolded before my eyes. One montage I cannot get out of my mind involved snippets from a ceremony in which an Orthodox priest blesses the Scorpions, followed by a brutal sequence of atrocities committed by this Serbian paramilitary group.
It appears that no candidate has won and that a rerun is inevitable. There are widespread concerns about the integrity of the election process. Although the opposition has reservations about the results, they have been placed in a difficult position. If they boycott the rerun, then the government will be declared winners. However, the ongoing post-election violence against opposition members has created a situation in which it is impossible for there to be free and fair elections.
The New Politics of Religion in the United States
New centrist evangelicals ‘could decide’ U.S. election
Inspire Magazine (UK)
Faith and Culture — Bad world can be good again
Harlan Daily Enterprise
Huckabee: '08 Evangelical Voters Unlike Others
AP Newsbreak: Evangelicals say faith is now too political
Faith in Action
Destination America: Immigration, the Environment, and Big Population Numbers
E (The Environmental) Magazine
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