Progressive religious leaders are increasingly speaking out against the theocratic agenda of the Christian Right. The Interfaith Alliance organized one such speak-out on Monday, in the form of a telephone press conference with five major religious leaders in response to the “Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith,” telecast on Sunday night.
I was invited, but was not able to participate. But TIA has issued a press release with some of the highlights.
The event was moderated by the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance. Particpants included the Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, President of the Chicago Theological Seminary; the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister, The Riverside Church in New York City; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism; and the Rev. Carlton Veazey, President of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Gaddy said that the religious right believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and they equate that with a belief in the inerrancy of the Constitution. Unfortunately, he said, they believe that only they know how to interpret the Bible and the Constitution.
Here is some of what the guest speakers had to say:
Thistlewaite: “I was shocked at how sacrilegious the event was… The radical religious right turned a sanctuary into a political platform. We are the religious mainstream. We support the Constitution and we will not turn a church into a political action committee.”
Veazey: “I don’t doubt the sincerity of Albert Mohler and other fundamentalist ministers who say that the Bible is the inerrant source and that they and they alone know what the Bible says and means… But most of us don’t go along with this. Christians have strong differences of opinion on the meaning of scriptures and we don’t want to see a particular brand of Christianity held up as the only real Christianity. We certainly don’t want a particular brand of Christianity enacted as the law of the land.”
“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, and other issues and groups that have been relatively powerless. We must not compromise on our rights and freedoms.”
Saperstein: “It is not our responsibility to try and match them. I am troubled by what happened at Highview Baptist Church. [where the telecast was staged] I don’t think we want to intensify the corrosiveness of the public discourse we heard last night. Their arguments were intellectually vacuous and politically damaging. Making a religious claim doesn’t protect you; it doesn’t make your position right”
Forbes: “The religious right has been working a long time to build up to the strength they now have and to the audacious means they are able to use… What we as progressives are already doing takes time to mobilize and to come to full visibility. But I think that it will be clearer, as the days go by, that there is a progressive movement aborning, that is asking about what are the most effective means for us to promote the values we hold, and what means have been used by others but actually subvert the values we hold. We must be as efficient and effective in the use of media and modes of communication, but hopefully in ways that will not be the death knell of what we stand for and what our nation has been standing for through these years.”
You can listen to Monday’s press conference over streaming audio.
TIA says a transcript will be available soon.
As the title of this diary indicates, I was most struck by Forbes’ comment: “…there is a progressive movement aborning, that is asking about what are the most effective means for us to promote the values we hold, and what means have been used by others but actually subvert the values we hold…”
[Crossposted from FrederickClarkson.com]