UCC Under IRS Investigation

If by chance you haven't heard yet: PastorDan on Street Prophets tells us that the IRS is investigating the United Church of Christ (UCC) because Barack Obama addressed their General Synod last year.

General Synod is the UCC's once a year big annual meeting, akin to our General Assembly. It's quite common to have well-known people speak at these things. Barack Obama is a looong-time member of the UCC, a public figure and a published author. It's quite reasonable that they would have him speak. And as long as he didn't tell people to vote for him I can't see how this could be considered an endorsement. It was LAST JUNE, after he announced his candidacy, yes, but well before the campaign seriously began. And if the General Synod is anything like GA, they probably had him locked in as a speaker well before he entered the race for president.

Just So Long As It Means Nothing

Got into a telling argument online recently.  I was talking about how progressive religious activists base their striving for social justice on their faith.  Our faith compels us to work for justice. 

From my perspective this is not a controversial statement. It comes directly from a long tradition of social activism on the part of liberal churches - from agitating for the War of Independence to the abolition of slavery to suffrage to the Social Gospel to the Civil Rights movement - all of this came out the work of churches.  And as I was typing my original post, I was specifically thinking about my colleagues, both UUs and other progressive religionists working on issue of social justice, because our faith compels us to.

Faithful America

When Rabbi Lerner (of Tikkun fame) brought his Network of Spiritual Progressives to DC two years ago, what drew me most to the movement he was starting was his giving a voice to the Religious Left. For too long the "battle lines" for the "soul" of America had been drawn along the Religious Right and the Secular Left. (For the purposes of exposition here, "Secular" refers to those who are hostile to religion. The writer recognizes that there are other meanings.) The Religious Right claimed it was moral. In other words, if you didn't agree with their conservative views you were immoral. The Secular Left claimed it was intelligent. In other words, if you believed in God and/or belonged to organized religion you were stupid.

What was a liberal and rather highly-educated God-loving church lady like me supposed to to do?

Why Hillary Doesn't Get It

I am increasingly unhappy with Clinton's campaign.  First there was the strange Christmas commercial where she is seen wrapping presents addressed with things like "Universal Health Care," "Alternative Energy," and "Bring the Troops Home."  I am as much in favor of these things as much as the next liberal.  But first of all, the Martha Stewart-esque imagery was disturbing.  And secondly and more importantly, these things are not "gifts" from her to us.  Her commercial trivializes these vital necessities.

Eco-justice I

Today was the first full day of Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a conference for mainly Christian progressives to meet and advocate on pressing social issues. Even though I'm not Christian, I attended because of the eco-justice track.

Given that we work with progressive Christian groups so often, and given our commitment to social justice, I was surprised that out of all the progressive, activisty people there, I could only find two other UUs. Kinda sad. Aside from a couple of "Lord"s here and there, I felt completely at ease. Granted, a non-theist UU might have felt more out of place, but shouldn't the most important thing be the commitment to the issues?

Eco-justice II

As sometimes happens I double-booked myself. This morning, I was supposed to be attending the second full day of Ecumenical Advocacy Days. But I had to skip out of that because I had also committed myself to giving a sermon at the congregation of Cedarhurst Unitarian Universalists. As I drove in my gas-guzzling pick-up truck, first from my home in DC to the congregation in Finksburg, MD, and then to the conference in Alexandria, VA, I was more mindful than ever about the disconnect between what I would be preaching and my own lifestyle.

Thou Shalt Not Pollute

Coming fresh off the Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, where I participated in the eco-justice track and was surrounded by Christians working for environmental justice, I am further heartened by the following two news items, both announced today.

First, the Vatican spoke to the faithful this weekend about the "new sins" of our times. In addition to the area of bioethics (where I disagree with Rome on stem cell research), Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti, the Vatican's number two man, also listed "ecological" offenses. Indeed, Pope Benedict has recently said more than once that climate change is an important concern for the entire human race. The Vatican has hosted a scientific conference in the past to discuss the ramifications of global warming/climate change.

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