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BS: The Religious Left

Don Firth 26 Feb 05 - 03:32 PM
Bill D 26 Feb 05 - 11:25 AM
Jim Tailor 26 Feb 05 - 07:15 AM
EagleWing 26 Feb 05 - 06:39 AM
EagleWing 26 Feb 05 - 06:12 AM
EagleWing 26 Feb 05 - 05:55 AM
EagleWing 26 Feb 05 - 05:46 AM
EagleWing 26 Feb 05 - 05:28 AM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 07:31 PM
Don Firth 25 Feb 05 - 06:40 PM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 06:25 PM
Don Firth 25 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 05:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM
PoppaGator 25 Feb 05 - 03:22 PM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 02:13 PM
GUEST,jim tailor 25 Feb 05 - 01:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Feb 05 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,jim tailor 25 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 09:27 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Feb 05 - 09:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Feb 05 - 09:19 AM
Jim Tailor 25 Feb 05 - 06:19 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Feb 05 - 08:53 PM
Amos 24 Feb 05 - 08:41 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 08:20 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 24 Feb 05 - 08:08 PM
Don Firth 24 Feb 05 - 08:00 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 07:41 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 07:40 PM
Bobert 24 Feb 05 - 06:57 PM
Don Firth 24 Feb 05 - 06:31 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 05:53 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Frank 24 Feb 05 - 05:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM
PoppaGator 24 Feb 05 - 05:02 PM
John Hardly 24 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 24 Feb 05 - 04:27 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 02:30 PM
Don Firth 24 Feb 05 - 01:55 PM
Jim Tailor 24 Feb 05 - 06:54 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Feb 05 - 08:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Feb 05 - 08:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Feb 05 - 08:01 PM
Jim Tailor 23 Feb 05 - 08:00 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Feb 05 - 07:53 PM
Don Firth 23 Feb 05 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,PoppaGator 23 Feb 05 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,jim tailor 23 Feb 05 - 01:15 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 03:32 PM

Every religious system has a code of morality. A "code of morality" and a "system of ethics" are exactly the same thing. Philosophically, a consistent ethical system is a necessary precursor to a cohesive system of politics. However, one does not need a religious moral code to form an ethical system. Such systems can (and have been) formed without religion. Thus, it is impossible to separate religion from politics. But it is possible to separated politics from religion.

The genius of the founding fathers, as Bill D points out, is that our political system recognizes the overriding morality of allowing for diversity in religious belief (including the right to opt out, if one chooses). The First Amendment begins "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . ." (Yes, the First Amendment).

One of many reasons the Constitution should never be used to try to enforce "moral behavior," such as a "definition of marriage" amendment, is inherent in the nature and purpose of the Constitution:

The difference between the Constitution and the Law is as follows—

The citizens are free to do anything they wish, unless it is specifically prohibited by Law.

The government is not allowed to do anything, unless it is specifically permitted by the Constitution.

Liberal churches tend to recognize this and see its value. Within my experience, conservative churches tend chafe under this kind of restriction.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 11:25 AM

About the mixing of religion & politics.....

Of course they DO mix in various ways. People's religious views (or lack of them) will obviously affect how they vote and how they interact with others with whom they do not agree. (There is a LOT buried in that simple statement!)

The USA is 'supposed' to be founded on a principle that allows religious diversity without favoring any particular brand. Sadly, some brands seem to have the idea that if they can gain the majority...or even be a loud enough minority, they can influence and control situations and issues so that their ideas prevail...not just so that THEY can live they way they choose, but so that they can control how others live also.

This is how I see what Don Firth was referring to in comparing liberal & conservative Christian churches. One group is happy to let you pray to any diety you wish, keep different Sabbeths, cover various parts of your body according to scripture, eschew abortion, educate your children in special classes...etc...etc.

   The other group wishes..indeed, feels compelled, to promote one interpretation of a Diety over yours, pass laws which favor their notion of Sabbath, instill their own religious doctrine into public schools, (including prayers to their Diety, and excluding other's), demand that YOU not be allowed abortion, ensure that NO ONE gets to high office in this country unless he/she meets their religious standards....etc...all-in-all, attempting to not only MIX religion with politics, but to CONTROL politics with religion--and usually, one specific class of religion. We see this done in Iran, or Iraq, or Italy, and we go *tsk*, *tsk*...but here in the USA, where we are supposed to have free choice, there is constant pressure to conform and submit.

There are some areas which should not be a matter for vote or majority rule! The Supreme Court should not be ABLE to change Brown vs. Board of Education, or Roe vs. Wade just because we have G. Bush about to appoint 2-3 guys who are conservative.

The difference between liberals & conservatives might be described this way: When liberals are in office, most everyone is able to to most everything they wish that is legal and not directly at odds with society & their neighbors. When conservatives are in office, they immediately want to STOP certain behaviors and practices and INSTITUTE others. (Live in Salt Lake City, Utah for awhile to get the full flavor of that attitude. It is not enough for the LDS church to not partake of alcohol & caffeine, but they make it difficult for YOU to use it.)

Yeah, religion & politics DO get mixed in people's behavior, but I wish to live in a country where they are not explicitly mixed. If there were only 17 Christians in the country, they should be able to live, worship and congregate freely....and...if there were only ONE atheist in the country, he should be able to go to school without being subjected to daily prayers and harassed! That seems to be a pretty hard idea for some folks to swallow, but that is the ONLY way a country can truly call itself free and fair.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 07:15 AM

nice posts Eagle Wing. Well reasoned, and kindly stated.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: EagleWing
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 06:39 AM

Way back in January Martin Gibson said "Little Hawk, I love ya pal, but am disappointed that your post on the Old Testament absolutely reeks of the worst possible type of anti-semitism. Your Sunday school teacher might have been thinking about your crotch when he taught it to you.

Mudcat continues to be a haven for strong and ignorant anti-semitism."

Just a couple of points, Martin.

I agree with what you say about Little Hawk's understanding of the Old Testament. I don't know about anti-semitism but it is certainly not a fair description of the Old Testament that I have read and not the one my Sunday School teacher taught me.

However, I'm not convinced that Mudcat is so "Anti-semite". It has very free speech so can be anti-semitic, anti-christian, anti-pro-life. I see more anti-christian stuff than anti-semetic. However, there seem to be more Christians prepared to fight back than there are Jews.

Can I also suggest that you sometimes set yourself up for apparently anti-semitic replies by the way you attack other people's views - just as some Christian posters seem to attract anti-christian replies.

Frank L.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: EagleWing
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 06:12 AM

"I am always intrigued by the way "conservative Christians" seem to espouse the teachings of the Old Testament instead of the New - Leviticus instead of the Sermon on the Mount, if you like."

But even Leviticus has some material for the left wing Christian.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field to its very border, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner.

Frank L.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: EagleWing
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:55 AM

"religion and politics ought not to mix...in my opinion of course"

I can't see how they cannot mix. How can a person have a set of beliefs about a Creator and not have them affect the way they react to Creation? The Bible (both testaments) are deeply political sets of books - in particular, the OT which has whole books devoted to how people should live in society. It makes as much sense to say "people and politics should not mix"

Frank L.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: EagleWing
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:46 AM

"Okay,it's a generalisation but;
Right wing Xians....old testament
Left wing Xians....new testament"

It's more than a generalisation - it's not really true. Perhaps it is time for left wing Christians to get to grips with the Old Testament. (And does the above mean that all Jews are right wing?)

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy, and bring the poor of the land to an end... that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. (Amos 7 4&6)

Sounds pretty leftish to me.

Frank L


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: EagleWing
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:28 AM

Little Hawk said "I would say that the Old Testament, in general, espouses a pretty Rightwing kind of attitude, while the New Testament tends in the other direction. To put it another way, religious fundamentalists and literal thinkers tend to the Right, religious liberals and metaphorical thinkers tend to the Left."

I have to confess that I disagree about the Old Testament. The prophets, especially, call for justice. Things like Jubilee and the sabbath are intended to work against exploitation. Prohibition of "moving boundries" are to stop "big business" from taking over the little man's land. Loads of left-wing stuff in the OT.

Frank L


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 07:31 PM

The situation, of course.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:40 PM

What? Me, or the situation I describe?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:25 PM

What's to knock off? That's just sad.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM

Okay, I'll stick it right out there for Jim or anybody else to knock off.

There was a couple who used to live in the same building my wife and I do. They attended a very hard-charging evangelical church in downtown Seattle. They spent most of their evening hours in Bible study. They were quite concerned with the salvation of their souls. And peripherally, the souls of other people. Salvation, to them comes (only) though accepting Christ as your Savior and being "born again." He fastened on Barbara and me as particular friends in the building because he knew that we both attended church (although he didn't know that the church we attend is regarded by some other churches in this area as "so liberal it's 'un-Christian.'" How's that for judgmental?). Anyway, one day, while Barbara was at work, he dropped by our apartment and exploded in rage and disgust. Why? He had been walking in the nearby park, and he saw to guys walking along holding hands. He went up in flames, and he dropped by because he had to vent to someone, and he figured I would be a sympathetic ear.

I listen to him rant and rave, and although I didn't agree with him (why the hell should it matter to him? It doesn't really affect him in any real way whatsoever), I sympathized with the fact that he was upset by what he had seen, but I offered no expression of agreement. He just assumed, and although I probably should have made my position clear, I didn't because I knew his mind was set in concrete on the matter and I didn't want to start a pointless feud with him. Okay, fine.

I have heard this same man express disgust and contempt at the number of homeless people he sees around Seattle. "Why don't they get a job!?" he intones repeatedly, apparently ignorant of the fact that most of these people did have jobs, but lost them when they were exported, then lost their homes because they couldn't afford the high rents in this city, and most of them are desperately seeking work.

So this is just one guy. What does that prove, you ask? Nothing, really. But—

Of a fair number of conservative Christians that I am acquainted with, I find this attitude pretty damned typical:   if it's anything of a sexual nature (teen pregnancy, abortion, gayness), it sends them into an absolute tizzy; and if someone's fallen on hard times, the person is somehow to blame for his or her own misfortune. Let them suffer the consequences!

This strikes me as a distinct lack of what is generally known as "Christian charity."

I make a generalization:   within my experience, conservative Christians tend to look inward and are primarily concerned with the state of their own souls, with some peripheral concern with trying to save the souls of others, because that earns them brownie points in Heaven ("His mind is so set on Heaven, he is of no earthly use!"). Liberal Christians tend to look outward and are not just concerned with the well-being of others, many of them do something about it. I can give you a long list of what my "ultra-liberal" church does, but I'll leave it at that unless you want details.

Your mileage may vary, but that's been my observation.

Okay, let me have it! Do your worst!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 05:04 PM

Well, they emailed me back -- an email from an "Andrew" who said "Please do not quote".


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM

It'll be interesting to see if anyone from Sojourners joins in here. Good on you, Jim (T) - I think that's the way to do it.

"His point is that the right does not care - has made the wrong moral choice."

I'd draw a distinction between the two halves of that sentence. It is perfectly possible to care deeply, and act on the basis of that care, and yet still make a wrong moral choice. In fact it happens all the time. I have no doubt whatsoever that we agree on that point anyway, even if we might apply it in different ways.

Political choices are moral choices. Otherwise they are just a kind of gambling or sport.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 03:22 PM

One very obvious way in which the Right (religious and otherwise) fails to care for the poor is the systematic campaign against progressive taxation.

For the last quarter century, since the rise of Ronald Reagan, the rich in America have been getting richer, the poor have been getting poorer, and things have been getting tighter and tighter for the shrinking middle class.

It's not a question of whether or not government is the only appropriate conduit for providing some minimal support for the poor, or whether private charity ("faith-based" and otherwise) has a role.

It's a question of whether government exists to serve the interests of corporate wealth at the expense of individual citizens ("consumers").

I continue to grieve at the current widely accepted propaganda whereby sincere, well-intentioned, highly moral American people are persuaded that they have a "Christian duty" to consistently vote against their own economic interests by supporting a party that sponsors, and is financed by, warmongering and corporate greed.

All of us, left, right, and center, seem to instinctively (and correctly) feel that individual human values are being undermined by corporate interests. Too bad we can't get ourselves more united to do something about it.

Those on the right are apparently most suspicious of corporations in the entertainment and information industries, and perceive their left-ish opponents as pawns of these "pornographers," while they accept the behavior of powerful corporations in the fossil-fuel and defense sectors.

Those on the left are united in opposition to the Enrons and Halliburtons of the world while finding little or no problem with Hollywood and the music and video-game industries (or, at least, are reluctant to support any form of censorship, even of expression that they might find personally distasteful).

I think it all comes down to attitudes about sex. One camp is horrified by whatever evils might be rooted in uncontrolled sexual activity, but seems willing to accept wholesale theft and financial corruption, not to mention "unavoidable" "collateral" killing of countless humans, especially if they're poor (i.e., "insignificant"), dark-skinned, and/or far away.

The other bunch has opposite priorities ~ opposed to stealing and killing, not too concerned about adultery and covetousness.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 02:13 PM

For what it's worth, I just emailed Sojourner and invited them to enter into, and clear up this disagreement.

I did mention that Magrath of Harlow is a dick-head. I hope that doesn't prejudice their participation. :^)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: GUEST,jim tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 01:57 PM

I agree with you, MofH. I don't think Wallis does. His whole point would be void if he thought the right was merely addressing poverty differently. His point is that the right does not care -- has made the wrong moral choice.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 01:20 PM

But he doesn't say that. Nowhere does he say that.

What he does do is stress the importance of ensuring "the necessary support to the mother and child in poverty after birth". His point is, surely, that while voluntary and private charity is enormously important, for all kinds of reasons - it does not in fact ensure that this necessary support is available wherever it is needed, and at the level needed.

If I misunderstood Jim T to be suggesting that people on the left do not actively get involved in helping people who need help, that was because of that comment about "the deafeningly silent response", to the question about personal direct helping, together with his remark about how people on the left believe that government programmes are "the only means by which one would express their care for the poor".

The important thing is that people should be able to have the support and help they need in order to be full members of society. There is disagreement between those on the one hand who might think that main help should be as of right from benefits of one sort or another, with private charity filling the gap, and those on the other hand who see it as the other way round, with official benefits filling the gap - but that is not such an enormous difference, and in practice it can be bridged. There are plenty of examples where public resources have been channeled through voluntary organisations, and where volunteers have layed a vital part in public aid programmes.

The real gap is between those who agree with that first sentence in that last paragraph, and those who do not, and who are content to leave the gap I mentioned unfilled, for ideological reasons. And unless we keep a close eye out, that kind of thinking can get in the way of making sure that we care for our neighbours. And that can happen both on the left and on the right.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: GUEST,jim tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 10:06 AM

I should restate that.

I did not make that assertion -- that the left does not give privately. I never said or implied that.

What I am saying is that, as is clearly evidenced by Wallis' open letter to Colson, he is claiming that the religious right does neither. He isn't saying that their balance of public to private giving is wrong -- he is saying that they do not care for the poor.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 09:27 AM

"But your suggestion, Jim, that people on the left typically put all their trust in state solutions, and fail to get involved in more direct and personal types of help towards people and groups who need it, well that is diametrically opposed to my experience over many years. Perhaps it's a different picture in the States, but it doesn't square with what I have known throughout my life."

But I did not make that suggestion. I merely made the suggestion, quite in evidence in Wallis' open letter to Colson, that Wallis' is claiming the opposite (as are you) -- and, again, that is not true.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 09:23 AM

I took it that he was saying that, when they move into the political arena, people on "the religious right" tend act in a way that treats issues of wealth and poverty as relatively marginal, and to support policies that operate against the wellbeing of poor people.

In other words, on your point C - "perceiving good in both public and private aid - but determining a different balance of the two as more effective" the suggestion is that they put the balance in the wrong place. And I get the impression that, for some people anyway, there may be a resistance to actually "perceiving good in ... public aid" at all, but instead a tendency to see public aid as, at best, a necessary evil.

But your suggestion, Jim, that people on the left typically put all their trust in state solutions, and fail to get involved in more direct and personal types of help towards people and groups who need it, well that is diametrically opposed to my experience over many years. Perhaps it's a different picture in the States, but it doesn't square with what I have known throughout my life.

Of course there are always people who will use whatever excuse comes to hand, to walk by on the other side, but you also find them sometimes amongst the most outwardly religious members of society, just as was true 2,000 years ago on the Jericho road.

Sydney Carter, whose politics were much the same as Jim Wallis expressed it well when he wrote When I needed a neighbour...


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 09:19 AM

I took it that he was saying that, when they move into the political arena, people on "the religious right" tend act in a way that treats issues of wealth and poverty as relatively marginal, and to support policies that operate against the wellbeing of poor people.

In other words, on your point C - "perceiving good in both public and private aid - but determining a different balance of the two as more effective" the suggestion is thatbthey put the balance in the wrong place. And I get the impression that, for some people anyway, there may be a resistance to actually "perceiving good in both public aid" at all", but a tendency to see public aid as a necessary evil at best.

But your suggestion, Jim, that people on the left typically put all their trust in state solutions, and fail to get involved in more direct and personal types of help towards people and groups who need it, well that is diametrically opposed to my experience over many years. Perhaps it's a different picture in the States, but it doesn't square with what I have known throughout my life.

Of course there are always people who will use whatever excuse comes to hand, to walk by on the other side, but you also find them sometimes amongst the most outwardly religious members of society, just as was true 2,000 years ago on the Jericho road.

Sydney Carter, whose politics were much the same as Jim Wallis expressed it well when he wrote When I needed a neighbour...


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 25 Feb 05 - 06:19 AM

ok, MofH, Then on what basis is Wallis making his accusation that the "religious right" does not care for the poor?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 08:53 PM

"1. It is based on his perception of the "right's" lack of support for governmental programs -- assuming, a priori, that...

A)that is the only means by which one would express their care for the poor, and accepting, a priori, that...

B)that governmental means is the best means, and...

C)assuming no possibility that one could be, in good faith, perceiving good in both public and private aid -- but determining a different balance of the two as more effective."


None of that seems to me to reflect what Jim Wallis says in that piece, or what I understand to be the standpoint of the Sojourners. Or indeed many, probably most, people I know personally who are on the left, religious or non-religious, who typically are very active indeed in those kind of ways. You find them in the voluntary organisations, the charity shops, the soup runs, alongside people with different political views.

It seems to me, our Jim, that you are setting up an Aunt Sally here, and misreading the nature of the people you are critiicising. No doubt that is a trap people "on both sides" are liable to fall into. (Yes, and there are people who are mean and selfish and irresponsible on both sides as well. I think that more of us should perhaps concentrate more of our attention on challenging such people and such attitudes when they are held by people who are on our own side of the political divide.)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Amos
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 08:41 PM

A pox on both your houses.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 08:20 PM

Jerry,

Peacemaking is not necessary in the absence of war. There's no need to control what is not out of hand. I don't sense anger in the preceding posts -- I certainly mean none. Nobody is stopping you from expressing an opinion. You might offer the same consideration.

A gentleman is a man that can play the banjo and doesn't. -Mark Twain


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 08:08 PM

And in this corner, wearing the white trunks and weighing in at 189 pounds...

Man, them Christians sure know how to go at it.

I'm with Bobert. What happened to Christ?

I think he left the building.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 08:00 PM

I guess it depends on how you read it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:41 PM

damn code.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 07:40 PM

Don,

The article that you posted makes my point.

What I keep trying to point out is that Wallis' accusation that the "religious right" does not believe in caring for the poor is false from the very beginning...

1. It is based on his perception of the "right's" lack of support for governmental programs -- assuming, a priori, that...

A)that is the only means by which one would express their care for the poor, and accepting, a priori, that...

B)that governmental means is the best means, and...

C)assuming no possibility that one could be, in good faith, percieving good in both public and private aid -- but determining a different balance of the two as more effective.

2. It is proven false by the very fact that Falwell, Land, and Colson ( the four "reps" for the "religious right" ) are ACTIVELY involved in very large programs that are specifically aimed at caring for the poor.

Wallis even goes so far as to say that the "religious right" doesn't offer support of pregnant women so as to give another option. That's just patently false. I can give you the names of any number of organizations that will give full support to women who cannot support themselves through the pregnacy, and will, further, provide adoption services.

Wallis' appeal is the appearance of even-handedness. A cool head in a hot situation. But his premises are false. And he is JUKING his condemnation of the left (he doesn't expect them to change -- that's obvious by his own acceptance of their ideology), while ACTUALLY condemning the right.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Bobert
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:57 PM

People!?!?...

In reducing your scope to an academic execise of debating points there is one thing I see very much missing from the discussion: Jesus and His teachings...

That's not good.

I think if more folks on both sides of political divide who consider themselves as persons of Faith would spend more time reading the New Testament, praying and listening to God then the divide would not be so great...

Yes, I have noted many times that I am suspect of the Faith level of many folks of the Cristian Right but that is a problem between each of them and the Big Guy.

Now back to the "How many angels can dance on the end of a pin" debate...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:31 PM

Jim, it seems to me that you are construing Jim Wallis's position in particular and the position of liberal Christians in general as being far narrower than they really they are, as if you were describing a panoramic scene by peering at it through a keyhole. Wallis is a good spokesman for the more liberal Christian view, and I would invite those unfamiliar with him to read his writings, starting by checking the Sojourners magazine website HERE, and/or reading his book, and let him speak for himself. Below is a good run-down on where Wallis is coming from in his own words. My apologies for cutting and pasting instead of posting a link, but I received this in an e-mail newsletter and there is no way I can post a link to it.

Don Firth

------------------------

An open letter to Chuck Colson
by Jim Wallis

On Monday, Feb. 21, Charles Colson, in his daily radio commentary, criticized what he perceived as my message. I'm sending my response in this "open letter."

Dear Chuck,

In your commentary, "Moral Equivalency: The Religious Left Gets It Wrong," you critiqued me as a "leader of the religious left," quoting The New York Times. And you particularly focus on abortion, saying that I consider "all moral issues to be equivalent," and that since I say the Bible talks much more about poverty than abortion, I believe "the religious left is more in tune with the Bible than are conservatives."

As you may know, I'm currently traveling around the country speaking about my new book, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. And in all my speaking and media appearances, I say no such thing. What I do say is that there is, in the words of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, a "seamless garment of life" in which all issues that infringe on human life are important.

I challenge Democrats on abortion, and I challenge Republicans on war and poverty. In a recent interview with Christianity Today, I said: "It's important for the Democrats to change the way they talk about a moral issue like abortion, to respect pro-life Democrats, to welcome them in the party, and to talk first about how they are going to be committed to really dramatically reducing unwanted pregnancies - not just retaining the legal option of abortion, which Democrats are going to do, because that's part of their plank." But I also said, "My hope is that Republicans can broaden their conversation about moral values beyond just abortion and gay marriage to poverty and the environment and the ethics of war."

I believe deeply that Christians must seriously be concerned about everything that threatens the lives of people created in the image of God. Abortion is important; war and economic justice are also important.

You also ask your listeners, "Why help the poor if we don't believe all lives are equal in God's sight? If you support ending the life of a child because it will be born into poverty, how can you logically call yourself an advocate for the poor?" The reverse is also true. If you support protecting an unborn life but don't provide the necessary support to the mother and child in poverty after birth, how can you logically call yourself pro-life?

As I told Christianity Today: "Christians can't say, 'All we care about is someone's stance on abortion. I don't care what they do to the economy, to the poor, I don't care what wars they fight, I don't care what they do on human rights.' It's almost like we care about children until they're born and then after that, they're on their own. We're cutting child health care, cutting child care for moms moving out of welfare. No, you can't just care about a child until they're born."

My message to both parties - to both liberals and conservatives - is that protecting life is indeed a seamless garment. Protecting unborn life is important. Opposing unjust wars that take human life is important. And supporting anti-poverty programs that provide adequate support for mothers and children in poverty is important. Neither party gets it right; each has perhaps half of the answer. My message and my challenge are to bring them together.

What I'm saying around the country is that there is a new option for American politics that follows from the prophetic religious tradition. It is "traditional" or "conservative" on issues of family values, sexual integrity, and personal responsibility while being very "progressive," "populist," or even "radical" on issues such as poverty and racial justice. It affirms good stewardship of the earth and its resources, supports gender equality, and is more internationally minded than nationalist - looking first to peacemaking and conflict-resolution when it comes to foreign policy questions. The people it appeals to (many religious, but others not) are very strong on issues such as marriage, raising kids, and individual ethics, but without being "right-wing," reactionary, or mean-spirited, or using any group of people - such as gays and lesbians - as scapegoats. It can be pro-life, pro-family, and pro-feminist all at the same time. It thinks issues of "moral character" are very important, both in a politician's personal life, and in his or her policy choices. Yet it is decidedly pro-poor, pro-racial reconciliation, pro-environment, and critical of purely military solutions.

That's the message that is resonating around the country, Chuck. Not that all issues are "morally equivalent" but that, indeed, as you say, the "first one, the right to life, is non-negotiable." Perhaps the difference between us is that I believe that non-negotiable right continues after birth.

Blessings,
Jim


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:53 PM

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Just so we're clear -- no "separation of church and state" clause. That was an opinion expressed in a supreme court decision -- not a constitutional amendment.

And just so we're clear (as far as I can see), so far nobody has wished to alter the free exercise of religion until Frank posted a few minutes ago.

All any kind of music is good for anyway is to make you and me know each other a little better" - Woody Guthrie


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:39 PM

"Jesus Christ did not try to appropriate the power of the state to impose His views on everyone (as do today's right-wingers who profess to be His followers). Authoritarianism of any kind was never part of His message".

...followed by...

Finally, "Amen" to Don Firth's post of 7:10 last night. Whoever said it, or paraphrased it, that one little sentence which triggered all this debate IS undeniably true.

The above is true. I said it way-the-heck back in this thread -- that not even a conservative Christian would argue with that statement (the one that begins with JC...).

The reason we are still left with an issue however, is because the world into which Jesus was born and lived and taught was not a world that allowed for the self-determination brought on by democracy.

In Jesus' day you could obey or not. That was, essentially, your two options. And Jesus taught, essentially, the former. Curiously, several of his closest followers believed the latter -- and that only put further emphasis on just how strongly Jesus was teaching the former.

But that doesn't mean that Jesus would, in today's world, require that the faithful not vote -- not participate in the political process.

Surely there is a HUGE range of posibility left between "authoritarianism", on the one hand, and the expression of what one believes to be the proper (moral) course of government for civilized, well-meaning, thoughtful people to vote toward in a democracy.

When you vote for a pro-choice candidate are you being "authoritarian"? When you vote for an anti-war candidate are you being "authoritarian"? When you vote for a candidate who promises to expand programs for the poor are you being "authoritarian"?

Why then, when one chooses to vote the other way, is it suddenly "authoritarainism"?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:35 PM

Joe,

If you want to reduce abortions, legalize 'em. Under Clinton, where they were legal, there were fewer of 'em then under Bush.
(Don't tell me any woman loves to have an abortion.)

Legalize drugs, legalize booze, but not cigs because they affect others through side-stream smoke. But if people choose to smoke and others don't have to inhale it, then legalize that too.
But if the use of any of these substances hurts or kills others,
then the person who uses them must accept full responsibility such as driving while stoned or DUIs or giving others cancer. Then it becomes a criminal act.

Legalize sexual preference as long as it doesn't interfere with the rights of others and is not predatory. (Gay marriages don't hurt marriage or any other person.)

Legalize any religion that doesn't do others harm. (The religious left, right or moderate). Legalize the right to worship green men on the moon. Now evangelism may hurt others. It interferes with civil rights whether left or right or moderate. It condemns others and this is an act of agression.

Legalize Free Will and Choice because this is a true Christian and American value.

Legalize aethism, agnosticism, free-thinking, any thinking as long as no one gets hurt. (Don't blame violence on Dr. King or Ghandi since they didn't hurt anyone. It's the people who tried to suppress 'em...hurt 'em.)

Legalize seditious thought and dissent because this is the American Way.

Respect the Separation of Church and State because this is in our Constitution and was put there by enlightened Founding Fathers.

Legalize the right to dissent through peaceful demonstrations.
(Not violent ones such as used at abortion clinics).

But Jerry,

there are those of us on the Left who do not want to see religion being used as a political tool. This may be where Doctor King went wrong and lost his base as much as I admire what he did. Why can't non-Christians be non-violent and offer dissent?

If there is any "Left" that makes sense, it will have to be a coalition of all kinds of systems of beliefs or non-beliefs.
A moral imperative shouldn't have to be affixed to a religious point of view.

The term "Left" has to be suspect these days.
It used to be that "Liberals" were not necessarilly "Left" as in socialists or communists. IE: FDR was not a socialist or communist but was definitely a Liberal president.

The premise of a Relligious Left is a possible land mine because it doesn't define a specific political or religious point-of-view and excludes those who might agree with some of the principles of a Wallis or Campolo but not eat the whole enchilada.

It would be great if we could drop the labels and just talk about issues that are important to us and impart our point-of-view without recriminations. Then maybe we could start to have a true democracy.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM

Disagreement is one thing - but I get a sense of something a lot darker than that.

Of course, when Tertullian write that, it's pretty clear he wasn't being ironic.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: PoppaGator
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 05:02 PM

Without getting into all the many issues being addressed here, let me step back and reconsider something Jim wrote a couple of days ago, when recapping that "Meet the Press" episode:

And then Falwell asked Wallis and Sharpton, "so what do you two do for the poor?"...

....The deafeningly silent response was spared them only by a commercial break.


I know very little about Rev. Wallis (although I've known of Sojourner magazine for years), but in defense of Rev. Sharpton: Is it even conceivable that any African-American congregation is not dealing with problems of poverty? Of course, Rev. Al may not be using methods that everyone approves, but he certainly could have mentioned something if he had thought it appropriate.

Finally, "Amen" to Don Firth's post of 7:10 last night. Whoever said it, or paraphrased it, that one little sentence which triggered all this debate IS undeniably true.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: John Hardly
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 04:46 PM

What, M? Must love agree?


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 04:27 PM

"See how these Christians love one another..." (Tertullian (c. 160–c. 230)


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 02:30 PM

Actually, Don, I'm quite familiar with Wallis. I've read many of his articles. I can try to make myself more clear but I doubt that it will work. I'll try to use as few words as possible, as my wordiness always works against me...

Wallis thesis -- the reason he was on Meet The Press that week -- was because he had written article(s) chiding the religious right. The premise behind his chiding was that the religious right (by his reckoning), by virtue of pursuing legal restriction on abortion or homosexual rights, but seemingly not so vigorously desiring governmental action toward "the poor" or "the war", had exposed itself as narrow in their definition of morality.

What Falwell expressed was his resentment at being accused of not caring for the poor. He replied that, in very real, very material terms, he is VERY active in the care of the poor. And he asked, upon being thus accused, how materially active Wallis was, Wallis, not Falwell, having just stated that activity as the measure of a Christian's morality (a standard to which Wallis claimed that Falwell did not measure up).

It was a fair reaction -- Wallis said that Falwell represented those with a narrow view of morality -- only concerned with the moral issue of abortion or homosexuality -- based on what the religious right deemed was government's roll in addressing the moral issue.

Doing the math, it is the "religious left" not the "religious right" who has the narrower view of morality. Wallis said that the right expresses their outrage at abortion and homosexuality, whereas the left expresses their outrage at war and poverty.

In actual fact, the right expresses their sense of morality in matters of war (they may just not share Wallis' intellectualization of it), matters of poverty (they participate in both public {their taxes} and private enterprise {Salvation Army, innercity missions out the wazzoo, church-based social programs} to address it), in trying to get a more reasonable social view regarding abortion-on-demand, and, yes, homosexuality (an issue at which they are failing as a canoeist might paddle up Niagara falls).

The "religious left", as expressed by social policy and activism is involved in the moral issue of the war, and, if wishing for more governmental programs with which to address it counts -- poverty. They are not active in pursuing a more enlightened view of abortion -- they are, in fact, fighting tooth-and-nail to keep the issue obscured by myth.

So much for few words.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 01:55 PM

Jim, it's fairly obvious that you are not familiar with Jim Wallis. I've been reading his stuff for years.

Editor of Sojourners Magazine, and has written many, many articles and editorials on separation of church and state, and recently, his book, God's Politics. If you were familiar with his writings, you would see clearly that he is definitely not one to try to use government power to impose his moral values.

He does, however, insist that the government abide by the First Amendment.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 24 Feb 05 - 06:54 AM

MofH,

I actually thought about that trap of not speaking of good works -- in that context it cut both ways. Wallis had already accused Falwell and Land of not caring for the poor. Had they not defended themselves, Wallis would have won the arguement. Having defended themselves, they lost the joy of their giving in private.

Besides, it might be argued -- Land and Falwell were speaking for Christians -- those of their church -- being exemplary. Therefore they were not bragging on their goodness as individuals.

When turned back around on Wallis, I really don't think he could have answered in the same manner as Falwell and Land -- whose church's charitable works has become awfully well known, whereas, Wallis' whole point is that it should be government -- not church -- not individuals -- who cares for the poor. I mean, that was the whole point of his argument. That was the implied measure of a Christian's morality by Wallis' very thesis...

....which, again, is Wallis, using government to impose his moral views on everyone else -- the very thing that his "debate partner" Sharpton claimed illegitimate.

RE: common sense...

....most of those awful things you cited were residual practices of former, non-democratic systems of goverment, and the common sense has, over time, made each of them the uncommon -- not the rule.

Holy Cow!! we are having one BEAUTIFUL sunrise today!


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 08:30 PM

Saw a billboard once that said "Nothing Is As Rare As Common Sense."

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 08:12 PM

"Common sense" at various times and various places has held that slavery is an excellent institution, that women are the possession of their husbands or fathers, that human sacrifice is an admirable thing, that torture by the authorities is acceptable, that it is right and neccessary to suppress heresy and kill heretics...

Or, for that matter, that there are no moral problems in widespread abortion.

And people who have opposed these things have been seen as holding to "an ideal that is too far from the mainstream".


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 08:01 PM

.The deafeningly silent response I think the problem Jim Wallis anyway might have run into over that wouldn't have been the one you imply, Jim. Answering in the way that was invited wouldn't have been difficult - he cold have come out with a whole list of the good works he's given his whole life to - but answering that way would have been right out of line with how the Gospels tells Christians to act, when it comes to boasting about good works.

"I thank thee God that I am not like the rest of men...I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all I possess"...To which Jesus comments "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled."

I've somehow never been able to find the passage where Jesus ever says "Blessed are the rich." It must be there somewhere, I suppose...


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 08:00 PM

Well, we don't really mind when the "religious right" (or the "religious left", for that matter) use the power of the State to impose their views that people should not kill, rape, steal from, swindle, assault&pepper folks.

It's a democracy folks. We all get to have our say in it. That's kinda where I see the concept of "common sense" comes into play. It's the sense that we have, as humans, in common.

So, Bill D, and Don Firth, and Amos arrive at the conclusion, sans religious conviction, that we should not kill each other either, and in common, we vote -- not against one another, but with one another.

But people faction. They always have and they always will. If a group holds to an ideal that is too far from the mainstream of that "common sense", it is highly unlikely, as an ideal, to succeed in our system.

That's what the notion of "Liberal Arts" used to teach us. NOT that some factions should be disenfranchised by another -- but that all ideas, should they attempt to shape our public policy, had to pass muster with the general populace -- had to appeal to that "Common sense".


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 07:53 PM

Amen


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 07:17 PM

"Jesus Christ did not try to appropriate the power of the state to impose His views on everyone (as do today's right-wingers who profess to be His followers). Authoritarianism of any kind was never part of His message".

Well, PoppaGator (and others), whether Al Sharpton actually said that, or you thought he said that, or you were simply hallucinating, the fact remains that whoever came up with them, the words are true.

Let us not lose sight of that, as we quibble over who said what to whom.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: GUEST,PoppaGator
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 02:12 PM

Touche, Jim.

I had not been watching the whole show, and never saw Rev. Wallis. (Perhaps he left early?) I was wondering why there were two ministers representing one "side" and only one on the other.

And you're right, I probably did exaggerate the reaction ~ what I wrote was probably a better description of my reaction.

That whole question is pretty complicated ~ when and whether it is appropriate for religious leaders and religious people to press their values in a political context. For those who believe that preemptive bombing, for example, or legal abortion, is out-and-out murder, opposition to public policy is not even an opiton, it's a duty.

(I continue to wonder why opponents of abortion so readily accept capital punishment and warfare-for-any-reason while the pacifist camp is OK with abortion, and why so many of us have allowed ourselves to be herded into one camp or the other.)

For what it's worth, I would have been disappointed with the choice of Rev. Al as representative of "my" side, but I was pleasantly surprised at his demeanor and performance.

Finally, in defense of Rev. Sharpton's interjection and my endorsement of it, I would strongtly argue that there is a world of difference between non-violent resistence and civil disobedience on the one hand (i.e., the political tactics of such "religious leftists" as Ghandi, Dr. King, the Berrigan brothers, etc.) and the more manipulative and surruptitious party-politics activities of Jerry Falwell and his ilk on the other. (Just my opinion, of course.) I certainly understand why a person of good faith would be disappointed at being "represented" by some of the most visible "Christian Right" personalities.


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Subject: RE: BS: The Religious Left
From: GUEST,jim tailor
Date: 23 Feb 05 - 01:15 PM

Poppagator,

Funny how we hear what we want to hear (note I said "we")...

The Sunday morning talking heads show that you describe was Meet The Press, with Tim Russert. The panel was Al Sharpton and Jim Wallis representing the "religious left", and Jerry Falwell and Richard Land representing the "religious right".

As much as I resented (as I always do) the quick pick of Falwell and Land to suppose to represent my POV, I also supposed that the left probably felt the same about the choice of Sharpton.

I didn't perceive the exchange that you describe as a "gotcha moment" at all. It was as cliche'd as anything I'd ever heard from Sharpton in the past. And, quite the opposite, it was a moment when he "walked right into one" -- as Land was able to point out that his efforts in the civil rights movement would have never happened had Sharpton truly believed in a Jesus that taught him that he shouldn't be active in affecting governmental change.

The gotcha moment was when, as planned for the whole week -- with Wallis and Sharpton on Meet the Press, and Tony Campolo on This Week (with Stephanoplous) -- Wallis came out swinging with the planned -- "The religious right doesn't believe in the moral imperative to care for the poor" -- phrase...

...to which Land and Falwell easily pointed out that, to the contrary, both of their churches give millions in aid to the poor, fund low income housing in their communities, pay for health care for the poor, etc. And then Falwell asked Wallis and Sharpton, "so what do you two do for the poor?"...

....The deafeningly silent response was spared them only by a commercial break.


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