Jan 05 2007
The aspect of his job the public gets to see is his opening prayer in the Senate everyday. Chaplain Black said he tries “to be sensitive to the heterogeneity of the audience that is listening to me.” However, he admits, “Some times I will end my prayers ‘in the name of Jesus.’”
The interview provides great insight into one of the most interesting examples of the intersection of religion and politics. Black states that his position is comparable to being a pastor at a Church with 7,000 members, counting Senators and their staffs and families. When non-Christian senators and staff members are in need of chaplaincy, Black brings in other clergy. He says “It’s an opportunity of facilitate their religious needs without actually participating.”
In addition to the edited version on the show, an unedited copy of the interview is available at StateOfBelief.com on Monday.
Also on the show: Dr. Bruce Prescott, author of the blog Mainstreet Baptist; and Albert Menedez, director of research with Americans for Religious Liberty.
Jan 12 2007
Rev. Gaddy asks Senator Leahy whether the change in control of Congress will affect the makeup of the federal judiciary. “I don't want the federal judiciary to be an arm of either the Democratic or the Republican Party,” Leahy replies. “If we start allowing it to become politicized, to say nominees have to fit a certain ideology, we will destroy that independence.”
Senator Leahy talks about plans for an oversight hearing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales next week. The focus of the hearing will be on privacy issues, especially in relation to the NSA wiretapping program. If Gonzales refuses to answer key questions about the program, Senator Leahy says he is prepared to issue subpoenas as a last resort. “Americans are giving up the thing we've always prized - our privacy - and I don't think this is making us safer,” says Leahy.
Jan 24 2007
TIA will focus its legislative efforts on increasing congressional support for:
- The Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (LLEEA), which complements existing federal law by providing new authority for crimes where the victim is intentionally selected because of gender, sexual orientation, or disability. The LLEEA would also remove unnecessary jurisdictional barriers which currently allow federal law enforcement only when the victim is engaged in a federally protected activity, such as voting.
- The End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA), which would prohibit law enforcement from relying on the race, ethnicity, national origin or religion in selecting which individuals to subject to traffic stops or other routine investigatory activities.
- The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
All three bills will be introduced with sponsors and assigned a bill number in the near future.
“Increasingly, religion is being misused as a tool for advancing hate,” said The Interfaith Alliance’s President, the Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. “This package of legislation reaffirms a basic principle – that all Americans should enjoy the strongest possible guarantee of freedom from religious discrimination and faith-based bigotry.”
In addition, TIA also called on Congress to conduct an in-depth investigation of the president’s faith-based initiative. Former administration official David Kuo recently published a book, Tempting Faith, which makes serious allegations of government money flowing to fly-by-night religious charities rather than to more qualified organizations. Many of these conservative Christian organizations provide social services frequently accompanied by religious indoctrination.
“Those in Congress who value religious pluralism must send a strong, unified message that taxpayer money must not be used to advance religious faith,” said Rev. Gaddy.
Jan 26 2007
Rev. Butler, who worked as Presbyterian Representative at the U.N. for nine years, describes the new global focus of the Religious Right. “Organizations like Focus on the Family are forming interfaith coalitions with Catholic, Mormon and Muslim allies to advance a conservative agenda at the U.N.,” she says. The result of these seemingly bizarre coalitions is a potential threat to progressive social policies on a worldwide level.
Religious Right organizations work on a number of issues at the U.N., including women's rights, reproductive health, human cloning, children's rights and AIDS. The Bush Administration has given this movement a significant amount of power in shaping
Rev. Butler is also executive director of Faith in Public Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to achieving the common good through public policy. Rev. Butler describes the organization as “a hub for progressive faith organizing.” Faith in Public Life aims to build a nationwide infrastructure designed to ensure faith communities are actively engaged and included in public discourse.
Also on the show: Rev. Paul Sherry, National Coordinator for the Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign.