Kicking off at 8:15 this morning, Kathy Chambers and “Clergy for Justice” along with “Gideon's Army” gathered in response to Sen. Campfield's “Starve the Children” legislation, which will be up for vote on the Senate floor today. They met in front of the lower/main entrance to Legislative Plaza (6th ave side/6th and union) and left promptly from there at 8:15 to go inside Legislative Plaza.
They gathered outside the Senate chambers and awaited the arrival of the Gideon's Army Children's Choir and the State Senators. When they arrive, they will join with the children in several songs.
The children will be presenting the online petition with 2,500+ signatures from Tennesseans to Sen. Campfield as he comes out of a meeting, then they will walk with him to the Senate chambers. With any luck, many the senators should arrive around the same time, as they'll be leaving a meeting and walking together.
We will update this article as the day goes on, adding more information as we learn it and more photos as they come in.
An anonymous source informed us on Tuesday that a group Nashville reverends, preachers, and priests came to the office of each member of the Tennessee General Assembly on Monday to protest Sen. Campfield’s anti-poor agenda and the state's rejection of Obamacare. They dropped off two loafs of bread and 5 paper fish in every office. Each fish had a different bible verse calling on the members to help the poor and fund health care.
After we posted the news on our Facebook page we soon learned that the group responsible for organizing the demonstration is called "Clergy for Justice."
15 faith leaders from across the state delivered a total 133 baskets of loaves and fish with a letter signed by almost 100 clergy and faith leaders, calling Medicaid expansion “not only the right thing to do, it’s the moral and faithful thing to do.” The letter and names of the signatories are displayed at the bottom of this article.
Here are some of the reactions on our Facebook page:
"That is Christian activism. God truly bless each one of them." -- Vickie Bligh
"This Christianity I can live with, the type I was taught." -- Americo Nonini
"Finally some Christianity at work, instead of Right-Wing 'Self-Righteousness' !!" -- Donald Jecker
"So, dear Christians, could each of you go visit your own local leaders and let them know that you want them to follow Christ instead of the GOP? They need to know." -- Tina Bennett
"This is wonderful to hear. So often the faith community turns to the right which is not what Jesus had in mind. Thanks for the news." -- Barbara Mathieson
"I wonder how long it will take for these politicians to get the hint. We've had the "nuns on the bus" traveling to spread the word of the need for humanitarian works and now preachers lobbying against the extreme right. Good job!" -- Janice Henschel
"Go thou and do likewise...in Raleigh!" -- Don Saunders
"You mean this happened in my state....that's amazing!!! And unexpected!" -- Stephanie Hill Mumpower
"For once! I'm so sick of the Dominionist biblical revisionist garbage that says 'God loves the rich, and you're rich because you're better than everyone else.'" -- Brad Hunziker
"There are no words to describe how very much I love this!" -- Kathy Fairbanks Parker
"About time the clergy stepped up and did what their jobs." -- Rose McGuire
"They should do that in the Ohio legislature also!" -- Gloria Zebbs Anderson
"Absolutely Brilliant! It's nice to know there's some decent clergy and pastors left." -- Dana Norris
"This is great... Lets see if religious leaders in other states do something similar!" -- Nan A. Canter
"This should be done in every state." -- Sharon Casto
Needless to say, we'd like to see this kind of Christian activism sweep across the country. These are the actions Jesus was talking about when he said, "Go, and do likewise." Christianity has fallen away from its mission over the last 30 years. It's time to for it to return to its roots.
Naysayers say "none of this is the government's job." They're wrong. We recommend the following article: "Individual Charity Isn't Enough."
The complete letter. Please excuse the fragmented appearance. These are screen captures of a PDF:
by Charles Toy
It’s time for us Christians to catch a clue. The modern conservative agenda is anathema to everything it means to be a Christian. It’s based on Randian Objectivism, which isn’t a far cry from LaVeyan Satanism.
Let the current state of affairs speak for itself. The poor and destitute have suffered the most under laissez-faire capitalism. The rich and powerful have emerged predominantly untouched. Now, when it’s time for everyone to ‘tighten their belts’ as a result of ‘conservative’ policy, it’s the poor who will have to sacrifice. Many have nothing left to sacrifice.
The stock market is soaring. Corporations are making record profits. Resource inequality is at staggering levels. The wealthy are more than fine, and yet conservatives will not make them share the burden of the fiscal conundrum created by foolish policy, exorbitant greed, and excessive militarism.
We have been deceived for far too long. These are not the ways of Jesus. Feeding the rich and powerful while starving the poor and destitute is a recipe for spiritual disaster. The majority of Christians in this country are supporting just that, and we need to wake up.
We're not against the free market here. The free market has its place. When it fails large groups of people, as it often does, we must have a vibrant social safety net to compensate. And we need to make access to health care universal to all. Health care is not a privilege. To think otherwise is barbaric and selfish.
The modern conservative brand of Christianity likes to blame the poor. They call them 'lazy,' and 'a bunch of freeloaders who refuse to work.'. Did Jesus ever call the poor lazy? Never once. Demonizing the poor is not Christian. It's akin to an anti-Christ philosophy. It's social Darwinism. The resounding majority of poor people are not lazy, and they don't refuse to work. They work harder to survive than most do in society.
Isaiah 10 and Jeremiah 22 are two examples of the prophets issuing harsh admonishments to wicked kings who abused the poor and marginalized. Conservative Christians insinuate that ‘it’s not the government’s job to care for the poor.’ They couldn’t be more wrong. They go on to imply that ‘the downfall of our great nation will be abortion and gay marriage!’ What a joke. Jesus said nothing about these two issues.
Jesus spelled out exactly what his priorities are in Matthew 25: 31-46. Conservative Christians would do well to learn those priorities. If the ‘downfall of our great nation’ occurs, it will be because we ignored them. It’s happened before: “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” ~ Ezekiel 16:49
We’re completely against any kind of State religion. In the “land of the free” everyone should be able to worship or not worship as they see fit. State religion just leads to persecution of those who don’t agree with it. That said, if we want to behave like a “Christian Nation,” maybe our elected representatives should start acting a little more like Jesus (that guy at the center of our faith). Maybe they should be out in the streets talking to real people who struggle every day to survive. Maybe they should be looking for ways we can collectively help them. Maybe when they give a banquet, they should invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind, and give them the best seats in the house.
We’re no “Christian Nation.” We worship wealth, power and force. Our elected representatives coddle billionaires and arms dealers. Even among Democrats, only 30% of them (at best) are true progressives. We treat those who are, like Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinich, like kooky, pie-in-the-sky dreamers. Let’s just get real about this whole “Christian Nation” thing, unless we really want to see our government officials acting like Jesus.
The marriage of the Church and modern conservative politics has produced a dark and ugly entity, and it’s time for Christians to come out from its grasp.
Isaiah records an inspiring vision for anyone looking beyond or above their current circumstances, of life or heart: "Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (40.31). That's a passage that has lifted my heart a lot of times, especially when facing uncertain times or in some personal griefs.
However, I've also found that I can't exactly just grab that verse and leap into the blue with it, as if I were hang gliding off the Hawai'ian cliffs, or like Wile E. Coyote test-flying a new contraption designed to give him the latest advantage over the Roadrunner. Hope and inspiration lifting your heart are one thing; grabbing hope and insisting that it transport you above the clouds is a taller order. A few years ago, millions of hearts in this country soared on the idea of "the audacity of hope", and on the promise of fresh, positive change; fast-forward to recent times, and more and more of those same people are more or less clicking the teevee remote in growing exasperation, hoping they can change a lot of the disillusionment and frustration they're experiencing from those hopes being repeatedly dashed or frustrated.
Or betrayed. Talk about slamming down to earth, like the coyote inevitably does when his contraption fails or backfires. I won't use this space to slog through the quagmire of political moves, countermoves, inability to move, or failures-to-move that the nation has been mired in over the last couple of years and more: I'm sure you've heard and read enough about it already to spoil your appetite for any more. (But wait ... there's more! Yay, we can't wait.) And this column really isn't about politics anyway, but about us, what we do when our wings fold up under us.
So what do we do, give up? Nah, people's nature is usually not to give up. (That's how we've made it these 100,000 years or more as a species, and is why certain teams go on forever even if they never win the World Series.) What then? Lean over the back fence (read: post on any Facebook page, or news story, or blog we come across) and gripe back and forth with our neighbors, maybe getting into a spat about how It wouldn't be nearly so bad if ... or We could get ourselves out of this mess if ... or We wouldn't have gotten into this in the first place if ... ? Sure, why not, it's a national pastime, though it's better over a real fence, and even better if you invite your neighbor over and there's BBQ involved. But aside from blowing off steam and maybe having some good BBQ and beer, what does that accomplish? (Okay, I know that BBQ and beer can be worthwhile ends in themselves, but that's also another matter.)
I know, vote! send petitions! start whole new blogs or Facebook pages! dream up ways to rally people in genuine grassroots movements, not like, you know, those Astroturf tea party things, but real grassroots movements! ... Wait, you might be onto something. What was that last thing you said? Grassroots. Yeah, but what was that other word you used ...? "Tea party"? Eww, no! Something starting with "d". .... Dream ...?
THAT'S IT!!! ... sorry for shouting. Dream. Dream up ways. Look at what people in this country have put their hopes in, and what they've been frustrated by: hopes for change that someone else presented to them. And of course, look at what's happened: people beating futilely against an invisible barrier to try to make those dreams become reality, like a bird on a window; or else feeling it's all just dropped right out from under them, like ... well, you know who.
Yeah. We've been hoping in someone else's dream, or promise of it anyway. Or hoping for someone else to make that dream come true for us. It's kind of like grabbing hold of even that promise from Isaiah, and having it fold underneath us in midair. What's wrong? No one else can do the soaring for us, that's what. The way a dream or vision becomes reality is when you and I take wing with it, no matter what anyone else does or doesn't do about it.
Am I just drifting off into unrealistic idealisticspeak? I'm not meaning to; actually, anything begins with a dream, vision, or idea, that someone just did something about. The computer you're reading this on; the chair or sofa or bed you're sitting on; those cartoon pics in this article; everything you see around you, including who you see in the mirror and what you see out the window. It was either some human's idea, or God's idea, or both. So dreams and visions aren't unrealistic; that's how life actually happens all the time.
Start dreaming up ways to change the world. Don't wait for someone else to dish up hope or change (although, obviously, appreciate and make the most of it if they do!); take examples from other people you've seen actually do something ... start a cause, get a group going, find out who to focus on with any articles or letters or petitions, start asking around to find out about people who might be interested in helping (and especially if they have the connections or resources to add to the mix). Dream up ways to bring your dream to reality.
And whatever you do, don't let anyone dump on your dream with something like this:
LONG WALK OFF A SHORT PIER. It'll never work. You don't have the resources. You don't know where to start. You don't know what to do or how to get there. You don't, you can't, you won't. Bleagh. Phooey. So what if you don't know what to do? Neither do most other people who have an idea, vision, or dream; they set out anyway, and discover it all, or make it up, as they go. How do we change our country, or the world, the way a lot of people hoped to do a couple of years ago? Haven't the foggiest. But I do know who can change it ... it's you and me and every other person whose heart was soaring a few years ago with the hope that the world could change.
It's not that it "can't" happen; it's just that we were counting on someone else doing the soaring, when it really always happens from us. Hey, wait a minute ... I remember something about a guy being commended (or sometimes poked fun at) for having been a community organizer. Look at what that actually is: did "he" do any of the changing in any community? Maybe helped draw them together ... but it's always the community that does the real changing, no one does it for them. They catch a dream, a vision, and they do the soaring.
Well, that's who is waiting to do the changing, to bring the hope, this time, today, now. No dream has died, or fallen flat out of the sky, or in any other way been squashed. It's actually still as alive as we are, as alive as we want it to be, and it can stretch its wings and head toward takeoff any time we're ready for it to.
Dream up what you can, talk with other people who dream, watch the examples of people who have brought their dreams into reality (or are still in the process), join ranks with likeminded dreamers, join hands and link arms and band a lot of those dreams together to make a broader dream for more people. Nobody changes the whole world at once, of course; they just keep figuring out a step at a time. Nobody sees a whole plan or vision at once, or draws up plans for a building at one sitting, or plans anything else in one step, let alone does or builds it in one step; every dream is a kind of construction project. The world has always changed ... for better or worse ... on the power of ideas and dreams, and every dream is a process, not a sudden event. But don't let someone else do the dreaming ... unless you catch it yourself, spread those wings, and really make that dream yours now. You know what the real difference is between Martin Luther King, jr., or Gandhi, or Mother Teresa, and you?
Nothing. Yes, of course every person's circumstances and resources are different; but different, that's the point. It's not as if there's some magic formula, where life has to line up in a certain way for some vision or dream to unfold; people, whoever they are, with whatever is at hand, speak out, stand up, draw others together, make their dream contagious, and in whatever way they can dream up, they do something about it. And keep doing it, and learning how to do it as they go. That's really all.
The rest is called flying.
(Post submitted by featured blogger, Roger Smith, who also blogs at Roger's Shrubbery)
The Christian Left does not seem to be so well-organized or publicized as its right-wing counterparts. Opponents state that this is because it is less numerous. Supporters contend that it is actually more numerous but composed predominantly of persons less willing to voice political views in as forceful a manner as the Christian Right, possibly because of the aggressiveness of the Christian Right. Further, supporters contend that the Christian Left has had relatively little success securing widespread corporate, political, and major media patronage compared to the Right.
The religious left is not the religious right. The left isn’t as organized or assertive. For the most part, it seems to have made its peace with the mishmash of morality under the Democratic umbrella, rallying instead around some core Democratic tenets: protection of, and equality for, the disenfranchised and providing greater opportunity and assistance for the poor.
So what are we going to do about this situation? Are we going to be like we’ve usually been in the past and let the right out organize us? It’s our call.
We think it’s time to rise up people with passion. We’re looking for a core group of people. People who will pray for us on a regular basis, and people who will support us financially on a regular, predictable basis, like every month. We have big plans and It's time to put them into motion. Financial support doesn’t have to be in big amounts, at all. It just needs to come from your heart and be consistent. Please contact us at TCL@TheChristianLeft.org if you would like to be one of these people. Please make the subject, “Core Group.”
If we want to see change, we need to be the change.
-- The Christian Left
 Rise of the Religious Left, By CHARLES M. BLOW, Published: July 2, 2010,. New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/opinion/03blow.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.