Category Archives: Ecumenical & Interfaith

It CAN Happen Here, Like It Did In Zimbabwe

Washington Post — Opinion

I saw Mugabe wreck a democracy. The Jan. 6 hearings matter — a lot.
Opinion by Evan Mawarire
 — June 14, 2022

Evan Mawarire, an evangelical pastor and the director of education at the Renew Democracy Initiative, is the inaugural Agora Institute-RDI dissident in residence at Johns Hopkins University.

In 2008, the sitting president of my country, Zimbabwe, lost his bid for reelection but simply refused to leave office. Robert Mugabe, the dictator who went on to rule Zimbabwe for a total of 37 years, mobilized his party thugs to brutalize those who voted against him and proceeded to claim the presidency.

My countrymen and I watched helplessly as African leaders rewarded Mugabe by brokering a supposed shared-power deal that gave him the immense powers of the presidency and awarded a token, ceremonial prime minister role to Morgan Tsvangirai, who had actually won the election. (Tsvangirai died in 2018, Mugabe the following year.)

Evan Mawarire.

As members of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6., 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol hold televised hearings, it might be easy for many people to ignore the proceedings, chalking them up to Washington infighting. That’s understandable — millions of Americans are dealing with more immediate, pressing concerns, such as spiking inflation and chronic gun violence.

But the hearings represent much more than just the political jockeying that Americans have come to expect from Washington. These proceedings, in particular their focus on the role played by then-President Donald Trump on that terrible day, represent the very thing that Zimbabweans never had with Mugabe: accountability. These hearings seek to hold those people accountable who would have taken America down a path that I know all too well.

In Zimbabwe and in many other unfree countries, leaders are often able to avoid the accountability and transparency that Americans have come to take for granted. As has been widely noted, the Jan. 6 committee hearings are occurring as the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in arrives on June 17 — another event that ultimately showed U.S. democracy functioning exactly as it should.

For all of its flaws, scandals and mistakes, democracy in the United States has been remarkably resilient. Dissidents like me have often looked to it for inspiration.

The failure of democracy in our own countries helps us understand that a history of success shouldn’t make anyone complacent. All it takes for this tradition to crumble is for one leader or group to seize the reins of power and refuse to move on. The Jan. 6 hearings underline the difference between the United States and countries where sham elections make a mockery of democratic values.

What might not be obvious to everyday citizens is that the hearings are a testament to the rule of law. The stakes are high: Not only will the country as a whole see whether the wrongdoers of Jan. 6 are held accountable, but the world will also bear witness. Authoritarian governments that defy accountability for their anti-democratic actions — and long to see U.S. leaders do the same — are no doubt taking notice of how the hearings unfold.

Six years ago, when I launched the #ThisFlag citizens’ movement in Zimbabwe seeking to end Mugabe’s corrupt rule, our goal was to hold the country’s leaders accountable. Instead, I was jailed and tortured for my efforts. I moved to the United States in 2020 after escaping Zimbabwe, which remains a repressive state in the post-Mugabe era, and I am pleased to live in a country where the citizens enjoy collective rights to demand answers and justice from those in power.

The Jan. 6 hearings should command the attention of everyone who cares about living in a free and fair society. I hope — and, as a pastor, I pray — that they will reveal the integrity of my adopted home’s democracy in the face of a naked challenge to its very existence.

A public that neglects this process would risk telling the world that Americans can’t be bothered to care all that much about their own republic, and that accountability is elusive even in the United States.
That would send a dangerous signal. For if even the nation that is the leader of the free world can’t bring anti-democratic forces to justice, who will?

In my home country, the judiciary and parliament did nothing as Mugabe destroyed our institutions and what was left of our democracy. I’ve seen this happen once; I couldn’t bear to watch it happen again.


from Wikipedia: Evan Mawarire (born 7 March 1977) is a Zimbabwean pastor and democratic activist. He came to prominence during the 2016–17 Zimbabwe protests that challenged the rule of Robert Mugabe’s government. . . .

He worked in business for a number of years, while at the same time volunteering at his church, teaching Sunday school.He found the work at his church more fulfilling, and in 2002 he quit his job and went to Bible college.From 2002 to 2007, he was the young adult and youth pastor at Celebration Churches International in Harare, before serving as the church’s regional director in the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010.In 2010, he established his own church, His Generation Church, in Harare. . . .

Arrests

In July 2016, Mawarire was arrested on charges of inciting violence in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Republic Police seized his phone. On 1 February 2017, Mawarire was arrested in connection with a charge of trying to overthrow Robert Mugabe at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airportin Zimbabwe on his way back from the United States.[16][17] In June 2017, Mawarire was arrested for praying with protesting students of the University of Zimbabwe.In September 2017, Mawarire was arrested for citing Zimbabwe’s economic problems by the Zimbabwe Republic Police at his church. Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested again on 16 January 2019 after calling for and organising a national boycott against rising cost of living and misgovernance. Under the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mawarire was charged with subversion.

Florida “Rabbi Rouser” Sues to Stop DeSantis Anti-Abortion Law

.AP News: Synagogue challenges Florida abortion law over religion

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A new Florida law prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks with some exceptions violates religious freedom rights of Jews in addition to the state constitutions privacy protections, a synagogue claims in a lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed by the Congregation LDor VaDor of Boynton Beach contends the law that takes effect July 1 violates Jewish teachings, which state abortion “is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical wellbeing of the woman” and for other reasons.

The congregation’s logo

“As such, the act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom,” says the lawsuit, filed Friday in Leon County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit adds that people who “do not share the religious views reflected in the act will suffer and that it “threatens the Jewish people by imposing the laws of other religions upon Jews.”

The lawsuit is the second challenge to the 15week abortion ban enacted earlier this year by the Legislature and signed into law by Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers also sued earlier this month to block the law from taking effect.
Rabbi Barry Silver

In a previous statement, DeSantis office said it “is confident that this law will ultimately withstand all legal challenges.”

The two lawsuits are likely to be consolidated into a single case. A hearing on a proposed injunction to block the Florida abortion law is likely in the next two weeks.

The law mirrors a similar measure passed in Mississippi that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, which may use it to overturn the Roe v. Wade abortion decision based on a leaked draft opinion. A final ruling on Roe is expected by the end of June.

In Florida, Rabbi Barry Silver of Congregation LDor VaDor — the name means “Generation to Generation— said it practices “cosmic Judaism,” which he defines on the synagogues website as “the Judaism of tomorrow today” that respects science, tradition and spirituality.

Silver is an attorney, social activist and former Democratic state legislator who styles himself as a “Rabbirouser” on his own website. In an interview Tuesday, Silver said when separation of religion and government crumbles, religious minorities such as Jews often suffer.

“Every time that wall starts to crack, bad things start to happen,” he said, noting that DeSantis signed the law at an evangelical Christian church.

The new Florida abortion law, contains exceptions if the abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not allow for exemptions in cases where pregnancies were caused by rape, incest or human trafficking.

Under current law, Florida allows abortions up to 24 weeks.

No faith is monolithic on the abortion issue. Yet many followers of faiths that do not prohibit abortion are aghast that a view held by a minority of Americans could supersede their individual rights and religious beliefs such as the position of Judaism as outlined in the lawsuit.

“This ruling would be outlawing abortion in cases when our religion would permit us,” said Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, scholar in residence at the National Council of Jewish Women, “and it is basing its concepts of when life begins on someone else’s philosophy or theology.”


On the synagogue’s website, Silver elaborated on the group’s religious approach:

“Cosmic Judaism began with his late father Samuel Silver, a Reform rabbi. “He believed in God, but not the God of the Bible, and preached and wrote in various books that he authored that every concept of Judaism, including God, should be rational and logical, and that God should be thought of as a hypothesis, not a fact,” he said.

“Thus, the hypothesis is modified and altered as new facts emerge, which is why the concept of God has been evolving in Judaism since the beginning, except for those who are stuck in the past and have altered Judaism by trying to stop its growth and fix its development in a rigid and dangerous Orthodoxy.”

“L’Dor Va-Dor means ‘generation to generation,’ and so our congregation derives its ideological roots from my father who preached a rational faith, which continues with me,” Silver said. “That progression of thought can be seen in my son Ari, who is 18 and has a similar but unique perspective.”

Silver said he also drew inspiration from scientists Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan for this approach.

The synagogue left Reform Judaism in 2016 and has been unaffiliated for four years.

“The Cosmic Jewish approach, which interprets Judaism through science and reason, was overwhelmingly voted on and approved twice by our congregants,” Silver said. “I do not know of any other congregation where the ideology was not just imposed upon the members or based on the rabbi, but where the members actually voted on two separate occasions to support the ideology, which is a unique approach to Judaism.”

Rabbi Silver with a scripture scroll.

Newspapers vs the Southern Baptist Sex Abuse Coverup

[NOTE: Besides (another) sleazy church “leader” sex saga, the Southern Baptist coverup scandal (which should, if there’s justice, demolish the denomination’s thoroughly corrupt lying superstructure, and send numerous pervy pastors and their protectors to do some praying in prison) is telling another very significant story: the crucial role of a healthy, smart, dogged free press in cutting through the church crap and dragging that cesspool into the light of day.

The “church leaders” who perpetuated the coverup could teach the CIA some lessons about squalid secrecy.  But the key lesson about journalism here is simpler, even mundane: to unmask the coverup and break the story took months of meticulous, quiet but relentless work by a slew of reporters and researchers. as the report below explains.

And to do that work, besides stamina and tenacity, the reporters first and above all had to be there. But viable newspapers and reporting jobs are a vanishing species, as threatened as Monarch  butterflies.

Whatever press awards this story gets will surely be deserved. But more important to them —and the public; that’s us — will be whether their achievements translates into more subscribers, and increases their employers’ business viability.

And the outcome of that story is still hanging in the balance.

Washington Post: How two Texas newspapers broke open the Southern Baptist sex scandal


A 2019 investigation by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News prompted this week’s massive disclosure about church leaders implicated in sex abuse cases.

By Elahe Izadi
 —May 25, 2022

Houston Chronicle city hall reporter Robert Downen was on the night shift one evening in 2018, just a few months into the job, when something caught his attention.

Scrolling through an online federal court docket, he spotted a lawsuit that accused Paul Pressler, a prominent former judge and leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, of sexual assault. While the case had been previously reported, newly filed documents painted an even more damning picture, including the revelation that Pressler had previously agreed to pay his accuser $450,000.

Downen, then 25, probed more deeply and discovered other survivors of church abuse, who made it clear to him, he recalled, that “if you think this problem is confined to one leader, we have quite a bit to show you.”

Downen’s ever-growing spreadsheet of cases soon inspired a larger reporting effort to quantify the scope of sex abuse within the massive Protestant denomination. Journalists at the Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News teamed up to create a database of cases involving nearly 300 church leaders and more than 700 victims for their landmark 2019 “Abuse of Faith” series.

A wave of outrage in response to the series rocked the Southern Baptist Convention, prompting its Executive Committee to hire an outside firm to investigate. The result was Sunday’s release of an explosive, nearly 300-page report that found church leaders had covered up numerous sex abuse cases and belittled survivors.

Among other key findings: SBC leaders kept a secret list of ministers accused of abuse — all the while insisting to the Texas reporters who first inquired about the scope of the problem back in 2019 that such records would be impossible to compile, according to Chronicle investigative reporter John Tedesco. (On Tuesday, the leadership said it was planning to release names of the accused on Thursday.)

“It is beyond frustrating as a journalist and as someone who knows many of these survivors,” said Downen. “How many years of survivors pleading for this and the tears they cried, and how much work and how many hours of journalism we could have put elsewhere, in this story or any other, was wasted because they just didn’t want to say they were doing this.”

Downen worked with Tedesco — who moved from the Express-News to the Chronicle during the investigation — and Lise Olsen, then an investigative editor and reporter for the Chronicle. They spent several months hunting down and combing through court records, traversing the state, interviewing local district attorneys and sending letters seeking comment to every alleged abuser person they had learned about. Data journalists Matt Dempsey and Jordan Rubio helped create the database and verify the case details, as did a team of lawyers for Hearst, the parent company for both newspapers.

They discovered 380 people in the church, including deacons, youth pastors and Sunday school teachers, who had been credibly accused of abuse; at least 218 of them had been convicted or pleaded guilty to sex crimes over two decades. Some of them, the papers found, remained in their positions at the church or returned after serving prison time.

After the newspaper series published in 2019, the Chronicle set up a confidential tip line that was contacted by more than 400 people with accounts of being abused. The newspapers followed up with another three-part series with more victim accounts. “Their courage made all the difference,” said former Chronicle executive editor Steve Riley, who also oversaw the investigative team at the time.

One victim, who was abused as a child by a former pastor, wrote to the Chronicle that “over the years I’ve learned to cope with this and I’ve also realized that I am not alone. Your article reaffirms this and I feel more empowered knowing that more people will now better understand what is really going on.”

The newspapers reprinted “Abuse of Faith” and distributed it free at the 2019 annual SBC meeting in Birmingham, Ala., where the sex abuse crisis dominated discussion. In 2021, thousands of delegates at the annual meeting overwhelmingly voted in favor of having a task force oversee a third-party investigation, rather than the Executive Committee.

“There had been survivor advocates who had been pushing and trying to raise awareness for a long time before we came along,” Tedesco said. “We were part of that puzzle. I think our story opened a lot of eyes, but there were eyes already opened and trying to alert people to the problem before us.”

The Chronicle broke online readership records with the series, and other media organizations around the country relied on their database to investigate abuse cases in their own coverage areas.

But compiling the database — which involved a detailed and extensive corroboration of every case, some relying on court files that could be retrieved only in person — required the efforts of more than a dozen journalists. “In a newsroom of 200, that’s a pretty big commitment,” said Riley. He fears that many local and regional newspapers, struggling with shrinking circulation and ad revenue, will be increasingly unable to tackle similar stories in their own backyards.

“If it is only the New York Times or The Washington Post and ProPublica who are able to do this kind of work, then they’re going to miss a lot and they’re not going to be around to follow up once it’s done,” he said.

And yet local news reports from smaller media organizations that the Houston and San Antonio reporters dug out of archives played a vital role in helping them uncover the big story.

“Sometimes things happen in plain sight: A pastor gets arrested and reassigned from a church and it’s a daily story that maybe gets forgotten,” said Tedesco. “Sometimes you have to put those pieces together, and there’s real value in taking the time to do that.”

It’s all the more reason the public should be alarmed by the state of local news, said Downen, “because we are absolutely losing the source material for so many other investigations.”

Since 2005, about 2,200 local newspapers have closed across the country, and over 200 counties across the country have no newspaper at all, according to a University of North Carolina study.(Emphasis added.)

“That’s why it’s crucial for people to support the press financially and in other ways,” Downen said. “You don’t think that the small-town paper with a readership of 5,000 could be the genesis of a massive and historic report 25 years later, because it is some local journalist writing about a local abuse case. But we can’t know what we can’t see.” (Emphasis added.)

Scooping the Times, With Grim Satisfaction

For a reporter, even a retired one, there’s a charge of adrenaline in a scoop — getting a story before other journalists.

And if the scooped rival is the Big Kahuna, aka the New York Times, there’s an extra kick to it.

So I’m preening this morning, after noticing that the august Times, fresh off stuffing another Pulitzer Prize into its warehouse full of such trinkets, catching up with reporting that appeared here more than five years ago.

This despite the fact that the story involved mostly delivered grim news.

Seeing the Times headline, “As a ‘Seismic Shift’ Fractures Evangelicals, an Arkansas Pastor Leaves Home,” my immediate reaction was — I admit it — “Well now, it’s about dam time.”

The point of the story was very familiar: Continue reading Scooping the Times, With Grim Satisfaction

A Progressive Catholic Goes There: Against Abortion, But Supports Keeping Roe

I can relate to this article. I published one like it in a Boston alternative weekly in early January of 1973. Angry letters poured in for weeks, until January 22, when Roe v. Wade was issued; then my qualms & quibbles were instantly forgotten.

I wasn’t sorry. Since then, some of my views have evolved, while my general antipathy to most abortions remains. (More on my personal pilgrimage here.) But I’m still as staunchly against criminalization as I was 49 years ago.

Now I’m too old to draw much fire, so it was gratifying to see this piece by a young radical Catholic (if indeed she’ still identifies as Catholic), planting her flag in the columns of the National Catholic Reporter, the “loyal opposition” progressive American weekly.

Some pro-Roe adherents may not care about Chastain’s reasons, but only that she arrives at their preferred destination.

A blast from the Kavanaugh past; we didn’t get fooled, like Collins & other Fools on the Hill.

That’s a mistake. In the new struggle that’s upon us, the agonized ambiguity of many, Catholics and non-  will be a crucial arena of either progress or further setbacks. If not agreement, finding a basis for respectful coalition will be — and in truth, long have been — imperative.  This article is one  such new opportunity.

I’m thinking first here of my fellow liberal Quakers: to save our rights, we’ll have to learn & think and act outside our blue bubbles. But this sentiment applies more broadly too.

National Catholic Reporter: COMMENTARY

I’m an anti-abortion disability advocate. Overturning Roe isn’t the answer.

Medical instruments for a surgical abortion are seen in this photo. (CNS/Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)

Medical instruments for a surgical abortion are seen in this photo. (CNS/Reuters/Evelyn Hockstein)

I was in high school when I first learned which of my extended family members had encouraged my mom to abort my very-much-alive disabled brother. At the time, I had just begun attending youth group, which was the first place I ever saw images of abortion. I attended my first Walk for Life. Those same youth leaders helped that same brother finally receive his sacraments of initiation, after he’d been denied them for almost a decade.

As I entered undergraduate studies at a small Catholic liberal arts school and pursued a degree in theology with an emphasis in disability, I confronted the historical reality that had galvanized me as a teenager: Abortion is implicitly eugenic. The disproportionate targeting of disabled fetuses for termination hinges on deeply violent assumptions around worthiness, rooted in capitalistic beliefs around productivity and conventional social futurity.

Put plainly? Disabled people may not learn, work, marry or procreate “normally,” and that nonnormative lifestyle will inconvenience too many people. A disabled person may experience profound pain and social exclusion.

Regardless of whether or not these things are always and everywhere true (they are not), it is equally troublesome that people who hold these beliefs around disability often don’t believe these circumstances are within their power or responsibility to change outside of abortion (they are).

Abortion was always going to be personal for me — the abortion topic always is — even when approached from different angles. One in four women will have an abortion, which includes treatments of ectopic pregnancies, tubal pregnancies and other forms of “spontaneous” abortion or miscarriage. And whether or not they personally experienced one, everyone knows someone impacted by abortion. It is this intimacy that has kindled the fire of many in the pro-life movement, including myself.

20210316T1100-NORTHERN-IRELAND-DISABILITY-1166813 resize.jpg

Pro-life supporters are pictured holding signs outside the High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jan. 30, 3019. (CNS/Reuters/Brian Lawless)

Pro-life supporters are pictured holding signs outside the High Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jan. 30, 3019. (CNS/Reuters/Brian Lawless)

But then, in graduate school at a large secular research university, I began to study feminist, queer and crip histories and theories of the body. I began participating in more progressive religious spaces that emphasized Catholic social teaching and needs for social reconciliation.

Being in relationship with secular, pro-abortion feminists who were learning alongside me about the systematic underresourcing of marginalized groups — while the world’s racial and medical disparities were being aired live during the COVID-19 pandemic — moved me into the place of intense nuance where I am now and that I believe undergirds a truly consistent life ethic: I am anti-abortion, but I do not think criminalizing abortions will stop them, because having access to abortions isn’t what causes them.

Things that cause abortions: lack of comprehensive sex education, inaccessible health care, violence against women, religious shame and exclusion, familial rejection or coercion, and workplace inequalities including but not limited to barriers for advancement, disparities in pay and lack of paid parental leave or child care.

Making abortion illegal before addressing these injustices is going to kill women, because women will continue to have abortions, secretively and unsafely.

For the first time that I can recall in my years of being anti-abortion, tales of the pre-Roeworld from women who lived it are being shared on a massive scale. (Many are circulating this New York Times article from January and sharing their own stories in the captions.) Social media is a flurry of back-alley horrors.

And in a post-COVID-19 society when young people are already experiencing a catastrophic mental health crisis, making abortion illegal is going to kill women in more ways than one.

Refusal to accept the reality of these dangers is resisting a nuance that is dire. You can accept the dangers of overturning Roe v. Wade are real and still be anti-abortion. I certainly am. None of these dangers changes that abortion is a deeply ableist system used to root out genetic differences based on bigoted sociocultural values. None of these facts change that I’ve seen disability-motivated abortion rhetoric devalue people at the cornerstone of my life. It is personal, but it is also necessarily systemic.

We can recognize that abortion being legal represents a certain form of public complicity in permitting a grievous sin to happen. But are we actually permitting it any less without changing the causes of abortion? To achieve the desired society in which abortion is no longer permitted, we have to create a reality where abortion is no longer caused. We are complicit in those systems, too.

We need mandatory and comprehensive sexual education and accessible health care. We need to address income inequality and mandate paid parental leave. We need to demolish the prison industrial complex and stop criminalizing the poor and marginalized. We need robust community-based postnatal care and to crack down on violence against women. We need to revolutionize the way churches approach sexuality, that we might embrace and support sexually active women in crisis, regardless of their marital status.

I am still anti-abortion. And yet, it is amazing how quickly the solidarity comes with my pro-abortion loved ones the moment I articulate these nuanced beliefs: I am anti-abortion, and I do not want it to be illegal. This solidarity will be crucial to providing a safe haven for at-risk women, if Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned. We must all keep our eyes on the true culprits; we must shout about the real causes of abortion, together.

Madison Chastain

Madison Chastain

Madison Chastain writes about the body, faith and culture. You can find more of her work on Instagram @maddsienicole, or on theologyforeverybody.com.

Twofer Thursday: Garrison Keillor at (almost) 80; and the Decline of Religion in the U.S.

There’s not a direct connection between the two items excerpted here. Garrison Keillor is definitely religious, in his low-key, often self-mocking way.
But like others of his (& my) generation, he’s watched in bemusement as the generations behind him have been mostly quietly, but steadily dumping religion.  Following Keillor, pastor-researcher Ryan Burge takes a look at this undeniable, but still puzzling slide: contributing factors are easy to name; but clarity and implications are elusive.

#1 – Excerpted from The Saturday Evening Post:

[Garrison Keillor’s new book] Serenity at 70, Gaiety at 80, is a playful yet deeply felt meditation that ought to be a standard in the literature of human aging. I asked Kate Gustafson, president of

Keillor’s production company, how she’d characterize the work. “It’s a novelty book, a gift book,” she ventured after a long pause. Keillor chortled when I told him that. No, no, he corrected, it’s actually “a memoir with an essay wrapped around it.” . . .

About his “canceling/MeToo” ordeal, Keillor himself was plenty angry. He has written that he was unable to defuse what boiled within him until one day, in New York City, a priest prayed into his ear that the “injustice done to me” could be put aside. And that was it, Keillor wrote in his memoir. He was suddenly unburdened, and could return to the “quiet domestic life with the woman I love,” his third and current wife. But as the Washington Post reported in a lengthy piece last year, the scandal represented a “downfall” from which Keillor never fully recovered. Continue reading Twofer Thursday: Garrison Keillor at (almost) 80; and the Decline of Religion in the U.S.

Garrison Keillor: In the Doubter’s Section

Garrison Keillor:

There was a small epiphany in church last week when we sang the recessional “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded,” a German chorale in which we basses must jump around more limberly than we may be used to.

A tough part compared to “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder” and I stood in the rear and struggled with it and then as the choir recessed down the main aisle and came up and stood in the side aisles, three basses wound up standing near me, like border collies alongside the lost sheep, and I got myself in their draft and we sang our way to the barn. (Moral: Get with the group — just make sure it’s the right one.) Continue reading Garrison Keillor: In the Doubter’s Section

Pauli Murray! Pauli Murray!

I’m lucky enough to live just a few blocks from Pauli Murray’s modest childhood home, which is now a National Historic site.  Pauli Murray was distinguished in so many ways that it’s difficult for any concise document to do her justice. Here are a few important items the ACLU letter below left out:
Pauli Murray, from a wall mural in Durham NC.
> Murray survived years of grinding poverty while excelling in school and college.
> Murray was not only a brilliant legal theorist, but also a feisty activist, arrested more than once for pioneering civil rights protests.
> Murray “invented” what some now call “intersectionality” decades before it was popularized, based on her own plentiful experience of oppression based on her gender, race, and class. She called it, tellingly,  “Jane Crow.”
> Amidst a life if personal & social turmoil, Murray was a person of deep faith. In fact, late in life she became the first Black female priest in the U. S. Episcopal church. She celebrated this by conducting her first official service in a “historic” North Carolina chapel where many of her enslaved ancestors had been taken.
> After her death in 1985, the Episcopal church declared Murray a saint in 2012.
Ria Tabacco Mar , Director, Women’s Rights Project
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March 10, 2022

Continue reading Pauli Murray! Pauli Murray!

U. S. Catholic defenders of Pope Francis “Mobilize” behind closed doors

Do rightwing American Catholics hate pope Francis?

Is the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Jewish?

On a scale of 1 to 10, would 25 be close enough?

From my outside liberal Quaker perspective, Francis is not all that progressive: slow on smashing the priestly pedophile protection racket; mushy on cleaning up the sewer of financial sleaze around the Vatican; status quo on women, anti-abortion & and  anti-LGBT matters (a few sorta-friendly comments don’t cut it.) Also he’s much too patient with the sowers of slander &  schism in his own ranks.

After all, what good is a papacy, if it’s not taking charge? Sometimes his Vatican sounds like one of our “Clearness Committees” that never reaches any clearness. (Hey, Francis, take it from me— one  denomination mired in what is too often the quicksand of finding the ”sense of the meeting” is plenty.)

Besides, from my external perch, I’m also often reminded that Francis heads the largest organized church on the planet. His and its fates reverberate far beyond their parishes, convents and monasteries.

Further, compared to his recent predecessors, judging him in his hidebound institutional context, he’s by far the most humane pope in my lifetime.  He should be headed straight to the church’s roster of saints . . . Unless the clerical fascist caucus burns him at the stake  first. Continue reading U. S. Catholic defenders of Pope Francis “Mobilize” behind closed doors