This is really just an introduction to the book, the cast of characters — and a promise that we will take the conversation forward wherever we can as the book rolls out. “What the Religious Left is doing isn’t working!” writes Rev. Dan Schulz (aka Pastordan of the group blog Street Prophets). From that working assumption we hope to jump-start a national conversation about how to create and sustain a far more politically dynamic — and effective — Religious Left than exists in the U.S. today.
“If he were alive today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would remind us that we are the leaders we have been waiting for. Consider Dispatches from the Religious Left your briefing book on how and why it is important to be a “courageous leader” in these challenging times.” — Bob Edgar, President, Common Cause, and the immediate past General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, former Member of Congress (D-PA)
Other contributors include include former New York Times war correspondent (and former divinity student) Chris Hedges; Rev. Debra Haffner and Tim Palmer of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing; Rev. Dr. Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Rev. Barry Lynn of American United for Separation of Church and State, Kety Esquivel of the Institute for Progressive Chrisianity; Dr. Peter Hess of the National Center for Science Education; Rev. Peter Laarman, of Progressive Christians Uniting. Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change; veteran Cleveland – based journalist and blogger, Anastasia Pantsios; and Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, of the historic Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. We are also graced by a stirring introduction from Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, the former General Secretary of the National Council of Churches; and a wise and energetic afterward from best selling author Jeff Sharlet. (You can find links to bios of the contributors here.)
These writers question and challenge the status quo on multiple fronts, revealing what the movement needs to do in order to increase its viability and visibility.
In the course of working on this, three main themes emerged:
–Religious progressives need to seriously reevaluate where they are going and where they have been in order to live up to their highest aspirations.
–Marketing and public relations are not a substitute for political organizing, which history and hard earned experience shows us is how real progress is made.
–Religious progressives must never abandon such basic progressive values as reproductive rights, gay and lesbian civil rights and separation of church and state, no matter what political consultants in hot pursuit of seemingly persuadable conservative Catholics and evangelicals may say. Separation of church and state is “woven into their DNA” says essayist Rev. Peter Laarman.
Meanwhile, I will be tracking the progress of the book at my site, FrederickClarkson.com with frequently updated news, reviews, event and media announcements. We also anticipate considerable discussion of the book at Street Prophets and Talk to Action, among others. Meanwhile, check out my interview with the online magazine, Religion Dispatches.
The launch event for the book will be held on the evening of October 14th at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City and will feature the church’s famous gospel choir and conversation with several of the essayists. Check in at the web sites above for details.
As Joan Brown Campbell writes in her introduction, “Finally, the Religious Left has found its voice.”
Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America
Joan Brown Campbell
Envisioning a More Politically Dynamic
Hillel’s Questions: A Call for Leadership
Religious Left: Changing the Script
Not by Outrage Alone
Religious Right, Religious Left
Who’s God? Faith, Democracy, and the Making of an Authentic
Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou
Memos on Hot Button Issues
A Progressive Vision of Church-State Relations
Towards a Theology of Sexual Justice
Debra Haffner and Timothy Palmer
Reproductive Justice and a Comprehensive Social Justice Ethic
Creationism, Evolution, and the Integrity of Science and Religion
Take it from a Stem Cell Catholic
Are We More Devoted to Order or to Justice?
Getting from Here to There
Wrong about the Right
Jean Hardisty and Deepak Bhargava
Thoughts about Power, Organization and Leadership
Organizing Clergy for Marriage Equality in Massachusetts
The Organizing Model of We Believe Ohio
Three Wheels that Need Not Be Reinvented
Using New Media to Strengthen the Religious Left
Shelby Meyerhoff and Shai Sachs
The Funding Challenges of the Religious Left
I Don’t Believe in Atheists