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American Church Leaders Publicly Condemn America,

all in the guise of confessing their own sins, the chief of which seems to be "fail[ing] to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders." The Institute on Religion and Democracy has some choice words in response:

The letter was written in the form of a penitential rite, with paragraphs ending in "Lord, have mercy"; "Christ, have mercy"; and "Lord, have mercy." There was some awkwardness in the fact that the U.S. church leaders were mainly confessing the sins of George W. Bush, rather than their own sins. But they insisted on their own guilt, too, because "we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to deter our leaders."

In fact, U.S. church leaders have issued many statements loudly condemning the Bush administration for its policies. But they were not heeded because they lacked the support of their own most active church members. A majority of U.S. mainline Protestants who regularly attend worship voted for the president in the last election. It was not clear why the U.S. denominational officials believed that another, still shriller denunciation, in this latest letter, would make them any more effective in persuading the president or their own church members....

The letter had not a single positive thing to say about America's role in the world. Its last paragraph projected a tone of pathos: "Sisters and brothers in the ecumenical community, we come to you in this Assembly grateful for hospitality we don't deserve, for companionship we haven't earned, for an embrace we don't merit." As in the WCC's February 14 opening litany of "Cries of the World," it appears that the main contribution of U.S. denominations to the ecumenical council (aside from dollars derived from faithful U.S. church members) is their own self-abasement....

Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):
The gulph between the leadership of the mainline protestant churches and the lay members has always puzzled me.
2.22.2006 2:59am
therut:
Theological liberalism is dying. Uncle Marx and Christianty is incompatable. No matter how loud they scream.
2.22.2006 4:51am
Mark F. (mail):
How many countries have liberal churches invaded with no good cause? How many bombs have they dropped? How many people have they killed, how much money have they stolen? Eugene, it's disturbing how you fail to see that George Bush and his neocon goon squad are major problems in this world, not the liberal churches.
2.22.2006 5:09am
Hoosier:
As Mira Sorvino says in "Barcelona": "Is this what your Protestant Churches are like?"

From a Catholic perspective, for what it's worth: "Lord, please forgive us for this other guy's sins, since he's an evil, wicked SOB to whom we really are morally superior" is not what we'd call a "good Act of Contrition."
2.22.2006 6:05am
MikeWDC (mail):
They do not "condemn America." They condemn American actions.

This is so crucial to protestant theology. (I'm no theologist, so I don't if it's proper to extend this to nations, but I am a protestant.) No one is perfect. Everyone commits sin, as part of being human. You acknowledge past mistakes, lament and regret past sins, ask for forgiveness from God and others, and strive to do better with God's help.

They do say, "In the face of the earth's poverty, our wealth condemns us." Can individuals do this on behalf of their nation? Is this appropriate? I don't know. But just as you don't condemn yourself in Church, these Church leaders are not condemning America. It's an exhortation to do better with God's help.

Furthermore, the use of condemn has a notable religious connotation, relevant for a legal blog. Condemn has its root in the Latin word damnare, to sentence, itself from damnum, penalty. Damnare also forms the root of damnation, which can only be judged by God.

Given the Bible is full of suggestions not to condemn, these religious leaders probably stepped over the line. But whatever you think of what they said, there is a religious-citizenship logic to confessing publicly to America's sins. This does not mean the clergy hate America.
2.22.2006 6:13am
James of England:
Mike, Much of the books of the Prophets includes material regarding prophets announcing Israel's condemnation (not just its acts). If you're from a protestant denomination that doesn't recognise priests, then that might explain why you'd be surprised to hear of the church having the authority to bind people and loose people, not their acts (how could you excommunicate an act?)

Still, Prof. Volokh, the situation is slightly less bad than it sounds. The WCC is kind of like the UN, with the whole being nuttier than the sum of its parts. Worse, even, since its rabid enthusiasm for liberation theology and anything else fashionable at the time means that Evangelical and Orthodox churches have distanced themselves from it (they go to the meetings, but are not represented by the statements) and many other churches skip it altogether.

For an arguably more vile moment of loathing, check Scott Burgess on the Church of England deciding to mark the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by apologising for the church's role. There's a lot of other examples of cringingly awful stuff in a relatively short pice (including apologising for preaching to the exploited, as Christ would appear to have commanded us to do), and there is a great comment (the first comment) that seems to apply here well: I forget which Anglican I'm quoting, but this stuff isn't self-loathing, it's "the vice of detraction masquerading as the virtue of contrition".

More vile in that it is more binding on the church than WCC stuff, less so in that the WCC stuff includes churches that don't believe that representatives have the ability to say that the church believes stuff it plainly doesn't, as well as churches that, like the CofE do believe that the Bishops guide belief and carry apostolic succession, not the laity. Also more vile in the sense of being just plain nuttier.

Does anyone think that a louder voice from the church leaders would have made much of a difference? I get the impression that their statement is legitimate with a narrow reading of their use of the first person plural. It comes awfully close to confessing the sin of others, though, which is obviously tacky and obviously unscriptural. Particularly since they're in the wrong. ;-)
2.22.2006 7:15am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Sometimes it seems like Orin Kerr is the only thing preventing Volokh.com from being a slower-moving Drudge Report.
2.22.2006 7:16am
Medis:
Criticizing the policies of President Bush = condemning America?
2.22.2006 8:29am
DK:
Yes, Bob, this reminds me of the Drudge Report -- reporting that mainline protestant leaders are left wing fools is about as newsworthy as reporting that "Yet Another Hollywood Celebrity Doesn't Like Bush!". As an Episcopalian, I've encountered this kind of silly forgive-us-for-being-Americans for as long as I was old enough to understand spoken language. I would actually call this example progress, because it is a rare case of Protestant leaders actually noticing that anything of moral significance has happened in the world since 1972.

There are two things I don't get about this phenomenon:
1. Why do modern Protestant seminaries turn out people who are incapable of writing non cringe-inducing prose? These people have college degrees, don't they?
2. When did Protestant churches switch from a theology of individual guilt and repentance to societal guilt and repentance?

I don't think the church leadership will ever stop being left-wing, but I do hope that the seminaries will eventually figure out how to teach writing and speaking again. I wouldn't mind liberal pablum as much if it were well-written pablum. Ditto for inclusive language -- I would really like to have some inclusive language prayers that aren't stilted and awkward, and even one poetically gifted minister would be enough to write them.
2.22.2006 8:30am
Smithy (mail) (www):
Reason number 103 why we need some kind of anti-sedition legislation. What kind of message does this end the rest of the world when our own religious leaders go on an anti-Bush jiahd?
2.22.2006 8:31am
Medis:
Smithy,

I believe it sends the message that as a nation we believe in freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
2.22.2006 8:51am
Defending the Indefensible:
Trolls who have something interesting to say are one thing, but Smithy is not even amusing.
2.22.2006 9:17am
eeyn524:
When did Protestant churches switch from a theology of individual guilt and repentance to societal guilt and repentance?

About the time of Martin Luther, who is remembered for criticizing the Catholic church and society, not for his personal confessions of guilt.

The commenters here might have a point that letter is whiny and inappropriate in tone, but this idea that church leaders should stick to individual guilt only is a bit far-fetched. Exhorting society and government to avoid sin goes right back to the beginning.
2.22.2006 9:28am
Neal R. (mail):
Criticizing the policies of President Bush = condemning America?

This is a question deserving of a response from our generally fair-minded host.
2.22.2006 9:32am
Robert Lyman (mail):
So, does this mean I can claim the Iraq war was constitutionally required, given that some religious leaders oppose it, and thus separation of church and state requires that the government do it?

I ask only because it is not uncommon to hear, in the context of abortion and gay marriage, that the involvement of religious conservatives in the opposition movement somehow makes that opposition constitutionally illegitimate.
2.22.2006 9:34am
Mr Diablo:
This sounds like an exercise in free speech by some people and disagreement with their opinions by some other people, that just happens to be in a religious context.

a/k/a

Not news.
2.22.2006 10:03am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
The letter had not a single positive thing to say about America's role in the world.

How odd that a confession would emphasize failings instead of successes! Oh, I forgot -- the fact that they were confessing was just a "guise."

Is this equal time to disrespect the religious views of some Christians?
2.22.2006 10:05am
Taimyoboi:
I saw a short summary of beliefs once that provided a good run down between various religions that may help here (I'm recalling from memory and toned down the language a bit):

Crap happens.
-Taoism

If crap happens, was it really crap?
-Buddhism

Why is crap always happening to us?
-Judaism

If crap happens, then it's someone else's fault.
-Protestantism

If crap happens, then you deserve it.
-Catholicism

If crap happens, then it is the will of Allah.
-Islam
2.22.2006 10:31am
Brian Sniffen (mail):
The link looks like it's from a "Youth Plenary." Is it possible these aren't adult theologians, but rather a congress of youth leaders from many congregations?
2.22.2006 10:36am
frankcross (mail):
Well, aside from the politics, this is a dubious article. The section essentially ridicules the Church leaders for "self abasement." That's pretty appalling. Self abasement is pretty fundamental to the Christian message. Someone may be suffering the sin of pride.
2.22.2006 10:41am
just me (mail):
In response to Mark F.'s question, namely:


How many countries have liberal churches invaded with no good cause?



Well, I don't think the churches themselves have invaded anyone. But in my lifetime, they've spent a lot of time defending and apologizing for some brutal Soviet invasions and other activities, while at the same time condemning America for daring to challenge any of the Soviet advances. That, to me, is something they SHOULD apologize for.
2.22.2006 10:48am
SimonD (www):
They do not "condemn America." They condemn American actions.
They are criticizing actions ordered by the American President and authorized by American legislators, actions which the American people ratified in re-electing those people. Thus, the gap between condemning American actions and condemning America is somewhat less tha a gulf.
2.22.2006 10:49am
Houston Lawyer:
"Yet we acknowledge as well that we are citizens of a nation that has done much in these years to endanger the human family and to abuse the creation. Following the terrorist attacks you sent "living letters" inviting us into a deeper solidarity with those who suffer daily from violence around the world. But our country responded by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors."

The rest of the letter also reads like a bad parody. The "leadership" of many of the protestant churches seems far more concerned with the agenda of the left than with the saving of souls. No wonder that attendance is falling.
2.22.2006 10:51am
Ihbor:
simonD

Are you dense? The actions are okayed by a congress with a huge gulf between majority and minority party, by a president that is as hated as he is liked, and by an American people who are equally split.

Talking ill of the government is never the same as talking ill of the country. It's downright unAmerican to think so.
2.22.2006 11:06am
Robert Lyman (mail):
Talking ill of the government is never the same as talking ill of the country

I agree, but I'm not sure the authors of this letter do. How are we to interpret the notion that the dissenters from the war are somehow guilty because the government made a decision?

If the actions of the government are enought to taint all Americans with sin, then can't this letter be taken as a criticism of the US, as distinct from its government? Why should these anti-war protesters need to beg for forgiveness if they're only criticizing someone else, rather than condeming America as a whole?
2.22.2006 11:13am
Medis:
Just an aside, but I am always somewhat puzzled about arguments to the effect that if X% of a certain group (Americans, mainline protestants, etc.) voted for President Bush in 2004, then X% of that group supports any given policy of the President.

The flaws in this argument should be obvious. People can vote for a person despite not approving of one or more of that person's policies. Indeed, people might vote for a person simply because the other viable candidates support one or more policies they like even less. And yet somehow, some people insist on treating a vote for a person as a vote for each of that person's policies.
2.22.2006 11:20am
Tyrone Slothrop (mail) (www):
They are criticizing actions ordered by the American President and authorized by American legislators, actions which the American people ratified in re-electing those people. Thus, the gap between condemning American actions and condemning America is somewhat less tha a gulf.

Try:

"Hate the sin, love the sinner."

"Don't hate the playa, hate the game."

If the actions of the government are enought to taint all Americans with sin . . . ."

At my Protestant church, we don't confess to other people's sins. Maybe you know something about other Protestants' beliefs that I don't know, though.
2.22.2006 11:22am
Some Guy (mail):
As in the case of the ACLU, wasn't the World Council of Churches set up as a communist front organization? This was the group that took payments from the Soviets for years, right?

Why is this group even still around almost fifteen years later?
2.22.2006 11:29am
Robert Lyman (mail):
my Protestant church, we don't confess to other people's sins

Well, that's what this letter does. The US does something bad (which other commenters have assured us doesn't mean that all Americans have done something bad, since after all the government is not the people), and these church leaders call on Christ to show mercy not to the US government or the sinners apparently responsibe, but to the leaders themselves.

That sounds like either accepting responsibilty for or confessing the sins of another. Maybe both.
2.22.2006 11:33am
Medis:
Robert,

I think you need to distinguish two things. First, much of the letter is indeed about the perceived failings of our nation, but I don't think the authors are arguing those perceived failings of our nation represent a collective sin shared by each individual American. Rather, with respect to individual sin, the letter repeatedly uses the formulation "we confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough" to move the nation and/or its leaders.

Notably, the letter only applies the verb "to confess" to that particular failing, and talks about the perceived failings of the nation in terms of "acknowledging", "lamenting", and so on. So, I think there is no claim in the letter that the perceived failings of the nation as a whole giving rise to some sort of collective sin that they are confessing on behalf of the entire nation and all Americans. Rather, the more limited claim is that they as individuals could have done more to work against these national failings, and that was there individual sin.
2.22.2006 11:34am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Thanks, Some Guy! For a second, I thought I might have to read and consider the arguments in the article. But now I know that the organization is rumored (Not mentioned in the wiki, for whatever that's worth) to have accepted money from communists! So I can turn my brain off before I even try.

But wait! Wasn't the Institute on Religion and Democracy founded to the foreign policy of a regime that was funding Saddam Hussein? And we have always been at war with Saddam, haven't we?
2.22.2006 11:40am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
um, "founded to support the foreign policy," that is...
2.22.2006 11:41am
Robert Lyman (mail):
Medis,

I saw the distinction you mention, but I think it amounts to very little. I doubt very much that if these people had shouted louder, it would have changed US policy in the way they wanted. I also doubt that they themselves would have written a different letter if they had shouted louder but lost anyway. After all, what is the "correct" and "non-sinful" level of "prophetic voice" if you lose in the public square?

Their goal is not to apologize for their own omissions, it's to apologize for actions for which they are not truly responsible--unless we accept some notion of corporate guilt.
2.22.2006 11:47am
eddie (mail):
I suppose that one will not find the words "Thou shalt not torture" or "Thou shalt not invade a country that is not actively attacking you" anywhere in the Old or New Testament. But for anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Christianity, to express surprise (disgust) at these "confessions" is simply bad faith and a cheap politicization of freedom of religion and speach.

As for confessing the "sins of others", these are all of our sins. You go to heaven or hell with the country you have and the leaders who commit acts on your behalf and in your name.

I find it interesting that some commentor would call a confession a jihad.

Do these religious people ask for our leaders to be struck down in the name of the lord? That would be a nice mideval solution to this mess. But not very Christian.

I am tired of the christianity being practiced by far too many in this country that amounts to merely being part of a group. You confess to the lord, join the group and then there is no need for further reflection because I have given myself over to the lord. If I feel it is necessary to trash my neighbor, the lord must want that too, because I joined up.

At least someone is standing up and saying these acts are not right and we all must live with the consequences.
2.22.2006 12:00pm
Ivan (mail) (www):
This is hardly an isolated tactic churches use to condemn policies they don't support. Tim Swartley delivered an invocation to the Nebraska Senate, saying,

"I ask your forgiveness on our people, a people who have killed 47 million of my fellow Americans since the year I was born. We have aborted 47 million babies made in your image. God, forgive us. Forgive us for our complacency."

Or, for more condemnation of America from the same speech:

"Forgive us also, Lord, for the teaching of the religion of evolution to our young citizens, a religion that tells us that we are only here by chance; that we are here for no reason and human life means nothing more than any other life; that we will never face a Judgment Day. We've put our children into the same category as other mammals, and we wonder why sometimes they act like animals. Forgive us for sowing the seeds of anarchy in the hearts of children."

Condemnation in the guise of confessing/asking forgiveness is old news. Let's discuss the message, not the medium.
2.22.2006 12:06pm
DK:
eeyn524 wrote:
>About the time of Martin Luther, who is remembered for >criticizing the Catholic church and society, not for his >personal confessions of guilt.

You've obviously never read any of Luther's writings. He was _obsessed_ with his own guilt and sense of not really being saved; his solution to that problem led to a radical break with Catholic theology of "justification by faith and works" in favor of his new idea of "justification by faith alone."
2.22.2006 12:16pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Ivan wins the thread.

His example illustrates that neither Republicans nor Democrats are immune to "Condemn[ing] America[n policies], all in the guise of confessing their own sins."

It would never be a Volokh post, of course, because it doesn't tend to confirm a conservative sterotype of liberal incivility or general wrongheadedness.
2.22.2006 12:19pm
ficus:
I have often heard that the national offices of many Protestant churches are more liberal than the membership, and that one cause of this is a tendency for the more liberal clergy to gravitate to those national offices because they and the average church member are different in how they see things. Letting them work in the bureaucracy is a solution to a personnel problem. I suspect there is something to this.

In any case, the national offices of the mainline/oldline Protestant churches have been talking this way for a long time. We don't know that they speak for others; they have their viewpoint and access to the media, so they talk. I know what they are going to say, and it doesn't interest me. Should it? What do other people know about them that I don't know?
2.22.2006 12:34pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Bob Bobstein: The URL you want is http://volokh.com/?bloggers=orin. Replace your volokh.com bookmark with that, and you'll be happy.
2.22.2006 12:52pm
Otto:
I'm just happy to live in a country where we can ignore our religious leaders.
2.22.2006 1:04pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Right on WCC. Keep driving your parishioners towards the true Christianity of non-participating churches.
2.22.2006 1:04pm
SLS 1L:
Supposing the church leaders really are "condmning America," (which I doubt) what exactly is wrong with that? Eugene seems to be implying that church leaders in country X have some kind of obligation not to condemn country X: if that's not part of the message of the post, it wouldn't be relevant that they're American church leaders. The implied claim is too absurd to merit refutation, especially in a religion like Christianity where loyalty to God is supposed to override all other loyalties and obligations.

Insofar as there's a problem with the letter, it's if they're wrong on the merits, whether theological or political.
2.22.2006 1:16pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Prof. Volokh-- I kid because I love.

I read this blog because I'm a moderate left-leaning young lawyer, and I think it's important to consider the other side in forming one's views. You are a leading conservative legal scholar, whose insights on current legal goings-on are extremely useful. So I will protest this site's degeneration into a Drudgesque series of links to articles that fuel Republican rage at irrelevancies.

Of course you have the right to post whatever you darn well please. And maybe you would derive more enjoyment/money/intangibles from your blog being part of an echo chamber.

But it a time of senseless political polarization, I hope that you can be a voice of reasoned, thoughtful analysis instead. And I think you'll agree that this link ain't it.
2.22.2006 1:16pm
Mr Diablo:
Amen, Bob!

Although, at least EV has not posted anything about Tom Brady's groin surgery. The issue of Tom's groin is consumnig Drudge!

And yes, I know why.

Even with this entry and the other one, EV's blog is still top notch. Also, no one would believe in a Kerr Conspiracy.
2.22.2006 1:19pm
Steve Rosenbach (www):
Gee, they left out a lot of stuff:

"We apologize for the 12/15/2005 Parliamentary election in Iraq, the October referendum on a constitution, and the January 2005 interim government election. We deeply regret the millions of cell phones and further millions of internet connections now in the hands of Iraqi citizens, as well as the 200+ newspapers and dozens of TV stations. Lord have mercy.

"We pray that the mass graves of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis will be covered up so that we don't have to look at them and be offended. We repend that our governments imperial ambitions deposed the Ba'ath Party and pray for its restoration to its rightful place among the nations. We weep for Bagdahd Bob, Chemical Ali, and most of all, for Uday and Qusay. We yearn for the day when the imprisoned Saddam will once again take his place among the peaceful and benevolent rulers of the Middle East. Christ have mercy.

"And while we're at it, isn't it a shame that the Syrian Army had to give up its decades-long occupation of Lebanon, that nuclear bomb parts that rightfully belong to Quadaffi have been so cruely taken from him and given to the warmongers in Oak Ridge, Tennesee, and that A.Q.Khan was so violently relieved of his little side-business? Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy."
2.22.2006 1:22pm
eeyn524:
DK: What you say about Martin Luther is certainly true, and since I'm not a Protestant I'll certainly lose any debate with you on theology. But still, what he's remembered for in the history books (as opposed to what motivated him) was protesting corruption in the church, which at the time equalled corruption in the government and society as a whole. My point was not that he didn't care about individual guilt, but that condemnation of "collective" sins isn't something recent for Protestants, which seemed to be the claim of some of the commenters.
2.22.2006 1:29pm
M.A. (mail):
This whole "hating the war = hating America" thing is so 2004. It's 2006; 55% of Americans think the war was a mistake, Iraq is in a state of civil war, the Bush administration equates "victory" with "staying there forever," and the statement of the church leaders is perfectly mainstream and correct.
2.22.2006 1:36pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
More proof that Karl Rove is running the left wing.
2.22.2006 2:23pm
Cabbage:
"But still, what he's remembered for in the history books (as opposed to what motivated him) was protesting corruption in the church, which at the time equalled corruption in the government and society as a whole."

If by "history books" you mean the one paragraph overview in your average (deficient) high school World History textbook...
2.22.2006 2:24pm
Justin (mail):
I echo Bob's comments only to the degree that I think Professor Volokh has a tendancy to avoid serious questions through emotional appeals and phrasing. Unless he's running for Senate, it can have the whiff of intellectual dishonesty.

Contrast Volokh's quick dismissal here with his "one hand/other hand" indifference to the GOP consuming of the Catholic Church in the last election (i.e. the whole "sacrament" nonsense).

If Christianity is about helping the poor and peace and goodwill towards man, I think there's a lot of criticism that Jesus (that America-hating hippy) and his teachings would present to the current administration. If it's about abortion and gay bashing, then maybe we're reading different "new testaments" (being as both of us are Jewish).
2.22.2006 2:38pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Justin: "Professor Volokh has a tendancy to avoid serious questions through emotional appeals and phrasing."

I don't think that it's a central strand in his writing, unlike writers, like, say, Andrew Sullivan or Christopher Hitchens, who just can't help but slip into puffy rhetoric at the expense of reasoned analysis. That's why it's more frustrating when Prof. Volokh does it.
2.22.2006 3:05pm
Michael B (mail):
The self-selfers are at it again; in this case self-approbation masquerading as moral authority with several "harrumphs" thrown in to make clear just how offended the offended are! The original post does not constitute an "emotional appeal," in fact it very simply references two competing sources, quoting from one of those sources and suggesting at least a modest level of agreement with one of those sources. It is, of course, outrageous for a blogger to post something which one disagrees with, a clear indication of moral failing.

Facing or avoiding serious questions is not constituted in whether or not the expressed opinion agrees with one's own opinion.
2.22.2006 3:36pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I've been following this sort of thing for years. I'm an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) until retirement takes me from the local congregation, at which time I'll leave this failing bunch of looney-tooners.
Various surveys ask various questions of PCUSA folks. The categories include pastors--who run churches, elders, members and "specialized clergy" who don't run churches but who, as one poster mentioned, gravitate toward staff and hierarchical positions.
Routinely, the specialized clergy are far, far more left-wing than the rest of the categories.
There's a joke to the effect that if a thousand members of the Students for A Democratic Society had gotten quicky divinity degrees and taken over the PCUSA hierearchy, how would you tell the difference?
This confession is not sui generis, as some have noted, but one more in a litany of decades of complaints against the west while, at the same time, enabling lefty dictators and ignoring their foul and murderous deeds.
Not to worry. The NCC and WCC are routinely called the "NCCNGTA" or National Council of Churches Nobody Goes To Anymore", or WCCNGTA.
They are hemorraging membership to the point that they'll be gone in fifteen years.
There is some tension between the national office and staff and the lowly pewdwellers, to the extent the latter are paying attention. They mostly aren't, but various legislators report from time to time getting a letter saying that "I, as a member of the PCUSA, firmly insist these morons don't speak for me, despite what the Washington Office claims."
I imagine believers of other traditions do the same thing.
2.22.2006 3:45pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
MichaelB: "The original post does not constitute an "emotional appeal," "

The original post: "American Church Leaders Publicly Condemn America"

I report, you decide!
2.22.2006 3:49pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
Any wonder why the "mainstream" churches are bleeding membership, and African Christian churches are seriously considering missionary trips to America?
2.22.2006 4:05pm
Michael B (mail):
Bob, yea, I read the post heading and decided on the merits of the substance and detail. Headlines, post headings, etc. are commonly used to momentarily grab attention, but it's the substance which counts.

And I note you didn't deny my account of that substance.

Also, if such a benign post heading constitutes an "emotional appeal," despite the substance of the post, then we need to eliminate a whole lot of posts from a whole lot of blogs, many of which would be substantive posts by most anyone's measure.
2.22.2006 4:21pm
ruidh (www):
This post should be paired with the one before it on the Episcopal Church. The Institute for Religion and Democracy is one of the primary mans that the well funded conservative forces discussed in the previous item are actively tearing down mainline churches. The IRD is active in the Episcopal Church, Methodist Church, Lutheran Church , Presbyterian Church and United Churches of Christ.
2.22.2006 5:00pm
Noah Klein (mail):
Michael B.,

I would point out that Prof. Volokh had much of the conservative IRD's article in his post, while providing a link for the WCC's article. This is a somewhat biased way of presenting something. But yeah it's his blog and you can present whatever he wants. I am glad that he provides the articles at all, since many partisan blogs on the left and right fail to do so.

Noah
2.22.2006 6:40pm
therut:
People just can not resist trying to still make a political figure out of Jesus. He did not come to make war on poverty, bring into full bloom Capitalism or Socialism he came for a simple reason that many still have a hard time accepting. Jesus was not political. Mankind still believes God can be molded into their image of him. It has never worked and never will. I see great hyprocricy on both the left and right. But I see a greater slight of hand by those on the left who scream a strict separation of Church and State when it is a LIE. The left wing Christians are VERY political as their religion is based more on politics than the siimple teaching of Christ. You would find a tract of Marxist thought or Mother Jones in the Pew of these Chruches long before you could dig down and find the Bible. And yes the mainline Churches are dying because they have as the Bible says forgot their first love.
2.22.2006 7:15pm
James of England:
I'm dumbfounded by the idea that this is just an attack on Bush, not on the American people. Please, read the actual text. Random quote:

The vast majority of the peoples of the earth live in crushing poverty. The starvation, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the treatable diseases that go untreated indict us, revealing the grim features of global economic injustice we have too often failed to acknowledge or confront. Our nation enjoys enormous wealth, yet we cling to our possessions rather than share. We have failed to embody the covenant of life to which our God calls us; hurricane Katrina revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract. As a nation we have refused to confront the racism that exists in our own communities and the racism that infects our policies around the world. We confess that we have failed to raise a prophetic voice loud enough and persistent enough to call our nation to seek just economic structures so that sharing by all will mean scarcity for none. In the face of the earth's poverty, our wealth condemns us. Lord, have mercy.


Does anyone believe that these same people weren't saying these same things (other than Katrina) under Clinton? Or that they wouldn't have said them if Gore had won? Or if Nader had won? The problem of America enjoying enormous wealth has been with us for centuries (since the gilded age at the very latest).

These people don't just hate Bush, they hate America. They hate the free (and intolerant) speech, the free market, the support of "national interests", the existence of private possessions (really).

There's a kneejerk response that these people are just like the NYT. A liberal being criticised by a libertarian must be reasonable. What could be wrong with a priest objecting to BusHitler? Another commenter notes that it isn't newsworthy that liberal prods would come out with this stuff. Still, the way that most of the commenters to this post appear to be under a complete misapprehension about what they're saying seems, to me, to demonstrate that it is news. Even if something has been going on for a long time, it can still be worth publicising.

Really, though. Read the linked text. Other than those Americans who don't believe they have private possessions, it condemns all Americans. It is unclear whether or not non-Americans also have private possessions. Hopefully they won't find out that I count some of the world's most finite resources, really good port, amongst my possessions. I'm sure that they'd get right round to condemning the UK too... Blah, I can't pretend that the UK doesn't have this as poorly. If I were a Bolivian, the line would work much better. Their church is relatively decent in its scriptural respect for the state.
2.22.2006 8:09pm
M.A. (mail):
Oh, for Pete's sake. Condemning what they see as American selfishness is not the same thing as "hating America." Telling people they've sinned is pretty much what churches do. That doesn't mean they think Americans are evil, just that they're sinfully selfish, which is no more an America-hating position than telling Americans that they're sinfully tolerant of abortion or gay rights.

Oh, and does any liberal blogger use the term "BusHitler?" Honestly, I see right-wingers using this term all the time, but no leftie uses it. It's like "womyn" -- if you see the spelling "womyn," you know you're reading the work of an anti-feminist, not a feminist....
2.22.2006 8:34pm
therut:
Oh I don't know have you peeked at the new Gender Neutral Bible. I don't think that was put out by any "rightwinger".
2.22.2006 9:11pm