Magazine article The Christian Century

The First, and Next, 100 Days

Magazine article The Christian Century

The First, and Next, 100 Days

Article excerpt

The Interfaith Alliance, a nonpartisan group of mainstream religious leaders, declared at an April 13 press conference in Washington, D.C., that the Religious Right and a number of U.S. political leaders have set out on a course of political action that runs counter to long-held values, both religious and civic. Herbert Valentine, chairman of the alliance, said that he "saw very little of the jewish and Christian "values of brotherly love" at work in the much-publicized first 100 days of the 104th Congress. "Instead we saw politicians' moral compasses being directed by special-interest groups, polling numbers and evening news headlines."

Speakers at the press conference included Valentine; Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg, former President of the American Jewish Congress; Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop P. Francis Murphy of Baltimore; and Amos Brown of the National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. The Interfaith Alliance, now organizing at state and local levels, was established in July 1994 as a mainstream alternative to the Religious Right.

Joan Brown Campbell, directing a portion of her remarks to the U.S. Senate, asked that body "to act carefully and with compassion" when it takes up the legislation tagged by House Republicans as the Contract math America. "A nation that treats its poor callously must live with the consequences.... Our social programs are far from perfect and most surely need our attention, but let us resolve to put time and care and thoughtful work into building, a civil society," Campbell declared. "The The voices of children, the poor, and the disabled do not have Rush Limbaugh, rich lobby groups or well organized political machines like the Christian Coalition defending their interests in our nation's capitol."

Alliance board members voiced concern that the next 100 days could be even more divisive than the first 100. Amos Brown contended that "in diverting us from real issues, issues that the prophets and Jesus faced tip to, the radical right plays a lethal version of the old game of divide and rule, a game that Judeo-Christian scriptures preach against."

Valentine, observing that "Ralph Reed of the Christian Coalition issued a demand that Congress heed his organization's extreme agenda for America," went on to say: "The Christian Coalition spent a million dollars to pass the Contract with America. …

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