Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DocuJournal Documents Meeting of Jews and Muslims

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM

"There is nothing radical if we are sitting and listening to each other."

"Here we share many of the same struggles ... for inclusion in the wider community."

Another good piece of work from the Nashville Docujournal series.

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Former Vanderbilt Christian Ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain Dies at 72

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Christian ethicist Jean Bethke Elshtain, who wrote provocatively in support of the U.S. war on terror, passed away in Nashville on Sunday at the age of 72.

Elshtain was the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago's divinity school. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988 and, according to her biography, was the first woman to hold an endowed professorship in the institution's history. She moved to the University of Chicago in 1995, but continued to live in Nashville, commuting from her Green Hills home.

Elshtain was a prolific writer, publishing more than 600 essays in various publications after receiving her Ph.D. from Brandeis in politics in 1972. Among other duties, she was a contributing editor to The New Republic.

Her highest-profile work came in the years after 9/11, when she wrote the bestselling book Just War against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, which made the ethical case for going to war in Iraq.

More after the jump ...

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What WHOIS Can Tell Us About the Schermerhorn Mosque Hoax

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 8:34 AM

Yesterday on Pith, Steven Hale posted about the hilarious kerfuffle over the weekend in which a lot of conservatives became convinced that the Schermerhorn was about to become a mosque.

Steven linked to the blog of Rod Williams, aka A Disgruntled Republican in Nashville, who described the situation thusly:

Maybe you never heard the rumor, but it [sic] you did, rest easy. The Nashville Symphony's beautiful Schermerhorn Concert Hall, which was rescued from a bankruptcy sale at the last minute will not become a mosque. Before being rescued from bankruptcy, it was not going to become a mosque. The symphony has not subleased the hall or part of the hall to a group to use as a mosque. Or, at least some of the people who were saying this are now saying it was all a hoax.

In emails and Facebook postings an alarm was being sounded that people needed to organize to stop The Schermerhorn from becomng [sic] a mosque. This rumor was starting to pick up steam even beyond conservative activist [sic] in Nashville. It was reported on Michelle Backman's [sic] facebook page and the Michael Savage facebook page and other sites.

The fake mosque has a lovely website and a Facebook page set up in opposition to it.

So, I thought I'd take a second to introduce folks to WHOIS. You go here and type in the name of the domain you're curious about — in this case, — and learn some stuff. In this case, because so much is set to private, you can't see who owns the domain, but you can see how long they've owned it.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Southern Baptist Convention Walks a Fine Line

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 6:38 AM

The City Paper has an Associated Press story about the resolution the Southern Baptist Convention passed in response to the Boy Scouts letting gay scouts serve without lying:

While the resolution does not recommend that Southern Baptists drop ties with the Scouts, it expresses support for those churches and families that decide to do so. It also encourages churches and families who choose to remain with the Scouts to work toward reversing the new membership policy.

Because all Southern Baptist churches are independent, the denomination cannot force a church to drop ties with the Scouts. However, churches occasionally are kicked out of the convention for practices considered incompatible with Southern Baptist beliefs.

Note a little farther down the story:

In other resolutions introduced Wednesday, the membership passed a resolution calling on all Southern Baptists to report allegations of child abuse to authorities.

The nation's largest Protestant denomination has resisted implementing some type of database of ministers accused of abuse, saying that all churches are independent and the denomination does not have the authority to order local churches to submit that information.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Whose Faith & Values Is The Tennessean Covering?

Posted By on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 4:22 AM

If you visited The Tennessean's "Faith & Values" page on Monday, you saw stories about Mormon girls, the cast of Duck Dynasty talking about their Christian faith, Jim Wallis' book about faith in God, churches dealing with mental health issues, a couple who write hymns, a Lutheran coming to town, the woes of a group that guessed wrong about when Jesus is going to come back, and a bunch of new Catholic saints, not to mention a column from Ray Waddle about Christians and God, a piece by the pastor at Woodmont Christian Church, and a missive from a guy in Williamson County about how God helped him downsize. Plus you can take a quiz about how well you know the Bible. The only story on the page that wasn't explicitly monotheistic and implicitly Christian was about how you can go help clean up the City Cemetery.

The Tennessean's "Faith & Values" section does a terrible, shameful job of recognizing that there are a lot of Nashvillians who aren't Christian and who still have faiths and values they might want to read about in the paper. I mean, is there not one Jewish or Muslim person in town who had God's help making some major life change? No one at the Nashville Gurudwara has thoughts about God and politics? None of our Buddhists have thoughts about how to help Nashvillians with mental illness? There are no authors at the Sri Ganesha temple who might have books Nashville might want to hear about? No pagans brought anyone interesting to the area recently?

Oh, wait! The pagans did bring interesting people to the area recently. Yes, this past weekend there was a huge pagan shindig out at Montgomery Bell State Park—the annual Pagan Unity Festival. They invited important spiritual figures like Dorothy Morrison and Oberon Zell and interesting authors like Alex Bledsoe and M.R. Sellars.

Why Christians like to watch Duck Dynasty on the TV is not a more important "Faith & Values" story than the big gathering of Middle Tennessee people faith-&-valuing it up in Burns. It's just not. And I say that as someone who loves Duck Dynasty.

I know that every year, Gannett tells The Tennessean they're going to have to do more with less. And it's pretty easy to cover only Christians — after all, we have a lot of big, entrenched Christian institutions that know how to work a press release, and a lot of Christian leaders who are used to jotting off editorials. But The Tennessean is the city's daily paper. It's not just the paper of the Christians.

And, frankly, Christians don't have a monopoly on "Faith & Values." It'd be nice if the daily paper acknowledged that.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Tennessee Clergy Fight Campfield's 'Starve Our Children' Bill

Posted By on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 8:04 AM

The Tennessee-based Clergy for Justice is fighting Sen. Stacey Campfield's bill to cut welfare assistance to the families of kids who screw up in school. So far, the ministers have collected more than 3,000 signatures on a petition against the bill.

"We must make it clear to the Governor, Lt. Governor, and our State House Representatives that we, as citizens of Tennessee, will not stand for the passing of HB 0261/SB 0132, the 'Starve our Children' bill," the petitioners state.

Among the petition's comments:

"I thought this was an fake news story from the Onion. I ashamed that this is real."

"I don't want to live in a state where children go hungry to punish their struggling parents."

Think Progress publicized the petition with this post and pointed out:

Research shows that children from impoverished homes “>tend to struggle more in school than children from economically secure households. Social and economic instability during formative years can cause chronic stress and stunt basic skills other children take for granted. As one petition signatory, a former teacher, noted, “I have seen first hand what lack of food does to a child in an educational setting. When you are hungry, you cannot learn. It is just that simple.” Threatening to cut off a family’s already meager source of sustenance can only harm children’s educational prospects, not improve them.

Update: Loving the attention, Campfield responds to critics on his blog. Welfare mothers need to keep their hands off "other people's money," he says.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

LifeWay Poll Concludes That Even Evangelical Americans Think Gay Marriage Is Inevitable

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 5:22 AM

On Tuesday, LifeWay Research released the results of a poll they conducted about gay marriage, specifically, and gay rights in general. Those results are interesting.

According to the findings:

• 63 percent agree and 27 percent disagree that pastors should be allowed to refuse to officiate same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;
• 58 percent agree and 33 percent disagree that photographers should be allowed to refuse to work same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;
• 40 percent agree and 52 percent disagree that rental halls should be allowed to refuse to rent out their facilities for same-sex weddings if they are made legal in their state;
• 27 percent agree and 67 percent disagree landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state;
• 14 percent agree and 82 percent disagree employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Under Attack by Christian Right, Vandy Fights to Keep Police Force

Posted By on Tue, Mar 5, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Incredulous Vanderbilt officials were forced to come to the legislature today to argue against a bill yanking the university police’s authority to make arrests. This brilliant proposal comes from the Christian Right, which wants to punish Vanderbilt for its all-comers policy.

Evangelicals led by the Tennessee Family Action Council’s David Fowler say Vanderbilt’s policy is an affront to our freedoms because it would force conservative Christian clubs to accept gay people as members if any should ever wish to join for reasons not easy to imagine. That's right, Vanderbilt's nondiscrimination policy actually discriminates against conservative Christians. So the state should sanction Vanderbilt by essentially abolishing its police force. We're not making this up.

At a press conference, Vanderbilt Police Chief August Washington couldn’t seem to stop saying the word “unbelievable.” Welcome to the legislature, chief.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Pope Benedict Announces His Resignation

Posted By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Since no Pope has resigned since 1415, it came as a surprise when news spread Monday morning of Pope Benedict's impending resignation. Politico reports:

Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would resign on Feb. 28 because he was simply too infirm to carry on - the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals on Monday morning.

The Pope has been in increasingly and noticeably ill health in the past few months. Benedict's reign has been marred by a series of scandals — in fairness, so have most — including a banking scandal that has rocked the Vatican, though it was not widely covered in the U.S.

U.S. Catholics continue to deal with the widespread fallout of the priest abuse scandal(s), and Benedict's displays of compassion for victims coupled with his seeming inability to see anything wrong with moving abusing priests from diocese to diocese and then covering it up for years and years has been a painful and inexplicable contradiction — and our most public face of the problems within the Catholic hierarchy.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Nashville Catholic Organizations Raring to Go Back to Court

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2013 at 5:12 AM

Long story short: Last year, a bunch of Catholic organizations in Nashville went to court because they oppose the birth control mandate part of Obamacare, and the court told most of them that they had no standing because they hadn't yet been harmed by the law, however it is that this might constitute harm.

On Thursday, they announced that they're going to continue fighting this.

According to The Tennessean, that's because:

[Becket's Fund communication director Emily] Hardman said the aim of the suits is to make sure those rules provide adequate protection for religious beliefs.

“What we are asking for is to have the conscience of every American protected,” she said.

We are now officially in the Land of Makes-No-Sense. Protected from what?

When someone goes to work for you, the two of you sit down and agree to compensation — this includes pay and benefits. You don't get to tell your employees where they can spend their money. You can't say "I'll pay you $50,000 to work for me, but know this — that $50,000 is mine and I think it's immoral for you to use it on birth control so I forbid you to use the salary I give you to pay for it." I mean, you can say that, but your employees would have a couple of objections — namely, about whose money it is and to who gets to decide where it's spent.

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