One week after Sojourners gave a well-noted push to getting poverty on the radar screen for the 2008 elections, another group with a lot more money weighed in to push the issue. The rock singer Bono and his ONE campaign, with financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and with bi-partisan support from two former Senate majority leaders - Democrat Tom Daschle and Republican Bill Frist -- announced a huge push in the coming year to get candidates to address issues of poverty. You can find more about that campaign here.
Two other useful resources from the last few days.
The New York Times Sunday magazine was a special issue all about income inequality in this country. If you don't have access to a paper copy, you can get to it online. (You may have to register, but it is free.) One of the articles is this issue focuses on Ruby Payne, the author of the book recommended by Steve Fine at our discussion. It is at this link.
Also in the New York Times, religion columnist Peter Steinfels had one of the most sophisticated assessments of the Sojourners event. You can read the whole column, but here is a wonderful set of questions that Steinfels posed:
On Monday, Ms. O’Brien kept describing the forum as one about “faith and politics,” and Ms. Zahn was backed by a logo with the same phrase.
But there was no “and” there. These conversations were about faith. They were about politics. They just weren’t conversations about faith and politics.
Think of questions that could have explored that “and.”
What does the Bible or any other religious source tell you about fighting poverty — and what doesn’t it tell you? Likewise for writing tax legislation or extending health care.
Does your faith dictate any absolute principles, ones you would never compromise, for using military force? For interrogating prisoners? For making peace in the Middle East? For legal provision of abortion? For recognizing gay marriage?
What is your reaction to the claim that religion is “a conversation stopper” that should be kept out of political debates because it appeals to emotionally powerful convictions beyond rational examination?
Do you agree with the large proportion of voters — perhaps half or more — who say they wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president, even one generally qualified for the office?
What do you say to those who fear that even conversations like this one constitute a religious test for the presidency?