Volume 21, Number 5
March of the Dead
Direct Action Changes
Winter Soldier Rules of Engagement
Gabriel San román
If the Left Debated the Campaign Issues
Radar, Star Wars, & the Czech Republic
A Dutch Letterbox
"Good News," Iraq & Beyond, Part II
Roberto j. González
Karen Nadder Lago
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Future Unclear for Faith-Based Initiatives
The seventh anniversary of President George W. Bush's Faith Based Initiative passed quietly. Interestingly, as Sarah Pulliam reported for Christianity Today, candidates John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama "have each voiced support for federal funding of faith- based social services."
Obama told Christianity Today that he wants to take a look at the program before deciding how to deal with it: "One of the things that I think churches have to be mindful of is that if the federal government starts paying the piper, then they get to call the tune," Obama said. "I want to see how monies have been allocated through that office before I make a firm commitment [to] sustaining practices that may not have worked as well as they should have."
Burns Strider, Clinton's director of faith-based outreach, "said that if she were elected, Clinton would continue funding faith-based organizations, but would seek to maintain an appropriate boundary between church and state.... Clinton emphasizes a ‘fair and level playing field' for faith- based and secular providers of social services." Brett O'Donnell, an advisor for McCain, told Christianity Today that his "candidate wants faith -based groups to ‘have at least the same standing as they have now.'"
In his State of the Union message on January 28, Bush "announced a new national drive to make his faith-based agenda a permanent part of the federal government," Church & State, a publication of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, reported in its March issue.
The following day, Bush appeared at the Baltimore, Maryland-based Jericho prison re-entry program—which receives $660,000 a year from the U.S. Labor Department—where he addressed ex-offenders and staff and board members of Episcopal Community Services, which runs the service. "If a program was effective because they were willing to recognize a higher power, if a program was effective because people responded because they felt a call from a higher power, then to deny the higher power really reduced the effectiveness of the program," Bush said. "Our government should not fear the influence of faith in our society," Bush added. "Our government ought to welcome results. We ought to say, thank God there are people such as this in our neighborhoods and societies helping these good men."
A month later the Office of Faith- Based and Community Initiatives (OFCBI) released a lengthy seven- year progress report titled "The Quiet Revolution: The President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative: A Seven Year Progress Report." In a letter from the president accompanying the report, Bush said that the initiative had "placed faith-based and community organizations at the center of the government's response to human need." The initiative had "often been carried out with little fanfare," but it had funded 18,000 faith- based and community organizations in 2006 alone that "serve at-risk youth, disaster victims, recovering addicts, returning prisoners, individuals with HIV/AIDS, the homeless, and many others."
The report pointed out the faith-based initiative had "grown each year and adapted to emerging challenges and expanded its influence at home and abroad." The "framework of this activity" includes five executive orders expanding the OFBCI reach across the federal government:
- Sixteen agency-level rule changes and a myriad of smaller policy reforms to level the playing field for faith-based and community organizations
- More than a dozen presidential initiatives aimed at some of
society's social problems
- Provision of in-person training to build capacity for more than 100,000 social entrepreneurs
- Measurement of FCBI's progress, and ongoing improvement of program components as necessary
- Replication at the State and local government level
OFCBI Director Jay Hein called the report, which he and staff had been working on since he took office in August 2006, "not a final report or hard core evaluation.... The report is a progress report."
Stanley Carlson-Thies, director of social policy studies at the Washington, DC-based Center for Public Justice, told the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy in an email that while the initiative "has its shortcomings," the recently issued report "makes it clear that, contrary to the imaginings of some critics, this is a serious, substantive, careful, and significant effort to improve social services, make government collaboration with grassroots and faith-based groups more fruitful, and better follow the constitutional mandate to protect religious freedom and ensure equal treatment of all."
Since its inception Bush's faith-based initiative has come under fire from conservatives as well as liberals. Early on, liberal groups questioned the need for a faith-based initiative and the nature of "charitable choice," a provision woven into the 1996 welfare reform bill that allowed religious organizations, with little government oversight, to compete for government funds to provide welfare services, and whether it would blur the boundaries between church and state. A National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report presciently described "charitable choice" as the massive "transfer of tax dollars to religious institutions...[that] often would come with no demand for fiscal accountability, no requirement that religious institutions not discriminate, and no safeguard against recipients of social services being subjected to proselytizing and other forms of coercive activity."
Conservative Christian evangelical leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have expressed fears that government money would be handed over to such groups as the Nation of Islam, Church of Scientology, and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. More recently, a steady stream of conservatives have taken pot shots at what had been intended as the centerpiece of the Bush administration's domestic policy agenda and the most tangible example of his "compassionate conservatism," charging the Administration with paying lip service to the initiative.
Getting the full measure of Bush's faith-based initiative is no easy task. There have been some notable faith-based "successes." It has given the term faith-based political currency and expanded the initiative to a number of states. According to the White House, some 35 governors and 100 mayors have established faith- based offices; opened the doors for more religious organizations to be eligible to receive government grants; doled out several billion dollars to mostly constituent religious groups; and overcome political opposition by issuing several executive orders to move the project forward.
Critics point out there are still no adequate measures in place to gauge whether religious organizations providing social services outperform—or even perform equally as well as—their secular counterparts. In addition, the initiative has been used as a religious patronage system to recruit minority religious officials and bolster Bush's conservative evangelical constituency.
The faith-based initiative still hasn't received legislative approval. One of the reasons no congressional action has been taken is because a number of Christian groups have insisted they be allowed to skirt existing civil rights laws regulating hiring.
In an interview with Christianity Today, John Dilulio, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the first director of OFCBI and the author of Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America's Faith-Based Future, was asked about the future of the faith-based initiative. While maintaining that it should continue, he acknowledged that the faith-based initiative has a "mixed legacy."
"On the one hand, the initiative put faith-based into the popular vernacular and onto the policy agenda.... On the other hand, to quote Michael Gerson, extremists and cynics in both parties, including in the West Wing itself, have ‘turned a bipartisan effort to help the poor into a culture war debate.'" Dilulio, an independent academic who was pushed out of office by movement conservatives, pointed out that he was against giving government dollars to agencies with behavioral codes and Christian-only hiring policies: "If you are [suggesting] we ought to enlarge the ministerial exemption in civil-rights law to give religious nonprofits a right to discriminate against tax-funded employees on religious grounds, then I would urge caution. To level the playing field does not mean to tilt it in favor of religious nonprofits."
In a press statement, Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United, pointed out that, "Bush has never been interested in a level playing field for faith-based groups, as he often claimed. He has been interested in tilting the field toward favored religious organizations that want to discriminate with government funds."
While noting that it will likely be difficult for the president to get his new initiatives through Congress, Lynn also pointed out that you never know how things will go in an election year—especially one where both parties are playing the faith card.
"Religion has flourished in this nation because of the cherished constitutional principle of church-state separation," Lynn added. "The president does a great disservice when using his office to promote public funding of religion."
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.