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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Preacher to the Convention.

Last month, we mulled over who might represent religion at the Democratic National Convention. Today, I have part of the answer: The Rev. James A. Forbes Jr, minister of the famous Riverside Church in Manhattan. Rich Barlow interviews him in today's Boston Globe, where Forbes answers the question every pundit has pondered this year:

Q. Regular churchgoers overwhelmingly vote Republican. What does that suggest about the two political parties?

A. In my sermon, I may call people to read Isaiah 58. In it, we get evidence that religion can express itself in two directions. One is personal piety, reflected in church attendance and public display of one's religious identification. Another aspect is the prophetic critique. In [Isaiah], it's almost as if God would say, forget about how often you go to church, forget about how many times you pray; what I want you to do is feed the hungry, take the homeless into your homes, care for those who are incarcerated. In Matthew 25, the issue is, when I was hungry, you didn't feed me, when I was poor and naked, you didn't clothe me.

The polls will give the impression that folks are more religious on the basis of how much they go to church. I'm a pastor; I want folks to come. But the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights are rooted in a call for justice. Otherwise, people will punch their cards — "See, I went [to church] 12 times." But you did not provide resources for [the needy].

("Convention preacher offers US views" [huh?], Rich Barlow, Boston Globe 7.24.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 24 July 2004 at 11:44 AM

Previous: 'I don't give a flying Cheney.'
Next: Steinfels's reading lists for Bush, Kerry.





July 24, 2004 06:31 PM | Permalink for this comment

great news, thanks for the link and your great comments on my blog

Carlton Forbes:

July 27, 2004 08:04 PM | Permalink for this comment

Rev. James A. Forbes is a brilliant, prophetic man (not to mention my uncle). Thank you for the wonderful entry. He deserves all the attention he can get. Uncle Jim has the sort of vision that inspires me to be proud of being a progressive christian. I hope everyone got the opportunity to catch his short speech this evening.


July 28, 2004 09:26 AM | Permalink for this comment

Thanks, Carlton! I've heard Forbes preach twice: He was a guest preacher at Harvard's Memorial Church several years ago when I was in seminary, and I heard him most recently as the Ware Lecturer at the Unitarian Universalist Association's General Assembly in Cleveland in 2001. His preaching is wonderful.

Jody Dorsett:

July 31, 2004 11:59 PM | Permalink for this comment

The other part of that study is that the majority of Christians don't vote at all. Those who do vote Republican.

Though I think the poll was also putting a definition of Christian that doesn't fit every Christian and everyone who goes to church.

Just like we try to find the good in everyone, everyone tries to see what's good for them in polls. Arggghhh...I hate polls.

And the quote from Isaiah 58 is right on...but in all honesty I don't think the interpretaion as shown in your link quite says "oppress all your workers." I always took it to mean that a hypocrite claimed to exalt God on a fast day while actually partaking in pleasurable activities and counting one's gain. Instead of giving comfort to others and passing along the Blessings given up to those less fortunate.

What I understand ISA 58 to be about is the hypocrisy of those who profess to follow the Lord's Will while doing all they can to protect their own comfort and priviledge. Summed up in verse 13.


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