Friday, July 31, 2009

Good God Talk: Faith in Public Life

The cool little web-show, "Faith Complex" out of Georgetown University has an interesting interview with a spokeswoman for the group "Faith in Public Life". Here's information on this organization from its website:


Faith in Public Life is a strategy center advancing faith in the public square as a positive and unifying force for justice, compassion and the common good. In order to maximize the faith community’s unique ability to shape public debates, Faith in Public Life identifies and creates moments of opportunity, builds and supports broad coalitions, and designs and implements innovative campaigns, bold initiatives and capacity-building tools. Faith in Public Life’s approach emphasizes results, rapid response, cutting-edge skills and media savvy.


Following the 2004 election, in which faith was often deployed in service of a narrow and partisan agenda, a diverse group of 40 religious leaders came together to advance a positive alternative: an inclusive and unifying faith movement advancing the common good in the public square. This group, including leaders such as Jim Wallis, Rabbi David Saperstein, Melissa Rogers, Rev. Jim Forbes, Ricken Patel and Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, envisioned a more robust and effective faith movement with the savvy, flexibility and nimbleness to thrive in a new political and media environment. Faith in Public Life (FPL) was founded to fuel this burgeoning faith movement with cutting edge strategies and capacity-building resources. The founders gave FPL a movement-focused mission, rather than organizational or issue-focused one, and the specific mandate to lift up religious voices speaking for justice and the common good, build bridges and facilitate strategic alliances, and find new ways forward on historically divisive issues. Since its official launch in 2006, Faith in Public Life has fulfilled this mission by building the movement’s media presence and capacity, providing strategic assistance to faith-based coalitions, brokering new partnerships, developing online communities, sponsoring opinion research, and amplifying the voices of emerging religious leaders. FPL has built an innovative, collaborative, strategic, results-oriented body of work in service of the faith community’s movement for the common good.

One of the things I liked about the interview was Katie Paris' emphasis on faith being a force for unity in public life, something a Baha'i can support 100%. This is of course easier said than done, but a faith-based initiative with promoting unity at its core a positive development. The host of "Faith-Complex" raised the oft raised issue of church/state separation as well and whether it is better for religion to remain in "private life". I'm no expert on this issue but it seems to me it is a matter of how public life is defined. If public life is defined as partisan politics, I'd agree it is better for religion to stay out of it. This is certainly the Baha'i standard. If however, public life is defined more broadly, faith can and should be a part of it. For example, religious Americans have as much right as anyone else to petition their government regarding their concerns and to practice free speech as part of public discourse. Neither of these activities requires participation in partisan politics as more than a century of Baha'i involvement in American public life demonstrates.

I hope readers enjoy this interview and share your thoughts. What role if any should religion have in public life? What does public life mean to you? Is it really possible for religion to be a force for unity or is it inherently divisive?

"The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God's holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men. The progress of the world, the development of nations, the tranquillity of peoples, and the peace of all who dwell on earth are among the principles and ordinances of God." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 129)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:32 AM

    KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND; WHO IS GOD? "Jesus Christ"king of kings, and lord of lords. Let us, rise to his kingdom; The heavenly kingdom of god, in our hearts, and into heaven itself, with songs of rejoicing! Because, god will "reveal himself"to those, that will seek him out! Turn to the living god," "Jesus Christ "our lord and saver; Turn from your dead, worldly works, to serve Jesus the Christ, God; For ever good gift, is from God who holds all the keys! Gods kingdom is open to all that will enter in through Christ! He will call you, give you of his spirit, give you inheritance, give you eternal life, promise you to be his child, child of light, partaker at his table, redeemed of god, justified, a new creature, reborn with the power of Holy Spirit of god in you; The true church is built, by Jesus, for them that seek him, just like Peter did; Christ asked Peter, whom say ye that I am? Peter answered, Thou art the [Christ], the son of the living god; Son because of his earthly flesh, he was the father to, because of heavenly THE HOLYSPIRIT; And now Jesus glorified body, and spirit, now in heaven; Then, he sends his spirit back to, the believers; Sending back the holy spirit to as many as believe, that he is, and was god; The Jews did not accept Christ as god, they crucified him not knowing; He is also OUR GOD NOW TO, ANYONE THAT IS ENLIGHTEN, THROUGH THE HOLYSPIRIT, MIND BODY SOUL;; Blessed art thou Simon for flesh and blood hath not [[[revealed]]] this unto YOU, but my father witch is in heaven, holy spirit power of god! Jesus came from being God, and went back to being God; Jesus had things revealed onto him from the Holy spirit to; Jesus said if I go not to heaven, you can not receive the holy Spirit, but if I go, I will send the spirit; And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this KNOWLEDGE, or TRUTH, I will build my church; SO ITS ON THE KNOWLEDGE THAT PETTER NEW, WHO CHRIST WAS THAT HE BUILEDS HIS CHURCH; If you ask Christ for his spirit, he will enlighten your way, open your eyes, to see the truth, and the truth will set you free;
    We also have a spirit, and a body, and could receive a glorified body to; same as Christ did, has, and still has, the living god; before you pray, before you read from the bible, lift your hands to [Jesus] and his kingdom, on high; Asking him to enlighten your minds and heart, and that you learn, through his spirit; His gospel, the [[[gospel he tough, to his disciples]]]; Look to heaven always, for truth and light; You and Christ, and the kingjames is all you will need to enter into his kingdom, you need not that any man teach you; Turn from worldly vanities, unto the living god; You were bought with a price; there for glorify god, in your body and spirit. But now they desire a better country, that is a heavenly; Where for god is not ashamed to be called there god; For he hath prepared for them a city, of whom the world is not worthy; For as much as you know that YOU were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold from your vain conversations, received by traditions from your fathers; Let us receive from heaven that we be not deceived from man; JESUS Christ be with you, in his spirit and in truth, Jesus paid the final cost with his life, on the cross, anything less is less; We are free born then through Christ, to enter into gods kingdom, of heaven, amen, THE GRACE OF GOD BE WITH YOU AMEN Hebrews c 10 all ; john c10v1-18 ;THESSALONIANS C2 ALL; TITUS C 2V12; COLOSSIANS C2V9GALATIANS C4V26; GENESIS C 1V27; 1 JOHN C2V25-29; COLOSSION CV2-9 C3V 1-25 HEBREWS C12V22-29 SEND THESE OUT, And GIVE GOD THE GLORY;GODS GRACE BE APONE YOU; Jesus is the only way to heaven, he is the only door, must enter in through him, and there is no other way;

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