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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Please help me build an alternatve to the Religious Right

Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2006 14:32:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Rabbi Michael Lerner"
To: washingtonnews-owner@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Please help me build an alternatve to the Religious Right--
before it's too late!

Dear Friend of,

I would like your help in getting word out to the largest email
lists to which you have access (both personal and organizational)
about the Spiritual Activism conference that will be held in
Washington, D.C. May 17-20, 2006. The conference is the first East
Coast appearance for the Network of Spiritual Progressives, co-
chaired by me, Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister, and professor of
African American studies and Religion at Princeton U. Cornel West.
I'm sorry I have to reach you through this impersonal note--but I
don't know how else to do this.

The Network of Spiritual Progressives has 3 goals:

1. to challenge the misuse of God and religion by the Religious
Right to justify war and militarism, cuts in programs for the poor
and powerless in order to justify cuts in taxes for the rich,
assaults on human rights and civil liberties, and destruction oaf
the separation of church and state;

2. to challenge the religio-phobia and hostility toward religious
and spiritual people that appears in some sections of liberal and
progressive culture, and to help the Left distinguish
between reactionary forms of religion and the progressives forms
that it took with Martin Luther King, Jr., William Sloan Coffin,
Abraham Joshua Heschel and many others. and to build a new spiritual
progressive politics not only for religious people, but also for
those who do not believe in God but are "spiritual but NOT

3. to seek a New Bottom Line in the Western world so that
institutions get judged efficient, rational or productive not only
to the extent that they maximize money or power, but also to the
extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity,
ethically and ecologically sensitive behavior, and enhance our
capacities to respond to other human beings as manifestations of the
sacred and inherently valuable and to be respected, and enhance our
capacities to respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical
amazement at the grandeur of all that is.

This is the ground floor of building a new kind of paradigm for
progressive politics, and it could have a major impact in making the
liberal and progressive forces far more successful in healing and
transforming American society. As I've shown in my new book The Left
Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, many
people agree with the Left on specific issues but still end up
feeling that their greatest pain is the deprivation of love, a sense
of meaning in work, and a feeling that they are surrounded by
materialism, selfishness, and moral insensitivity, that their
children are subjected to sexual pressures before they are old
enough to handle them, and that the Left seems oblivious to these
kinds of issues and only addresses economic entitlements and
political rights.

We in the NSP (the Network of Spiritual Progressives) care very much
about eliminating poverty, fighting for equal rights, ending the war
in Iraq and the militarist assumptions that led to it, but that
these important struggles will not be won until the Left also seems
to care about these other "meaning" issues in the lives of many
Americans. Moreover, the Left is only clear on what it is against,
but rarely has it communicated clearly what it is for. That's why we
are taking our demand for a New Bottom Line to the Congress and the
media May 17-20—along with a detailed SPIRITUAL COVENANT WITH
AMERICA that is meant to provide a positive vision of what a
progressive spiritual politics is about (you can read it fully
explicated in The Left Hand of God, which, I'm happy to say, has
become a national best-seller since it was published by Harpers in

The spiritual activism conference will be a unique blending of
progressive religious people with progressive "spiritual but not
religious" people. Among the presenters, besides me, Cornel West and
Sister Joan Chittister: Jim Wallis (progressive Evangelical editor
of Sojourners and author, God's Politics), Cindy Sheehan (mother of
U.S. solider killed in Iraq war), Episcopal ArchDeacon Michael
Kendall, Marie Denis (Fellowship of Reconciliation), Rev. William
Sinkford (national president, Unitarian Universalist Association),
Rev. Joan Campbell (Chautauqua Institute), Harry Knox (Human Rights
Campaign), Rev. Penny Nixon (Metropolitan Church, San Francisco),
Rabbi Brain Walt (national chair, Rabbis for Human Rights), Seyyed
Hossein Nasr (author, The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for
Humanity), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (chair, Progressive Caucus,
U.S. House of Representatives), Shaikh Kabir Helminski (Sufi
teacher), Svi Shapiro (author of Beyond Liberalism and Excellence:
Reconstructing the Public Discourse on Education), Rev. Ama Zenya
(United Church of Christ), John Dear S.J. (Catholic non-violence
activist), Rev. Lennox Yearwood (Progressive Democrats of America),
Robert Thurman (Buddhist teacher and author The Jewel Tree of
Tibet), Jonathan Granoff (chair, American Bar Association committee
on disarmament), Rev. Lynice Pinkard (United Church of Christ), Bill
Meadows (national chair, Wildlife Association), Enola Aird, Katrina
Vanden Heuvel (editor, The Nation), Christopher Hedges (former NY
Times reporter and author: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning),
Peter Gabel (associate editor of Tikkun and professor of law, New
College of California), Thea Levkowitz (Religion and the
Environment), Rev. Tony Campolo (Evangelical teacher), Holly Near
(progressive music), Michael Bader (psychoanalyst), Michael Posner
(human rights), Arthur Waskow (Shalom Center), Rev. Donna Schaper,
Nanette Schorr, Rabbi Debora Kohn, Barbara Coombs Lee, Enola Aird,
Rev. Bob Edgar (chair, National Council of Churches), Rev. Debora
Johnson, John Seed, Paul Wapner, Mary Darling, Rev. Donna Schapper,
Harvey Cox, Janet Chisholm, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Rev. Glenn Harold
Stassen, Rev. Paul Smith, Çharlene Spretnak, David Abrams
Rev. Robert Hardies & Rev. Louise Green (All Souls Unitarian
church), and many more.

Even if you can't come to the conference, you can join as a dues
paying member the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) and help
us out financially, or even help us build a local chapter in your
area. For information on registering for the conference or joining
the NSP: www.spiritualprogressives.org or 510 644 1200 (between 9:30
a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time).

I hope you personally will come, or join, and I'd particularly
appreciate it if you'd send this note to everyone you know, and in
your own name urge them to come as well..

Many blessings,

Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco, and
author, The Left Hand of God


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