Progressive faith activists are on the march this summer, challenging the misperceived monopoly of conservatives who for far too long have tried to establish themselves as the sole guardians of faith, morality, and values. Interfaith groups, Christian groups, and even seminary students and faculty are all involved in this new faith activism, working proactively, not reactively, to present progressive faith values in strong and yet less-divisive ways than the angry hate-filled rhetoric of the extreme far right. From radio ads to blogs and YouTube videos, diverse people of faith are countering the distortions of the extreme right wing while demonstrating the inclusiveness of faith communities united in pursuit of social justice.
Consider this new radio ad created by created by Faithful America, an online community of more than 100,000 people of faith. In it, listeners are asked:
Would you support a leader who said Jesus’ teachings can lead to Nazism or who attacks Christian pastors for preaching the full Gospel? Then why do so many Christians tune in to Glenn Beck?
This radio ad is playing in markets where Glenn Beck is visiting on his summer national tour “American Revival,” a tour that often includes Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly. The tour culminates with an August 28 event to “restore honor” to be held on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which of course was also delivered there. While advertised as “non-political and non-partisan,” the August 28 event is promoted by “FreedomWorks,” a Washington, D.C.-based conservative not-for-profit, and headlines Sarah Palin.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, an African-American pastor, musician, and activist, is dismayed that Beck’s grand finale is on not just on the anniversary of Dr. King’s most famous speech but also on the anniversary of the lynching of young Emmett Till in 1955. That’s why Yearwood and other progressives in the faith community are calling for a massive rally the next day, August 29–the day hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast five years ago.
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