Tikkun Daily button

Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



Tea Party & Likud East & West: A Symbiosis of Fear & Division

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Only hours after the results revealing the Likud Party’s lead in obtaining the most seats – 30 to its closest competitors’ 24 of the Zionist Union (formerly the Labor Party) — in the next Israeli Knesset (Parliament), the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the U.S. sent an email message to millions of U.S. residents congratulating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what most likely will result in his re-election for a fourth term. The announcement includes a congratulatory petition for people to sign, and states in part:

“The people of Israel have spoken: Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu was just reelected to office, in a sweeping victory for those who value freedom and democracy around the world.”

Yes, this election is a “sweeping victory,” but not for those of us “who value freedom and democracy around the world.” Right-wing politicians who run and rule by fear and division stand as the only winners in this travesty: those hardliners who promote intolerance, hatred, xenophobia, and racism.

Read more...

Religious Humanism: What Was Old is New Again

Mar18

by: David Breeden on March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

Church Attendance Free Fall

The Barna Group, a research group that keeps up with trends in religion, estimates that 48% of Millennials (born 1984-2002) are “post-Christian.” Forty-eight percent. “Post-Christian” means that they have heard of Christianity; know its claims; swim in its assumptions; and have little to no interest in it as a method for providing meaning and purpose in their lives.

The study point out, “if unchurched Americans were a nation, they would be the eighth largest nation on earth.” The study also shows that statistics indicating “church growth” are actually church transfers. There are few new conversions.

35% of Boomers, 40% of Busters, and 48% of Millennials are unchurched, and many of those have no interest in searching for a church.

Read more...

Tribute to Karen McCarthy Brown: Author of Mama LoLa or the Book that Kept Me in Grad School

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | No Comments »

News that Karen McCarthy Brown passed away after years of deteriorating illness reached me earlier this month. I kept it to myself. When more official announcements from Drew University–where she was Professor Emerita of anthropology and sociology of religion — showed up on my Facebook feed this past Sunday, I shared it with the following comment:

Reading Karen’s Mama Lola kept me in grad school. Vodou got a human face from her. A tremendous loss, indeed.

Read more...

The Militarists and Haters Win in Israeli Elections

Mar18

by: on March 18th, 2015 | 3 Comments »

Winners: Netanyahu, AIPAC, U.S. Republican Party, Sheldon Adelson (American Jewish billionaire funder of the right), Hamas, Islamic State, the right-wing Mullahs in Iran.

Losers: Israeli, World Jewry, the Palestinian people, the forces for peace and non-violence everywhere, the Palestinian Authority, the people of Iran, the people of the U.S.

According to Israeli newspapers reporting on the outcome of the Israeli election on Tuesday, Likud increased its lead in the next Knesset of 120 members. It will now hold 30 Knesset seats, compared to the Zionist Union (former Labor Party) with 24 seats. As the front runner, Netanyahu will be asked to create the government coalition.

The Joint List of Palestinian Israelis, the third-largest party, gets fourteen seats, followed by Yesh Atid with eleven, Kulanu with ten, Habayit Hayehudi (ultra right) with eight, Shas with seven, United Torah Judaism with six, Yisrael Beiteinu (fascist right) with six, and Meretz (once the peace party) with four.

Though the Israeli president has said he will ask for a government of national unity, it will be unity around the policies which Netanyahu put out clearly in the last days of the election: No Palestinian state, no deal that would allow Iran to develop nuclear energy, no willingness to count Arab Israelis as “real Israelis” (Netanyahu went so far as to warn the Israeli public that they were in danger because Arab Israelis had formed a Joint List and might become a real force in the Knesset unless the Jewish Israelis rallied around Netanyahu’s Likud party).

How can the right wing grow to so much power in an Israel filled with mostly decent human beings, some of whom have even been influenced by Judaism’s teachings of love for neighbor and love for “the other,” though of course most Israelis are secular?

Read more...

How Our Church Freed Its Members from Predatory Lending

Mar16

by: Rev. Rodney M. Hunter on March 16th, 2015 | No Comments »

A sign for tax return loans outside of a brick building.

Predatory lending is especially insidious in low-income neighborhoods. Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Virginia has built a unique microloan program to counter these lenders, based on Jubilee principles. Credit: CreativeCommons / David Goehring.

I have served as pastor of Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, Richmond, Virginia, since 1986. Wesley is a predominately Black middle-class church (approximately 130 active members) where the majority of the members commute from surrounding suburbs for worship. Our church is surrounded by private homes and three low-income public housing developments. Being centrally located in a low-income area means that we are constantly bombarded with community residents seeking rental and utility assistance, food, clothing, school supplies and medical needs, children’s needs, and support for families with a parent incarcerated. Over the years of my ministry, we have been the financial resource to aid mostly single-parent households with weekly and monthly living expenses.

To address these needs, I started a mission’s fund through the church. The mission’s fund worked well for persons who needed a small sum to get them through the week or month until the next pay check came; but, it was insufficient for persons who needed larger amounts, such as car repairs or medical emergencies. The need for more income is today’s financial crisis which is the result of a structural systematic problem created by greed, corporate power, and “the government for the wealthy,” not “the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This system of financial injustice has diminished the resources of the middle class and put more persons in the ranks of poverty.

Read more...

Wielding Truth and Nonviolence in the Fight of Our Lives

Mar15

by: Michael N. Nagler on March 15th, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Sixty-seven years after Gandhi’s assassination, we find ourselves in a world still direly in need of his influence. Half the members of the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate have proudly declared that they don’t believe human activity is causing climate change. The wealthiest 80 people worldwide – all billionaires – now have as much material wealth as the poorest 350 million. The triumph of ideology over reason and greed over compassion is frightening.

While I have never owned a television set, I perforce watch snatches of commercial television in the locker room of my health club; enough to horrify any civilized person. Recently I saw something about the film “American Sniper”. The film is extremely violent, full of lies (see this article) designed to glorify cowardly violence and dehumanization, making both seem “patriotic.” It has grossed $300 million. Sparing you further details, it would not be too much to say that this country is steadily descending into barbarism – and no country that did that has ever survived.

Many generations feel that they are up against the critical battle between good and evil, but this is different. For the first time in the history of life on earth one species – us – has the capability to make the planet uninhabitable and we don’t have the wisdom, or even the common sense, to refrain from doing it.

Read more...

Twelve Reasons Why I Will Not Be Voting for Netanyahu

Mar13

by: Harvey Chisick on March 13th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

1. Pension funds used to be limited to a 0.4% annual service charge. Under Netanyahu that figure was changed to 1.8%.

2. Water corporations. Water bills used to be collected by the Israel water company or by municipalities. Netanyahu established water corporations whose only function is to collect bills for water. The legislation was written so that the corporations could cut off water for non-payment of bills. The old legislation did not allow cutting off water to families in poverty. Currently some 10,000 families a month get their water cut off.

3. Privatizations. Netanyahu is a big believer in deregulation and privatization. State-run homes for the aged have been privatized, and TV reports have shown how the will to increase profits debases service and the people who need them. Places that, for example, force geriatric patients to shower at 4 or 5 a.m. Similar deterioration can be found in institutions for kids with special needs.

Read more...

Netanyahu Rejects Two-State Solution Amidst Plummeting Poll Numbers

Mar12

by: on March 12th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, released a statement this week via Likud, his political party, making official what has been implied many times over: that he rejects the idea of two, self-determining states as the path toward peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

The statement made clear that Netanyahu now disavows a speech he delivered at Bar Ilan University in 2009 as “no longer relevant.” The speech’s topic? The path towards creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. To hammer home Netanyahu’s rejection of Palestinian statehood, the statement threw in the following, just in case its intention wasn’t clear:

“Netanyahu’s entire political biography is a fight against the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Truer words have never been spoken.


Read more...

Uncle Pentagon: Growing Up in the Shadow of the American War State

Mar11

by: Frida Berrigan on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

A black and white photograph of a young boy holding a woman's hand as they walk in front of the Pentagon.

Growing up as the daughter of two prominent activists, Friday Berrigan spent much of her childhood at the Pentagon. Above, the author (at about two) and Rosemary Maguire at the River Entrance to the Pentagon in 1976. Credit: Frida Berrigan.

The Pentagon loomed so large in my childhood that it could have been another member of my family. Maybe a menacing uncle who doled out put-downs and whacks to teach us lessons or a rich, dismissive great-aunt intent on propriety and good manners.

Whatever the case, our holidays were built around visits to the Pentagon’s massive grounds. That’s where we went for Easter, Christmas, even summer vacation (to commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). When we were little, my brother and sister and I would cry with terror and dread as we first glimpsed the building from the bridge across the Potomac River. To us, it pulsated with malice as if it came with an ominous, beat-driven soundtrack out of Star Wars.

I grew up in Baltimore at Jonah House, a radical Christian community of people committed to nonviolent resistance to war and nuclear culture. It was founded by my parents, Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister. They gained international renown as pacifist peace activists not afraid to damage property or face long prison terms. The Baltimore Four, the Catonsville Nine, the Plowshares Eight, the Griffiss Seven: these were anti-Vietnam War or antinuclear actions they helped plan, took part in, and often enough went to jail for. These were also creative conspiracies meant to raise large questions about our personal responsibility for, and the role of conscience in, our world. In addition, they were explorations of how to be effective and nonviolent in opposition to the war state. These actions drew plenty of media attention and crowds of supporters, but in between we always went back to the Pentagon.

Read more...

“Islam in America”: A Conversation with Jonathan Curiel

Mar11

by: Joseph Richard Preville and Julie Poucher Harbin on March 11th, 2015 | No Comments »

The book cover of 'Islam in America' by Jonathan Curiel showing the statue of liberty and a minaret.

How do Muslims fit into the quilt of American history? Jonathan Curiel investigates this question in his new book, Islam in America (I.B. Tauris, April 28, 2015). “America’s first Muslims,” he writes, “were perceived as less than human – people put in chains, forced to do field work at gunpoint, required to take new names and a new religion. So much has changed in 400 years, even if the struggle for acceptance is an ongoing one.”

Jonathan Curiel is a former staff writer for The San Francisco Chronicle. His work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon, The Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, and Tablet. He is the author of Al America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots (The New Press, 2008), which won an American Book Award in 2008.

Curiel’s new book is a readable and reliable history of the Muslim experience in America. It will help Americans to understand their Muslim neighbors and to celebrate the Abrahamic diversity of religious life in the United States.

Jonathan Curiel discusses his new book in this exclusive interview.

Read more...