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Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debate

Dr. George Hunnsinger, a frequent reader and commenter on TalkLeft, is the McCord professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the coordinator of Church Folks for a Better America (CBFA). He is interviewed by Katrina Vanden Heuval in the new Nation.

Hunsinger is working hard to reframe the "moral values" debate by raising tough questions about how torture, pre-emption, unjust war, and poverty can be tolerated by people of moral and religious conviction....[He] gives the lie to the Right's caricature of progressives as anti-religious zealots.

Hunsinger has tapped into a rich tradition of religious progressive activism--from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Father Robert Drinan to Rev. William Sloane Coffin.

Here's some of what he had to say:

The rightwing take-over of religious discourse in America is part of a larger trend that has developed over the last 25 to 30 years. The right has learned to be extremely effective in shaping the political agenda and exploiting religious sensibilities. Meanwhile, the liberal left has not always been hospitable to religious people.

Church Folks for a Better America is dedicated to the idea that the word "Christian" does not necessarily go with the word "Right." Our motto, taken from Martin Luther King, is addressed first to the churches: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." We are a rallying point for many Christians who are appalled when the churches remain silent. If the churches cannot speak out against something like torture, what good is it to have tongues?

Next up on CFBA's agenda is an expanded anti-torture campaign:

a larger anti-torture campaign is now in the works with the following goals: 1) Congressional action to stop exempting intelligence services from the torture ban imposed on military services; 2) Congressional action to outlaw the horrifying practice of extraordinary rendition/torture by proxy; 3) A clear statement from Bush that US policy does not condone torture in any form or under any circumstances; 4) The appointment of a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of the issue.

And, a continuance of its anti-war campaign:

Our work will also continue against the Iraq war. Destroying entire cities, as happened with Fallujah, is a form of terrorism, just as torture is a form of terrorism. Fighting terrorism by terrorism is at once immoral and futile.

It's a great piece, read the whole thing.

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  • Lets take a poll: Who thinks Hunnsinger is Soccerdad? Jondee maybe?

    Re: Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debat (none / 0) (#3)
    by nolo on Sat Feb 19, 2005 at 02:50:29 PM EST
    I once had a so-called Christian justify usury to me by citing to the parable of the talents. Ah well.

    Let's see how he does framing straw man arguments that are designed to denigrate the people he's trying to recruit. Could the man be any more dim? Do the effete water cracker eating northern liberals think anyone in the red states approves of unjust war, torture, or poverty? We don't much like uppity Yankees either but we do tolerate them better than they us. Put this guy up on the stage next to $harpton, Dean, and Kucinich. -C

    nolo - Did you have a very bad credit score??? ;-) Cliff - I got to teach you to say Left Wingers. et al - This is more resume displaying than argument. As such, it brings nothing to the table.

    That's funny, Cliffs on top of PPJ, I always thought it was the other way around

    Re: Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debat (none / 0) (#7)
    by nolo on Sat Feb 19, 2005 at 04:58:29 PM EST
    So Cliff, what are those straw man arguments? And how is it that they denigrate their "targets?" Being an effete water-cracker eating northern liberal (who, by the way, is cooking cornbread according to her southern daddy's recipe even as we speak), I'd like to know. Because, after all, us effete water-cracker eating northern liberals wouldn't want to offend anyone.

    Re: Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debat (none / 0) (#8)
    by soccerdad on Sat Feb 19, 2005 at 06:12:06 PM EST
    Hey cliff trying to finesse the issue by including "unjust". Since the red states supported Bush, they support his policies, and torture is one of his policies. And speaking of bringing nothing to the table, we have you followed by PPJ, the queens of snark and empty comments.

    This must be hitting a raw nerve with Cliff. Cliff's ranting that Hunnsinger is dim and that he is denigrating people is telling, since it is the opposite of the truth. Also, using the winger words "recruit" and "target" are telling. Hunnsinger seems to be practicing what Jesus preaches. Read the Sermon on the Mount for a clue. No one who agrees with the principles of the Sermon would feel denigrated by Hunnsinger, nor would they agree that they are being targeted or recruited. Inspired, maybe. Educated, maybe. Given a particular moral compass to use or discard, maybe. Hunnsinger's work might be giving Cliff pause, if not for himself, then possibly as the beginning of the end of the deception by the right wing politicians of the Christians.

    what's really funny about the religious right and republicans, is that about the same time that Janet Jackson accidently exposed a nipple, truth about the torture in Iraq and Afghanistan came out. The republicans and religious right went nuts over the nipple(which nobody saw unless they watched a replay in slo-mo replay)but there's not a word of outrage about torture from the religious right, and the republi8cans tried to block any investigations of the torture in congress

    Re: Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debat (none / 0) (#11)
    by soccerdad on Sun Feb 20, 2005 at 03:32:59 PM EST
    Pew research No i am not George Hunsinger. But that is the nicest complement I have had in a very long time. It made my day

    Re: Interview: Reframing the 'Moral Values' Debat (none / 0) (#12)
    by john horse on Sun Feb 20, 2005 at 04:12:31 PM EST
    Cliff, re: "We don't much like uppity Yankees..." I noticed that Hunsinger was following in the tradition of Martin Luther King in more ways than one. As I recall, Southerners used to call M L King an "uppity" something-or-other. I guess he just doesn't know his place.

    Discussions on the theology of predatory lending might be helpful. Also why does the Christian right allow predatory lending services to spring up around military bases and abuse the low paid service personnel.