Keeping the Dream Alive

“Keeping The Dream Alive”  delivered to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa on 17 January 2010 © Rev. Fred L Hammond

 “I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed—we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal… I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day, right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!” (Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have a Dream)

These words of Martin Luther King, Jr. resounded loud across the mall from the Lincoln Memorial and they still echo today, I have a dream. I would love to be able to stand before you some forty plus years after King’s words were shouted from the roof tops of injustice and tell you that the dream has been fulfilled. But fulfilling the dream is not simply declaring through legislation that all people are created equal or by having little black boys and black girls joining hands with little white boys and white girls. Nor is it in electing the nation’s first African American as President. Nor is it by marching tomorrow in the annual Unity March that honors the life of this great man, a prophet for our times.

No, these are only the symbolic and surface acts that either mirror what is within our hearts or act as a deflector away from what is in our hearts. We have learned the hard way that racism is more complicated and more insidious than the behaviors that are displayed publicly.

Towards the final days of King’s life, he too was beginning to realize that racism in America is more than just black and white relations. He was beginning to talk about racism as it is tied into economic justice and war. King in his famous speech, “Where Do We Go From Here?” stated “it means ultimately coming to see that the problem of racism, the problem of economic exploitation, and the problem of war are all tied together. These are the triple evils that are interrelated.” I want to tell you today that even this realization of King’s is too simplified regarding racism in America.

Over the last forty years our denomination has also learned that racism is more than just the symbolic act of marching. We learned that the hard way. Our History in relation to the Civil Rights movement in the early 1960’s is a proud one. We joined King in the fight for voting rights, for desegregation, for employment opportunities. We marched with him in Selma and we even lost lives there. We thought we understood racism fairly well.

But after the marching was done, after the civil rights act was signed, riots broke out across this land, and we as a denomination sought to respond to this crisis and found ourselves to be complicit in racism. The consequent Empowerment Controversy of the late 1960’s and 70’s became a painful moment in our history that few want to revisit. To define the Empowerment Controversy with all its complexities and nuances simplistically, the question being asked was, were African American UU’s on an equal and level playing field with white UU’s for projects to address the justice issues in the Black communities? Whites, privileged with power and in control of the money sought to define what power, what self-differentiation African American UU’s could or should have within the denomination. Dr. Norma Poinsett, a former member of the Black Concerns Working Committee, a group that was formed in the 1980’s said at the 2001 General Assembly, “…We argued that black people should take charge of affairs affecting black people. We argued that only we could determine what our values should be and what was good for our communities. We were experts on our chaotic condition, we contended, because we faced racism daily both north and south.” (P12 The Arc of the Universe is Long [TAUL]) The answer that appeared to arise resulted in disaster. We are talking painful, gut wrenching disaster that nearly ended our faith. The UUA backed away from its commitments, African Americans left the denomination en mass. It was a painful time in our history. A moment in our history that made us realize that as a faith group we had our work cut out for ourselves.

After many years of licking our wounds, we started again to address the issue of diversity and race within our congregations. We began to revisit the issues with an Institutional Race Audit in 1980-81. This audit gave 31 recommendations to the UUA. Included in the audit was a cultural phenomenon they called the Liberal Syndrome. An example noted “while talking about racism, many UU’s assumed the liberal church to be enlightened and therefore, not needing to do anymore in the way of action.” (p 20 TAUL) The UUA board adopted to implement 25 of the audit’s recommendations yet the UUA was slow to act.

In 1983, the Commission on Appraisal released its report, Empowerment: One Denomination’s quest for Racial Justice 1967-1982. It took a hard look at the controversy that nearly destroyed the denomination. The result of this appraisal was a task force on racism. The task force recommended the establishment of the Black Concerns Working Group with the charge “to eliminate racism within the Unitarian Universalist Association” and gave the working group a budget of $5,000 to do so. This was a high expectation and scant resources to meet it. It seemed as if the true expectation to be put in place was failure.

The work that this group began would continue over the ensuing years to evolve and morph into other models and groups for dialog. The work would suffer push back. The work would engender anger within the denomination. The work to change the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations into an anti-racist multi-cultural institution has proved to be long and hard. We made mistakes. We learned some things as well along the way.

One of the lessons learned was the mistake of taking on an anti-racist program steeped in Lutheran Christian theology and applying carte blanche to UU’s. The program in its first incarnation known as Journey Towards Wholeness contained in its theology an approach of guilt. Jacqui James, religious educator stated that the message was, “You’re guilty, you’re racist… the whole approach of guilt. We didn’t spend much time helping people think about their identity and that’s important. Racism affects all people of color but our histories are different and it took us a while to understand that.” (p 379 TAUL )

The current programs and trainings on anti-racism focus more on listening where people are at, sitting with them attentively as they discuss how racism impacted their lives growing up. We have all been impacted by racism because our societal structures were created with one group of people in power over and above all others. Whether we are viewed by others as being a member of a certain race or we identify as being a member of a certain race, we are all impacted by racism. Therefore the current programs on anti-racism include learning how to recognize and let go of the behaviors that are unconsciously ingrained into our repertoire.

We learned that racism is not just a black / white issue, it was also a Latino/a, a Pacific Islander, a Native American issue. And each area and region of the country had slightly different concerns that impacted on how racism was experienced.

For Latino/as culture and language come into play. Rev. Patricia Jimenez writes about how this might affect a congregation. She says, “from my own culture [what] informs my ideas of an ideal religious community … include: a respect for elders; a profound sense of the importance of family and community; the inclusion of children in all activities; and of the need for celebration which includes the joys of both culture and language.” (p 290 TAUL)

Becoming an anti-racist institution requires listening from the heart. And it requires a re-introduction of anti-racist multi-cultural concepts every time the group changes dynamics. Gini Coulter, moderator of the UUA, discovered this when she first served on the board of the UUA, that just when the board agreed to be an anti-racist board—the new people would come to serve new terms. A whole new dynamic with new stories and histories being consciously and unconsciously presented at the table meant starting over again to agree to be an anti-racist board.

And so it is in most congregations where the turnover rate is about 10-15% per year. New people come in who may not be as savvy on internalized racism or homophobia. The work needs to be refreshed and people welcomed in.

What is being learned as the association slowly continues this work to root out racism from the denomination is that we need to learn new skills to live in a pluralist society. And if our congregations are going to mirror that pluralist society, then we have to learn these new skills here as well.

One of these skills I believe is a skill in comfortability. It is a word I coined a few years back at an anti-racist audit for Meadville Lombard Theological School. Comfortability is the skill in being able to sit in our discomfort when topics such as racism begin to hit too close to home. Discussion of racism inevitably if we are honest with ourselves, regardless of our racial identity, will cause a bit of discomfort. It will stir up memories of experiences that we have had that may still be raw in our emotional psyches and may have nothing to do with what the person or persons are discussing specifically. It is hard to look at how our behavior, even those committed unconsciously, affects another person of a different perspective or different ethnicity. If we are not able to tolerate that discomfort then we tend to shut down, tend to stop listening, and tend to become angry. We may even lash out at the speaker without meaning to cause harm because of our unresolved experience or memory. Developing the skill of comfortability allows for us to stay at the table even if what we are hearing is painfully true about our own behavior or painful in the memories it stirs up or simply painful to hear in general.

The work towards racial equity and justice is not easy work. It is not something we can symbolically do once a year and expect to suddenly be inclusive of all people. It is not a check off on a list of things to do in life like passing 4th grade and exclaiming now that is done, I never have to revisit the 4th grade again. This work is relational.

This work is one on one relational and it is also relational in a group setting because we each bring to the table our own histories, our own woundedness, our own successes and regrets. And each group is different from the last because the make up of the group changes the dynamics each time it comes together.

So let’s bring this home for us today. Tomorrow we will be walking with the Unity March to honor Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It is important that we are there because our faith ancestors marched with King in Selma and in other communities for racial equality. It is important that we honor this history that our faith ancestors had a part in creating with their sweat, tears and with their lives.

But what will we do come Tuesday? Will we say to ourselves that is another check off on our list of things to accomplish in 2010? If it is then we will be fooling no one but ourselves.

I don’t know if any of you saw the paper on Friday where there was a story about an event celebrating King’s birthday at the Hargrove Memorial United Methodist Church. The minister there said the event was aimed at promoting racial reconciliation. I am sorry that I didn’t know about it in advance as I would have enjoyed being there. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were able to sit down at a potluck with members of his congregation and talk about racial reconciliation?

We have already been successful in sitting down with our friends at University Presbyterian Church. To my knowledge nobody died from that experience. We have done some joint programs with UPC and some new joint programs are coming up in the near future.

What if we reached out to Hargrove Methodist Church to get to know them, enter in a dialog to learn from them their experiences of living in Alabama in the 21st century? Share a meal together. And then who knows what might happen. Perhaps there are social justice issues that we can collaborate on with them. Perhaps we already are and don’t even know it.

Imagine what could occur from such a meeting? Imagine the friendships that we could develop. Imagine the difference we could make in Tuscaloosa if our two congregations were able to have this happen.

I imagine that members of this church may be marching tomorrow. I would like to challenge you to begin conversations with the people we meet tomorrow. And if any of you meet people from this church I would like you to ask them if they were at the event their church held on Friday night. Ask them to tell you about it. And just listen to their story and allow things to unfold. Then later, talk to each other about your experiences at this march. The people you met and their stories and more importantly share your experiences in marching. Listen to one another attentively as we tell our stories of the day.

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. It is a dream that is unfolding if we keep it alive in our own hearts as each day passes with each person we meet. Blessed Be.

Published in: on January 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm  Comments Off on Keeping the Dream Alive  
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Move your money

Perhaps  you have seen the commercial.  Bank of America asks “What is 720,000,000, 000 ?” ” A good start.”  I find the commercial offensive.  For me it reminds me of the anti-lawyer joke, what do you call 100 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean.  A good start.  

The commercial implies that Bank of America wants to receive more bail out money.  The banking industry with its deregulations and greed have caused the deepest recession this country has ever faced.   I am still not convinced that bailing the big banks out was in the country’s best interest.    We are the nation of free markets after all.  This is our mantra that here the free market reigns and if there is a market for something it will do well, if the market cannot support it,  it will fail.  Well, the market did not support the hedge funds, the quasi pyramid schemes, the credit default swaps, the soft mortgages and those banks that pushed these quick money schemes should assume the consequences of such irresponsible actions.  Instead, Bush and Obama following suit, gave billions of dollars to bail out these guys instead of allowing the market to correct itself or instead of bailing out the deceived who signed onto soft mortgages.   The victims of these shoddy business deals are still being held responsible when they were coerced more times than not to do something that every business person knew was not sustainable. 

Now that the economy is now beginning to rebound the banks are fighting against the regulations that are needed to prevent this sort of mass greed from happening again.   They do not want to be reigned in on their shoddy business practices and extravagant bonuses rewarding bad and unethical behavior.  

There is a way that the message that never again will big banks be allowed to squander our money can be heard.  And it is with our money that they have squandered.  Everytime a deposit is made to a bank we are giving the bank carte blanche approval to invest that money in however they see fit.  It might be in a hedge fund.  Or it might be in developing a coal processing plant in a foreign country endangering the livelihood of the local people and ruining the environment. 

However, what if people decided to invest their money in community banks?  Banks that invest the depositers money to support the local economy.  There is a movement that is beginning to take notice to move your money from the big banks like Bank of America that squandered our money recklessly and created the largest financial crisis in our history and place them into community banks. 

Community banks and some of these are also non-profit banks invest the money into local economies supporting building construction, local non-profit organizations with grants, and job creation with small business loans. It makes sense to support the local economy.  It also sends the message to the big banks that they can no longer rough ride over investors money with greed and unethical business practices.  

It will take some research to find the right community bank that reflects your values.     Paul Raushenbush writes, “Like the terms ecology and ecumenism, the word economy has the root oikos, which is a Greek word that translates as family or house. Any economy should be judged on its ability to provide for the needs of the entire human family it is meant to serve. Banks are an important part of our economy. As part of our economy they should be judged on how well they are serving our community and national family.”

You may get more information on how to move your money at this site.  Blessings,

Published in: on January 12, 2010 at 3:56 pm  Comments Off on Move your money  
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The Family: America’s Taliban

“The Family: America’s Taliban” is a sermon delivered to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Tuscaloosa, AL  on 10 January 2010 © by Rev. Fred L Hammond

Sinclair Lewis’s novel, It Can’t Happen Here published in 1935 tells the story of an American President who systematically strips the constitution of its democratic powers and becomes a fascist dictator. The belief that it can’t happen here is as much an icon of American mythology as the American Dream.

But there is another icon that is also steeped in the American mythos and is actively at work to ensure that it can indeed happen here even while proclaiming that it cannot. Jeff Sharlet, author of the controversial book: The Family: the Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power tells of a religious cult that is at once all American and also a dangerous religious movement that will, if allowed to prosper, dismantle what we have called American Democracy and replace it with a theocracy more powerful and perhaps even more regressive than the Taliban, the repressive Islamic cult that has ruled in Afghanistan.

The word Taliban in the United States has taken on iconic proportions as representing what can happen when a fundamentalist version of a religion takes control of a nation. In this regard, I am using the word Taliban as metaphor when I discuss the religious cult that has achieved today such power in the United States as an elite fundamentalist group.

Jeff Sharlet was invited to live at Ivanwald, a communal house run by the Family for young men who show promise of leadership. It is a boot camp of sorts where residents are indoctrinated into a faith with Jesus, who is as all American as apple pie. He writes, “Ivanwald is one house among many, clustered like mushrooms, nearly two dozen households devoted, like these men, to the service of a personal Jesus, a Christ who directs their every action.” 

 The Family which has also been known as The Fellowship has its roots in American Politics going back seventy years. Abram Vereide was a minister, a protégé of evangelist Billy Sunday in the 1920’s. His ministry was in the Pacific Northwest. He was a struggling minister. He received what he believed was a message from God to go to minister those who were the “up and out,” those in power who did not know Jesus. The vision was for God to use the powerful to restore the world to first century Christianity and establish the kingdom of God on earth. Above all else, God’s law was to be obeyed and the way to do this was by using those whom God had placed into power. “Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” is not just a bible verse but a prophetic vision of what literally is meant to occur.

Abram under the command of his God, moves to Washington, DC and begins to meet people who knew people in places of power. He begins to pray with them and establishes the Fellowship around 1935 partly in response to FDR’s New Deal. Abram Vereide taught “that the poor, with their demands for government services—which he understood as a failure to trust that God would provide—were “the adversaries of the church.” 

This is the doctrine behind today’s fundamentalist’s adamant abhorrence to Health Care Reform, Welfare, Medicaid and other services to the poor. Trust God to provide, to seek support from the government means that ones faith in God is non-existent. It contradicts The Family’s belief that governments are God’s authority established on earth but sobeit.

His theology blends the theology of Puritan John Winthrop who wrote, “We shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” This was a belief that America would be the seat of the New Jerusalem where the new kingdom of heaven would arise. The doctrine of Manifest Destiny that America had the divine right to claim the continent of North America for her self is part of this new Christian doctrine of America’s faith. It was further expanded in the Monroe Doctrine which declared that the Western Hemisphere was no longer available for European colonization and now under the growing influence of the United States. All we had to do was to claim our rightful place and the New Jerusalem would be established and usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Abram’s theology rooted in these doctrinal stances with a literal reading of the Old and New Testaments led him to establish a secretive, inner circle of believers. Abram claimed Jesus had done the same with the levels of teachings that he gave the multitudes versus those he gave to his disciples and those he only gave to Peter and John. The inner circle was much like the small groups that Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin used in wielding power; these would barter back room deals with politicians away from public spheres. It would allow for invisibility.

The theology that Abram Vereide and later his successor Doug Coe would embrace was one of dominionism. Blended with its own American brand of puritan envisioning, Manifest Destiny and Monroe Doctrine, this dominionism relied on the Bible to guide every decision from whom to marry to what tie to wear in the morning. Sharlet writes, “Unlike neo-evangelicals, who concern themselves chiefly with getting good with Jesus, dominionists want to reconstruct early Christian society, which they believe was ruled by God alone. They view themselves as the new chosen and claim a Christian doctrine of covenantalism, meaning covenants not only between God and humanity but at every level of society, replacing the rule of law and its secular contracts. Since these covenants are signed, as it were, in the Blood of the Lamb, they are written in ink invisible to nonbelievers.” 

The members of the family believe they are indeed chosen by God. This explains how South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, a member of the Family, could so brazenly quote the King David story, quoted in our reading from Sharlet’s text today, as the reason why he would not step down as governor after his deceitful trips to cover up an extra-marital-affair. He is God’s chosen and therefore exempt from the ungodly laws of the land.

 Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) is another member of the Family who travels twice a year to Uganda to promote that country’s conversion to Jesus. He once boasted that because of his office he can meet with any leader in the world to preach about Jesus.  He has met with and presumably prayed with Family associate President Museveni. President Museveni since his rise to power in 1986 and his association with the Family has increasingly moved Uganda towards dictatorship and away from democracy. “Democracy”, Jeff Sharlet was told when he lived with the family at the Ivanwald house, was a form of “rebelliousness” against God. 

Uganda made the news recently, when Ugandan Family member proposed legislation that would execute people with HIV/AIDS and/or Gays and imprison those who harbor them. It is no secret that Senator Inhofe is against civil rights for sexual minorities. His rhetoric has been quite emphatic against homosexuals in this country. Only under increasing pressure did Inhofe publicly state he was against the proposed legislation but he has not taken any steps to actively advocate against this genocide proposal given his influence in Uganda.

His original response was much like Pastor Rick Warren’s, founder of the Saddleback Church and while not a member of the Family, Warren is also a frequent visitor to Uganda. Both stated that their role is not to get involved in the political struggles of a nation. Rick Warren has after receiving pressure did a video message to Uganda’s people condemning the proposed legislation as un-Christian. When your goal is to create God centered governments then you are involved in the political struggles of a nation. There is the added responsibility to be held accountable to one’s interference in another culture. “The Family renounces public accountability.” 

Uganda, since 1991, has held a National Prayer Breakfast modeled after the Family’s sponsored National Prayer Breakfast here in Washington. The US National Prayer Breakfast has been an annual event since President Eisenhower was elected to office. As a thank you to the evangelicals who helped get him elected he endorsed the first prayer breakfast created by Abram Vereide, the founder of the Family then called the International Christian Leadership.

The prayer breakfast is not simply a morning prayer with coffee and danish, it is a week long event with workshops on Christianity and government. The powerful from around the globe come in the hopes of meeting with the powerful in Washington. By praying together they form a bond, a doorway, that allows them access to meet unofficially, in the back rooms, with the elite chosen by god.  All leaders of countries are chosen by God according to Romans 13:1 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

This belief is held as literal fact by the members of the Family. Imagine what this belief would do to someone who is Governor of a state, a Senator or Congress person, or even President of the country. Imagine what this belief would do if you believe that the President of the country was not submitted to the will of God.

This year, it is expected that the sponsors of this heinous Uganda legislation will be at the US National Prayer Breakfast in February. The speaker this year will be President Obama. What will he say and more importantly what will he leave unsaid?

Now I try not to be an alarmist about things. I try to see the more positive side of things and I admit sometimes that causes me to stretch quite far in order to do this. But I am alarmed by the Family. I am alarmed when I read how deeply they have infiltrated the offices of government, not only here in the States but abroad. I am alarmed when I read that this is the goal of the Family.

Jeff Sharlet writes about a program of the Family known as “Youth Corps, whose programs are often centered around Ivanwald-style houses, prepares the best of its recruits for positions of power in business and government abroad. Its programs are in operation in Russia, Ukraine, Romania, India, Pakistan, Uganda, Nepal, Bhutan, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, and other countries. The goal: ‘Two hundred national and international world leaders bound together relationally by a mutual love for God and the family.’” 

These recruits are then sent to these countries and while they may be working on legitimate tasks to benefit the country they are also seeking key volunteers to develop cell groups, we might call them covenant groups. These core groups become the cells that indoctrinate the individuals to lay down their lives to Jesus and to each other. They are taught to submit their wills to Jesus. Each member of the cell is committed to the other, and each member could veto the direction another life was going in if it was determined to be against the will of Jesus.

But they are not just being sent to other countries. They are being sent here as well. Gov. Mark Sanford, Senator James Inhofe, Representative Joseph Pitts, Representative Bart Stupak, Representative Mike Doyle, Senator Sam Brownback are all members of the Family. There are others. You might recognize the names of Stupak and Pitts. They are the bipartisan sponsors of the amendment to the Health Care reform act that limits insurance payments of abortions. 

 The Family is seeking to legislate their understanding of Biblical mandates into how our nation operates. It isn’t just happening now, it has been happening since the beginning of the Family when it was known as International Christian Leadership or the Fellowship.

Sharlet writes: “ ‘Under God’ was added to the Pledge of Allegiance, an initiative sponsored in the Senate by Homer Ferguson, a Republican I C L board member, and financed by ICLer Clement Stone, and ‘In God We Trust’ was added to the nation’s currency by a bill sponsored by a Dixiecrat congressman named Charles E. Bennett, also a member of the Fellowship’s inner circle.”

Our involvement in the atrocities that have taken place in Costa Rica, in Haiti, in Guatemala, in El Salvado, in Somalia, in Indonesia, in Rwanda, in Uganda are all with Family connections. Key people were sent there by the Family to set up prayer cells with the leaders in the hopes of swaying these countries towards being god-led governments. It did not matter that these countries were not democratic or honored human rights of their citizens, what mattered is that they obeyed the teachings of the Family brought to them by Family members who were in positions of power in the US. In exchange these governments received US financial aid and in some instances support for the genocides that took place there. “Jesus must rule every nation through the vessel of American power,” Sharlet writes regarding the Family’s goals.

It is the conviction of these politicians, Sharlet writes, “that more of God’s mandates and the teachings of the Nazarene must be written into current legislation.” 

Sharlet writes “One day, [Doug] Coe [leader of the Family] believes—not yet—America (and Old Europe, too, the Germans and French and Italians who drifted from Christ once their prosperity was assured) will wake up and find itself surrounded by a hundred tiny God-led governments: Fiji, a “model for the nations” under a theocratic regime after 2001, … and Uganda, made over as an experiment in faith-based initiatives by the Family’s favorite African brother, the dictator Yoweri Museveni; and Mongolia, where Coe traveled in the late 1980s to plant the seeds for that country’s post-communist laissez-faire regime. Nobody notices; nobody cares what happens in small places. This is what George H. W. Bush praised in 1992 as Coe’s ‘quiet diplomacy’”. 

 And this is how it can happen here, quietly, far from the lime light; far from the eyes of a press slowly growing cataracts blinding them to really see what is happening. Small groups of politicians meet for prayer and Bible study. They share the stresses of their positions, their infidelities, their pains, as well as their hopes and dreams. Here they are forgiven and embraced as the new chosen people of God. They work to pass bills into laws that reflect their interpretation of God’s laws. They believe they have been given the charge to create the New Jerusalem, a city upon a hill, a beacon to the world, the kingdom of heaven where Jesus can rule the world. Yet, in the process create a repressive regime that slips ever more closely to a theocratic fascism.

Sharlet compares Martin Luther King Jr. with Doug Coe. He writes: “King was a Christian like Coe. Like Coe, he believed in the “beloved community,” the Kingdom of God realized here on Earth, and like Coe, he was willing to work with those who didn’t share his beliefs. But that is where the similarities end. Coe preaches a personal, private submission; King fought and died in public for collective liberation. Coe believes Jesus has a special message for the powerful; King believed God has a special message for everyone. Most important, in 1968, as Coe was constricting the already narrow vision of the Fellowship, King was doing as he had done his whole life: broadening his dream. King died just as he was raising his voice to speak out not only for racial justice but also for economic justice. He would pursue it not through private prayer cells but through public solidarity.” 

If the true spirit and essence of the American experiment is to be fulfilled, it is here in the public arena where it will shine forth. The dream described in the Declaration of Independence was that all people are endowed with inalienable rights including the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. May we shout loud and long in the public sphere that history’s long arc will always bend towards justice and liberty for all people, not just those in power, but for those oppressed.

I am reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s words, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.” May these words offer us hope. Blessed Be.

Quotes unless biblical or otherwise stated are from Jeff Sharlet’s book The Family.

Resources:  Jeff Sharlet,  The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power  Harper Collins e-books

NPR story “A Different perspective on ‘the Family’ and Uganda” aired December 22, 2009

Las Vegas Sun as found at

Pensito Review as found at