September 28, 2005

Progressive Christian "Path to Action" National Conference

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 6:44 pm

Update 10/2/05: A very interesting thread of comments has developed to this post. They are somewhat off-topic, but not really — they address the reason this conference is necessary at all. Take a look.

For close to a year I’ve been blogging about the progressive Christian voices in the US, people like Jim Wallis, E.J. Dionne, John Danforth, Patrick Mrotek and Amy Sullivan. For the most part, this has been a digital experience for me, reading the writings of these religious and political leaders, and posting my thoughts on my blog.

That is about to change. On October 13 through 15, these and many more progressive Christians will be gathering at the Path to Action National Conference 2005 in Washington D.C. It is sponsored by several Episcopal organizations, including a church in my neck of the woods, All Saints Episcopal in Pasadena.

Why is this conference important? Many of us have felt that we have been present at the birth of a new progressive Christian movement. However, this movement could easily be stillborn. To keep it growing, we need to organize and to act. This conference is an important step towards this end.

If all goes well, I will be attending, and blogging from the conference. If you are interested in being a part of this nascent movement, you should attend as well. And if you do, I hope to see you there.

I received the description below from one of the organizers, and have included it in its entirety.

On September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers of New York City were attacked by two planes, toppling in flames. That date has haunted America for the last four years, outcries against war and an unjust government have been shunted in the name of God and country.

In the Fall of 2005, all that will change. Progressives begin to speak out with one voice.

On August, in the wake of Katrina, starving children, dismantled houses, the abandoned sick, and the unclaimed dead shocked the American viewing public. Could this be on American shores? Communities across America cried out in despair against the systematic dismantling of our welfare and health care system in this country that left so many of the neediest utterly vulnerable to disaster.

Hear the prophecy: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

On September 24, 2005, hundreds of thousands of protesters in Washington, London, San Francisco, and New York voiced their sustained protest against an endless war and a government equally unconcerned for the lives of its own citizens, its armed forces, and human suffering abroad.

Hear the prophecy: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

On October 13 to 15, 2005, hundreds of Christians will turn out at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, where preachers, lay-people, soup-kitchen workers, peace-protesters, prison-visitors, visitors to New Orleans, progressive journalists, and politicians of both parties, will gather to call for a reformation of the country with one voice, shouting down the government that has abandoned its poor.

Hear the prophecy: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.


A conference on Progressive Christian Values to be held October 13-15 at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC will gather Christians together to actively condemn the moral failures of the right-wing government and issue a comprehensive strategy for reform.

Panelists at the conference will present an array of ongoing faith-based media and policy responses towards Hurricane Katrina, poverty, the war in Iraq, health care, the environment, and racism.

Talks and meetings will take place at the National Cathedral, St. Alban’s Church, and the Marriott Hotel. Registration is $265/head, including all receptions, meals, and a banquet with Jim Wallis. We’ve realized that the cost would be prohibitive for a lot of people we want to attract. The daily door fee is now at $20, or $10 for students, with a “pay what you can” clause attached.


Our confirmed participants include political and social justice figures Jim Wallis, former Senator John Danforth, Jonathan Schell, and Richard Parker; journalists E. J. Dionne, Amy Sullivan, and Steven Waldman; and intellectuals Michael Kazin and David Hollinger.

The conference will also host leaders from the major think tanks on religion and politics, including the Bliss Institute, the Henry Institute, The American Center for Progress, and the Center for Public Justice.

Leaders of the progressive Christian activist groups CrossLeft, The Christian Alliance for Progress, the Center for American Progress, The Center for Progressive Christianity, and CrossWalk America will be panelists for discussion groups on sharing local strategies for permanent, nation-wide social and political change.


One of our three major activism panels is about “New Strategies,” and includes a major representation of net activists like Kaliya Hamlin, one of San Francisco’s major thinkers about new kinds of community structure on the internet. She’ll be giving a talk about the possibilities of linking net communities to real communities through new blog technologies like those from Civic Space Labs (which gives possibilities for sharing calendars, chatspace, etc etc to this kind of a format).

We’ve also wired the conference, and alerted every blogger whose email we could get that we’d like to have them there blogging.

Bloggers, famous or not, are encouraged to come, meet each other, speak out at the discussions of strategies for long-term change, and document the conference real-time. You’re right that the press-release probably doesn’t play up the blogosphere activity as much as it should; alas, our media effort is probably less well coordinated than it should be!

Anyone able to come is encouraged to let me know so that I can introduce myself at the event, and lend any assistance or introductions that would help! jo (at) social redemption (dot) com.


Most of our panelists are grassroots leaders with a major presence on the internet — the Pres and VP of the Christian Alliance for Progress, the entire leadership of CrossLeft, representatives from CrossWalk and the Center for Progressive Christianity. We’ve made a big deal to participants, panelists and speakers alike about the need for netroots, church, media, think-tank, and pundit to start talking to each other about a common stream of values, and a shared vision of how internet/media/politics can help us promote real social and political change.

The networking of a larger community is a problem progressive Christianity faces before it takes back the country from the radical right fringe. Conference organizers are adamant about helping the whole community start talking to each other, facilitating discussion over the internet, and enabling grass-roots groups with strategies for contacting larger media and political players.

The media panel, for instance, will offer activists information about what gets covered in the mainstream press and what doesn’t. We’re working from the position that most progressive Christians are sick of reading the headline “church splits over gay issues,” with interviews of all the radical right-wing clergymen, every time the Episcopalian church issues a proclamation saying that they’re trying to make peace between right and left without having anyone leave. How to get more even coverage? Seems like a good start.

We’d noticed, when talking to grassroots organizers around the country, that very few had access to media and politics on the one hand, or other groups of other denominations / other websites / other geographic locations on the other. Several of the activist participants are involved in longer-term initiatives to make effective the groundwork laid at the conference. CrossLeft’s plan for the next year is to set up such a clearing house on the web — with links to the different grassroots sites by geography and political initiative, with a craigslist-type information/people/needs sharing pool, and with an rss stream of progressive Christian news & blogs.

Let’s help our community to act with one initiative and reform the country. I welcome more ideas and help in spreading the word!


  1. Thanks for the compliment, Bob!

    Comment by wildwest — October 6, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

  2. Your second link merely quotes Doug Giles. I did not bother to read the 98 comments in the comment section which may be what you were referring to.

    Comment by Jacke — October 6, 2005 @ 1:21 pm

  3. From your third link:

    “He preached a sermon on abortion and homosexuality, then said if anyone there was planning on voting for John Kerry, they should leave,” she said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever heard something like that. Ministers are supposed to bring people in.”

    He was wrong to ask people to leave if they are going to vote for John Kerry. This was an isolated incident, however. When will you stop assuming that every single person who claims to be speaking as a Conservative Christian speaks for all Conservative Christians. There is no hope for unification of Christians if we accept that any one individual speaks for a large generalized population.

    Now, I have looked at your articles because I try my best to show respect for all people, whether they return the favor or not. I do hope I am finished now.

    Comment by Jacke — October 6, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

  4. Thank you, Bob, that is very kind of you. 🙂

    Comment by Jacke — October 6, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

  5. Jacke, I have never ever said that all conservatives feel like that. I have said many, many, many do. I have never said you do. You are the one who has repeatedly said that you don’t know any conservatives that do nor have heard any say such a thing. So, I am to respond to that how?

    Also, the whole Bush thing was totally out of the topic in my opinion and I didn’t feel the need to go into a whole Bush argument with you. That has nothing to do with this particular argument. I will also add that I did not start this argument. I was responding to what you wrote, not the other way around.

    Also, that second link not only shows that conservatives view, the first links view, but many commenters who agreed. She also links to another article she wrote about the same subject.

    Comment by Angel — October 6, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

  6. wildwest? Yer still a cool cat! I think we might be pretty much on the same page, that’ll get you in trouble, my friend. 😉

    Comment by Jacke — October 6, 2005 @ 2:27 pm

  7. Now, now.

    Comment by wildwest — October 7, 2005 @ 5:11 am

  8. Angel, your knowing many, many, many “Conservative” Christians who think that liberals can’t be Christians in no way negates my claim that I don’t know any, personally, who make that statement, or was unaware of any, publicly, who had made that statement. Perhaps we should agree to allow each other to have personal life experiences and leave it at that. I think you took my statement as a challenge and you did, in fact, suggest that I’m ignorant, living in a vacume or coy. I took that as an insult, you claim it wasn’t but, sorry, I don’t know how I could take being called ignorant, coy or living in a vacume any other way.

    As far as you providing quotes? I requested them because I hadn’t seen them and I thanked you for sending them. I have stated that I think it’s a wrong position to take. What else would you like me to say?

    Regarding the Bush comment, if you had bothered to give me the benefit of the doubt you would have seen that I brought it up for a reason and I tied it together, later, in my thoughts. You were not willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, and in fact, it is evident that my thoughts mean so little to you that you didn’t bother to read them all in context. So, what else would you like me to say?

    Regarding the second link, I told you that I didn’t bother to read the 98 comments regarding the quoted article, I submitted, in generosity, that those comments might have been what you were referring to, and I am willing to reiterate once again that if anyone is making the statement that you cannot be a liberal and be a Christian that I disagree, I also added the disclaimer that:

    “I do agree that a liberal position regarding abortion and the promotion of gay rights as promoted by the radical activists in the gay community would be hard pressed to justify their positions with Christianity. There are conservative gays who completely disagree with the agenda of radical gay activists. Look into it if you don’t believe me.” (See comment # 49)

    Now, what more would you like me to say?

    Comment by Jacke — October 7, 2005 @ 7:23 am

  9. The Catholic Church must pay !

    After this past Sundays’ (Oct. 2, 2005) event by the Catholic Church collecting signatures inside the building, regarding the initiative petition to end same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. This IRS regulation, continues on with regards to the 501 status, therefore, its time the tax paying Americans takes action to ensure that the Catholic Church loses it 501 status.

    The tax exemption status of religious organizations (501(c)(3) status ). It is very obvious that the Catholic Church does not qualify for this status any more. The church is actively attempting to influence legislation.

    In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

    Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

    An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

    Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.

    Whether an organization’s attempts to influence legislation constitute a substantial part of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. The IRS considers a variety of factors, including the time devoted (by both compensated and volunteer workers) and the expenditures devoted by the organization to the activity, when determining whether the lobbying activity is substantial.

    Under the substantial part test, an organization that conducts excessive lobbying activity in any taxable year may lose its tax-exempt status, resulting in all of its income being subject to tax. In addition, a religious organization is subject to an excise tax equal to five percent of its lobbying expenditures for the year in which it ceases to qualify for exemption.

    Further, a tax equal to five percent of the lobbying expenditures for the year may be imposed against organization managers, jointly and severally, who agree to the making of such expenditures knowing that the expenditures would likely result in the loss of tax-exempt status.

    Organizations undertake voter education activities by distributing voter guides. Voter guides, generally, are distributed during an election campaign and provide information on how all candidates stand on various issues. These guides may be distributed with the purpose of educating voters; however, they may not be used to attempt to favor or oppose candidates for public elected office.

    Comment by taxin god — October 8, 2005 @ 11:25 am

  10. Jacke, I didn’t take it as a challenge though that is exactly how you stated it. You said you had never ever heard any conservative say such and thing and said that if we could prove it to do so. You said you wanted links. I provided them. Now you can’t say you have never ever heard of any conservative saying such a thing.

    As for the rest of your arguments and so on, I am not going to go there with you anymore. You accused Bob of causing division within the Body of Christ, I responded with how that is the pot calling the kettle black, and it has escalated from there. This isn’t my blog and I really don’t like to argue on the blogs of others (bad form, IMO) but I also hate to see such comments directed at a blog owner too–so I said what I said.

    You have accused me of saying things I didn’t say and I have proved that my initial comments are merited. I see no reason to continue at this point. Good day. 🙂

    Comment by Angel — October 9, 2005 @ 4:41 pm

  11. Hey, taxin god,

    Ah thank ya got tew mutch tyme own yer hands, meself! Lol.

    Catholic Church dun went an irritated ya, huh?

    You know, my husband has long believed that the IRS is a terroristic group. I think he might be right. Think about it. MAKE APRIL 15TH JUST ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL SPRING DAY!

    Comment by Jacke — October 9, 2005 @ 7:19 pm

  12. Angel, you are right, now I can’t say that anymore. Ain’t that special!? 🙂

    I stand by my remark that Bob, by promoting the labeling of “Progressive” Christians, is further dividing the body of Christ. I will go further now, however, and state that any “Conservative” Christian who accepts such labeling is also dividing the body of Christ. I am not a pot calling a kettle black because I do not embrace either label. See how that works?

    You are welcome, as always, to use your own judgement about arguing with people in the comment section of someone else’s blog. Personally, however, when the owner of a blog directs his traffic to the comment section of a post because he feels there is something worthwhile being discussed I would take that to mean that he does not mind the discussion. Also, each blog owner may or may not choose to allow comments to be posted or may limit his comment section. Bob has welcomed commenters and I appreciate so much, his willingness to do so. There have been times when I have thought he might not post something I have commented upon, he has always impressed me with his willingness to let all voices speak. For that reason, I have only the utmost respect for Bob, though I often disagree with him, I have no personal animosity toward him and am thankful to have found his blog. In short, I think Bob’s pretty special, as are each and every one of us, you included. We can disagree, Angel, God didn’t make us all in cookie cutter fashion and you are just as much his child as I. You have a good day too! Yer sister in Christ, Jacke

    Comment by Jacke — October 9, 2005 @ 7:34 pm

  13. […] Other Stuff — Bob @ 8:46 pm

    I originally composed this as a comment to this post, but decided to promote it and link to it from the sidebar to keep it available on an ongoing basis. […]

    Pingback by I am a Christian Too » My Thoughts About Comments — October 9, 2005 @ 8:50 pm

  14. A personal question for the Grand Poobah of I am a Christian Too:

    Are you a wee bit honored to have so many readers and commenters on your blog?

    I ask because it would thrill me to no end if so many people felt that my blog were worthy of so many comments.

    Smoochies! 🙂

    Comment by Jacke — October 9, 2005 @ 10:30 pm

  15. is it just me or does jacke get real antagonistic and then when she is called on it she tries to blame it on other commenters and make it look like they wrote things they didn’t and like they started it all? it seems that way to me. then she gets to trying to act all nice again. it is kind of weird.

    Comment by fleur — October 10, 2005 @ 7:57 am

  16. Jacke –

    Honored isn’t the right word…I would say that I’m gratified, and very much so, that people read, link to and comment on my blog, even if they disagree with me.

    Comment by Bob — October 10, 2005 @ 9:52 am

  17. is it just me or does jacke get real antagonistic and then when she is called on it she tries to blame it on other commenters and make it look like they wrote things they didn’t and like they started it all? it seems that way to me. then she gets to trying to act all nice again. it is kind of weird.

    After reading through the comments, I feel safe in saying that it is just you.

    Comment by Anonymous — October 10, 2005 @ 11:34 am

  18. Bob, I celebrate your success with you!

    I’m going to shag out of here for a while. It seems I have ruffled some feathers and caused some to feel that they must personally attack me rather than discuss the topic. That’s fine, I’m big enough to live with it, but I respect the quality of blog that Bob has groomed and don’t want to drag it down by replying to such personal attacks.

    I’ll check in again, at a later date.

    Y’all be good now, ya hear? You know where to find me.

    Comment by Jacke — October 10, 2005 @ 11:47 am

  19. Jacke, I hope you are not leaving on my account. I know you feel like I attacked you, which I did not do (not IMO). I could say the same for you when you all but called me a liar. But, that is neither here nor there. You didn’t upset me. Nor do you ruffle my feathers. I think I may have ruffled yours and if so, I apologize. I am a blunt kind of person and I say what I mean and I mean what I say. It is just the way I am.

    Comment by Angel — October 12, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  20. I kind of thought the same thing, Angel. But I walked on over to Jacke’s blog, and she is conversing with me on the same subject – and quite happily, too. Come on down. I think she just moved it, that’s all.

    Comment by wildwest — October 12, 2005 @ 11:12 am

  21. Oh well. She is still claiming she was attacked over at this post. Whatever floats her boat. *shrug*

    Comment by Angel — October 13, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  22. C’mon over to her blog, Angel. Her statements are much clearer, perhaps because it’s her home turf. I have been able to get more clarification from her. If you’re interested.

    Comment by wildwest — October 13, 2005 @ 12:12 pm

  23. I went and had a look. While her statements are much clearer, they still have the same message and honestly, I don’t like the way Jacke comes off. She still does the, “The motives of conservatives are pure. The motives of the rest of you are not. Look at me. This is what I believe and it is somehow better and purer than what you believe.” There is no having a discussion on that. It is her perceptions against your own and no matter what you say she will hide behind them.

    Of course, she may not mean to come off like that but she does.

    Also, I have no interest in her accusing me of attacking her everytime I disagree with her. There is no point in even trying to have a conversation with someone who does that.

    Comment by Angel — October 14, 2005 @ 5:25 am

  24. Also, for someone who accuses others of drawing lines in the sand, Jacke spends a great deal of time doing so and proclaiming the “rightness” of conservatives while she is at it. It is the same ole same ole party line we have been hearing for years now, she just thinks she is doing it in a much more original and fresher way.

    She is also spending a great deal of time proclaiming what all Progressive Christians believe and taking them to task after having a fit over here claiming that others were doing regarding “Conservative” Christians. I just find the whole conversation highly hypocritical.

    Being moderate on most things, I am lucky in that I see things from that perspective, I think. When anyone goes to far to one side, they go too far. It is like how Conservatives want to control things by force of law that God chooses to give us free will on. They think that just because they believe what they do that everyone else should and be bound by what they believe. The same with Progressives, IMO. They believe some things that are not supported by the Bible no matter how much they try to make it look like they do. Instead of just admitting that it doesn’t, but noting that this country is not run by the Bible, but by a constitution and democracy. Which means that everyone should be represented by the laws, not just Christians.

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter. The world will be what God said the world will be. God will sort it out. And, just as the Bible says, there will be those crying and asking why they were not found faithful after all the works they did claiming His name and people will be surprised by some of those found faithful wondering how they could have ever made it.

    Comment by Angel — October 14, 2005 @ 5:49 am

  25. Yeah, I kind of had to call a truce. There is only so far one can go. She just changed the subject on her own blog entry, and I answered. I hope she doesn’t get flustered, but I refuse to get sucked in too deep on any one issue. I’ll just get lost in a labyrinth.

    Comment by wildwest — October 14, 2005 @ 11:10 am

  26. angel she accuses you of attacking her and implies that fleur is not my real name. my mom would really be surprised that i changed my name and didn’t tell her. haha

    Comment by fleur — October 14, 2005 @ 5:42 pm

  27. Geesh, I hadn’t checked the comment section of this particular blog in a while. It made for very interesting reading. 🙂

    Y’all have a nice day.


    aka Fleurdreams, Fleur for short and to my friends (and enemies)on the internet. 🙂

    Perhaps that will clarify for fleur why I might have questioned her name. Lol.

    Comment by Jacke — October 18, 2005 @ 12:43 pm

  28. I wan’t going to stoop to reply to this but I am not going to allow you to claim I say things that I have never said.

    I did not EVER call you a liar, Angel. I merely said that I don’t, personally, know any “Conservative” Christians who have said that you can’t be a liberal and be a Christian. I also said I hadn’t seen anyone say that, and requested someone post it if it had been said, both of my statements were true but because they are true in NO WAY suggests that you are lying. I also tried to be generous in saying this to you: “Perhaps we should agree to allow each other to have personal life experiences and leave it at that.” in comment #58. It is not my problem if you are offended when someone is merely trying to carry on a discussion with you. I’ll try to remember never to ask you to back up a claim you make in the future. I have done nothing, or written nothing for which I am ashamed or feel that I must apologize. If you want to imply that I mean things that I don’t say there is little I can do about it.

    Here is what I DID say under comment #62

    “Angel, you are right, now I can’t say that anymore. Ain’t that special!?”

    In reply to your comment #60:

    “You said you had never ever heard any conservative say such and thing and said that if we could prove it to do so. You said you wanted links. I provided them. Now you can’t say you have never ever heard of any conservative saying such a thing.”

    Regarding this statement:

    “She is also spending a great deal of time proclaiming what all Progressive Christians believe and taking them to task after having a fit over here claiming that others were doing regarding “Conservative” Christians. I just find the whole conversation highly hypocritical”

    From my blog:

    “I visited this site: Home Christian Alliance for Progress, where I found a listing of the political stances “Progressive” Christians seem to be united upon. I decided to respond to their stances.

    Pursuing Economic Justice

    Claims made under this heading are:

    Our leaders act as if we have no responsibility to “the least of these.”
    Tax breaks for the richest are the cause of public debt.
    Education, healthcare and housing are labeled as “wasteful” (but Christian Alliance for Progress doesn’t say who has labeled them as such).
    Bankruptcy reform is a hard and punitive approach.”

    I clearly identified where I got these viewpoints. If you don’t like the labeling, join the club. Progressive Christians are labeling themselves as such. I’ve advised you against it, certain commenters and a certain owner of a blog I know feel this label is necessary to differentiate themselves from “Conservative” Christians. These people asked for it, they got it. “Conservative” Christians enjoy the label everyday. Remember my prediction in Comment #28:

    You don’t see the handwriting on the wall, yet, darlin’. You have bought into media exploitation of their own labeled “Conservative,” bad-bad Christians who the MEDIA promotes, gives air time to, paints as hypocritical, demeans and attacks. You, instead, meekly and mildly volunteer to attach your own label. Great, now you will see the media continue to bombast “Conservative” Christians with media attacks and you’ll be primed and ready for the media to paint you as a labeled group of extremist Christians at the other end of the spectrum. You fail to see the true enemy in this, Bob. Your enemy is not your brother, it is the one who labeled your brother and you are buying into their spin. I DON’T BUY IT. This is a media assault on Christianity, nothing more.”

    It seems to me that my prediction is coming true. Progressive Christians wanted a label, so now you have one. I think it is unrealistic of Progressive Christians to willingly label themselves as such and then take offense when someone writes about them using their new label. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, you don’t either. I hate labels, I’ve blogged about my hatred of labels but it appears they aren’t going away. All I can do is take them with a grain of salt and tell people what my own personal viewpoint is and where I disagree with the collective group, that is all you will be able to do, too. There is no way it can be controlled once it has begun. Actually, I’m getting a bit of a kick out of your response to it. Lol. I’m the one that has been warning you against it all along, remember? Lol and hugs and kisses, Jacke

    Comment by Jacke — October 18, 2005 @ 3:12 pm

  29. we have a gold to sell, pls if you are intersted pls contant us via this
    waiting to hear from you soonest.

    Comment by david — December 29, 2005 @ 5:58 pm

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