A group of 500 Christian men encircled a Philadelphia high school, that was the site of a recent teen shooting, in a prayer vigil mean to show “Christian solidarity against youth violence.” Rev. LeRoi Simmons, one of the organizers of the vigil, said the group’s goal was to create a permanent support system of church members for the school’s students through the Safe Corridors program, which is linked to the school district’s larger plan for “partnering” schools with religious institutions and congregations that will help with tutoring, mentoring, “crisis intervention” counseling and discipline.
The Truly Cool Don’t
The Louisiana ACLU has threatened the Governor’s Office with legal action unless it stops violating a 2002 settlement over government funds to promote religion via its abstinence education website. The ACLU charges that the website violates the separation clearly by promoting religion in a Q&A section; by advising readers that abstaining from sex makes them “truly cool in God’s eyes“; by featuring ministers preaching about marriage and quoting the Bible and other religious literature.
Choose Your Battlefield
While both Democrats and Republicans claimed victory in terms of the Jewish vote, Nathan Guttman of Haaretz finds that the mostly liberal Jewish community, which voted for Kerry and prioritized social justice, civil rights and the separation of church and state, “lost on all levels.” Hannah Rosenthal, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, told Guttman, “‘It is never good news for the Jews when a country tries to define itself as a Christian state instead of putting the emphasis on religious freedom and freedom from religion.’” Guttman imagines the next four years as a test for the liberal Jewish community, which must decide if it will fight for the separation of church and state, or work “within the new reality” of faith-based politics to try to preserve individual and minority rights within an increasingly religious politics. While we can’t comprehend Guttman’s identification of Kerry as representing the “forceful separation” side of the debate, his test rings true not just for liberal Jews, but for all progressives, liberals or Democrats currently choosing their battlefield.
Partnering Schools Pt. 2