[Buddha-l] Supporting Peace

Richard P. Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue May 24 13:18:02 MDT 2005

curt wrote:

> For a somewhat different approach to the question of
> religious groups working together with progressives,
> leftists, liberals, peaceniks, etc for justice, peace, etc,
> see this interview with George Galloway:
> http://www.counterpunch.com/nagy05232005.html

Thanks for sending that in, Curt.

This past weekend there was a meeting of a new group in Albuquerque 
called Ecumenical Voices for Democracy (http://www.evoices.org). Their 
first initiative was a panel discussion, open to the public, called "The 
Uses and Abuses of Religion." At this first meeting their idea of 
ecumenism was to have a Roman Catholic sociology professor, an Anglican 
priest, an evangelical minister from Albuquerque's biggest megachurch 
and a secular humanist lawyer who works for the ACLU. No Buddhists, 
Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims or native American leaders were included at this 
round, but perhaps they will get their turn at one of the planned future 

This event got off to an interesting start. The evangelical minister 
introduced himself as a former US Marine from Ozark, Arkansas, who 
looked like he would be more at home on the defensive line of a 
professional football team than on an ecumenical panel. He started 
things off by reading the Mayflower Compact, which showed, he said, that 
from the very beginning the founding of a colony in America was a purely 
Christian undertaking. Then he explained that the US Constitution was 
written by Christians and that the first amendment clearly means that no 
government should pass a law limiting the freedom of any Christian 
church, but does NOT mean that the government should not be guided by 
the one and only true god who gave his only begotten son as the only 
means for the salvation of man, amen. (There was a marked absence of 
anyone in this particular audience shouting "Hallelujah, Brother!" which 
seemed to throw the minister off his stride a bit, but he kept on 
message for the rest of his talk anyway. The salvation of man was 
mentioned another dozen times or so, with no hint that women or children 
might be included.) The message ended with an impassioned argument that 
since all men are sinners (and, apparently, no women are allowed to 
talk), no laws passed by men are worthwhile, and therefore humanism is 
evil, and the only law worth living under is the law of the one eternal 
and infallible God who gave his only begotten son as the only means for 
the salvation of man, amen.

The good minister's talk was followed by the Anglican, the ACLU lawyer 
and the Catholic sociologist each in his own way pointing out the 
deficiencies in the evangelist's message. They used quite a bit of 
theological and legal technical terminology like "scary" and "spooky" to 
describe his world view, but the audience seemed sophisticated enough to 
follow their critiques despite the unfamiliar terminology.

The entire thing was not exactly a model of how ecumenical co-operation 
should go, but I have a hunch it was a pretty good example of how it in 
fact is likely to go these days. Not a hell of a lot of dialogue seemed 
to be going on, and I'm not sure anyone's mind was changed on much of 
anything. My hunch is we're all going to have to get used to such 
aborted (if you'll pardon the expression) attempts at interfaith 

Richard P. Hayes
Department of Philosophy
The University of New Mexico

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