Faith & Democracy


Watching the president’s State of the Union address with the self-selected inter-party seating arrangements lowering the usual partisan hype, I found myself wondering whether the civility on display was merely ceremonially contrived for the occasion, or a genuine indication that our politicos recognize the importance of collaborative political work to achieve the common good.

Why did the Illinois General Assembly just pass a historic tax increase on individuals and corporations? Given our failures to address the state’s growing structural deficit for the past ten years, if not longer, it had no other choice. The critical question now is: “Where do we go from here?”

If I remember correctly, there once was a time when, by his own admission, Paul Krugman was not particularly active in public debate about policy issues confronting the country and the world...Another Paul, long ago, faced the challenge of fundamental divisions among people sharing the same space.

Rev. Linda Hanna Walling calls for a radical revolution of values in her Faithful Reform's blog.

For the first time in U.S. history, as I learned recently, the nation’s House of Representatives will begin its new session with a complete oral reading of our country’s Constitution. Great idea!

A constitutional amendment to limit spending is under consideration in the current "lame duck" session of the IL General Assembly. Some legislators say that we must have spending limits in order to approve a tax increase. We're talking about political cover here, not good policy. But with Illinois acknowledged as the worst state when it comes to unpaid bills, and second-worst (behind California) in pension liability, do our legislators need this kind of political self-protection just to do the right thing?

I confess that I’m puzzled by the debate on whether this country is a “Christian nation.” Apparently, it is very important to some people that this be true, including some who are not particularly vigilant in either their religious belief or practice. To others, it is neither important nor desirable, somewhere slightly above or below the level of indifference. Then there are those who take a more logical approach, viewing the idea that the United States is a Christian nation as something of a non sequitur; the conclusion is false because it simply does not follow from either the evidence or the logic of the argument. And, of course, some roundly reject the notion without hesitation.

Come January we will have a national government that we have to live with, at least for the next two years. And now I wonder, what have we learned from the recent mid-term elections, and what do we have to look forward to? One thing I’ve learned is that politics haven’t changed much since 1787, the year the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia adopted the Constitution and sent it on to the thirteen states for ratification. Our political landscape now is at least as contentious and infused with partisan rancor and competing interests as it was at the time of this nation’s founding.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Then Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:16-17) Jesus wasn’t asking Peter to be charitable. He was telling him to give the sheep what they need. Put in the language of democracy, Jesus was speaking not of benevolence but of justice.

As this is written, SB1716, a bill on civil unions for gay and lesbian couples in Illinois may be called up for a vote in the House in the fall veto session of the General Assembly. If it is, and if it passes, Gov. Patrick Quinn who supports it will presumably sign it. The Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Daily Herald have all editorialized in support of civil unions. The ACLU of Illinois supports it. Patriots United, the Illinois Family Institute, and Chicago Roman Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Francis George oppose it.


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