Against the Death Penalty: Christian Stance in a Secular World

Article by Margaret M. Falls

Those rejecting the death penalty,” social critic Ernest van den Haag once remarked. “have the burden of showing that no crime deserves capital punishment—a burden which they have not so far been willing to hear.” This is a challenge to which opponents of capital punishment need to respond. In my experience, the most passionate calls …

Blinded by Metaphor: Churches and Welfare Reform

Article by Robert Bachelder

Public policy debates, complains Washington Monthly editor Charles Peters, tend to consist of a series of “automatic reactions” in which liberals and conservatives endlessly repeat their outworn positions instead of listening to each other. Mainline churches share in this tendency to repeat their favored positions and resist insights that are not their own. This approach …

Bush’s God Talk

Article by Bruce Lincoln

Most discussions of George W. Bush’s religious faith draw heavily on his campaign autobiography, A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House (1999), which puts religion at the beginning, middle and end of the story. Deliberately vague in its chronology, the book describes a man who drifted until middle age, when Billy Graham …

Cityscape

Article by James W. Lewis

Book Review: Gods of the City: Religion and the American Urban Landscape Edited by Robert Orsi. Indiana University Press, 581 pp., paperback. The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism. By James Wellman. University of Illinois Press, 304 pp., paperback. A Particular Place: Urban Restructuring and Religious Ecology in a …

Designing the City

Article by Norman B. Bendroth

In the spring of 1976, I took my New Hampshire youth group to Philadelphia for the bicentennial celebrations. Not wanting to break the bank on hotels, we slept in a church hall in a suburb north of the city. There, for the first time in my life, I encountered row after row, block after block, …

Ending Hunger

Article by Leon Howell

Grace at the Table, by David Beckmann and Art Simon. (Paulist, 220 pp. $10.95). Spencer Bachus, "a diehard Republican from Alabama’s most diehard Republican district," in the words of the Washington Post, has been spearheading an effort in the U.S. House of Representatives to offer debt relief to more than 40 impoverished nations. In Mozambique, …

Growth Without Progress?

Article by John B. Cobb, Jr.

The negative effects of free trade are readily apparent. No one doubts that free trade disrupts existing patterns of employment, creating hardship for those who lose their jobs. No one can realistically question that in the United States in recent years trade has taken away more well-paying positions than it has replaced at that pay …

Historic Church Preservation: Clues from the Almost Incommunicable Past

Article by Martin E. Marty

Now I understood that the same road was to bring us together again. Whatever we had missed. we possessed together the precious, the incommunicable past. Willa Cather, My Ántonia Those who promote the preservation of historic buildings find houses of worship strategic. Such buildings often represent the most formal and ambitious efforts of those who …

Lottery Losers

Article by William Willimon

A few years ago Alverta Handel, a housekeeper from Portage, was said to be the happiest person in Pennsylvania. She beat 9.6-million-to-one odds and won an $8.2 million share of the record-breaking $115 million lotto jackpot. The biggest winner was said to be the Pennsylvania state treasury, which netted $593 million from ticket sales. Lotteries …

Not in My Backyard!

Article by Ted Peters

In government circles it’s called the "NIMBY problem." Whether the proposal is for AIDS clinics, halfway houses for prison parolees or dumps for toxic and nuclear waste, it is usually met by the opposition of citizens’ groups who shout NIMBY — "not in my backyard!" Yet these components of modern life must exist in somebody’s …

Politics and the Elderly: Toward a Sharing of Resources

Article by Harold E. Fey

Inequities in the distribution of what have come to be called "entitlements" need to receive more attention in American society. The disproportion of public funds paid to the elderly as over against payments and services to children is a scandal, but almost nobody is scandalized. A look at the facts and a little speculation concerning …

Solving the Housing Crisis Pragmatically

Article by Robert Bachelder

America’s Roman Catholic bishops write that the "challenge of today is to move beyond abstract disputes about whether more or less government intervention is needed, to consideration of creative ways of enabling government and private groups to work together effectively’’ (Economic Justice for All) The truth of this declaration is evident in the U.S. housing …

The Bible and Public Policy

Article by Jeffrey S. Siker

Several months ago a friend visited Nicaragua under the auspices of the “Witness for Peace” program. His first sermon upon returning challenged the congregation to write to the president and congressional representatives in protest of the U.S. effort to overthrow the Nicaraguan government and the U.S. support for the oppressive government in El Salvador. The …

The Politics of Loss

Article by Ira Nerken

Book Review: Falling from Grace: The Experience of Downward Mobility in the American Middle Class, by Katherine Newman. Free Press, 320 pp., $22.95.   A debate has been raging over whether the U.S. is in the midst of military, economic and social decline — whether it is and will remain Number One. Yale historian Paul …

The Universal Declaration at 50: Changing the World?

Article by Douglass Cassel

December 10, 1998 marked the 50th anniversary of the United Nation’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I believe that the continuing impact of this historic document is changing the world for the better; even though doubters can point to considerable contrary evidence. On the 44th anniversary of the Universal Declaration, for example, …