Religious groups throughout the U.S. are signing the “Investor Statement on Bangledesh,” a statement intended for the likes of Wal-Mart and GAP to sign — but they won’t. In the wake of the Bangladesh factory fire, people of faith do not want their consciences tainted by the clothes they wear. They do not want clothing manufacturers profiting off other’s lives, specifically Bangeladeshi lives, for cheap clothing. The statement is intended for clothing manufacturers to sign on and say (my paraphrase): “We are committed to protecting the lives of the people who work for us to provide our products at very low cost. Despite the low wages, we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that the factories that we commission have the highest safety standards and managers who violate those standards at the expense of their workers will be released. And, when any suffering happens to workers creating our products, we will make sure they are appropriately and generously compensated for their loss. It’s the LEAST we can do.”
Here’s a story on the various groups signing on and advocating this statement: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-16/religious-groups-urge-brands-to-address-bangladesh-plant-safety
Here’s an amazing statement from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (follow them! They’re amazing): http://www.iccr.org/news/press_releases/2013/pr_bangladeshletter051613.php
I’m working on my thesis, it’s coming down to the wire, so I really don’t have time to blog, but I had to share this. You see, my thesis is on religious patriotism. I was attracted to the idea because I see a natural tension between loyalties to God and loyalties to the State. I’m not saying they are incompatible at all, but I do have a fair bit of Anabaptist influence in me that screams “We are not of this world!” That tends to make me skeptical of authorities of all kinds.
So when I started finding some descriptions of patriotism in the early 1900’s that was actually really stirring and compelling I was shocked. I mean, I would LOVE for us today to be talking about our country and neighbors in this way. Here’s the text, specifically.
Dr. Charles S. Medbury’s New Year’s Resolutions
The Christian Century, January 8, 1914
TO THIS DAY that is mine, my country’s and my God’s, I dedicate my all. My talents, every one, shall be held subject to the sight draft of the emergencies of others. I will enlarge my soul by love for those from whom I find myself recoiling. No man shall ever feel his color or his caste in my presence, for within my heart of hearts there shall be no consciousness of it. The man who has fallen shall find in me a friend, the woman down, a helper. But more than this, those falling shall have my trust that they may still stand. No name shall ever pass my lips that hurts another in things of face, form, station or estate. My own weaknesses, roibles, sins, shall chasten speech and spirit. My life shall be a dedicated thing. I shall count it desecration to pervert it. The vandal hands of lust and hate and greed shall not be permitted to despoil. And thus I resolve, not because I am good, but that I want to be ; not because I am strong, but that I fear weakness; not that I feel above others, but that with all my soul I long to be of humankind both helped and helper. So I dedicate my days. So do I set apart my culture. So do I receive but to give again to others. So do I press humbly into the presence of the sacrificial Son of Man, crying out in eager consecration, “Let me follow Thee, Master, wherever the world still needs ministry, wherever life is still to be given for the many. Help me, Thou whose manger cradle brought democracy to light, to meet in my own worth, democracy’s final test, and to my own great day to be true.”
Seriously!? Some of these lines could have been plucked straight out of the Civil Rights movement. Some of these lines should sound old and mainstream by now, but somehow are still relevant and challenging. I mean: “I will enlarge my soul by love for those from whom I find myself recoiling.” Holy geez! Can any of us say that our society today is anywhere near this type of love of neighbor? If patriotism meant giving your all to your fellow human being, especially those who you currently find yourself recoiling from, then I AM ALL FOR IT.
This all tells me two things: (1) We haven’t progressed enough, there’s more neighbor-loving to be done, there’s too much anti-neighbor bigotry and hate going around 100+ years ahead of this patriotism. (2) We define what patriotism is. We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water. We can say that being patriotic means loving your neighbor, means putting your life at risk to help rescue some young girls next door are trying to escape their captors, it means paying your taxes because taxes mean investing in your local school, airports, police force, roads, etc. Patriotism does not have to mean “U-S-A! U-S-A!” That’s actually NATIONALISM, not patriotism. Nationalism leads down dark and scary places, but patriotism leads us to our fellow man and woman.
This is me in a nutshell today. I’ve got too much going on personally, and yet the world’s falling apart all around us. Not really, but it feels like it (insert First World Problems meme here).
Still… information is king, unless you don’t trust any of the information you have access to, then you’re just a paranoid conspiracy theorist… or you’re on to something. Either way, that’s no fun.
So, I’ll keep reading, searching and looking. I do like that Mr Rogers quote “look for the helpers.” There are far too many pundits and mis-informers in this world and not enough of the marathon runners who donated blood after running a marathon and seeing their peers get blown up.
This is why Main Stream Media sucks. This is a PRIME example of partisan hackery. MSNBC taking a swing at their twin, their conservative opposite, Bill O’Reilly because he made a point about the death of Jesus that doesn’t fit squarely into American’s Civil Religion. Watch the clip and come back.
OK, this is ludicrous because O’Reilly is right in part, and Bashir is right in part. O’Reilly’s point is simply that Pilate had to crucify Jesus in order to appease the Hebrews in order for the flow of taxes to continue to go smoothly from Israel into the Roman coffers. That is totally, legitimately, accurate. So, Bashir taking a swing at him with this message of Christian piety is terrible and wrong.
It reminds me of John Stewart going on Crossfire and saying “Please, stop. You are hurting America.” If you haven’t seen that excellent piece, go there now.
Evidently, President Obama has been celebrating an annual Seder with some of his staff ever since his 2008 campaign.
This is a virtual potpourri of Religion-State issues. Reciting the Emancipation Proclamation at a Seder! Saying “Next year at the White House!” instead of Jerusalem! This is such a huge conflagration of religion and civil religion and politics my heads about to explode. The thing is, this is exactly the kind of affirmation of faith I find fitting and appropriate from the White House.
Now, if Atheists could just have a holiday for the President to crash, then we could round it all out well. But because of this lack, I suspect folks are still irked that this African-American, Christian President does anything religious at all.
More violations of the separation of Corporation and State. Should we let Starbucks, or Google, or Chick Fil’A, or Papa John’s regulate our morality? How can society get so enflamed over religious institutions talking about morality in the public sphere, but applaud when CEO’s and mega-corporations grand stand on social issues?
If you boycotted Chick Fil’A for their position on gay marriage, don’t turn around applaud Starbucks.