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Proposal for an Islamic Envoy Brings Cautious Hope

Muslims applaud president’s plan for a representative but warn that improving relations will take time.

Romney Questioned by Conservatives

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, courting Iowa conservatives, found himself answering questions Saturday about the role his Mormon faith would play should he win the race.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler: Another Colbert Retort

That Stephen Colbert is dishing it out again… Because many of my friends know I’m a dumpster diver, or “freegan,” I heard from multiple sources that Colbert was making fun of my ilk on his show this week, saying, “I’m not going to stand by and let these human rats live off our waste.” Since I don’t have cable, I didn’t see the segment until I watched it online today over a tasty lunch that included smoked trout and chevre (goat cheese, that is—I had been eating lobster bisque all week and was kind of tired of it) all courtesy—you guessed it—of my nocturnal scavenings. And yes, the irony was also delicious.

But I haven’t been so outraged since Colbert mocked our presidential candidates forum. And by outraged, I mean gratified by the free satirical publicity—which is second only to imitation as the sincerest form of flattery.

Now, as a person who gets 95 percent of my groceries from dumpster diving, I’m used to misunderstandings about the safety and legality of this lifestyle, but Colbert cut right to the heart of the matter, citing a recent New York Times article and taking issue with those who are “living off consumer waste in an effort to minimize their support of corporations and their impact on the planet.” (Sorry, you can’t read the article for free online anymore—maybe you can find it in your neighbor’s recycling bin.)

Colbert may mock our efforts to “stick it to the man,” but maybe he’d be more sympathetic if he read my article in last year’s Sojourners special issue on food. In it, I cite Jesus’ teachings on simple living as one of the motivators behind my dumpster diet. Is Colbert going to argue with Jesus? Actually, I’d like to see that.

And Stephen, there’s still plenty of smoked trout in the freezer, and you’re always welcome to come over for dinner … if you dare.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler is the web editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

Rally Around The Wall: Pro-Separation Baptists Celebrate Religious Liberty

The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) shift to the far right is a familiar and disconcerting story. One of its most prominent voices, Richard Land, the SBC’s top lobbyist in Washington, is widely seen as an influential player into today’s Religious Right movement and a strident opponent of church-state separation.

But the SBC does not speak for […]

Michael Sherrard: A Missed Opportunity for Labor Fairness

Too often, unions are portrayed in our culture as products of a bygone era, better suited for the days of nine-to-five industrial jobs than the more complicated global economic realities of the 21st century. It’s certainly true that organized labor has declined in recent decades—a smaller share of America’s workers belong to a labor union today than in any period since the 1930s.

But that’s not for lack of trying: Workers who organize to seek a voice at work are threatened, intimidated, and fired with increasing frequency. As writer Harold Meyerson explained in a recent article:

Firing employees for endeavoring to form unions has been illegal since 1935 under the National Labor Relations Act, but beginning in the 1970s, employers have preferred to violate the law—the penalties are negligible—rather than have their workers unionize. Today, employer violations rank somewhere between routine and de rigueur. Over half—51 percent—of employers illegally threaten workers with the specter of plant closings if employees choose to unionize (1 percent actually go through with this threat, according to Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner).

It’s outrageous enough that the world’s wealthiest nation fails so miserably to enforce its own labor laws (not to mention the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), but the consequences of a declining labor movement go far beyond lofty ideals. The fate of the labor movement—which has lifted millions of working families out of poverty and into the middle class—is closely bound to the condition of "the least of these" in our society.

This makes it all the more troubling that the United States Senate missed an opportunity this week to give workers a free and fair chance to join a union by failing to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. (Click here to see how your senators voted.)

The legislation would have fixed the broken and unfair process through which workers currently form unions—in which employers are free to wage campaigns of fear and intimidation with impunity—in favor of simply requiring employers to recognize a union whenever a majority of eligible workers sign a card indicating their support. It also would have prevented employers from endlessly delaying contract negotiations, and dramatically increased the penalties they pay for breaking the law.

The good news is that the Employee Free Choice Act got further this year than ever before, passing the House and winning a 51-49 majority in the Senate (fewer than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster), and that it is virtually certain to come back in the next Congress.

In the mean time, every 23 minutes someone in the United States will be continue to be fired or discriminated against simply for seeking to join with their fellow workers in seeking dignity and justice on the job.

Michael Sherrard is the online organizer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal. For more about the Employee Free Choice Act, check out Kim Bobo’s article, "Justice at Work," in the July issue of Sojourners, or visit American Rights at Work on the Web.

Duane Shank: Daily News Digest

the latest reports on the Supreme Court, immigration, the GOP and Bush, Democrats debate, Iraq, Brown’s cabinet, executive privilege, Iran, nuclear weapons, Colombia, death penalty, Baptists, and select op-eds

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Verse of the Day: Who Will Stand Up and Repair the Wall?

The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress. And I sought for anyone among them who would repair the wall and stand in the breach before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

- Ezekiel 22:29-30

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Voice of the Day: Alan Boesak

Unity that is dictated by the powerful is not unity. Unity at the cost of the poor and the oppressed, at the cost of the integrity of the gospel, is not unity.

- Alan Boesak

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Op-Ed: The Gospel Of Obama

Obama is clearly more fluent on religious issues than most in his party. But to appeal broadly to religious voters, he will need to be more than the candidate of the religious left.

Stump Speeches Taking a Page from the Bible

Does Scripture have a place on the campaign trail?