Progressive Faithful Finding Our Voice


Settling in at the Netroots Nation conference where I will moderate a panel tomorrow is a challenge for me today. In this progressive community I am distinctly a person of faith, and I am acutely aware of how long it has been since the progressive religious voice has had a champion in the American public square.

I look back to the 1950s, when Protestant theologian Reinhold Neibuhr had a serious impact on American foreign policy, in particular. Before that, Walter Rauschenbusch with the Social Gospel and Dorothy Day with the Catholic Workers’ Movement were celebrities of their time. Then, of course, there is the lasting presence of Martin Luther King, Jr. with his gift for connecting faith values with the moral conscience of our country concerning racial and economic inequality. The last truly powerful voice for progressive Christians that I can think of was Rev. William Sloane Coffin, who fought for civil rights and against war and nuclear weaponry. His witness faded through the 1980s.

Beyond these powerful leaders, the fact is progressive people of faith have remained in the public square all along. We have worked alongside other progressives to build the foundations of, the Howard Dean campaign, the Obama campaign and public support for health care reform. And, along with the bloggers in Las Vegas today, we have participated in the rise of the blogosphere as a vital arena for American and international public discourse.

The panelists who will speak tomorrow on Common Values: Building Bridges with People of Faith to Win Progressive Change are fine examples of the voices emerging now, in our time. George Hunsinger grounds his stand against torture on the moral bedrock of basic human dignity recognized by all religions. At Sojourners, the progressive Christian network led by Jim Wallis, Elizabeth Denlinger campaigns for immigration reform, health care, the environment and more. Rebecca Voelkel testifies to the fact that LGBT faithful and their straight allies are showing the church and the world how LGBT equality is precious to the heart of God. And Eric Sapp pulls this all together by helping progressive political campaigns connect with people of faith through the values and ideals we share.

As the present manifestation of a progressive religious thread that runs through American history from the inciting of revolution (however imperfect) through the abolition of slavery to this very day, we are surrounded by the spirit of leaders who have gone before us. It is great to be here among the voices at Netroots Nation, This awesome new realm of the blogosphere is helping the faithful progressive voice be heard loud and clear again.


Reverend Janet

6 Responses
  • Ann Montague on July 23, 2010

    We do not want to forget the important role of Rev. Troy Perry and Metropolitan Community Church..When there was Literally NO PLACE for LGBT Christians. And it continues of course today ..

  • Bruce Reyes-Chow on July 23, 2010

    I LOVE that you are there. I have always wanted to attend, but with other duties the past two years 😉 just would not have been prudent. Shameless ask, but if you need any to carry your bags and schlep things next year, I’m you guy!

    Seriously, I am awaiting the announcement for next year and hopefully will be able to put it on my calendar.

    Have a great event!

  • Janet Edwards on July 23, 2010

    Dear Ann and Bruce,

    Thanks for your comments: Ann for your reminder of some of the history of GLBT Christians with the crucial place of MCC in that, and Bruce for your leading so lovingly our beloved PCUSA into this new world of cyberspace ! I count you both as support as I move among these amazing bloggers.

    And, Mr. Moderator, here’s the deal: I get to schlep your bags at Netroots Nation next year. May we make it so.

    Peace be with you both, Janet

  • Virginia Thibeaux on July 24, 2010

    No, you both have it wrong: I get to shlep for both of you!

  • Janet Edwards on July 24, 2010

    Dear Virginia,

    So let’s continue to discuss who will carry what, but agree together that we will build upon the panel on common values today through the year and at the Netroots Nation conference next year as well.

    Let’s create ways for faithful progressives to follow up on the possibilities presented by the panel today and expand the conversation next year.

    I am seeing that you are ready for this, Virginia. Thanks! Peace, Janet

  • Bill on November 26, 2013

    Hi Janet. Could you explain what “progressive” means?

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