Besides Americans United's Rev. Barry Lynn, speakers at the Unity Service will include: Bishop Maynard of Cathedral of Praise Tabernacle, Bishop Walker of Mt. Zion Ministry, Rev. Rita Brock of FaithVoices, Patrick Mroteck of Christian Alliance for Progress, and Rev. Emilee Whitehurst of Austin Area Interreligious Ministries. The announcement says that numerous other speakers will be confirmed later this week.
I wrote last week that numbers don't matter in matters of faith, but that they do matter to the media. I've been in the Cathedral of Praise church on a number of occasions. It's huge and impressive, but it can look empty even if a good size crowd attends (kind of like Two Rivers looked when Hardball recently did a broadcast from its partially-filled sanctuary). Getting 2000 people to attend will be a challenge, especially if protests are planned by others at Two Rivers, but it is a must for media attention, given the size of the Cathedral of Praise.
08/08/2005, 9:20 p.m. Update: You'll see in the comments below that Blake, conservative commentator from NashvilleFiles.com has leveled a serious charge: he charges me and Americans United (the two are not necessarily intertwined) with hypocrisy.
But I believe that his charge of hypocrisy is based on misunderstanding on both counts. First, in fairness to Americans United, they oppose mixing the state and religion, not mixing politics and religion; AU would not be very effective if they could not politically organize their mainline and liberally religious base. Here's their verbatim description of the event:
Several Nashville and national organizations will gather to let Americans know that there are many people of faith who understand the importance of the separation of church and state, who believe that all faith traditions should respect one another, and who oppose the use of government to impose the beliefs of one doctrine upon our diverse country. The gathering is intended to give Americans a spirited and inclusive message.In order to oppose government's imposition of a specific religion on everyone in a Republic, AU would have to organize politically.
As for myself, I don't disagree with mixing religion and politics; I don't particularly care for the partisanization of faith, but that's a risk of political participation. I don't oppose the entitlement of conservative Christians to organize; I do object to them claiming Christian values for themselves without reference to the rest of us Christians. Some organizers of Just-Us Sunday I basically called conservative Christianity the only Christianity. My faith considers that a sinful expression of pride and presumption. I also object to conservative Christians who talk the language of Zion but flex the political muscle of Zeus. Exercising power is not any better if you cloth it in religious garb. It's still power.
If you read my criticisms of Just-Us Sunday I & II, they are not directed at the co-mingling of politics and religion, because I believe that even when religions avoid politics, that avoidance has political affects. I just think that the conservative Christians attending those events are plain wrong and that they are not as moral as they claim to be, nor are they any more moral than the rest of us sinners. I also think that moderate and liberal Christians should organize to counter the tremendous influence conservatives have gained over the past couple of decades.
Trouble is, liberals and especially moderates don't subscribe to blind, uncritical allegiance and call it loyalty like some conservatives have. They debate and divide until they absolutely have to come together. I don't know if this is the event where that convergence needs to happen, but it surely better happen soon if somebody's going to check the conservative agenda to turn this Republic into one huge Protestant evangelical church.