Press Freedom Day

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Today is Press Freedom Day. Now more than ever, we need to protect our access to news and world events from a free and independent press. Here are some links that should definitely spend some time today reading:

World Press Freedom Day

Bipartisan Call to Protect Journalists
Why the Times is taking down its paywall (and at the end of the three days, think about subscribing)

Taking Stock on Press Freedom Day

Committee to Protect Journalists

This is Not Normal, Resources

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Use this chart to help you determine if the news you’re getting is accurate and free of bias. That doesn’t mean that some sources shouldn’t be opinionated, but they do need to be clear on the difference between their opinion and reporting the facts as well as the tools they use for their analysis. MediaBiastChart (c)2018

Links below cut

Original Opinion and Resource List

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Halloween and Political Statement

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​As Walter Cronkite said, “Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.”

My Halloween costume this year is a political statement. I’ve been shocked and appalled by the number of attacks, both verbally and physically on journalists in the past year and throughout this election cycle, mainly from one side in particular.

There is a reason that freedom of the press is in the first amendment; it is that important.

We can’t let serious presidential candidates mock journalists for their disabilities.

We can’t let candidates refuse press credentials to mainstream, reliable, longstanding investigative journalistic newspapers like The Washington Post, the paper that broke the Watergate scandal.

At the same time, we can’t let them issue credentials to their friends.

We can’t let campaign employees (Lewandowski) assault journalists (from Breitbart no less).

We can’t let journalists (like Amy Goodman) be arrested for inciting and disorderly conduct when she is working as a journalist (and has been for more than 20 years) and covering an important news story that you just don’t like (ND pipeline).

I’m certain that I’ve left out at least half a dozen incidents that I can’t recall at this moment.

This is for every journalist kidnapped while doing their job. At the most recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama honored Jason Rezaian, journalist released from an Iranian prison. He stated, in part, “This year, we see that courage [Jason Rezaian] in the flesh and it’s a living testament to the very idea of a free press, and a reminder of the rising level of danger, and political intimidation, and physical threats faced by reporters overseas.” [And I would add, here at home as well.]

This is for David Bloom who died doing his job.

This is for Daniel Pearl who was murdered for his religion.

This is for Bob Woodruff who got a traumatic brain injury doing his job.
This is for Spotlight, the Academy Award’s Best Picture for 2016.

This is for every journalist who went to jail for protecting a source.

This is for the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.

A Call to Claim Each Other

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Today marks the end of the the Week of Christian Unity. As called upon in Peter, “to proclaim the mighty works of the one who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light,” we can join together under the ecumenical banner of Christian unity.

From that joining we can move to the other faiths we have common-ness with as well as those we have no commonality with.

Interfaith and acceptance isn’t changing one’s beliefs, but including everyone regardless of their religion or non-religion as I’ve expanded the thought, and whatever else separates us.. 

Recently I attended a gathering sponsored by the Interfaith Community in my local area. It was described as “moving  beyond  tolerance,  and  beyond  coexistence,  to  affirmation,  acceptance,  mutual  support  and cooperation  among  peoples  of  faith  …  literally  to  claim  each  other as sisters and  brothers  of  G-d.” While this was faith-based, that is no reason to think that non-faith people or faith groups not mentioned by name are excluded from this type of conversation.

The presenters included a Rev. B, Rabbi K, and Imam G. In addition to their religious titles and education, the rabbi and the imam are also professors at a local college and hold degrees in religious studies. In the audience were several people I had seen before at workshops and retreats including our Bishop Emeritus, who championed interfaith cooperation and acceptance (including with the Jewish faith when it was an unpopular position to hold) in his thirty-seven years as Bishop.

The next thing I should mention is that this gathering/lecture had not been planned in the two months prior to the date. It became apparent that this type of gathering and discussion was needed with the onslaught of anti-Muslim rhetoric that is becoming prevalent in our country today as well as the tremendous rise of anti-semitism across this country and globally.

This will serve as my thoughts interspersed with my summation of the gathering and a paraphrasing of what was said by many in attendance. The only statements that are verbatim will appear within quotation marks.

I’ll begin where the Reverend began:

Sarah Palin endorsed Donald Trump for President. We chuckled and eye rolled, but we were stopped cold when we were reminded of another disenfranchised group courted in the same way as Palin/Trump that gave rise to someone we all remember – Hitler. Megalomaniac. Demagogue. This was not hyperbole; or ironic. This was very serious. This was something to think about.

An austere beginning, and then he (followed by the Rabbi) continued with this quotation:

“Silence is sometimes betrayal.” – Martin Luther King

We cannot sit idly by and hope that it gets better, or that someone else will stand up for what is right; to speak out for someone else.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
– Martin Niemoller

Martin Niemoller was a Lutheran Pastor who spent eight years in a Nazi concentration camp. Some of his statements prior to that can be problematic, but he never shirked from discussing them or the changes in his views formed by the turning point of having survived the concentration camps.

If we’re not standing together, we stand apart in fear. We’re all concerned for me, but “I want them to stand with me or I’ll be standing alone.” [Rabbi K]

We must remember that we are all individuals, and individuals are approachable. We can’t dismiss a whole group of people, and that includes the ones we don’t agree with; even Fox News.

We must acknowledge that everyone has a conscience; a heart; mind; they are individuals.

It can be challenging to be a person of faith. It can also be challenging to be an American. It is also challenging to be a person who doesn’t have religious faith in this increasingly divisive to those who are different.

With the Patriot Act, we decided it was okay to profile, to strip individuals of their rights. Whenever we’re reminded of Japanese internment camps or McCarthyism, we’re told that we’ve moved beyond that bias.

But have we?

We must remember that our social – political – economical interests are all intertwined. Our destinies are intertwined on a global level. The world is too small to be isolationists; or imperialists.

We need to look for an interfaith, grassroots, educational movement of inclusivity.

Looking at the middle East, it’s imperative to remember that context is paramount. The Middle East is a land bridge on the way to Europe. Without it being home to the three major religions in the world, it would still be a land in strife. The political division by Europeans didn’t help matters in much the same way that the partitioning of Africa has come to a similar head in recent years.

Since admittedly, most of us have less knowledge of Islam and Muslims, it might be important to hear some unbiased facts about the Muslim faith and the Koran.

The Koran is 1400 years old and as I mentioned context is paramount. It has its governing and foundational verses. There is an academic and literary process to analyze and interpret the Koran. There is a freedom to choose, a G-d given free will that contributes to the analysis of the Koran.

The first thing to know is that Muslims have an understanding of the people of the book – those people who are “receiving of the Word/Scriptures from G-d.” [Imam G] This includes all Jews and Christians. The Torah came first, then the Gospels, and then the Koran.

Any “bigoted dialogue of other faiths, such things are in completely contradictive with foundational verses in the Koran.” [Imam G]

Whoever believes in G-d – Jews, Christians, anyone, be happy in this life and in the next.

We’ve followed a mixed path, but we have a common G-d. We have shared foods. We believe in marriage and building families.

Warfare is “never based on religious difference.” It is a last resort “for the protection of human rights and justice.” [Imam G]

All three of the Abrahamic faiths believe in salvation, families and marriage, and the protection of our places of worship.

Looking at the Pillars of Islam, where is jihad mentioned? Does Islam equal jihad? It does not. It’s not even in the top ten of the pillars.

Education is where it begins to bring us together and refuse to let us be separated. We need to heed the call to claim others, to protect others because if we don’t eventually we’ll be someone else’s other.

Postscript: This morning as I was finishing up the editing, I came across this Washington Post article discussing how a college student of the Muslim faith continues amid anti-Muslim rhetoric and the pressure to “fit in” as an American from both inside and outside her family.