Sunday, August 27, 2006

B.R.E.A.D. Columbus Fundraising

Back in the spring, Demetrius reworked the logo (seen below) for a local interfaith social justice organization. The organization's name is B.R.E.A.D., which stands for "Building Responsibility, Equality, and Dignity". They now have a Cafe Press shop, and proceeds from the sales will go to support the work of B.R.E.A.D. Columbus (currently having a fundraising drive). Click the logo to visit the store.

B.R.E.A.D (Building Responsibility Equality and Dignity) Columbus Online Store

If you would like to know more about the work and philosophy of B.R.E.A.D., I have provided some links:

BREAD Rises in the Buckeye State
The Nehemiah Assembly: packed like sardines for justice
Rabbi: G-d *expects* us to do justice!
Bread rises!

Those are about the most recent assembly. Here are some older articles:

Pulling together to fight for jobs
Casting Stones (a sermon by Susan Ritchie at a Unitarian Universalist church in Dublin, Ohio)
Church-based programs transform communities (from the Worldwide Faith News archives)

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Friday, August 18, 2006

Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio Update Blog

After the past couple days of e-mail updates from the diocese, I decided it was time to put together a blog just for matters related to the diocese. Click the graphic below to visit the new blog.

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The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr. 1934-2006

From the Diocese of Southern Ohio

A giant of the faith
The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr.

Rest in Peace

In an e-mail note to you yesterday, Bishop Price shared the news that Bishop Thompson died unexpectedly on Wednesday while in Florence, Italy. He was supplying there and had preached on Sunday. He apparently collapsed after swimming and could not be revived.

We don't know any details about arrangements at this point, but we will let you know as soon as possible, both through this e-mail and posted on our website.

We have established a website for you to share your memories of Bishop Thompson and to celebrate his life. Some of these may be used for a special tribute issue of Interchange that will be published later this month. Visit the site at I also invite you to submit stories, memories, photos or comments about Bishop Thompson to Interchange. Send them to Richelle Thompson by e-mail, please. The deadline is Aug. 23.

Bishop Price plans to send to the clergy later this afternoon a special prayer for Bishop Thompson that he is asking to be included in Sunday worship. Some congregations are holding special services today and tomorrow to celebrate the life and ministry of Bishop Thompson. A release to the media and a biography of Bishop Thompson are on our website and can be reprinted for inclusion in the worship bulletins, if you'd like.

Please keep Herb, Owen, Kyrie and Christian, and all of Bishop Thompson's family in your prayers.

Rest eternal grant to him, O Lord;
And let light perpetual shine upon him.
May his soul, and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


Richelle Thompson
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sad news

I just received this message from the Diocese of Southern Ohio

Brothers and Sisters

Word has just reached us that The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson, Jr, retired bishop of Southern Ohio, died suddenly today. He was traveling in Italy and passed out after swimming and was unable to be revived.

Bishop Ken Price
Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio

I can't even begin to imagine what his family is feeling right now. All I can think to say is that they are in my prayers.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Muslims and the Separation of Church and State

The following is a partial transcript (in progress) of a talk given at last night's meeting of the central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Predident of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Central Ohio Chapter:
Our speaker is Romin Iqbal. He is the civil rights coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He's an attorney practicing in Ohio, and works primarily in the area of religious discrimination in the workplace, and other issues which affect civil rights of Muslims and other minorities. CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, increase dialog, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Romin Iqbal: A little bit about myself. I was born and raised in India, which would be the largest democracy, and then I immigrated to the U.S., which would be the oldest democracy. I went to law school here as well, and what I found fascinating was the whole concept of separation of state and church. On how a secular democracy in India deals with the issue, and how they deal with the issue in the U.S. And what surprised me when I came over here is that there was still a debate going on in the U.S. over the issue of separation of state and church.

Now America is an advanced economy and an industrialized society, and I was surprised that there was still a debate going on in the westernmost nation, if you will, on the separation of state and church. And what surprised me even more is that there is a significant portion of the American population which does not necessarily believe in the concept.

As an outsider, and as a person who has lived in a third world nation, this is not something you think of the U.S. and for a western democracy, that is something which really surpised me--that the debate is still going on in the U.S. and the matter is still not settled. From an outsider's perspective, I found it very interesting.

I actually saw a poll recently, and in it they asked people living in western democracies their views on evolution and creationism. And the U.S. was in the bottom in terms of people who believe in evolution. I think Finland is the highest at 84%, and then you keep going down. And again, I was just blown away by the fact that the U.S. was actually at the bottom of people living in western democracies who actually do not believe in evolution. So that is something which to someone like me is very interesting, and maybe once I get done here, someone can fill me in on what's going on. (Laughter) Why so many in the American population, living in a prosperous, industrial democracy still do not believe in evolution.

Anyway, today I'm going to basically talk about the Muslims in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of the Muslims in the U.S. are actually born in the U.S. I was not, so I would be a minority of Muslims who have actually immigrated. What I'm going to talk about today is who the Muslims are in the U.S., and what do they believe in, and whether organizations like yours can build an alliance with Muslim organizations on this issue of separation of state and church, and whether it's even possible. And where do the Muslims stand on these issues of vouchers or evolution or stem cell.

The speaker explained that he looked at polling data from the past five years, and that his talk would be centered around that rather than his own views and experiences. He also noted that he was not speaking for CAIR.


Columbus has about 45,000 Muslims, most are Somalis who have come here as refugees, but that's not typical. In terms of ethnicity, the largest group of Muslims are from South and Central Asia, which would be India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and that would be around 33%. Then African Americans are the second largest group of Muslims, which is around 30%. The third is people of Arab origin which is around 25%, and then you have Whites and East Asians.

In terms of other demographics, 60% of Muslims have an undergraduate degree. Eighty-two percent of citizens are registered to vote.

Voting patterns of Muslims in 1996, 2000, and 2004

In 1996, almost 75% voted for Clinton, Dole got 20%, and 5% went to the third party candidate.

In 2000, the Republicans were very successful in getting a large share of the Muslim vote. Bush and the Republican party were very successful in reaching out to Muslims, and they had a faith-based alliance--that's what they called it. A faith-based alliance between Muslims and Evangelical Christians. And even though more Muslims voted for the Democrat in 2000, the difference from 50% came down to only 10%. And I was reading the Zogby international poll, and they said there were 55,000 Muslims in Florida in 2000, and almost 70% of them voted for Bush, as compared to 1996, when only 27% of them voted for Bush. So Bush was very successful in winning over the Muslim vote in Florida. And in fact all over the country, even though he did not get more votes than the Democrat, he narrowed the gap in 2000.

How he did that was basically, again, the Republicans were able to build a faith-based alliance with the Muslims. Also, I remember watching this debate in 2000. It was the second debate, and they asked a question about racial profiling of African Americans. And Bush talked about that and then he said Arab Americans are racially profiled in what's called "secret evidence". People are stopped, and we have to do something about that. So Bush spoke up against racial profiling in the debate, and supposedly this was a reason that a lot of Muslims went over to the Republican side, because Bush brought up the issue of racial profiling and he spoke against it.

Now in 2001, we obviously had the terrorist attacks, and in the 2004 election, I looked at a lot of different polls, and I did not see any poll where more than 10% of Muslims voted for Bush.

To be continued...

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Dispatch article on "We Believe"

I was wondering what was going on lately with We Believe--hadn't heard anything from them for a while. There's an article in the Columbus Dispatch about their efforts...

Congregations such as Brown’s on the Near East Side are moving beyond traditional charity work by conducting voter registration before and after Sunday services. Other churches helped collect petition signatures to place a minimum-wage initiative on Ohio’s Nov. 7 ballot.

We Believe recently agreed to support a get-out-the-vote effort targeting urban neighborhoods in Columbus, Dayton, East Cleveland and Lorain.

"There has certainly been a variety of evidence that the religious left has sought to countermobilize in response to the Christian Right," said Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute and Political Science Department at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"It’s a little too early to tell how much effect they are likely to have."

Many congregations involved in the movement experienced declining membership in recent years while attendance at the megachurches associated with the religious right soared.

Still, leaders say they believe their message will attract those in a wide variety of denominations as well as non-churchgoers who consider themselves religious or spiritual.

"This is our moment," Ahrens said. "The vision for a Christian Ohio that the religious right has is not a vision that most Christians in Ohio have.

"Given time this will catch fire."
Click here for the rest.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Church/state separation and Muslim civil liberties

I received notice of the following event from the Central Ohio chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State...

Monday, August 14, 2006 - 7:00 PM
Northside Branch Library 1423 N. High Street Columbus 43201

Mr. Romin Iqbal, Civil Rights Coordinator for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), will be speaking on:

* The Muslim perspective on issues such as school vouchers, religious prayer in schools and other church-state separation issues
* How a weakened wall of separation between church and state affects the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities
* Issues on which Muslims and evangelical Christians agree and disagree; where the relationship between the two groups is headed

A question and answer session will follow. The monthly chapter meeting will be conducted after the Q&A. All members and non-members are welcome to attend the speaker and meeting.

Romin Iqbal is an attorney, licensed to practice law in Ohio and works primarily in the area of religious discrimination in workplace and other areas that affect the civil rights of Muslims and other minorities.

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 32 offices, chapters and affiliates nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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General Admission for Jefferts Schori's Investiture

I received these details in an e-mail newsletter from the Diocese of Southern Ohio. The investiture of Katharine Jefferts Schori on November 5 is open to the general public, but general admission tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Details below...

Investiture of 26th Presiding Bishop

In rites on November 4-5 at Washington National Cathedral, the Episcopal Church will welcome Katharine Jefferts Schori as its 26th Presiding Bishop.
The Cathedral's 11 a.m. All Saints' Sunday liturgy on November 5 will include the formal seating of Jefferts Schori -- elected to office June 18 during proceedings of the 75th General Convention -- in the Presiding Bishop's cathedra, or official chair. All are welcome to attend the service on a first-come, first- seated basis as capacity allows.

General-admission tickets for the Saturday Investiture will be distributed on a first-come, first- served basis by the Office of the Presiding Bishop, which, in consultation with the Cathedral, has sought to achieve the fairest possible manner of ticket distribution. According to policy detailed below, tickets may be requested no earlier than August 15 and by postal mail only.

Requests must be mailed to: The Office of the Presiding Bishop, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017. They must be mailed and be postmarked no earlier than August 15, 2006. Tickets will be distributed on the basis of when requests were mailed (not received).

Each request may include the names of up to two people
No requests for groups will be honored
No requests by e-mail or fax will be accepted

The request for tickets should include a self- addressed stamped envelope in which tickets will be sent or in which you will be informed that tickets are not available
Tickets will be mailed the first week after Labor Day. Included in the mailing will be information about access to The Cathedral and when the doors will be opened.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage files ballot petitions

Dr. Rev. Eric Brown addresses crowd

From the press release:

Supporters of Minimum-Wage Increase File Petitions,
Call Current Wage an “Injustice”

Columbus, Ohio – A throng of supporters for an initiative to increase Ohio’s minimum wage gathered at the Statehouse today to rally for a raise. The rally was followed by a march to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office where petitions were filed to place the minimum-wage increase on the November ballot.

Dr. Eric Brown, Pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, derided the current minimum wage of $5.15, which has stayed at or below that rate for over ten years. He explained that a full-time, minimum-wage earner in Ohio makes $10,712 a year, which is nearly $3,000 below the federal poverty standards for a family of two. “Paying a hard-working, single mom nearly $3,000 less than the established mark of poverty is an injustice,” said Dr. Brown.

Other initiative supporters spoke from experience about the challenges faced by low-wage earners.

“Healthcare coverage is out of the question when you work for minimum wage,” said Shannon Spradlin. “My husband and I both work full time and we still can’t afford it. When we get sick, we have to make a hard choice between going to the hospital and getting help, or waiting it out and hoping it just goes away.”

Tim Burga of the Ohio AFL-CIO and Co-Chair of Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage said that over 700,000 signatures were filed at the Secretary of State’s office and that he fully expects this amendment to be on the ballot this fall. Burga went on to say that, “after ten long years of holding the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, the need for this constitutional amendment has never been greater.”

The ballot initiative seeks to amend the Ohio Constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, beginning in January, 2007. The wage will then adjust annually for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

“The time has come to take politics out of this issue and put the minimum wage into the Ohio Constitution. Doing so with annual adjustments for inflation will ensure that the minimum wage will always keep pace with the cost of living and prevent anyone from playing politics with this important issue ever again,” said Burga.

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage
, a coalition of non-profit, community, faith-based, civil rights and labor organizations, is supporting this issue. The coalition, which is co-chaired by the Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio State Senator CJ Prentiss, and ACORN Ohio, filed more than double the number of signatures required to place the issue on the ballot.

Looking ahead to the campaign, Burga said, “We must pass this minimum wage increase to help lift many hard-working Ohioans out of poverty—to help other low-wage workers and ensure that inflation never again erodes the value of their paychecks.”

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Interfaith Prayers for Peace in the Middle East

Suffering and Hope in Our World:
Interfaith Prayers for Peace in the Middle East

When: Thursday, August 3, 2006, 12 noon - 1 PM
Where: St. Thomas More Newman Center (near OSU campus), 64 W. Lane Ave., Columbus OH 43201. Phone: 291-4674, Ample free parking available in church parking lot

At a time when violence is raging in the Middle East, we will gather for a special "Suffering and Hope in Our World" worship service led by Rev. John Wagner. We will also lift our prayers of concern for those in Darfur, South Asia, and other parts of the world. All are invited to attend.

This special worship service is being held as a part of the national "Season of Prayer for Peace in the Middle East." More information on the national campaign can be accessed at

We gather together as communities of diverse faiths to:
- pray for peace
- promote peace, harmony, restraint, and interfaith understanding, and
- foster unity among people in Central Ohio and around the world.

Sponsored by
Faith Communities Uniting for Peace

Faith Communities Uniting for Peace is a gathering of people of faith, prompted by the war on Iraq, to find common ground, encouragement and wisdom for the transformation of the world. The organization affirms that "all faiths call followers to live and speak with peace, justice and compassion," and commits itself to putting our faith values into action.

Members of Faith Communities Uniting for Peace include persons affiliated with several faith groups (American Baptist, Baha'i, Buddhist, Church of the Brethren, Episcopal, Friends, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Lutheran, Mennonite, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Sikh, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist) as well as other people of conscience.

For more information and to join Faith Communities Uniting for Peace please contact:
Rev. Deanna Stickley-Miner, Co-convener, dstickley(at)
Dr. Tarunjit S. Butalia, Co-convener butalia.1(at)

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