The Network of Spiritual Progressives has 3 goals:
1. to challenge the misuse of God and religion by the Religious Right to justify war and militarism, cuts in programs for the poor and powerless in order to justify cuts in taxes for the rich, assaults on human rights and civil liberties, and destruction oaf the separation of church and state;
2. to challenge the religio-phobia and hostility toward religious and spiritual people that appears in some sections of liberal and progressive culture, and to help the Left distinguish
between reactionary forms of religion and the progressives forms that it took with Martin Luther King, Jr., William Sloan Coffin, Abraham Joshua Heschel and many others. and to build a new spiritual progressive politics not only for religious people, but also for those who do not believe in God but are "spiritual but NOT religious"
This is the ground floor of building a new kind of paradigm for progressive politics, and it could have a major impact in making the liberal and progressive forces far more successful in healing and transforming American society. As I've shown in my new book The Left Hand of God: Taking Back our Country from the Religious Right, many people agree with the Left on specific issues but still end up feeling that their greatest pain is the deprivation of love, a sense of meaning in work, and a feeling that they are surrounded by materialism, selfishness, and moral insensitivity, that their children are subjected to sexual pressures before they are old enough to handle them, and that the Left seems oblivious to these kinds of issues and only addresses economic entitlements and political rights.
We in the NSP (the Network of Spiritual Progressives) care very much about eliminating poverty, fighting for equal rights, ending the war in Iraq and the militarist assumptions that led to it, but that these important struggles will not be won until the Left also seems to care about these other "meaning" issues in the lives of many Americans. Moreover, the Left is only clear on what it is against, but rarely has it communicated clearly what it is for. That's why we are taking our demand for a New Bottom Line to the Congress and the media May 17-20 along with a detailed SPIRITUAL COVENANT WITH AMERICA that is meant to provide a positive vision of what a progressive spiritual politics is about (you can read it fully explicated in The Left Hand of God, which, I'm happy to say, has become a national best-seller since it was published by Harpers in February).
The spiritual activism conference will be a unique blending of progressive religious people with progressive "spiritual but not religious" people. Among the presenters, besides me, Cornel West and Sister Joan Chittister: Jim Wallis (progressive Evangelical editor of Sojourners and author, God's Politics), Cindy Sheehan (mother of U.S. solider killed in Iraq war), Episcopal ArchDeacon Michael Kendall, Marie Denis (Fellowship of Reconciliation), Rev. William Sinkford (national president, Unitarian Universalist Association), Rev. Joan Campbell (Chautauqua Institute), Harry Knox (Human Rights Campaign), Rev. Penny Nixon (Metropolitan Church, San Francisco), Rabbi Brain Walt (national chair, Rabbis for Human Rights), Seyyed Hossein Nasr (author, The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (chair, Progressive Caucus, U.S. House of Representatives), Shaikh Kabir Helminski (Sufi teacher), Svi Shapiro (author of Beyond Liberalism and Excellence: Reconstructing the Public Discourse on Education), Rev. Ama Zenya (United Church of Christ), John Dear S.J. (Catholic non-violence activist), Rev. Lennox Yearwood (Progressive Democrats of America), Robert Thurman (Buddhist teacher and author The Jewel Tree of Tibet), Jonathan Granoff (chair, American Bar Association committee on disarmament), Rev. Lynice Pinkard (United Church of Christ), Bill Meadows (national chair, Wildlife Association), Enola Aird, Katrina Vanden Heuvel (editor, The Nation), Christopher Hedges (former NY Times reporter and author: War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning), Peter Gabel (associate editor of Tikkun and professor of law, New College of California), Thea Levkowitz (Religion and the Environment), Rev. Tony Campolo (Evangelical teacher), Holly Near (progressive music), Michael Bader (psychoanalyst), Michael Posner (human rights), Arthur Waskow (Shalom Center), Rev. Donna Schaper, Nanette Schorr, Rabbi Debora Kohn, Barbara Coombs Lee, Enola Aird, Rev. Bob Edgar (chair, National Council of Churches), Rev. Debora Johnson, John Seed, Paul Wapner, Mary Darling, Rev. Donna Schapper, Harvey Cox, Janet Chisholm, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Rev. Glenn Harold Stassen, Rev. Paul Smith, Çharlene Spretnak, David Abrams
Rev. Robert Hardies & Rev. Louise Green (All Souls Unitarian church), and many more.
Even if you can't come to the conference, you can join as a dues paying member the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) and help us out financially, or even help us build a local chapter in your area. For information on registering for the conference or joining the NSP: www.spiritualprogressives.org or 510 644 1200 (between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time).
I hope you personally will come, or join, and I'd particularly appreciate it if you'd send this note to everyone you know, and in your own name urge them to come as well..
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Editor, Tikkun, rabbi of Beyt Tikkun synagogue in San Francisco, and author, The Left Hand of God