Note: due to time limitations; I am pleased to record just a few random notes from event, If I get the
time, I will elaborate on each panelists take.
A few highlights:
Jeff Weiss shared how the
candidates Santorum, Bachman and Gingrich had defined themselves in sectarian terms,
while Sam Hodges shared the movement of the society towards secularization, and
Derek talked about the bubble Republicans lived in. My take was the trend
towards pluralism, and that this election has firmly established the separation
of church and state.
Jeter spoke about the position of
the evangelicals and we all discussed about the fears and phobias of each
group, the fear of evangelicals to see the world move towards sinful societies,
a violation of God’s covenant. He and I carried the discussion further about
how the conservatives in Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and others want
to hang on the covenant. I can see the safety and clarity of that position. He
was open to seeing it from a pluralistic point of view as well, meaning the
same scripture is viewed differently by the liberals.
It was a great honor for me to
sit between Jeff and Sam, both of whom I have come to admire for years. Jeff
was a recipient of the Pluralist Award for his equal opportunity criticism of
faiths while Sam is also a recipient of the award in 2011 for this drive to
present another point of view. The awards are bestowed at the annual Unity Day
My talking points (not sequences
or written in sentence format) written earlier, but not shared as written, most
of the conversation was in response to each other’s comments.
We think you should plan to have a short
opening statement about who you are (2-3 minutes only please and then be ready to answer questions from
I was born and raised
in India and chose to be an American some two decades ago. The most attractive
thing about America is freedom, the personal, social, business, religious and
cultural freedom. It’s near absolute freedom except where the public safety is
concerned. Freedom is the most cherished value for me, it means questioning
everything, including my own belief, and why I do or don’t do things.
I was raised in a
Muslim family like millions of other Muslims, and when I was a teen, I chose to
be ir-religious, however, there was not a religious place I did not visit or
participate, and people’s faith amazes me. I remained an Atheist for nearly
thirty years and about 15 years ago I chose Islam to be my religion, let me be
clear, it could have been any religion, all of them provided the same value; to
find peace within and peace with what surrounds.
I have made some outrageous statements
to the orthodox folks - that my religion is not superior or inferior to any. If
it is superior, it amounts to arrogance and arrogance is the mother of all evil
and conflicts. Religion is about humility.
My mission is
pluralism - that learning to respect the otherness of others and accept the God
given or genetic uniqueness of each one of us, if we do that, then conflicts
fade and solutions emerge.
Much of my work is linked to some 5 sites, and 30 blogs on each topic at www.MikeGhouse.net
Thanks to Dallas Morning News, Huff post, Washington post, Hannity and
sanity… for giving me the opportunity to express my thoughts.
I am committed to building cohesive societies, where no one has to live in
apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other. My book will be out by Christmas
and movie will be done next Christmas.
Where do we draw that fine line between
church and state in the election process….for instance, if a church paid for
billboards with political messages, or endorsing a specific candidate, should
they lose their non-profit status?
Church is about faith, governance is about living with each other
Non profits political orgs.. Where you don't even disclose the giver
Are we assuming all members of the church vote the same way?
Why should a pastor coerce an individual to hide his political identity to
Big donors to sway? Isn't that a loss of freedom and democracy?
Where's the freedom?
Shouldn't that be an individual decision!
The purpose of
nonprofit status was to give a break to smaller churches so they can attract
donations… I kind of liken it to the Sherman anti-trust act which It
prohibits certain business activities that reduce competition in the
How does the rise in social media change
the dynamics of religion and politics? How should churches react to political
messages posted on their Facebook pages by church members?
Social media had taken over religion...
Posting should be with disclosure... That it was a pr firm, no way to monitor...
I have personally crossed my own lines a few times... I was the only one, at
times, and felt it was unfair to Romney...even though I was not voting for
How successful were religious groups
during this election cycle (nationally and/or locally) …. are there any
Very successful, all were driven by fear
-83% Jews, 95 Muslims, African 96, Latino 73%
The glbt was not an issue at all... The ones opposing are ones giving votes
There is a Trend towards pluralism... Separation of church and state in
What can we (as church communicators) do
in the next four years to prepare for 2016? Will religion be more of an issue
Keep state out of church
Same sex marriage, contraceptives, Sharia, question the politicians if they
know the stuff to oppose or support an issue
Religion will not be an issue in 2016, the ones who bring, stand to lose, 2010
was an Anomaly...
We have a great panel that will
discuss the role religion played in this latest political cycle.
How did the various groups use
religion as a positive marketing piece for a candidate? Or was it used as a
negative weapon against a candidate? Did religion really play a role or was it
just used to deflect attention?
Bring your questions about
politics and religion and challenge our panel of experts in this arena!
When: Thursday, November 29
Time: 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.
Where: Christ United Methodist
Church, 2801 Valwood Parkway, Farmers Branch
Cost: $15 and includes lunch.
About our Panel:
Mike Ghouse is a speaker,
thinker, writer, initiator, organizer and mediator committed to building
cohesive societies, and offering pluralistic solutions on current issues. Mike
is a frequent guest on Fox News, “The Hannity Show”, and on nationally syndicated
Radio shows including Dallas TV, print and radio networks, and occasional
interviews on NPR. Mike is a member of the Texas Faith Panel at The Dallas
Morning News and writes about issues facing the nation every week. He writes
for The Huffington Post regularly, and occasionally for Washington Post and
other daily newspapers and magazines around the world. Mike has published over
1000 articles on a variety of subjects.
Derrick Jeter has dedicated his
professional life to challenging honest skeptics and seekers to wrestle with
the most pressing questions regarding the life of faith and the preservation of
liberty. After his undergraduate work at UT and receiving a master’s degree
from Dallas Theological Seminary, Derrick began a public speaking consultancy, working
with business professionals and politicians. Derrick is also the author of two
books published by The Jeter Press: A 911 for 9/11: Finding Answers to the Evil
of September 11, 2001 and O America! A Manifesto on Liberty.
Sam Hodges, a managing editor at
the United Methodist Reporter, has had a long career in newspapers, including
reporting on religion for the Dallas Morning News. While at the Mobile (Ala.)
Press-Register, he won a George Polk Award for a series on scarcity of dental
care for poor children. He has won several other awards, and was a journalism
fellow at the University of Michigan. He’s the author of a published novel and
co-editor of a published book of his great-great-grandfather’s Civil War
Jeffrey Weiss is a weekly
columnist for Real Clear Religion, and a longtime reporter and blogger for The
Dallas Morning News. He was previously general assignment reporter, and social
services reporter for The Dallas Morning News, and a regular contributor to the
late Politics Daily. He has also reported for The Miami Herald. Weiss was
awarded second place in the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year award, and
Schachern Award for Best Religion Section by The Religion Newswriters
Association, as well as a contributor to the piece that won the Wilbur Award
for Best Religion Section by The Religion Communicators Council, in addition to
many other nominations and honorable mentions.
We are extremely thankful to
C in Farmers Branch for being
such a gracious host to our organization, but we would love the opportunity to
visit other organizations throughout the DFW area. If your organization would
be interested in hosting RCC for a luncheon in 2013, please contact Andra Dunn
at email@example.com for more
Our goal for the upcoming year is
to grow our organization and inspire religious communicators in the metroplex
in their ministry of telling the story of their organization, engaging their
audience, and shining their light even brighter in a world that is hungry for
positive and uplifting messages.