Thursday, October 16, 2008

Council of Bishops on Political Discourse

I just received notice in my email that the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church has issued a statement that I am glad to see happen. It is heartening to see such relevance. I am tired of the deterioration of the political campaigns into negativity.

I am especially concerned by the vocalization of public racism that has been increasingly interjected into public discourse. Some local examples two different folks have shared with me:

1. At a sign waving event for Obama here in Cecil County, three different people loudly shouted racial epithets at the sign wavers.

2. I was talking with a local woman who said she has lost track of the number of folks who have told her "I can't vote for the colored guy."

The Council of Bishops, in their wisdom, is calling on all sides to act respectfully. So, here it is:

The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church has issued a statement with regards to the upcoming presidential election in November.

Public discourse, especially in this season of presidential elections, has often deteriorated into acrimonious, disrespectful and divisive rhetoric. Such speech, in the interest of short-term political gain, will make it more difficult for the nation to unite to work together on the great challenges that face the United States and the world today.

We urge all United Methodists to daily pray for the upcoming elections, its candidates, voters and leaders. We further encourage you to contact the presidential and vice presidential candidates and their campaigns and call them to commit themselves to conduct their debates, their advertisements and all their public speech in ways that honor the principles of fairness and accuracy.

Call them to focus on the critical challenges that threaten the future of our national and the world: poverty, war, racism, inequality of opportunity, the current financial crisis and terrorism in all of its forms.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slots Debate

The debate on slot machines (Question 2 on the ballot) is in full swing.

I just read this blog post by Allan J. Lichtman, who is a professor of history at American University and a national political analyst. Very well written laying out salient reasons to oppose slot machines. The most important to me is that this really is designed to take advantage of our most vulnerable citizens, for these are the folks who lose money they cannot afford. Public ethics matter. We have seen the importance of ethics in the economic crisis. I really believe that Maryland is better than this, more ethical than approving slot machines.

There is also an event on Friday October 17 at 7p.m. at Pleasantview Baptist Church in Port Deposit. It is a forum entitle "The Truth About Slots."

They have assembled an quite a slate of speakers, including;

Aaron Meisner, Chairman, StopSlots Maryland
Dr. Valerie Lorenz, an eminent therapist in gambling addiction
Peter Franchot Comptroller of Maryland
Michael D. Smigiel, Sr., of the MD House of Delegates
And especially two more: Joe Pfister, a recovered casino gambling addict who experienced first-hand how the gambling casinos can entice and victimize the unwary, including experienced, successful, citizens.
John Bowers, a local horseman, former jockey, owner, breeder, and trainer of thoroughbred race horses, with an eye-opening story to tell.

I will not be in attendance; this conflicts with a long standing meeting in PA for me. But I be there in spirit.

I still cannot get over the fact that Marylanders are actually giving serious consideration to amending our constitution to permit gambling. And the fact that one of the parlors would be in our back yard in Perryville is troubling.

My mother received a telemarketing call yesterday urging her to support the referendum question. The pro-slots folks have lots of money to spend. The opponents are working hard to get the word out without benefit of telemarketers or paid people knocking on doors (and lying about the issue, saying it will fix health care and prescriptions, etc).

So please spread the word and pray hard.