This Week in God

THIS WEEK IN GOD…. First up from the God Machine this week is a faith-based angle on developments in Wisconsin — high-profile faith-communities are rallying behind state workers in their dispute with Gov. Scott Walker (R) and his union-busting crusade.

When Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki lent his voice to this week’s legislative debate over collective bargaining by public employees, he was drawing on more than 100 years of Catholic social teaching, which has endorsed the role of labor unions in creating a just economy and society.

Listecki’s letter Wednesday to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee invoked a century of papal encyclicals, from Pope Leo XIII in 1891 through Benedict XVI in 2009, that have upheld the rights of workers to organize and bargain with management.

“The goal of Catholic social teaching is the fundamental dignity of the human person. And the right to unionize is the concrete means by which workers can demand those things we consider as fundamental human rights — the right to a living wage, to safe working conditions,” said Father Bryan Massingale, a social ethicist and professor of theology at Marquette University.

It’s not just the Archdiocese that opposes Walker’s anti-labor efforts. Bishop Linda Lee of the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church and Rabbi Jonathan Biatch have both used faith-based rationales in urging Walker to reverse course , while the Washington-based advocacy group Catholics United issued a statement yesterday urging Wisconsin Republicans to “suspend (their) attacks on public workers.”

What’s more, Faith in Public Life hosted a press conference yesterday with Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy from Illinois and Wisconsin, stressing the faith community’s “commitment to workers’ rights as a moral issue, offered their support to protecting Wisconsin public employees’ collective bargaining rights, and extended invitations of sanctuary and hospitality to lawmakers.”

If Democratic lawmakers sought sanctuary in a Wisconsin house of worship, it remains to be seen whether Republican officials would dispatch law enforcement to force them back the Capitol.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* Over 80 faith leaders from Long Island — including Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and Hindus — have urged Long Island Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) to drop his upcoming congressional hearings into the alleged “radicalization” of the American Muslim community. (thanks to D.J. for the tip)

* The religious right argued that a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would drive Christian chaplains out of the U.S. military. The claims have proven baseless.

* Referencing data from the Public Religion Research Institute, Adam Serwer explained the other day, ” The problem isn’t that Fox News viewers hear a lot of negative things about Islam, it’s they hear a lot of false things about Islam.”

* And on a related note, Glenn Beck told his minions this week that Islam is tied to the Antichrist described in the New Testament, and featured a bizarre guest who’s argued that Satan will use Islam “to fulfill the prophesies of the Bible.”