Brown: starts with bitter remarks again
Obama: scripture talks about clinging to what is good, sometimes difficult in campaign. Religion is a foundation when things aren’t going well. What I was referring to was in no way demeaning to faith that I myself embrace. When economic hardship hits, they’ve got family, faith, traditions. those aren’t bad things, it’s what they have. What they have become bitter about, not just PA, is any confidence that the government is listening to them. It’s unfortunate that in political process that people have been trying to misconstrue words. I’m a devout Christian, started by working w/churches in shadows of closed steel plants, reached out to church, talked about what are our obligations? this is an example of how political debate can distract from issues, how are we going to create just and fair society where people get fair shake.
Brown what about elitism charge?
Obama: typical political campaign where we tear down instead of lifting up. My platform has been for dems to get in church, link faith with what we do, the notion of me standing above that when I live it makes no sense.
John: Does God punish nations in real time for their behavior.
O: God intervenes, but his plans too mysterious for me to grasp. As best I can, be an instrument of his will, in accordance w/ precepts of my faith. If I act in ethical way, if I apply a core Christian value (brothers/sisters keeper) then I will be doing my part to move the agenda. I don’t know what that master plan is. What I think we can do is to act in ways that are consonant with values that we cherish. Sometimes harder to do in politics than should be.
Samuel Rodriguez (Hispanic CCL) Abortion. Do terms pro-choice and pro-life encapsulate debate and can we find common ground.
O: There is a moral dimension to abortion. Those of us who are pro-choice haven’t talked about that. All of us understand that it’s a wrenching choice for anyone. Once we do that, people of good will can exist on both sides. Nobody wishes to be put in the circumstance of making the choice. We should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Teen pregnancies are reduced, take comprehensive approach, focus on abstinence, teaching sacredness of sexuality, but recognize medical care for women, age appropriate educaiton, contraception must be part of education process, can reduce abortions and make sure adoption is an option. If all in place, then we’ll take some of the edge off the debate. Will never be completely resolve, may be irreconcilable. those oppose should lawfully object, try to change laws, those of us like me who believe it’s amatter of choice will also have legal framework .
John: Do you personally believe that life begins at conception?
O: I have not come to firm resolution on it. Hard to know when life begins. Don’t presume to know answer to that question. What I know is there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential for life that carries moral weight.
Brown: End of life issues. You write about your mother’s end of life suffering with cancer. If someone wanted to end his or her life, would that be okay?
O: Need to be careful. Everyone needs a living will, so their views can be factored in by doctors and family. Many difficult choices have to be made b/c there is no input from patient. Palliative medicine to relieve pain and suffering is right hting, may accelerate death, that’s individual’s choice w/ doctor and family. don’t think it’s appropriate to empower doctors to make decision, but should allow people to get the medicine they need for pain. difference between overdosing someone and euthanasia.
Dr. Frank Page: Sub-sahara Africa – HIV/AIDS also involved w/ministry True Love Waits. We teach that faith has a role in HIV/AIDS (abstinence, faith-based program).
O: My father came from this area, working with group of grandmas working with orphans, took AIDS test while there (Michelle too) This is an area where I compliment George Bush. One success story of this administration. Good work with CDC, NIH, ngos. Use scientifically sound approach to reducing disease. Strong education, abstinence education important, contraception, treatment also important. Need to make antiviral drugs more available to people in extreme poverty. Partnership w/govt. A behavioral element to AIDS that has to be addressed. If promiscuity and we’re pretending it’s not an issue, we’re missing part of the answer. Women far more likely to be infected than men. That’s why focusing on women, status, etc.
John: Re own daughters’ sex education comment “Punished w/ baby” Phrase jarred people
O: Keep in mind that I also said children are miracles. My daughters are 9 &amp; 6. If at the age of 12 or 13 they made what I’d consider to be a mistake by having sex and getting PG, statistically we know 12-13 year olds having children are more likely to have health problems, trouble raising kids, etc. we want to prevent htis but not be blind to the fact that kids screw up just like adults do. We should factor that into our approach to STDs. be sure that as we teach responsible sexuality, they understand contraception enough to not have worse problems as hte result of a dumb mistake.
If kids ask if god created world in six days, what would you say?
I’ve said I believe that god created universe, six days may not be what we understand, may not be a 24-hour clock. My belief is that the story that the Bible tells us about God creating the earth is fundamentally, essentially true. Whether that happened as we understand the text, I don’t presume to know. I do believe in evolution, don’t believe it’s incompatible with christian faith, just like science is compatible with christian faith. I fundamentally disagree with those who reject science over faith. The more I learn about science, the stronger my faith.
Rev. Cizik National Assn Evangelicals: Perceived by millions a war between science and faith, I don’t believe that. Young evangelical christians working on climate change policies How do you relate faith to science, stem cell research, etc.
O: You’ve done terrific work. Should it be part of God’s plan to have me in the White House, I look forward to our collaboration. One of the things I draw from Genesis story is importance of good stewardship of the land. There have been times where we haven’t, this is one of those times. This is a time to take the warning seriously. Al Gore was mentioned earlier (BTW, I think he won) what my faith teaches is to take intergenerational pov, we’re borrowing from children/grandchildren, need to make uncomfortable choices. Where faith and science (GW) converge is the knowledge that it will be difficult to deal with it, where we start to make hard choices. less wasteful as a society. believing that planet extends beyond us but for our generations to come, religion can bolster our desire to make those sacrifices, hope to rally entire world.
John: How did Wright bring you closer to God?
O: I’d worked as organizer on South Side, tough work, community in difficult straits, was setting up after-school youth programs. Had been raised in non-religious home, mother distrustful of organized religion, largely b/c of segregation. Some of the pastors said if you’re going to organize churches you should try going to church. visited Trinity and found ministries on HIV/AIDS, prisons, other wonderful ministries. Rev. Wright spoke directly to social gospel; act, don’t just sit in pews. areas where we disagree. The loop of Rev Wright’s greatest hits are a distortion of who he is and what church has been about but also express comments that are offensive. made statements, including one long one in Philadelphia. Doesn’t detract from incredible community that this church is. All of us who have been part of the church understand that it’s a body that brings in imperfections, members are imperfect I’m imperfect. that doesn’t detract from my belief of what church is about, to worship god and proclaim good news.
Brown: you’re christian, but more exposure to islam than most.
O: lived in Indonesia for 4 years. My first school was a Catholic school, then public school Majority of country was muslim. Brand of Islam was more practical, secular country. What it taught me and what it still teaches is that Islam is compatible with the modern world, can be partner with Christian, Jewish, Hindu faiths. Suspicious of attempts to paint Islam with broad brush. Majority are good-willed, raising families, living up to values and raise their kids, and that’s something we should remember instead of assuming clash of civilizations.
Jim Wallis (sojourners): MLK was fighting for economic justice, not just civil rights. four decades later poverty rate in US virtually unchanged, 1 in 6 children are poor. We are looking for a commitment around a measurable goal, like cutting poverty in half in 10 years. Will you commit to such a goal and if elected, how will you work to achieve that goal.
O: I absolutely will make that commitment. I make it with great humility, is a very ambitious goal. Will have to mobilize society not just to prevent but keep more from slipping into poverty. This goes back to the elitist accusation about bitter people. Is absolutely true, because people feel forgotten, as if no one is listening. Every 4 years politicians come out and make promises, but not kept. Make it with humility b/c we have a lot of work to do. Wages have gone down — not happened in history of reporting. Mortgage market shored up, change tax code — for us to provide tax breaks to the wealthiest among us at a time where peopl eare struggling to fill their gas tanks…got to provide tax relief, measures to create jobs, invest in clean energy. Can generate 150B dollars to invest in solar panels and biofuels, etc. All these things will strengthen economy generally. Health care, too. Is a moral imperative that we have plan for health care to every single american. If we do those things, then we also have to focus on those who are still impoverished. Special challenge. Aim at roots. Early childhood education, working w/adolescent parents, improving K-12 educations, after school, summer school, etc. Many of these can be part of a faith community. Faith based initiatives, but with clear mission. Not to simply build a faith community, should be targeting issue of poverty and how we can build up communities. Needs to be constitutional and open to everyone.
Dr. David Gushee Interrogation Methods/Torture The reasoning shocks the conscience of Americans and people of faith. Is there justification for policies that permit physical and mental cruelty.
O: We have to be clear. We do not torture. Period. We don’t farm out torture either, or subcontract it. This is not only because torture doesn’t yield good information (this is proven), but degrades discipline and ethos of military. Kids 19-22 are being asked to restrain themselves and operate within law and then find out that own government isn’t abiding by same laws we’re asking them to defend and obey? My position will be absolutely clear. We will lead not just with military might but with our example. Operate on hope out of faith.
Brown: does religion influence public life?
O: I’ve spoken on this. All of us come to public square with values and ideals rooted in faith, have right to express them that way. Imagine Dr. King having to scrub his religious references or Lincoln not being able to refer to God. Religion allows us ot get outside of ourselves and mobilize. But we need to translate to universal language appealing to all. Not just Christian, but muslim, buddhist, atheist, etc. Don’t kill the debate by claiming right, allow for being wrong, biggest danger in public sphere is self-righteousness. That is incompatible with democracy. The public square is not the way to empower ourselves in that way.
John: you’ve been extremely critical of Obama’s SF comments: [quotes beginning with 'gotten bitter']. You have written how faith sustained you in hard times, others in hard times. What is wrong with what he said.
From my perspective, the characterization of people that seemed to be elitist and out of touch needs to be overcome. Dems have been viewed as party that didn’t understand and respect values of Americans. Important that we make clear that people are people of faith b/c it gives them meaning in life, a spur an anchor, a guide in day-to-day living that’s part of everyone’s journey. when we think about legit concerns about trade or immigration they’re legitimate concerns. I’m confident people will get to know us better. Sen. Obama will speak for himself, does excellent job of that.
Brown: You’ve been out attacking him aggressively over this. he says “shame on you. You know he’s a man of faith, you are playing politics.”
HRC: It did seem so much in line with what we’re often charged with. Someone goes to a closed fund raiser and makes comments that seem elitist. We had good men of faith run in 2000 and 2004, but electorate concluded that they didn’t understand or respect their ways of life. I think that is an issue with voters as I heard today in Scranton. It is a legitimate political issue. some aren’t others are. this one is.
Brown: Talk about your faith. In an interview you said you believe in father, son, holy spirit. Share occasions where you felt holy spirit.
HRC: Since I was little I felt the presence of God in my life. It’s been incredibly sustaining. I’ve felt enveloping love and support of God, experiences where I felt like Holy Spirit was with me as I took a journey, a walk in the woods, watching a sunset. I have talked a lot about my life — 60 books worth — but I don’t think I could have made my life’s journey without being anchored in God’s grace without having sense of forgiveness and unconditional love. Some challenges have been extremely public, I’ve been guided and supported thorugh them. My faith has given me the confidence to make decisions that are right for me. It’s such a part of me that I can’t pull out one experience — would be trivializing what has been an extraordinary sense of possibility that I have had with me my entire life.
HRC: a reluctance on my part to be specific, rooted in my personal reserve, also worry that you have to walk the walk of faith. talking about it is important but also believe that faith is just grace, love, mystery, provocation, everything that makes life and purpose meaningful as a human being. Moments of grace are ones that I cherish. When asked a specific question about how I felt about politics being a game…it is a serious search because we’ve taken gifts god gave us with this democracy — need to be more mindful of how serious this is. This really comes from deep within me b/c we know it’s important. That’s what makes it worthwhile. that’s what makes it easy. I was with woman whose son was murdered, grandson was murdered, she told me about how strong faith is, she believes god is with her, doesn’t understnad, but grateful, determined to be person god meant her to be. When i listened to that woman tell me how she felt, but gets up and has a smile, going to her day care business where kids are entrusted with her, that’s a moment of grace. Interaction is relationship with god, not all about her. about relationship with human beings where grace is evident.
Dr. Joel Hunter: Sr. Pastor of Northland church: Senator, many of the issues we address — darfur, aids, abortion, torture — have life and death consequences. What are first principles you fall back on to make decisions – people, references, etc. to do what’s morally right.
HRC: this is one of the challenges facing us where you do have authority to face decisions that are life and death. I have a process, rooted in prayer, contemplation. have to be willing to expose yourself to many points of view, then make the decision. for a lot of us, decisions are ones you don’t make and put on a shelf. to be fair, constantly struggling to challenge yourself, have to keep opening up that decision. Some decisions look like 100-0 until you look at htem, others right down the middle. You mentioned some of them, there are more. How do we get out of Iraq the right way? Everyone knows there is no comfortable decision. I believe we have to take troops out based on best path forward. I am deeply aware that there will be predictable and unpredictable consequences. part of the decision is having to live with the consequences. I’m lucky to have people in my life to share counsel, don’t all share my view. I don’t think you can surround yourself with people you think you’ll agree with. being with people who challenge me and make me uncomfortable is part of process. want to argue, push back, hypothetical thrown back. at the end of the day you have to be comfortable making a decision. you cannot say yeah, let’s put it on back burner, make it and live with consequences. I hope I will never find myself being dismissive or abrupt with people who disagree. Maybe b/c decision process is exhausting.
Do you believe life begins at conception?
I believe potential for life begins at conception. I’m methodist, you know struggle my church has had. for me, it’s not only about a potential life, it’s about other lives involved. I’ve concluded after concern and soul-searching our task should be in this pluralistic nation, individuals must be entrusted w/ this decision. would be intrusion of government authority to abortion should be legal but safe and rare.
I’ve spent time trying to make it rare. adoption, foster care, helped create campaign against teen pregnancies, (accomplished reduction by 1/3rd). I have been in countries with different views about this question (China, spoke out, then Romania with women forced to have children for good of state, women were forced and followed, etc. abandoned kids, etc.)
brown: do you believe that someone can choose to end life when suffering?
HRC: Terri Schiavo case in Florida is example People of good faith and strong feelings on both sides about what should happen to that woman’s life. Don’t know that we’re in a position to make that choice, but don’t want us to condone govt. action that would legitimize or encourage end of life decisions. Has to be a framework for people able to make decisions, how best to create a process for that. We’re faced with these decisions b/c of technology, etc.
Brown: Religion has too much influence in public life (perception)
HRC Our obligation as leaders is any convo about religion is respectful and inclusive. Should be for good cause. We’ve been such a vibrant nation when it comes to religion because we’ve protected ourselves fromletting religion go far. religion should be in public square, should be done in a respectful and inclusive way. People may ask why we’re having this forum, why explore these issues with two poeple vying for president. I’m conscious that must be careful.
Rabbi Steve : Back to China. If China isn’t doing all it can to stop Darfur genocide, etc. is our participation in the Bejing Olympics appropriate?
HRC: I called on our president not to attend opening ceremonies of olympics, because is obvious ratification of our govt’s approval unless chinese took visible steps to begin to end suppression of tibetans and get more cooperation with respect to Sudan. How do we try to influence Chinese? Missed opportunities, incoherent policy currently. not in our best interest. would urge President to consider and publicly say he will not attend opening ceremonies. Would be great loss of face for Chinese. Could be a lot of ways to get Chinese to hear our concerns
Rev Shaw, pres of SBC: Trade policies make it difficult for poor people to access inexpensive generic meds. How would you make sure poor wolud have access to drugs needed for their lives and health, families?
HRC: We must do more to get generics and low-cost drugs, not just for HIV/AIDS, but other diseases. One reason I voted against FT Central America, because would empower pharmas. I’ve been an outspoken advocate against pharmas (which do good) — need to be advocating for lower costs, generic drugs. Will take leadership — commends Bush for leadership, didn’t go far enough.
John: HIV/AIDS, Darfur, other humanitarian issues. Why does loving God allow innocent people to suffer?
HRC: Subject of generations of commentary and debate. I don’t know, can’t wait to ask Him. What that means to me, in face of suffering, that God calls us to respond. part of what we’re expected to do. Existence is call to action. In my J-C faith tradition, old and new, demands that are placed on us on behalf of poor are unavoidable. Our debate about religion in america too often misses that. concerns should be poverty, injustice, obligations to those least among us. The Lord is waiting for us to respond to his call, we’re expected to be spending our time.
Brown: favorite Bible story?
HRC: read to chelsea, love stories, depends on what’s going on in my life at the time. Right now, is Esther, raised by Purim holiday of Jews. Not too many women to take an opportunity, risk that was courageous. that’s one most recently on my mind. Have rabbi friends that send me readings, Esther is one I wish I know more about.
E Patel (interfaith youth corps) Compassion, global poverty, climate change. Can we address it without changing standard of living?
HRC: So much can be done that owuldn’t change standard of living, but could be inspired to impact how we live. would give us opportunity to set example and be model. simple steps, turning off lights, unplugging appliances, compact fluorescent bulbs, we’re making small contribution to limiting greenhouse gasses. as president, I’d like to model and lead effort .
in prep for pope’s visit, read that vatican is carbon-negative. Great statement, we can do more. Trade, moving away from foreign oil dep. looking to cushion costs for poor and middle class. shouldn’t have to bear more.
Sharon Harper (NY Faith & Justice) Underdeveloped nations lack access to education and water are unstable — pakistan, somalia, sudan. Our security at stake, military stretched. would you commit US troops to humanitarian effort under leadership of foreign flag.
HRC: need to be leaders in women’s issues, poverty. Work that I want to do is have US lead world in putting kids in school, healthcare, women’s health, should demonstrate commitment to disenfranchised poeple. Before we commit troops, need to be perceived as peacekeeper. Partner with private sector, ngo, faith community. I appreciated Bush asking his father and her husband to represent US when tsunami hit. Sent a resonant message – our favorability rose b/c we were seen as caring, compassionate by nations that didn’t trust. have to concentrate first and foremost on restoring moral authority and standing in world. Lots of ways military can help.
Do you believe God wants you to be President?
HRC: I could be glib and say we’ll find out. Don’t presume anything about God. Lincoln was right when admonishing us not to assume God on our side, saying we should be on God’s side. I’ve tried to take beliefs and faith and put it to work my entire life. Motivates me to get up in morning to see what problem I can solve. I can’t imagine that God is telling me what I should do. Given me enough guidance by how I’ve been raised, etc.. Just get up and do best I can, see through a glass darkly. wouldn’t be sitting here if it weren’t for gift of grace and faith. Faith challenges us. Worry when people become complacent, believe they have all answers. Not humanly possible for any of us to know God’s mind, searching, on journey together, need to be humble.