Jun 27 2012

The Activist Beat on Radical Nuns Crusading for Social Justice

Activist BeatThe Activist Beat with Rose Aguilar, host of Your Call on KALW in San Francisco is a weekly roundup of progressive activism that the mainstream media ignores, undercovers, or misrepresents.

Two very different religious groups are taking their messages directly to the people.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops recently started a two-week crusade, claiming religious liberty is under assault. These are the same men who get a national platform on a regular basis to air their views on the healthcare bill, abortion, birth control. It’s amazing to watch them spew nonsense about religious liberty while children continue to suffer from abuse in the Church.

And then there are the Catholic nuns, also referred to as radical feminists by the Vatican. They’re on the road standing up for economic justice and equality.

More specifically, they are speaking out against Republican Representative Paul Ryan’s budget, which would raise taxes on 18 million low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and corporations. It would also push two million children into poverty and kick eight million people off of food stamps.

They kicked off their Nuns on a Bus tour two weeks ago in Des Moines, Iowa. Since then, they’ve visited shelters, food pantries, community centers, and congressional offices in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. They’re also planning to visit Maryland and Virginia. They’ll end their tour in Washington DC on Monday.

Last Wednesday, the Nuns on the Bus arrived in Congressman Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin, where Sister Simone Campbell told a crowd of supporters that it’s wrong to give tax cuts to the rich and $8B more to the military.

She also went after politicians who claim that churches can take care of the hungry. She said that the cuts that have been passed by the House would require every house of worship in the United States to each raise $50,000 a year for the next 10 years.

Representative Ryan’s staff met with the nuns, but he was in Washington.

Sister Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, the organization sponsoring the bus tour. They’re a progressive national Catholic social justice lobby.

We rarely hear from nuns working for social justice in this country. The only religious people we hear from in the national media are the extremists. Progressive religious groups, of which there are many, are rarely, if ever, given a voice and they deserve to be heard.

In April, the Vatican praised the Leadership Conference of Women Religious for “promoting social justice” but slammed them for promoting “radical feminist themes” and their silence on abortion and gay marriage. This a group of 57,000 nuns, and the Vatican wonders why it’s losing support around the world?

The bus tour is getting extensive coverage in the local press, but not much in the national press, the same press that sent multiple reporters to cover Tea Party protests. Kudos to Bill Moyers for sending his producer Andy Fredericks on the road with the nuns to provide regular updates.

It’s heartening to read so many positive comments on the local stories. We’re often led to believe that small town America wholeheartedly embraces the Republican’s radical agenda, but that’s clearly not true.

In Janesville, Wisconsin, Sister Campbell said, “The truth is we have to speak up for the people who are suffering in our society. That’s our mission. That’s our goal.”

I’m Rose Aguilar for Uprising.

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