Racial Justice at Risk: Reverend James Lawson Speaks Out Against the Religious Right Andgovernment Funding of "Faith-Based" Services

April 24, 2001

The Bush administration has placed America’s churches in a political firestorm by proposing that the government fundfaith-based social services. Congress is expected to hold hearings on the proposal next week. The proposalparticularly challenges progressive churches with a tradition of addressing issues like welfare policy and politicalenfranchisement in urban communities.

The progressive religious community was at the forefront of the 1960s social justice and civil rights struggles thatled to government programs the Bush administration and conservative allies now seek to dismantle.

Reverend James Lawson, who a civil rights leader, alongside Martin Luther King Jr., recently gave a speech on thefaith-based initiatives. He argued that they fail to address the root causes of poverty, racial and genderinjustice, and that they are part of the Bush administration’s attempt to split the African-American vote. He alsoaddressed the role of the religious right in American public life.

David Halberstam, who is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of ??The Best and the Brightest,introduced Rev. Lawson.


  • Reverend James Lawson, long-time pastor at Holman United Methodist Church and currently Luce Lecturer atHarvard University Divinity School, who spoke last week at the Union Theological Seminary in New York