Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
The Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood saga this week has come full circle.
After the Susan G. Komen Foundation said they would no longer fund breast cancer screening by Planned Parenthood, the public reaction showed just how divisive abortion remains in American society. And now, in a complete reversal, Komen says it won’t stop sending funds to Planned Parenthood.
Komen founder and CEO Nancy G. Brinker reportedly announced the about-face on the foundation’s blog. That link appears dead, but NPR excerpted the announcement of a policy change while it was still accessible:
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.”
More from NPR here.
Whether pro-choice or pro-life, we can all agree that cancer doesn’t care. And I think that is what made a lot of people so upset about Komen’s original decision to de-fund. But, at the same time, those who were protesting the decision were willing to stop supporting the leading advocate for women against a life-threatening disease. Now that Komen has reversed course, they can certainly expect a protest from the pro-life side.
It’s all a bit head-spinning and leaves you wondering how Komen can repair their brand and get back to doing what they do best: helping women.
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February 2, 2012 | 9:43 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to ‘love thy neighbor as thyself.’
Obama followed that up with an ecumenical tip of the hat—“I know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs — from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of Plato”—but it was still interesting to hear Obama putting such emphasis on biblical values in encouraging through and signing in the Dodd-Frank Act. And he didn’t stop there.
Now you’d expect Obama to be a bit more effusive about his Christian beliefs at the National Prayer Breakfast. And you wouldn’t simply be a cynic to point out that it’s campaign season and Obama needs to grab some of those moderate Christian voters, particularly evangelicals, who don’t know what to do with the GOP candidates.
But there seems to me a good deal of sincerity here. Much as questions about his faith have haunted Obama, this is not the first time he’s spoken openly about how Christian values have influenced his politics. In doing so, he comes off as a pretty run-of-the-mill liberal Christian. Which probably isn’t far off.
February 1, 2012 | 6:22 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
In recent years, Fox Business Network anchor Liz Claman has made it a priority to observe Shabbat at the Davos economic forum. Her thoughts from the 2010 dinner appeared on wowowow and were excerpted on this blog.
Before she left for Davos last week, Liz offered to write The God Blog from become an annual Shabbat dinner. My questions are in bold:
Why do a Shabbat in Davos? Is this about breaking bread with those attending or about observing the Sabbath?
It’s a little of both. The World Economic Forum is like a gigantic magnet that pulls in world leaders and business people from around the globe to this tiny Swiss Alpine ski village. At some point, someone must have looked around and said, “My goodness, an important number of people here are Jewish. Let’s give them a place not only to mark Shabbat but to meet and schmooze.”
Who is at this year’s Davos Shabbat dinner?
Everywhere you turned, there was someone who’s got an important and pivotal role in either business, politics or both.
Israel’s president Shimon Peres and Minister of Finance Ehud Barak were the star guests. Israel’s Central Bank Governor Stanley Fischer, JP Morgan Chase International Chairman Jacob Frankel, U.S. Undersecretary of State Bob Hormats, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Bank Hapoalim Chairman Yair Seroussi, Warren Buffett’s grandson Howard Buffett Jr., Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Nobel Prize winners Astrophysicist Saul Perlmutter and Biologist Bob Horvitz, billionaire investor Jeff Greene, Henry Schein CEO Stan Bergman, the list goes on.
Who took a surprising role in dinner?
Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg. She’s an amazing singer and led us all in “Shalom Alechem.” It was very emotional. There we all were at the Hotel Seehof singing at the top of our lungs in a country that hadn’t exactly extended real help to the Jews during World War II. Definitely an important moment and real affirmation of our resilience.
Davos this year has not been without Occupy protestors. How has that affected the tone of the conference? The dinner?
One of the first things my crew and I did upon arrival was to head over to the Occupy Davos location. The protestors were building igloos and I felt we as journalists should take a look. The mandate of the World Economic Forum is to “solve the world’s problems.”
One issue on a lot of participants’ plates was fixing the income inequality gap, a big Occupy complaint. We got there and found 3 guys slicing ice blocks. We talked to them. They are still angry at the banks. As one protestor put it, “They got bailed out when they got into trouble. So many of us lost our jobs because of their mistakes. Where’s our bailout?”. They told me they were hoping for more people to amass but Davos is a 2 and a half hour winding drive from Zurich. Even with only 3 people there, it was a topic of conversation at dinner.
Ehud Barak brought up Israeli’s complaints about high inflation and unemployment, saying this was equally if not more important than Occupy Wall Street to discuss. Israel, he asserted, needs to be stronger than ever to face the always present threat Arab nations and Iran pose. “Let me remind you of a Jewish saying,” he said with a smile. “Be healthy because troubles will never be in short supply.”
February 1, 2012 | 11:29 am
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Move over National Prayer Breakfast. Folks affiliated with Occupy DC announced today that the newly organized People’s Prayer Breakfast will be meeting at the same time Thursday in Washington as a prayer alternative to the 59-year-old event.
Jaweed Kaleem has a good article about this at Huffington Post:
“We thought prayer shouldn’t be used for access to power or to move forward people’s agendas,” said Brian Merritt, an organizer of the alternative breakfast who is pastor of the city’s Palisades Community Church. “Prayer connects us to something greater than ourselves, but also moves us in action for those around us. It challenges us to confront others’ needs.”
So while dignitaries and the nation’s leaders munch on an elaborate meal—a ticket to the formal prayer breakfast has been $650 in past years—the free People’s breakfast will entertain a little over 200 people for coffee, danishes, meditation and prayer.
“We are not expecting any representatives or senators or the president, but they are all welcome to come,” Merritt said of the guest list, which includes rabbis and imams.
“We aren’t here to gain political points. We are here to make the point that God is not found exclusively among the powerful, but among the most dispossessed,” said Merritt, who typically pastors to an inter-denominational congregation of a few dozen. “It’s not okay to be given a feeling of comfort when there are so many people who are suffering. Prayer is something people agonize over, people cry over. But it’s not always something that makes those who have power feel comfortable.”
Read the rest here.
Obviously, the People’s Prayer Breakfast isn’t going to overtake the National Prayer Breakfast. But it’s interesting to see this alternative movement—and I say that as someone who has not been a fan of the whole Occupy movement.