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Faith in One of America's Least Religious States

As I read "A Prayer for Restorative Justice" (full text below) yesterday, I was inspired to ponder the role of faith and morality in our current state legislative fights. An odd topic to think through in "one of the least religious states in the country," but incredibly necessary nonetheless. We've got the moral high ground in our fights- it's time for us to unapologetically claim it.

When I reflect on religion and politics in Maine my initial thoughts are rather painful. I've heard the stories about the negative role that many "old school" churches played in the fight against marriage equality. The anecdotes about tape-recorded sermons being played in churches stings this catholic girl who was raised in the spirit of liberation theology and socially responsible Catholicism (yes, there is such a thing).  Those negative experiences in political fights can make progressives run away from religion and by extension morality and faith. It can make us seek refuge in policy, facts, and personal stories. Read more »

Don't Let LePage Become Bush

Friday’s snow day gave me pause to reflect on LePage’s numerous speaking infractions. From beards to butts, LePage is covering the state of Maine with his offensive speech and careless attitude. I couldn’t help but remember the many speeches that President Bush gave during his tenure in office: mouth hanging open, arrogance in full view, and equally careless attitude towards much of the suffering happening in the country and the world at the time. As we start this week of rallying and fighting to protect public workers, improve the state budget and so much more, I hope we can all keep in mind one important idea: Let’s not let Governor LePage play the same role in politics that President Bush did.

Over the course of eight years, progressive people spent millions of dollars and countless hours attempting to marginalize and out-maneuver President Bush. Bush became the symbol of all that was wrong with America. The strategy worked. Republicans and Democrats alike gave up on President Bush, and many would say that anti-Bush sentiment helped the Democrats regain majorities in Congress in 2006, and the White House in 2008. Victory, right? Not so fast. Read more »

Fixing Your Feedback Loops

Last week, I was (and still am) as upset and concerned about Governor LePage’s attack on our environmental regulations as most readers of this blog. Unfortunately, I must share that there was something much more disturbing that happened to me THIS week: the realization that many of my well-read acquaintances and neighbors still did not comprehend the magnitude of Governor LePage’s attacks, and, moreover, completely misunderstood what he was up to in future "deregulation" bids.

As most of you know, Governor LePage has proposed the destruction of years of environmental legislation that has protected the health and well-being of Mainers. He likes to call this Phase one. Phase two, as the Governor has proposed, will be the deregulation of other industries including, but probably not limited to, labor and agriculture. Read more »

Articulating a Positive Vision of Maine

Prior to moving to Maine in February of last year (yes, I moved in February- thank goodness it was a soft winter), I spent four lucky years travelling around the U.S. working with grassroots organizations to build their state and local organizing campaigns. I spent the majority of my time moving between New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and our great state of Maine. While, I had a deep respect for the struggles, and successes of organizers in each of these states, Maine was always an outlier. The activists and organizers in Maine were able to reach a level of discourse, collaboration and outcomes that few other states are able to reach. That’s one of the major reasons I chose to leave Brooklyn, DC, Chicago and other places in the dust and moved to Lewiston.

True to Maine, whenever I’ve tried to explain this phenomenon to folks living in the state, they often shrug and smile- very humbly. Perhaps that’s because we can never be satisfied by our social justice work. It can feel like there is always work left to be done. Or, perhaps we have not yet had many opportunities to observe just how strong and productive our community is in the face of real and immediate opposition that is on the attack. Read more »