The Independent Newsweekly
|Joan Chittister: From Where I Stand|
spirit we have, not the work we do, is what makes us important to the people
Benedictine Sister of Erie, Sister Joan is a best-selling author and
well-known international lecturer. She is founder and executive director
of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality,
and past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the
Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Joan has been recognized
by universities and national organizations for her work for justice, peace and
equality for women in the Church and society. She is an active member of
the International Peace Council.
* The Web link to Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA, is provided as a service to our readers.
You will read this only here (unfortunately)By Joan Chittister,OSB
You are not supposed to be allowed to read this column. It was solicited by another publisher and then returned to sender, me, because it says things that some people are allowed to say but others, apparently, are not.
The story is this. A magazine in the United States, no names mentioned, planned to publish a "roundtable" feature on the upcoming election. The question posed to each of the writers seemed at first blush to be basically simple, essentially straightforward: "What," the editor wanted to know from each of us, "do you think is the major issue in the upcoming November presidential election?" "Interesting question," I thought. "I can't wait to see the answers to this one."
Then this magazine that is incorporated as a 501c3 organization, or not-for-profit entity, got a ruling from its lawyer saying that if this particular feature were printed they stood in danger of losing their tax-exempt status. Since all of the writers, it seems, had criticized the Bush administration for some failure in regard to the area of interest being treated, the company lawyer feared IRS reprisals against the group on the grounds of "political endorsement."
The magazine withdrew the opinion pieces that formed the basis for the roundtable.
That happened in the face of Catholic bishops who will refuse Communion to candidates who vote for pro-choice legislation and Bush campaign strategists who have targeted 1,600 "friendly" churches in Pennsylvania to hand over their list of members to the local Republican party.
As a result, I have decided to publish those previous comments of mine here, not as a political endorsement of any kind, but simply because I still believe in two things: First, I believe in freedom of speech. And secondly, I still believe in the United States as "land of the free and home of the brave."
When either of those qualities goes, the country won't be worth living in anyway, taxes or no taxes.
So, I repeat here what was meant to be published there:
I am convinced that the unspoken -- and secretly most impelling -- issue in the election of 2004 is the election of 2000. This election, in fact, will almost certainly be seen by many, both now and in the future, as an attempt to reconfirm the image of governmental integrity in the United States, to reassert real democracy, to reauthenticate the American ballot box. John Kerry himself spoke to the lingering impact of the last election when questioned about whether, as president, he would work to overturn the election of international leaders whose policies did not agree with our own. Kerry put it this way: "As far as I know," he said, "an election is still an election. Except in Florida."From where I stand, being able to say all the above without fear of audits meant to intimidate, control and silence is at least as important as who will finally be elected in 2004.
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