Online members of FaithfulAmerica.org, an alliance of progressive US Christians and other religious believers, have been writing their own 'Faithful State of the Union' address in anticipation of next Tuesday's annual report to the nation from the president, George W. Bush.
"Every year the president places 'real people' in the House gallery to draw attention to a story, or point of view, or policy. But it's still the president who does the speaking," said Vince Isner, director, FaithfulAmerica.org. "We thought it might be a good idea to let people of faith and conscience actually speak from their hearts to our leaders and to the world."
"Everybody knows that the State of the Union speech is a marketing tool of the president - for both [political] parties. But we think that people of faith and conscience have a word to say about the state of our nation, and we hope their comments will help lift our eyes to a higher vision of what we can become," said Isner.
In fewer than 24 hours more than 70 posts were received through http://www.faithfulamerica.org/ from the 105,000 members receiving the invitation to pen their own 'Faithful State of the Union.'
"America needs to go back to basic human and civil rights and caring for all it citizens. Unlawfulness is rampant in our society from the streets to America's courtrooms and in legislative bodies. There is all this talk of the left and the right and yet we our all Americans who want respect and human dignity," said one anonymous post.
"We need to end this war in Iraq and take the lead on peace seeking instead of escalation, Iraq, Iran and Syria with Russia's help needs to stop spreading violence against their own in the Middle East with funding of weapons that kill innocent Iraq's everyday," continued the poster.
A writer identified as Isabel Best added: "We need leaders who care about the health of our warming planet, now and in the future, and give it priority, for the sake of our children and all human beings."
And another contributor had this assessment of the status of the US nation: "Corruption in government is at an alarming high. Compassion, common sense, honesty and decency are given short shrift. We must reverse this trend or see our own country self-destruct. We must demand reform, and a return to ethical, moral behaviour that rejects torture, destruction of our civil liberties, and the degradation of human rights. Our flame has been drowned by corruption and divisiveness. Let us all seek to rise up from the ashes and together begin anew."
"My faithful vision for our country is that we finally realize economy must serve society, not the other way around as it has been for most decades since the Industrial Revolution," wrote H. Browne. "I pray America, guided by enough people in government who put the public interest, not certain special interests or narrow agendas, first and foremost, regains its righteous place as the world's pre-eminent creator of wealth and that all its citizens share in that wealth."
Barry Tepperman wrote, "Our national leaders seem not to understand that 'Thou shalt not kill' is not followed by an 'except'."
"I am a faithful citizen of America who believes that all people should be treated with respect, including our enemies," wrote Janelle Lazzo. "We must show respect for the earth, since it is the home we are occupying ourselves and hopefully, treating in such a way that generations after us will also find shelter and well-being on it. The war in Iraq is a disaster, and Americans should not be participating in the continuing violence, but instead providing help for reconstruction. Every life is precious; our policies ought to reflect our belief in this value."
Karen Linn's vision of the nation summed up many first day posts: "Our nation is in desperate need of healing in every aspect. The war in Iraq is destroying families both here and there. Our earth is dying under the strain of global warming, pollution and exploitation of our natural wonders. Working families find it hard to make ends meet while the super wealthy get richer - a divide that will split our country in two. We must work for peace, justice, and healing or our country will surely die. I am full of fear, not of terrorist attacks, but of the evil leadership which services only the rich, powerful, warhawks."
Isner describes FaithfulAmerica.org as "a progressive, inclusive, and responsive interfaith electronic advocacy community dedicated to providing a powerful collective voice to help advance the cause of compassion and justice in public policy."