Preaching God’s word with an eye on politics

Rich Barlow of The Boston Globe profiles the formidable Katharine Ragsdale, executive director of Public Research Associates and FOtC, (friend of the Cafe):

The group, founded in Chicago in 1981 and in the Boston area since 1987, has initiated projects to monitor whether America’s antiterrorist policies infringe on immigrants’ and poor people’s civil liberties, for example.

Other projects will investigate anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment on college campuses, and whether some religious conservatives might be trying to take advantage of disagreements within mainline churches – for example, over gay rights – to limit those churches’ effectiveness, encouraging them to fight among themselves rather than against the religious right.

You’d expect Ragsdale to raise red-state hackles. She’s a gay woman whose ordination some bishops in her church oppose, as well as a supporter of abortion rights who wears a priest’s collar. But she also contends with a prejudice in her own camp.

“I’ve experienced far more resistance and discrimination in the progressive community for being a Christian than I do in the Christian community for being a lesbian,” she said.

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