Session one: Seattle Event February 1st

Democratic Values, Religion and Personal Fulfillment


Sign above panel: God loves you, and there is nothing you can do about it.


Panel Discussion:

Aneelah Afzali, Rabbi Anson Laytner, Rev Katy Ladd


Aneelah Afzali – Representing the Muslim Tradition

  • Koran defines righteousness as consisting of both belief and action in this world.
  • Calls for love of brother as well as himself
  • Calls for tolerance and pluralism as seen in covenants that Prophet Mohammad established with both Christian and Jewish tribes
  • Concept of equality as we are all descendants of Adam.
  • Koran repeated calls for truth and justice as divine characteristics important on judgment day


Rabbi Anson Laytner – Representing the Jewish Tradition

  • Both Tzedek (Justice) and Tzedakah (Charity) are ways to serve God
  • Jewish experience as slaves in Egypt still resonate after thousands of years and influence Jewish values towards the
  • Sages constantly remind us “Love your neighbor as yourself”
  • Aspects of our American Jewish views of our democrat society have been shaped by
  • The European Enlightenment
  • Puritan struggle for religious freedom resulting in our founding documents such as the Bill of Rights.
  • America’s freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, offers every wisdom tradition an opportunity to address our soul-deep needs Parker Palmer
  • Hundreds of years of experience as a minority
  • Engaged in political dialogue challenging government to be proactive in caring about the other.
  • Battling against prejudice but appreciating American tolerance of religious differences.
  • Maintaining a balance of guiding commandments of Torah/Tanach, The pragmatic rulings of the Rabbis in the Talmud, and American pluralistic principles.


Rev Katie Ladd – Representing Christian (Methodist) Tradition

  • 1 John 3:16-18
    • 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
  • Love and the giving of self for another is central to Christianity and is part of how we should understand righteousness and justice
  • All life comes from death
  • Cornel West is fond of saying that justice is what love looks like in public; tenderness is what it looks like in private.
  • If Christianity is grounded on love and self-giving, then justice must also reflect this value/principle.
  • William Sloane Coffin wrote “Jesus is both a mirror to our humanity and a window to divinity, a window revealing as much of God as is given mortal eyes to see. When Christians see Christ empowering the weak, scorning the powerful, healing the wounded, and judging their tormentors, we are seeing transparently the power of God at work.”