Thursday, August 03, 2006

Religious Folks Can Be So Intimidating

Hey, just in case you're not getting your fill of local Montgomery County political blogs... Sprawling Towards Montgomery made its debut a couple days ago. Slacker's been quite prolific thus far, but I have to take issue with something he/she posted this evening in a piece called They're Not Fascists, They're My Neighbors:
The group that really disturbs me is Action In Montgomery - a troubling blend of religion and political activism that intimidates elected officials through events called "actions". At these actions, attended by 800-1000 of the faithful, politicians are commanded to rise and answer "yes or no" whether they support AIMs agenda.

By the way, the most recent item on AIMs agenda is free college tuition for any kid earning a C+ or greater. (I'll reserve judgment on this one until I see how my kids do on their PSATs.)
Here's my response, which I posted in the comment thread:
AIM is a broad-based, nonpartisan coalition of congregations that represent over 30,000 county residents. It's primary focus is the teaching of leadership and other skills necessary for those residents to effectively engage in the political process.

I suppose some may find the idea of 30,000 well-organized people to be intimidating, but I'd call it democracy in action.

And, FYI, the "College Bound" program you mention is just one plank of AIM's agenda for this year. The general idea, as I understand it, is to create a public-private partnership that provides a mechanism for funding the tuition costs of students in financial need. The money for such a fund is expected to be raised primarily from private sources.

Political power comes in two basic forms - organized money and organized people. It's about time some people are stepping up to the plate and making their voices heard over the din of lobbyists, pollsters and their moneyed interests. Props to AIM for doing its part!
People of faith have just as much right to participate in the political process as anyone else. Really, it's not about intimidation, it's about power - the ability to act and get things done.

Oh, and full disclosure here (for those of you who may be new readers) - I am a former Co-Chair of AIM, which is the Montgomery County affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

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