Rev. Peg Chemberlin

The Rev. Peg Chemberlin is the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Churches. She is the immediate past president of the National Council of Churches, an organization of 36 communions with 45 million constituents across the nation. Read more about Rev. Peg Chemberlin.

Posts about Politics

Earth Day, like environmental crisis, reminds us we're all connected

Posted by: Rev. Peg Chemberlin Updated: April 23, 2014 - 11:17 AM

I am of the first generation to see a photo of the earth from space. In that view is one, single, earth. It is a view of the connectedness, and that new view of the world helped launch a new worldview. It’s a worldview our sacred Scriptures had already offered us over the centuries, a view of the unity of creation. It's always been a part of who we are and yet for the first time some of us got to see that oneness, we got to see the actual view of the world that ought to push us to a new worldview. It is a worldview that says, “no matter what you do it has a relationship to everybody else and every other thing on this planet. There cannot be a breeze in Alaska that's not felt in the Bahamas. There cannot be a ripping up the earth in Peru that's not felt in New England. There cannot be a war in Eastern Europe that isn’t experienced by all of us in some way around the world.”

I pray that in seeing the view of the world we embrace a worldview that requires us to take seriously how every action, every public policy has an environmental impact not just for our small space on the planet but the whole planet, not just this small moment on the planet but for the entire future of the entire planet. We must recognize that we are merely tenants on this planet, and we have been called to care for Creation so that future generations can live, thrive, and enjoy it just as we do. God has granted us use of Creation, but along with this gift comes the responsibility to tend and care for the land. 

Earlier this year a letter was sent to President Obama form the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches of Christ, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs among other national religious leaders.

Dear Mr. President:

We write to you as leaders representing an alliance of diverse religious traditions…The broader religious community shares a deep conviction that the issue of global climate change presents an unprecedented threat to the integrity of life on Earth and a challenge to values that bind us as human beings.

Then they said to the President, as I say to our elected officials here in MN, “as you make key decisions … we urge you to be guided by a moral framework that includes … being responsible stewards of God’s creation.” Here in MN support a Minnesota Clean Energy Plan. Protect our lakes, our rivers, our streams our drinking water, and not just for us but for our children unto the 7th generation.

We Can Do Better, Minnesota

Posted by: Rev. Peg Chemberlin Updated: July 24, 2011 - 11:18 AM

When some Minnesotans said, “No new taxes.” What did they mean? 

“Take us into un-payable debt."

“Borrow from education in a way that we can never pay back.”

“Take action which will downgrade the state’s credit rating.

I don’t think so.

And when Minnesotans elected a governor who said, “I will increase taxes on those who make more than $2 million every year.” What did we mean?

“We really don’t want you to raise taxes on the wealthiest.”

“We really like the tax system in Minnesota where the higher your income the lower percentage of tax you pay.”

“We think that the tax cuts that Jesse Ventura gave to the richest Minnesotans should continue even though they are unfair to the rest of us and plunging us into debt.”

I don’t think so.

And yet the partisan politicians who vowed to keep the “no new taxes” pledge at any cost have kept this state from being the best we can be. Even worse, they are quicly tumbling us, at best, toward being a mediocre Minnesota.

Taxes themselves may be a subject that doesn’t often move the faith community but the way we tax as a state is certainly a moral concern. Is our tax policy fair?

It is not. We are not taxing fairly. Middle class households pay a little over 12 percent in state and local taxes. The wealthiest five percent of households pay 10.1 percent. The poorest families pay the highest rates of all.

We are not taxing fairly and because we do not, we are pushing off onto our children our unpaid bills.

I do not wish to leave a legacy of debt to our children, and I do not believe that a legacy of poverty and underinvestment is the Minnesota we want to be.

As the dust settles and the budget deal is signed we are still being asked to answer a central question about who will we be as a state. Let your legislative representative know how disappointed you are. Let them know that tax increases aren’t always bad. That taxes increases done to rebalance fairness is a good idea. Let them know that a tax system built on fairness and justice is a good Minnesota ideal.

Let them know that a few extreme politicians who have been hoodwinked by an invalid “no new taxes” ploy aimed at protecting the wealthiest - let them know- that those representatives do not represent the Minnesota we want to be.

Then go out and ask all your friends to join you. A message must be sent and must be sent now. And the people of Minnesota are the only ones who can turn this around. As a people, we have only pushed off our moment of crisis into our children’s future. Join me today in a belief that good stewardship is essential to the health of our communities and our state. It is time for people of faith to step up and say we as Minnesotans can do better.



“Maybe we will die, so? History will not die”: Putting Yourself on the Line for Freedom

Posted by: Rev. Peg Chemberlin Updated: March 6, 2011 - 6:06 PM

Lama Hasan reported on ABC television today with the following to report from Libya: “The wave of change sweeping across the Arab world has finally given women a voice. Everywhere I went in the region, I was impressed and surprised by the women I saw. Something changed; a barrier was broken, and they felt empowered and determined to bring down regimes that had denied them their freedom for too long. "’Maybe we will die, so? History will not die,’ said Salwa Bugaighif, a lawyer I met here in Benghazi.” <>

I am pondering today that freedom and democracy do not come easily.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of what came to be called Bloody Sunday in America. When the civil rights movement leaders men and women, struggled for voting rights for all American citizens regardless of skin color. It wasn’t so long ago.

On March 7, 1965 the first of a series of three marches took place. This one was of more than 600 marchers. When the marchers got across the Edmond Pettus Bridge they were set upon by the police and state troopers with dogs, billy clubs and tear gas. Two marches later, on Sunday, March 21, about 3,200 marchers set out for Montgomery. When they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, the numbers were 25,000. Within five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But there was a high cost, including Detroit homemaker Viola Liuzzo who was attacked and killed by Klansmen as she drove marchers back to Selma.

Viola Liuzzo and Salwa Bugaighif challenge me. Is this a moment when resistance to oppression requires this kind of courage from me? At the very least I can remind the next generation what their parents have done. At the very least I can ask the people around me to decide today that they will vote the next time. The vote is hard won. Let’s not waste it – ever.




"Let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations"

Posted by: Rev. Peg Chemberlin Updated: January 12, 2011 - 11:06 PM

The body politic is shaken by the Tucson attack and I agree with representative Boehner who said that, "attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve". We are all asking, “How can we prevent such in the future?”

From his police record and the content of his Youtube videos, Jared Loughner, is clearly an angry, mentally unstable individual. While his political views are scattered and not easy to discern from the limited information we have, his actions seem to be quite politically motivated.

The quickness with which many have linked the tragedy in Tucson with the distressingly high levels of vitriol, distrust, dishonesty, anger and hatred in our political discourse is entirely understandable.  According to the Senate Sergeant at Arms, threats against members of congress are up 300% since the beginning of 2010. There needs to be a toning down of the rhetoric of all of us.

For instance, the language of violent threat needs to be dropped from American political life. When Michelle Bachman says that we all need to be 'armed and ready' we need to tell her that won’t do. Or in March of 2010, when Sarah Palin released a map featuring 20 House Democrats she was targeting, there should have been a greater outcry. (The map used crosshair images to show their districts. Many sggested at the time that she was encouraging violence by using the crosshairs imagery and for later writing on Twitter to her supporters, "'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!'")  She specifically cited Representative Giffords and said, "We'll aim for these races and many others."

In response to the Giffords shooting, Palin posted the following on Facebook, "My sincere condolences are offered to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of today's tragic shooting in Arizona. On behalf of Todd and my family, we all pray for the victims and their families, and for peace and justice."

In the comments section below Palin's statement, critics had strong responses:

"More than condolences, I hope you will think carefully in the future when you call on supporters to 'take aim' at opponents, and refer to elections as 'salvos,'" wrote Kirsten Sherk. "A child was killed today by someone who can't tell the difference between 'inspiring' speech and a call to arms. I was appalled by your violent speech before, I'm horrified now."

But while I agree with the concern, Palin cannot become a scapegoat in all this. Her ill-thought-out decision to use a weapon-sights metaphor against the political opposition must be seen as an expression of a larger national culture that celebrates violence. Palin got a lot of support for her approach. And her approach is just one of many violent frameworks laid on the political scene. We can't ignore the analysis that the pro-violence aspects of our culture may well encourage people like Loughner to action but in doing so we can’t, as President Obama said today, “use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another.  As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility.  Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

So let’s find a way to stop the attack-mentality including our own. It is easy to want to put Palin in our own "cross-hairs" for this. It is much harder to ask ourselves how we can move away from the extreme political discourse, the vilifying of the opposition, and the winner-take-all, no-compromise attitude that seems to have taken hold in American politics.

One of the heroes in the moment was a new intern Daniel Hernandez who said he ‘just did what he had to do’ in response to the tragedy being played out in front to him. We all need to consider what it is we have do. Can we hear the call to a better America, being part of a better day, without having an enemy to respond to? Can we be motivated to resist the violence itself and not project and 'enemy' banner onto those who disagree with us? This is going to require a new day of civility from all of us. What a challenge worth taking on!

Today's Prayer

Posted by: Rev. Peg Chemberlin Updated: January 9, 2011 - 3:17 PM

Holy One, Our Only Home; to the One I know as Jesus the Christ,

Hear the cry of your children in distress, and longing for your presence.

Today we mourn the death of innocent victims in the Tuscan, Arizona shooting. We pray for the healing of Gabrielle Giffords, we pray for everyone injured, we pray for the families of those who lost their lives. With you, we carry in our hearts the families, the neighborhood, Tuscan, and all of Arizona.

The body politic is rocked by this senseless tragedy. Give us courage to stand together with all of our members of Congress, all our public servants, and recognize the courage it takes to lead.

We give thanks for the ray of hope in all the actions of courage and help at the scene. We give thanks for intern Daniel Hernandez and his courageous presence and for his reminder that we each “just have to do what we can’. Give us wisdom to know what we can do.

We confess that we have been feeding anger, hatred, and division, as Rep. Grijalva has declared and we ask with him if this can be time for elected officials and leaders in this country that have been feeding that disease to realize that there are consequences to it. Hear our prayer of heart-breaking confession.

The body politic is threatened by the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona. Life as a civil democracy seems rocked by this action. May this incident bring about "soul searching," as Sheriff Dupnik suggested. Lead us as a nation to be about the soul searching we need to redeem our calling. 

Give us courage that we may offer some kind of redemption to this moment as we pledge ourselves to reject the language of ‘enemy’ and look to each other to hold each other, each, as a valued child of God. Give us courage as we pledge to look to each other to find the values we share. Give us courage as we look to each other for strong debate even as we hold to civil respect and regard. 

The body politic, communities, and families are shaken. But we know Your heart breaks with ours. We know Your healing will grasp us. We know You walk with us. You hope in us.  You act through us. And, together, we will not let the fear win. Together we will trust in Your promise. Together we will find a way to live in harmony. Your hope is more than any can destroy. Your will more than any can topple.  Together, we will transcend and live into the promise of democracy. In your most holy name, Amen.


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters