Network of Spiritual Progressives
The Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) is an international political and social justice movement based in the United States that seeks to influence American politics towards more humane, progressive values. The organization also challenges what it perceives as the misuse of religion by political conservatives and the anti-religious attitudes of many liberals. In the international sphere, the NSP seeks to foster inter-religious understanding and work for social justice.
The NSP was founded in 2005 by Rabbi Michael Lerner, who serves as co-director of the organization with Cornel West and Sister Joan Chittister. More than 1,200 activists attended each of the group's conferences in Berkeley, California (July 2005) and Washington, D.C. (May 2006).
The Network of Spiritual Progressives was founded based on three basic tenets:
- Changing the bottom line in America.
- Challenging the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right.
- Challenging the many anti-religious and anti-spiritual assumptions and behaviors that have increasingly become part of the liberal culture.
Changing the Bottom Line in America
Today, institutions and social practices are judged efficient, rational and productive to the extent that they maximize money and power. That's the old bottom line. The NSP advocates a new bottom line: that they should be judged rational, efficient and productive not only to the extent that they maximize money and power, but also to the extent that they maximize love and caring, ethical behavior, ecological sensitivity, kindness, generosity, non-violence and peace, and to the extent that they enhance our capacities to respond to other human beings in a way that honors them as embodiments of the sacred, and enhances our capacities to respond to the earth and the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement.
Challenging the misuse of religion, God and spirit by the Religious Right
The NSP seeks to educate people of faith to the understanding that a serious commitment to God, religion and spirit should manifest itself in social activism aimed at peace, universal disarmament, and social justice with a special focus on the needs of the poor and the oppressed. This involves a commitment to end poverty, hunger, homelessness, inadequate education and inadequate health care all around the world. The NSP also advocates nuclear non-proliferation, environmental protection and repair of the damage done to the planet by 150 years of environmentally irresponsible behavior in industrializing societies.
Challenging the many anti-religious and anti-spiritual assumptions of liberal culture
The NSP also seeks to challenge the extreme individualism and "me-firstism" that permeate all parts of the global market culture. It also encourages people in social change movements to distinguish between their legitimate critiques of the Religious Right and their illegitimate generalizing of those criticisms to all religious or spiritual beliefs and practices. It also wants to help social change activists, and others who identify with liberal and progressive movements, to become more conscious of, and less afraid to affirm, their own inner spiritual yearnings and to reconstitute a visionary progressive social movement that incorporates the spiritual dimension, of which the loving, spiritually-elevating and connecting aspects of religion has been one expression. This is not meant to imply, however, that secular progressive movements are not also expressions of community, and even expressions of a kind of secular belief and spirituality (faith in the working class, oppressed communities, historical materialism, enlightenment, humanity or progress for example).
- Kirkwood, Peter (April 9, 2010). "Rabbi takes on Religious Right". Eureka Street.
- Spencer, Metta (Oct.-Dec. 2007). "Progressive Spirit: A Conversation with Rabbi Michael Lerner". Peace Magazine.
- Lerner, Michael (April 6, 2006). "Bringing God Into It". The Nation.
- "Our Mission". Network of Spiritual Progressives.
- Michael Lerner, The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right (New York: HarperCollins, 2006). ISBN 0-06-084247-4.
- Jim Wallis, God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It (New York: HarperCollins, 2005). ISBN 0-06-055828-8.