I have never been in a church that failed to recognize the missional nature of faith. But I have also never been in a church that sought to systematically uproot the sources of oppression that caused the need for mission in the first place. If being a disciple means following Christ, then it means following him in his life’s work to invert the power structures of the world.
This year, America celebrates 241 years as a nation. And while racial and ethnic oppression has been a defining characteristic of the nation since the first colonists landed on the shores of this land, I hold out hope that because of her youth, America can change course.
I have spent the majority of my career working for Republican and conservative organizations. Trust me when I say this is not about political party. This is about public service and deeper than that, a heart issue of how we view “entitlements” in this country.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) officially resigned last week, and we should all rejoice in his decision to step down. Over the course of his eight years in Congress, Chaffetz has become everything citizens should be weary of: A politician who is paid $174,000 plus generous benefits, including a health care subsidy, complains about not having enough money, and proposes taxpayers cover more perks.
We pass our indifference down generation to generation. To fix that, it is not that we create a generation of religious zealots, but we raise up young people who are aware of the world around them, who are not blanketed by their privilege, who learn to take hold of what God has given them instead of complaining about it. We raise our children to ask questions, to live in love, to value human life and our created world in every country, in every situation.
The book’s text and photographs, which profile 15 Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh communities, collectively demonstrate what Patel views as “something that I believe cities all over the United States and the world should seek to emulate.”
Further, this proposed budget seems to be based on an assumption that poor people and children should fund our national defense. The National Council of Churches and the Circle of Protection do not agree. The biblical prophets teach us that our security depends on upholding justice for people in poverty. Common wisdom in our own time tells us, “a hungry man is an angry man.”
It may take years to fully grasp the import of the Supreme Court’s decision in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, where the court ruled 7-2 that the state of Missouri had expressly and unjustifiably discriminated against a church by disqualifying it from receiving a public benefit (scrap tire to enhance playground safety) solely because of the church’s religious character.
But here are six initial observations about the ruling:
We come as women and men of faith. Though separated by physical distances, cultural differences, and faith traditions, many of us united in prayer and fasting in May, directed toward God’s intervention in the politics of the United States, especially as it relates to the poor and vulnerable. We pray for wisdom for our governmental leaders, but we are committed to continued advocacy for those most in need of society’s safety nets.
“This boils down to a choice, a fundamental choice and the choice is this: Do you take a trillion dollars and help the poor and vulnerable and the working class in this country and their health care, subsidized by the federal government, or do you take the trillions of dollars and return it to the wealthy in the country? That’s really the fundamental choice here.” I heard Matthew Dowd say that on This Week with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday. I met Dowd recently. He is a former George W. Bush advisor, and told me he is a Catholic from my home town of Detroit. He is right. These are indeed about basic choices that are not just political but moral ones. It’s time to make some choices.
Evangelicals believe that people and nations are sufficiently blessed by God’s common grace that we can seek the good of others, as well as our own welfare. As a result, we are prepared to work together across partisan divides and to respect those with whom we may differ on policy choices. Our churches bring together Democrats, Independents, Republicans, and people who have no political affiliation at all. Our call to protect programs that serve our most vulnerable neighbors transcends any political party.
Coming together from all streams of American Christianity to speak in opposition to cuts on the safety-net programs is no minor achievement. We have a widespread consensus on the priority of providing essential life saving support to poor people in our country. We also agree in that the ultimate goal is to create a just society in which everyone live an abundant life that includes meaningful work with fair salaries, affordable health care and education, and time for leisure and recreation.
When we say the most vulnerable or the “least of these” we are not talking about numbers on a page. We are talking about the elderly — grandmothers and grandfathers, deacons, trustees, and ushers, children’s ministry workers, community leaders, and those who have worked for decades to provide for themselves and their families. We are talking about children and youth who were born with purpose and possibilities, who have their whole lives ahead of them, future pastors, and lay leaders, lawyers, teachers, journalists, and members of Congress — those who will determine the future our nation. We’re talking about those who have disabilities and those who work hard every day – sometimes two and three jobs to make ends meet and provide for their families but get paid low wages that do not cover the high cost of living in most cities and towns in our nation.
One of the defining marks over time between denominations in the Christian world is how we interpret the Bible — the words and teachings of Jesus — and how we decipher his stories and actions. Today we’re examining Jesus’ life with a megaphone, and it seems like everyone has joined the conversation, not over a cup of a hot coffee or a meal, but at our keyboards and in our pulpits and Bible studies. We’ve gone from a faithful religion to a political and social religion, in which the teachings of Jesus are used by us to prop up whatever we are claiming in our latest argument.
The new film Baby Driver is a movie that expresses joy through art, specifically music. The action film from director Edgar Wright connects the joy of listening to a favorite song to the way those musical rhythms color our everyday lives. At its best, the film is a celebration of joy in creativity that bleeds over into a joy in creation itself. It struggles, however, to turn that aesthetic delight into something of substance.
Thirteen male senators wrote a 142-page healthcare bill behind closed doors that puts the health of women in the U.S. in danger. While the authors of the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017” may have forgotten about women — only including the words “women” and “woman” a few times in the whole document — Jesus never forgot about women’s health.
Let us not forget that healing was central to Jesus’ ministry, and the healing of afflicted women was just as important to him as the healing of men. Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath in a room full of protesting men (Luke 13:10-17). Jesus healed a hemorrhaging woman considered ritually unclean who had been denied coverage — in a sense — for 12 years (Mark 5:25-34, Matthew 9:20-22, Luke 8:43-48).
Even more difficult than the question of whether or not we are collectively willing to break the law is the question of whether we are ready to embody what a “culture of sanctuary” holistically invites us to be.
During the election campaign, many Christian leaders together asked the presidential candidates to tell us what they would do to provide help and opportunity to hungry and poor people. Donald Trump wrote to us on Sept. 28. You can find his letter on circleofprotection.us. Candidate Trump expressed concern about poverty in America and around the world. He said nothing about deep cuts in the programs that help people in poverty.
There are so many loud and shrill voices in various religions today, ones filled with fear and self-righteousness and arrogance and judgement and hatred — the very things that faith tells us to avoid. Those voices try to divide us and diminish us. They twist religion into the opposite of what it’s meant to be, hoping to advance their personal agendas.
This summer, I opened the pages of Nina Riggs’ memoir on living and dying, The Bright Hour, the same day that I walked into a cancer treatment center for the first time in my life. I’d waited for the publication of this book after reading about her embrace of daily life in Greensboro, N.C., as she faced a terminal diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer. During the short period chronicled in the book, the author watches her mother and her best friend Ginny die of cancer: To say that Riggs — and here I just have to call her Nina — has a familiarity with grief is a bit of an understatement.
At The Summit, Sojourners' annual gathering of leaders from across the country, attendees spent Friday morning calling their senators, demanding they vote against the bill — which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to push through next week, before the July 4 recess. Those gathered are calling on their constituents to do the same. Here's how.