In July 1952, when I was 11 years old, some of my relatives took me to witness the Billy Graham Crusade in Jackson, Miss. Ropes were strung across the athletic field and stands where more than 300,000 people would gather to hear him preach during those hot summer nights. The ropes had one purpose: to keep the crowd segregated by the color of their skin.
After the smoke cleared from “The Battle of Lafayette Square” and the cringeworthy visit by the first couple to the St. John Paul II National Shrine was over, most Americans missed what was supposed to be the crown jewel of the Trump religion propaganda trifecta: the signing of an executive order on international religious freedom.
I am tired of white colleagues who have ignored the reports of microagressions and outright racism but are now posting black boxes on social media or reaching out to me with an “I love you.” They may mean well but it often feels so little and too late.
These types of failures in the voting process may become additional tools in the arsenal of voter suppression, and the Black community must be prepared.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) talks with Rev. Jim Wallis about the potential for a Kairos moment during the unprecedented crisis our nation is facing.
Transforming our policing and reimagining public safety will require much more dialogue, bridge-building, and, ultimately, sustained public pressure.
Today, we must realize that because someone is aware of the struggle for black freedom in America doesn’t mean they have been moved to action. They may have the right language — even write books, give addresses, give statements — but their actions show a commitment to the status quo rather than social justice.
“NO KNEELING!” So tweets our “dominate-the-streets” president in response to white football star Drew Brees voicing support for fellow players who take a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence. This, while demonstrations swell across the country in response to the murder of George Floyd by an officer who drilled his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes while the man lay face down on the ground, defenseless and dying.
When I see footage of Black murders, I feel horror and anger not only at the life that was violently taken, but also the idea of vacant and immune gazes transfixed on an unrealized destiny, a muted future, someone’s son, daughter, or father. There are some who, despite the graphic nature of these images, will watch with no sadness and no outrage. They will not see a person, only an object — objectified in life and objectified in death.
During this time of COVID-19, people are dying alone, away from their families and from priests or pastors who might ease their passing. You could no more shoehorn a dozen people into a hospital room than you should cram them unmasked into any enclosed space these days. A pastor or chaplain might be forced to visit the room remotely, to FaceTime last rites, so to speak.
Prior to this moment, new allies have preached a gospel of Jesus devoid of justice. They failed to make the theological connection that Jesus and justice are, in fact, mutually inclusive. To invoke Jesus and then to invoke justice is redundant. Every time we invoke the name of Jesus, we commit ourselves to the ministry of justice. Every time we invoke the name of Jesus, we declare the psalmist’s decree that justice and righteousness are the foundations of God’s throne. Every time we invoke the name of Jesus, we summon the messianic prophecy that the spirit of the lord was upon Jesus, to preach the good news to the poor, to set the prisoners free from the Roman industrial complex, and to proclaim liberty to those who were oppressed. Every time we invoke the name of Jesus, we remember that Jesus was convicted of a crime he did not commit, received an unfair trial, and was sentenced to a state-sanctioned lynching on a tree. The ministry of justice is the ministry of Jesus. We cannot divorce our theology from the ministry of justice. To do so is to divorce ourselves from Jesus himself.
White churches need to enter conversations of racial justice with sobriety.
Rituals surrounding death provide solace and comfort. Ceremonies, such as funerals, hold our challenging and complicated emotions and provide space for us to acknowledge and accept the reality of death. But when we are not able to be physically held by those outside of our own home or partake in our religious rituals and death traditions, how do we process the death of those we love? Even as states reopen and larger groups are permitted to gather, some people are still apprehensive about convening. In this unfamiliar and uncertain moment, how do we mourn?
Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, speaks with Rev. Jim Wallis about our need to focus our outrage on the tragic death of George Floyd and the systemic structures that caused it. She warns against being distracted by Donald Trump's brazen attempt to falsely cloak himself with spiritual authority by staging a photo op in front of St. John's, Lafayette Square.
Eddie Glaude has rightly named the violent White House walk to St. John’s as “dictatorial theatre.” The words that came to mind for many of us were sacrilege and blasphemy. Here's the dictionary's definition of blasphemy: "Impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things." Another word that came to mind was authoritarian. At the epicenter of political power in the United States stands a little church that Donald Trump has decided to violently use — and now St. John’s stands inside a police perimeter surrounding that seat of power.
The Shift is Colby Martin's attempt to provide a survival guide for those who’ve left (or been kicked out of) their conservative Christian communities and are now moving toward a more open and expansive faith.
In Exodus, the Egyptians shed innocent blood. Then God made this blood visible for all to see.