Stephen Mattson 2-04-2019

Image via Shutterstock/ Evan Al-Amin

American Christianity brought us to this point. It preached nationalism and sanctified American imperialism — promoting Manifest Destiny as ordained by God. The prosperity gospel baptized capitalistic greed, it’s preachers vilified the poor, and it’s theologians manipulated scripture to rationalize global colonialism. Salvation was no longer personified through Jesus, but was redesigned to be a political machine, fueled by its ability to control branches of government. This methodology was packaged as “Christianity,” and the gospel became a message of gaining social power and control rather than a call to follow Jesus’ life of selfless service and sacrifice.

Fran Quigley 2-04-2019

Emergency room entrance. Shutterstock image. 

The Trump administration is pushing to impose work requirements on Americans who rely on the Medicaid program for their health care. Sixteen states have taken up the President’s team on its explicit invitation to place this extra demand on their states’ residents who count on Medicaid for access to their medicines and treatment. There are high-level discussion about applying Medicaid work mandates across the country.

Republicans realize that work requirements can undercut the ACA’s most effective component: the expansion of Medicaid. They are counting on these regulations inflicting their damage outside of congressional and popular scrutiny. In the process, they are promoting false information on what Medicaid work requirements will do.

Alicia T. Crosby 2-01-2019

2017 BET Awards - Los Angeles, Calif., - Jussie Smollett. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

To claim that this attack was motivated by a singular form of bigotry is false. Such a claim is also violent and contributes to the culture that silences and erases the complicated reality of compounded oppression experienced by black LGBTQ persons every day. Hate is rarely simple and the intersectionality — or dynamic forms of subjugation individuals face because of their marginalized identities — black same-gender loving people face is at work here.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) walks after a ceremonial swearing-in picture in Washington, D.C. Jan. 3, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Virtually from the day she assumed office, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her avowed democratic socialism have been under attack. Much of the condemnation is from the same crowd that so vigorously insists that America is and always has been a “Christian nation.” This is quite ironic, because democratic socialism and the Bible share a strikingly similar vision of what constitutes a fair and just society. Capitalism, however, does not share that vision.

Jenna Barnett 1-30-2019

Rev. Dr. Stacey Cole Wilson at a prayer event to end the government shutdown. 

I spent the first 18 years of my life blissfully assuming all Protestant churches allowed women to preach. At my home church, a tiny Presbyterian (USA) congregation in San Antonio, women spoke from the pulpit as often as they brought lukewarm casseroles to Sunday potluck. But when I left home for college, another first-year ambushed me in the dorm kitchen with his mouth full of 1 Timothy, bursting my egalitarian bubble. While I have since memorized the scriptural justifications for my equal existence and participation in the church, a new study by Church Clarity reveals that I am still far from living in a world where all Protestant churches allow women to lead.

Aaron E. Sanchez 1-29-2019

Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When my white wife held her baby boy and girl to her chest for the first time, she cried. Falling from her cheeks onto their heads, her tears baptized them into a world that was confused and colliding and in desperate need of grace.

But she did not cry because she had brown babies.

Jim Wallis 1-29-2019

The dome of the U.S. Capitol following a weekend snowstorm. Jan. 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Thanks be to God! For all the government workers and their families who will, hopefully, soon get their deeply deserved paychecks, we give thanks. For those of us who are constantly on the look out for what’s next on the breaking news horizon, this is a good place to start today: giving thanks to God. Let us first be thankful, then ask what is next.

Chris Karnadi 1-29-2019

"Tidying Up with Marie Kondo" on Netflix.

Kondo focuses not on the aesthetic or the number of things; she instead focuses on the owner’s relationship to the object itself, whether or not it “sparks joy.” She advises, “Take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” This relationship to objects is crucial to Kondo’s method and hinges on her Shinto background. Though KonMari is self-help, it’s self-help rooted in a Shinto spirituality. 

President Donald Trump being sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017. He holds his left hand on two versions of the Bible, one childhood Bible given to him by his mother, along with Abraham Lincoln’s Bible. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

President Donald Trump began his week tweeting about biblical literacy: "Numerous states introducing Bible Literacy classes, giving students the option of studying the Bible. Starting to make a turn back? Great!" By great, he means great for him — in the way that someone who is desperately parched might call anything wet, “great!” For the vast majority of us — Christian or not — the religious nationalism Trump binge drinks when he’s feeling politically vulnerable is really bad.

Jamar A. Boyd II 1-25-2019

Within American culture many have heard the phrase, “as a matter of fact,” utilized in moments of intense debate or discussion. Yet, today the phrase utilized is, “a matter of when?” When will the current trek of looming destruction reach its apex?

Joe Kay 1-24-2019

John M. Chase / Shutterstock.com

Let's ask ourselves: Are we adults doing the best we can to teach young people what they need to know? What daily example are we setting for them in how we act and which leaders we endorse?

Adam R. Taylor 1-24-2019

Employees receive donations at a food distribution center for federal workers impacted by the government shutdown, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn Jan. 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

As the federal government shutdown enters a painful second month, the human consequences and costs continue to grow. President Trump’s sham “compromise” over the weekend failed to break the impasse as Democrats continue to hold firm to the principled demand that negotiations over border security take place only after the government is reopened. Today, the Senate is set to vote on this “compromise” as well as a bill that would simply reopen the government for a few weeks to allow serious negotiations without the operations of the government held hostage. The second bill is the one we should urge senators to vote for, though the president and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell are urging Republican senators to vote against it as Trump feels its passage would weaken his negotiating position.

Aaron E. Sanchez 1-23-2019

NEW YORK CITY - Julián Castro, March 23, 2016. Editorial credit: a katz / Shutterstock.com

It is said that politicians must campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Presidents, perhaps more than any other national figures, must tell the nation a story about itself — of its heroes and villains, of its problems and their causes, of its promise and future.

Jeremiah Wright (behind the I.V. pole) as a Navy Corpsman Tending to President Lyndon B. Johnson. A letter of thanks on behalf of the President is superimposed on photo. Public Domain.

The former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, recently published Becoming, a remarkable memoir that is the best-selling book of the season. I greatly enjoyed the book, but I admit that I am very troubled by her description of Jeremiah Wright as a wild-eyed, out of touch extremist who is “paranoid” and “careening through callous and inappropriate rage … at white America.” I don’t question the sincerity of her opinion, but as a long-time friend and admirer of Wright, I see him quite differently.

Kaitlin Curtice 1-23-2019

This week, conservative pundit Laura Ingraham announced that President Donald Trump would be hosting the young men from Covington Catholic who attended the March for Life, where they got into an altercation with participants in the Indigenous People’s March. It’s unclear whether the administration has extended an invite, but Trump has taken to Twitter to voice his support for the young men. He’s also made clear over the course of his presidency and campaign his disregard for the voices of Indigenous people — whether by slashing the size of Bears Ears National Monument, greenlighting pipelines that impact Native lands, or using racist and derogatory terms to instigate fights with Sen. Elizabeth Warren over claims to Native heritage.

Julian DeShazier 1-23-2019

Photo by Muyuan Ma on Unsplash

If it needs doing, will it
if it needs dying, kill it
Don’t spend more time disclaiming than proclaiming
Do the work and let the work speak for itself.
If you can, say yes. If you can’t, say no, and make sure your WHY can stand before God

Preston Byrd 1-22-2019

"The love between man and robot." By 1000s_pixels / Shutterstock

As technology continues to evolve, it is rapidly outpacing the standard ethical frameworks by which we normally approach new developments. The nucleus of technology and sexuality, which was situated around questions of porn, has been forced to answer new questions, grappling not only with what is right and wrong, but why. With the rise of new, impending sexual technology, the church must learn how to speak into this realm.

Kaitlin Curtice 1-22-2019

Nathan Phillips marches with other protesters out of the main opposition camp against the Dakota Access oil pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D., Feb. 22, 2017. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

The focus of the confrontation between Phillips and Nick Sandmann remained caught in the news, and people immediately raced the well-worn paths to their ideological camps. But missing from the narrative — and certainly from the new counter-narrative — are the Indigenous voices that have been silenced or villainized by the rise and power of white supremacy in America.

Stephen Mattson 1-16-2019

Photo by Bogdan Yukhymchuk on Unsplash

God's justice is divine, meant to benefit everyone created in God's divine image. It’s not dictated by man-made laws, branches of government, political parties, lobbyists, or authoritarian officials. It's not biased towards the wealthy or powerful, and cannot be bought by high-priced lawyers. It's not fueled by populist opinions or partisan rage, and isn’t facilitated through broken systems and institutions. Instead, God’s justice is holy and unblemished, eternally seeking to free the enslaved, empower the downtrodden, and bring judgement upon the oppressors.

Jim Wallis 1-16-2019

The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a snow pile in Washington, D.C. Jan. 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history reveals the brokenness of our systems, the danger of a strong man exploiting that brokenness instead of trying to fix it, and the suffering of countless people, always beginning with the most vulnerable. It also painfully shows Washington’s current habit of blaming instead of solving problems, which has left our politics both polarized and paralyzed.