Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, Religion News Service

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons (@guthriegf) writes at the intersection of faith and public policy. From 2011-2015, he worked at the National Immigration Forum mobilizing Christians to advocate for the value of immigrants and immigration to America.

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American Christians Could Take a Lesson From Angela Merkel

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Time magazine’s 2015 “Person of the Year” is a self-identified conservative Christian, but not one of the many running for president of the United States. While the dynamics of faith and politics are different in Europe, German leader Angela Merkel is an example of a conservative Christian living out her faith in the public square quite differently than we see in the U.S.

Time, which calls her “Chancellor of the Free World,” characterizes her strong leadership of economic and political crises in Europe as “no flair, no flourishes, no charisma, just a survivor’s sharp sense of power and a scientist’s devotion to data.” She may be a quantum chemist, but she’s also an Evangelical Lutheran preacher’s kid with an unwavering faith.

To Move Beyond Fear, Change the Song

Bruce Springsteen, Despair, and a Dream of Life

 I despair for my country, which seeks to turn its back on refugees. I despair for my fellow Christians, who believe followers of other creeds deserve less compassion. I despair for leaders who blame all members of a religion for the acts of extremists. I certainly hope that logic doesn’t apply to me.

I searched for the right music for the mood. Bruce Springsteen’s “Devils and Dust” captured my mood perfectly. Listen to the chorus, “I got God on my side / And I'm just trying to survive / What if what you do to survive / Kills the things you love / Fear's a powerful thing, baby / It can turn your heart black you can trust / It'll take your God filled soul / And fill it with devils and dust.”

Two Reasons Why War-Weary Christians Must Care About Kunduz

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I must confess: until I learned that my country had committed a crime against humanity there, I had never heard of the city of Kunduz. I suspect many of my fellow Americans hadn’t either — even during the height of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, only 17 percent of young Americans could find Afghanistan on a map.

This must change.

Especially for those of us who have few memories of American political life before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, news from Afghanistan has been a steady drumbeat of ups and downs. The war — which has little to no effect on the day-to-day lives of Americans (other than, proponents of the war would argue, protecting us from the effects of terrorism in the United States) — seems removed from lives. And that’s reasonable. New world events have moved our attention away, and war weariness has long since set in as the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan drags on.

Even for Christians in the United States committed to political advocacy and public witness, other issues have long since taken the place of caring about Afghanistan.

But two reasons stand out for why war-weary Christians in the U.S. must care about recent events in Kunduz.

Trump's Rotten Fruit

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"What would Trump do?" appears to be a question his growing flock asks themselves, even when their answer leads to a crime.

On Aug. 19, two brothers ambushed a homeless man in Boston because he was Hispanic — "inspired in part by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump," the Boston Globe reported.

One brother is said to have told police, "Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported."

Folks acting out in the name of Trump necessitates two questions: how much is Trump culpable for what others do in his name, and what is our response as Christians?

Iran Nuclear Deal: Strategic, Scientific — and Christian

Iran Deal Reached

Flags aligned for photo at the U.N. in Vienna on July 14. Photo by European External Action Service /

Later this week, President Obama will deliver a major speech promoting the Iran nuclear agreement at American University. I’m looking forward to the speech, both as an AU alum and someone closely following the upcoming Senate vote on the nuclear agreement. We know President Obama will make the strategic and scientific cases for the deal; I hope he makes the moral case as well.

President Obama has twice chosen the university in northwest D.C. to deliver major speeches, but it was also the site of President Kennedy’s landmark speech on peace and nuclear disarmament in 1963, where he declared, “While we proceed to safeguard our national interests, let us also safeguard human interests” and “the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.”

GOP Convention’s Religious Leaders Agree on Immigration Reform

The Washington Post/Contributor / Getty Images

Photo: GOP tie worn at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. The Washington Post/Contributor / Getty Images

If you blink, you might miss the fact that the religious luminaries offering prayers at the Republican National Convention agree on a surprising topic: the need to welcome immigrants and pass immigration reform.

The views of these religious leaders differ sharply from the Republicans’ own platform. Guided by the likes of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the brains behind state-level anti-immigrant laws, the GOP draft platform takes a hardline stance on immigration.

But the Episcopal, evangelical Protestant, Greek Orthodox and Catholic leaders chosen to lead the RNC in prayer beg to differ.