Romal J. Tune is founder and executive director of Faith for Change.
Posts By This Author
Richard Rohr on White Privilege
A few days ago I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day with Richard Rohr. Our conversation from the moment he picked me up from the airport, was energizing and thought provoking. Rohr's demeanor is very calming and without the fear of shaming or blaming, it's pretty easy to talk to about anything. We discussed the institutional church, poverty, self-care, the contemplative life, and many other issues. But one topic came up that I didn't anticipate, the issue of white privilege.
Does Jesus Heal Drug Addicts?
I almost gave up on my drug-addict mother. But then I discovered that God never gives up.
In memory of Dorothy Molex (my mom), Philip Seymour Hoffman, and the countless others who battle the demons of addiction.
“What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and be- comes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” (Mark 9:16-18)
I never thought the Bible had anything to say about addiction. It’s not something that I ever heard preached or read in the Bible. As someone who grew up in a household with an addicted parent, I wanted answers, but church didn’t provide them and the Bible appeared to be silent — until I decided to read this story through the lens of my life and personal experiences.
Church Partnerships Working to Stop School-to-Prison Pipeline
Over the last few years we have heard much about the school to prison pipeline. According to the ACLU, it is:
a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out.
The Children’s Defense Fund argues that because of a lack of early childhood education and healthy beginnings, this epidemic begins before a child is old enough to enroll in school, defining the problem as the Cradle to Prison pipeline. Organizations such as the Advancement Project, the Legal Defense Fund, and many others too have defined the school-to-prison pipeline as just another level to the mass incarceration epidemic and one of the most disturbing injustices we face today.
We know that the pipeline is undergirded by Zero Tolerance policies, mass expulsions, unprecedented school arrests, inadequate school funding, and myriad other unjust policies that either criminalize our children or rob them of the resources they need to be successful. We also know that high-school dropout is certainly a station on the pipeline. In many urban centers the dropout rate hovers around 50 percent, and some data suggests 7,000 students drop out of school every day. What happens to kids that drop out of school? Where do kids who are expelled end up?
What Can Churches Do?
JUST OVER A year ago, I attended a retreat sponsored by the Fund for Theological Education. During the retreat we were encouraged to look at our lives and to find a personal story that captured the essence of what led us to our particular ministries. That led me to reflect on my childhood: growing up in poverty, attending a different school every year, walking to school with cardboard in the bottom of my shoes because the soles were worn out, wondering how I was going to eat, lacking school supplies at times, and dealing with the stress of a single mother who was a substance abuser.
By reminding me of those things I endured and had to overcome as a child, that exercise helped me tap into my real passion. I wanted to find ways to help children growing up in similar circumstances. I wanted to inspire them to believe in themselves and know that they can make it.
At-risk youth and under-performing students need to be inspired, but equally important is their need for adults who are willing to do the work of helping them succeed academically. Education continues to be our most reliable tool for creating upward life trajectories and optimal opportunities. Churches are more than places where people come in search of a deeper relationship with God; they are also places where people come to find deeper connections with their communities and the possibility of using their gifts and talents to help those in need.
All these forces together compelled me to act on an idea I had more than a year ago: to call on friends from across the country to help create Faith for Change. Faith for Change builds a national network of churches and people of faith committed to implementing proven educational strategies for improving children’s lives.
Share Your Dreams: Achievements, Challenges, and Our Identity in Obama's America, Part 4
God's Spirit is for Everybody: Achievements, Challenges, and Our Identity in Obama's America, Part 3
Overcoming Shame: Achievements, Challenges, and Our Identity in Obama's America, Part 2
Is the Dream Fulfilled? Achievements, Challenges, and Our Identity in Obama's America
Wedge Issues (Part 2)
During the summer of 2003, my cousin and his girlfriend celebrated the birth of their son Glenn Molex, III. I remember getting the call from his father and hearing the pride in his voice when he told me about the birth. My cousin and his girlfriend live in the inner city and by social definitions, they are poor. But in spite of their financial situation, when [...]
Wedge Issues (Part 1)
As we draw closer to the candidate forum at Saddleback Church, I've had several conversations with clergy on the West Coast. Many are wondering if candidates will be asked about abortion and gay marriage. In California there is a ballot initiative on gay marriage, and I'm also hearing that this issue is on the ballot in Florida. No matter how much some people don't want to talk about it, these issues are not going away [...]
Am I Liberal or Conservative? Or Both? (Romal Tune)
[... continued from part 1]
All I'm trying to say is that whether we wear the label of Christian conservative or Christian liberal, what matters most is that we are Christian. The Bible reminds us that there is no male or female, Jew or gentile, bond or free, but in Christ we are all the same, sinners saved by grace.
What I've learned is that many of my liberal and [...]
Am I Liberal or Conservative? Or Both? (Part 1)
It wasn't until I started working in the world of religion and politics with advocacy organizations on Capitol Hill that I ever heard anyone define Christians as liberal or conservative. These terms were not used in my church experience. But when I recall different experiences working in the church, I can see how some members of the churches where I worshiped then, where I worship now, and in congregations across the country, fit into these categories. I've found it difficult to [...]
Poverty and Personal Responsibility (Part 2)
[ ...continued from part one]
So how do we help people who have been hurt so much psychologically and emotionally that they don't believe in themselves and don't believe they deserve better? How do we help children who have never heard a parent say, "I love you, you are special, talented, and will do great things one day"? Or those who watched their parents harm themselves through substance [...]
Poverty and Personal Responsibility (Part 1, by Romal Tune)
During this election cycle, we have heard candidates talk about ways in which we can work to end poverty. John Edwards has a new initiative to cut poverty in half in 10 years. These and other initiatives are certainly admirable ideas and much-needed programs that could help millions of men, women, and children.
In additions to programs and needed policy changes from our elected officials, we are also hearing about personal responsibility. And yes, inasmuch as [...]
Race, Religion, and the Election
The New Year began with bang. When it comes to presidential politics, we certainly saw some new beginnings. Sen. Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African American to win in Iowa, making him the clear front-runner (well, at least for a week or so). But after Sen. Clinton won New Hampshire, not only did it become clear that this would be one of the most interesting and most-watched presidential races in history, something else rose to the surface. We were reminded that while [...]