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Sojourners Magazine: March 2014

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FOR THE FIRST few centuries after Jesus, the early church took seriously his teachings on peacemaking and enemy love. Many converts refused to serve in the Roman army or left it when they converted; some were martyred for those actions. That conviction diminished over the centuries as just war teaching dominated, and it was only kept alive in small sections of the church.

Paul Alexander, now co-president of Evangelicals for Social Action following founder Ron Sider’s retirement, was raised in the conservative Assemblies of God tradition. Like many, he grew up with a deep loyalty to the U.S. and admiration for military service. At a recent meeting of the Sojourners board, he shared the story of his journey to peacemaking. In this issue, Alexander tells that story.

His “road to Damascus” experience came when he discovered that early Pentecostalism in the U.S., including the AG, had been committed to nonviolence. While researching his doctoral dissertation on the subject, he found a rich history of church statements and teachings on the topic that had mostly been forgotten. And he learned that his grandfather had been a conscientious objector who worked in Civilian Public Service during World War II.

In 2002, during the buildup toward the war in Iraq, Alexander co-founded Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice. The group’s first activity was an open letter to President George W. Bush opposing an invasion. The organization now exists in countries around the world.

Pentecostals, writes Alexander, “tend to believe in Spirit empowerment and healing, so it makes sense for them to live as if the Spirit can empower them to love everybody (even enemies).” May we all be so moved.

Cover Story

Today, Indigenous theologians are reclaiming the gospel that missionaries used to divide and conquer their communities.

Feature

Gold and silver mines in Guatemala are wreaking havoc on local communities. But the people, using nonviolent Christian action, are fighting back.
The peacemaking bomber pilot (and son of the evangelical church) offers a model political vision for young Christians today.
Today, Canadian companies account for 75 percent of mining worldwide, and their practices are rife with abuse.
Does our theology have anything to say to African-American gang girls? It should.
Early Pentecostal denominations, including the Assemblies of God, opposed war and supported peacemaking. What happened to this peace legacy?

Commentary

What works, what doesn’t, and how best to frame the conversation
The movement for a fair minimum wage is bubbling up all over.
Amid the political bombast, it’s easy to forget why we needed health-care reform in the first place.

Columns

Pope Francis wants deputies, not darlings.
What will happen to U.S. civil society as the pews empty out?
Okay, so maybe not actually die. Just change. And quickly.
We are all neighbors now, whether we like it or not.

Culture Watch

Carol Roth, a staff leader with Native Mennonite Ministries, connects Native Mennonites with the broader Mennonite church.
The Coens realize that sometimes, of course, comedy is bleak. But the point of gargoyles is to remind us that sacred and profane coexist.
Marking the centennial of pacifist poet William Stafford
"City of God: Faith in the Streets," Jericho Books
"Birmingham Revolution: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Epic Challenge to the Church," IVP Books
Four March 2014 culture recommendations from our editors
U.S. cinema has been an enforcer of our racialized imagination⁠—but that’s changing.
The e-book, the next big thing that was supposed to kill off the local bookstore, may have peaked.

Departments

Letter to the Editors
Letter to the Editors
Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary, Cycle A
Letter to the Editors

Web Extra

If you think it’s impossible to change evangelicals’ views on climate change, think again. 
Sojourners' online calendar features an image and prayer from various tribes around North and Central America that reflect an Indigenous understanding of God.
Pope Francis' recently named 19 new cardinals—half of which hail from non-European countries—to serve the Roman Catholic Church.
Carol Roth offers support, resources, and ministry to Native Mennonites and their conferences.
In La Puya, Guatemala, Christian community members are nonviolently standing up against gold and silver mining companies.
As the federal minimum wage stagnates at $7.25 an hour, many states have taken the lead to raise wages on their own. Where does your state stand?