Racism Is a Faith Issue

Several hundred activists gathered in Union Square in New York City for a candlelight vigil in memory of Sandra Bland on Dec. 30.  a katz / Shutterstock.com

To put this in a religious context: overcoming the divisions of race has been central to the church since its beginning, and the dynamic diversity of the body of Christ is one of the most powerful forces in the global church. Our Christian faith stands fundamentally opposed to racism in all its forms, which contradict the good news of the gospel. The ultimate answer to the question of race is our identity as children of God, which we so easily forget applies to all of us. And the political and economic problems of race are ultimately rooted in a theological problem. The churches have too often “baptized” us into our racial divisions, instead of understanding how our authentic baptism unites us above and beyond our racial identities.

Do we believe what we say about the unity of “the body of Christ” or not? 

Why Jesus Was, and Is, a Political Threat

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This is not the talk of charity and giving Christmas toys and turkeys to the less fortunate. The language of Mary is the narrative of revolution and redistribution, two words that the powers that be just hate. And while the revolution that Christ brings is not violent, it is nonetheless completely transformational. Mary got it.

Herod did too. The nearest political ruler to the birth of Christ immediately saw the possible implications for him.

It's Never Too Late to Do Justice

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Bryan Stevenson, the nation’s premier lawyer on mass incarceration and the death penalty, says slavery never ended. It just evolved.

I just spent two days with 50 other faith leaders at Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., where Bryan emphasized four basic essentials for criminal justice reform in America: 1) Proximity to those most impacted, 2) Changing the narrative, 3) Hope replacing hopelessness, and 4) Committing ourselves to uncomfortable things, because injustice is never overcome by just doing comfortable things.

WATCH: How to Overcome Hateful Rhetoric

Image via Heather Wilson

America stands at one side of a bridge right now as a white majority nation — on the other side, a country comprising a majority of minorities. This change is inevitable, but how our nation responds to it is currently unclear. 

Are we headed for more conflict as too many in the shrinking white population try desperately to cling to the past? Or can we cross this bridge to a new America where we begin to see the "beloved community" that Dr. King envisioned?

On Jan. 19, the day after our country commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, my new book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, will be released. As members of our Sojourners community and readers of my weekly column, I wanted you to be among the first to watch this preview.

Pray, Yes. But Then Act.

Crowd Marching
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The epidemic of gun violence in America has become the new normal. We can’t just blame it on the brokenness of the world, pray for peace, and move on, worried that anything more will be seen as politicizing tragedy. What is tragic is that those who have the ability to DO something about this crisis refuse to offer more than simplistic sentiments on Twitter before getting caught in a circular argument about our rights as Americans. It’s time for people of faith to respond out of their faith and work to stop senseless violence. As Nicholas Kristoff wrote in the New York Times today: “It’s not clear what policy, if any, could have prevented the killings in San Bernardino. Not every shooting is preventable. But we’re not even trying.” Common sense measures like universal background checks — which is supported by 85 percent of Americans — would be a good start.

Issue: January 2016

A long, long time ago, the prophet Hosea decried the predatory economy of ancient Israel. But as Walter Bruggemann explains in our cover story, the prophet's evocative poetry also identifies another consequence of acquisitive greed: environmental disaster.

In the Wake of ISIS Terror: Mourning, Lament, Discernment

Prague prays for Paris
Image via Bianca Dagheti / Flickr.com

From a religious perspective, the hardest thing about confronting evil is the painful human tendency to only see it in others, in our enemies, and not see any on our side because of the blurred vision caused by the specks in our own eyes, to paraphrase the gospels. In discussing ISIS, we should clearly use the language of sin — the enormous sin of the ideological hate of ISIS finding its victims all over the world.

How Jesus Overcomes 'Us Versus Them' Thinking

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When I was eighteen years old I knew that I knew everything there was to know, especially in regards to the “us” and the “them” of the world. Eighteen-year-old me knew that being gay was a sin and that LGBTQ people were not called to leadership in the church (and my conservative Christian college did nothing but reinforce these beliefs). But four short years later I found myself on a hill across from my alma mater, standing in solidarity with dozens of LGBTQ young adults and allies, advocating for change in Christian universities with policies that discriminated against LGBTQ people.

How did I get from “there” to “here”? How did my view of “us” and “them” shift so radically?

Please, Do Not Let Paris Be Another 9/11

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Just like you, I was horrified when I learned of the terror attacks in Paris on Nov. 13. The scale, precision, and barbarity of these crimes are hard to fathom.

My first reaction was sadness for the victims and a desire for peace. My second was a sense of mild panic. If they can do this in Paris, they can certainly do it in my city!

My third reaction, one I’m not particularly proud of: I thought about how much I’d like to see the people responsible for these acts hunted down and destroyed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about 9/11 lately. I remember the way that we as a nation went through a similar three-step process. We went from shock and sympathy to fear and paranoia, and finally to the conviction that we must annihilate those who attacked us.

It all happened so quickly.