The United States has experienced an alarming rise in cultural and political polarization, reaching levels not seen since the tumultuous 1960s. Deepening polarization has also seeped into the church and threatens Christian unity, evangelism, and the public witness of the church. In the face of these alarming trends many pastors and church leaders have sought to keep politics out of their church to avoid dividing their congregations. However, the challenge is that following Christ has profound social, economic and political implications and that a commitment to justice is integral to Christian discipleship. There is real danger in both overly politicizing the church so that it becomes an appendage or pawn of a political party and/or ideological agenda and in the church becoming completely apolitical with no relevance or impact on addressing the most pressing issues and injustices.
The goal of this curriculum is to provide a biblical framework and rationale and practical tools and tips for politically divided churches to create space for civil dialogue around social and political issues and to provide a theological foundation for transformative, faith-inspired engagement in anti-racism and justice work. The curriculum is designed to be sensitive to the challenges faced by congregations that are politically divided and/or that operate in very conservative parts of the country. The goal is to avoid further division and instead to build bridges of deeper understanding and common action built upon a deeper and shared biblical understanding of justice. The curriculum can and should be adapted and tailored as needed to support and resource congregations that have different needs and face distinctive challenges.