After each massacre, guns are defended with religious fervor, as though owning a weapon is akin to owning a Bible. We’re told that the problem in our society isn’t unfettered access to weapons, but a failure by godly people to arm themselves and go out and kill the ungodly people. We’re told we need more “good” people buying guns and perfecting their aim so they can shoot all the “bad” people.
Back in September, America rightly called on Catholics to “fight racism at every turn.” Yet Catholic media has yet to really give a good example of how to do that when it comes to reporting on Catholic Trump supporters.
It is an awful and awesome time to be Black in America. I hear the voices of those who came before say “it always has been son.” Yet the last few years have been especially psychologically traumatizing and awful. The images of unarmed Black bodies being shot, choked, and killed by police officers looping on television and social media and the lack of justice or accountability around many of those murders have haunted me. The resurgence of (and the unhelpful media attention given to) a racist White nationalism. The introduction of policies and executive orders that seek to dismantle progress that took decades to build. And the ascendance of a bigoted fearful president who rose to political power on lies about our first Black president, lies about other minorities, and by playing to the siege mentality of many White Americans. All of this has been added to the daily micro and macro aggressions we experience and the contorting demanded of us to calm white neighbors, colleagues and classmates. It is exhausting. Maddening. Awful
Political rhetoric linking the United States with a divine power emerged on a large scale with the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. M.R. Watkinson, a Pennsylvania clergyman, encouraged the placement of “In God We Trust” on coins at the war’s outset in order to help the North’s cause. Such language, Watkinson wrote, would “place us openly under the divine protection.”
Are we a nation of immigrants or of ethno-nationalists? Do we believe in “American Exceptionalism” or “America First”? Do we prioritize narrowly conceived national interests over enduring American values? Should we lead and preserve the international order, or simply compete with craven superpowers like China and Russia? Will we compassionately open our doors to the world’s “tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to be free,” or will we tell them to go back to the “s***hole countries” they come from? Put starkly, are we a nation “under God” or under Trump? We must choose.
Seeing this cooperative work leaves me with a deep sense of awe for how humanity can come together. Local communities worked together even before any national or international aid agencies set up shelters. They created plans and networks, and even used Twitter to rescue strangers stranded on roofs. While my heart breaks for the lives lost and interrupted, I see all the ways God is knitting us together through these local responses.
But also, right now, ACT for America, a major anti-Muslim hate group, is meeting in Washington, D.C. Groups like ACT for America aim to marginalize and block whole groups of people from our nation’s religious and community fabric. Both ACT for America and the founder, Brigitte Gabriel, have a long history of promoting policies at the federal and state levels that are intended to manufacture fear of Muslims and promote the false idea of Muslims as a threat to the United States.
For the first time, a majority of Americans has voiced concern about violence against Jews, polling by the Anti-Defamation League shows.
While 52 percent of Americans surveyed said they are disturbed about such violence, an even higher percentage — 76 percent — said they are concerned about violence against Muslims.
The history of America is the story of the great struggle between the dream of equality and the nightmare of how equality is defined. All men are created equal, but not poor men, or men of color, or women. Send me the “wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me” … but not if they are Irish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, or Muslim.
The call of the prophet is to call one’s nation to repentance, to courageously expose the hypocrisies and contradictions between dreams and reality. America has to be awoken from the stupor of false dreams.
The simple standard for Christianity is how well we’re emulating Christ. So how Christ-like are we? Right now, American Christianity isn’t doing so great, which is why non-Christians can be—and often are—even more Christ-like than many self-professed Christians.
The reporter asked President Trump about the rise of anti-Semitism in America. His answer — or seeming lack of one — angered many prominent Jewish Americans.
“Donald Trump’s inability to simply condemn antisemitism boggles the mind,” said Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action.
In the face of these threats, which Marvel superhero might be best equipped to defend the people, ideals, and institutions under attack? Some comic fans and critics are pointing to Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel.
President Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico raises serious questions about America’s moral standing, as the poor would bear the brunt of the suffering, a leading Catholic theologian says.
The Rev. Daniel G. Groody, an associate professor of theology at Notre Dame University in Indiana, said the wall would lead to a loss of life, as migrants are forced to find other ways to escape poverty across the border.
“What Trump fails to see is that state sovereignty is not an absolute privilege, but a moral responsibility,” said Groody.
Bishops will examine proposals to amend or replace Obamacare but said that “for now that a repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act ought not be undertaken without the concurrent passage of a replacement plan that ensures access to adequate health care for the millions of people who now rely upon it for their wellbeing.”
I sat on the first wooden pew of the Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., on New Year’s Eve, with 500 faithful from across the country and thousands who watched online, to worship, testify, and encourage each other.
We came together in the tradition of the 1862 “watch night” service, when enslaved and free African-Americans, abolitionists, and others awaited news that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law and would free black people living in the South. We came together also in the tradition of Jesus, who told his disciples to “keep awake” while he prayed on the night before his crucifixion.
Imagine receiving this message on your voicemail: “Dear Mr. Gonzalez, we regret to inform you that your heart surgery has been canceled. The medical professionals scheduled to perform it, Doctors Sarna and Latif, have discovered that they have serious disagreements about Middle East politics. Consequently, they are refusing to work together. We will do our best to find you other doctors, before your condition becomes fatal.”
Seem far-fetched? In my mind, it is the logical outcome of the manner in which many Jewish and Muslim groups have chosen to engage each other in recent years. Or, rather, not engage.
If I’ve learned anything since my time in Rome, it’s that people — not just Catholics — are hungering to connect peace with justice. This is why those of us who traveled to Rome just before the election, accompanied by Stockton, Calif., Bishop Stephen Blaire, and Houma-Thibodaux, La., Bishop Shelton Fabre, are preparing for a regional WMPM meeting in Modesto, Calif., in February.
Dec. 4 was a beautiful reminder, in the long struggle for justice, that, no matter how long we wait, God hears our cry. And love and justice will win.
A few weeks ago, Chief Arvol Looking Horse issued an invitation to clergy and faith leaders to stand in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock. He said he was hoping maybe 100 would respond. But I joined thousands, in a procession of faith leaders, to gather around the sacred fire at the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.
I knew something special was happening here.
A week after Donald Trump’s stunning election as president sent the country’s governance lurching to the right, the nation’s Catholic bishops sent a message of their own — at least on immigration — by putting Mexican-born Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles in line to become the first Latino to lead the American hierarchy.
But the vote at their annual fall meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 15 also suggested that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is still hesitant to fully endorse the more progressive and pastoral approach to ministry that Pope Francis has been championing since his election in 2013.
Americans voted largely along the lines of race, education, and party identification. Nonwhites strongly preferred Clinton, while whites decisively chose Trump. Compared with past Republicans, the businessman received a stunning surge of votes from non-college-educated white voters.
None of this is surprising.
And yet the result upends so much conventional wisdom.