Diversity

10-20-2014
Rev. Jim Wallis, who is a Christian writer and political activist and also founded Sojourners, marched with fellow clergy during Ferguson October’s Moral Monday protest.
Lisa Sharon Harper 10-20-2014

I attended Catholic school for one year as a child. My second-grade year in Philadelphia’s St. Athanasius left me with a strong sense of the mystery of the church. The most mysterious space there was the confessional booth. I wasn’t allowed to enter because I wasn’t Catholic, so I just sat and watched others enter with pinched brows. Then they would exit with peace painted over their faces.

There is a scene in the book Blue Like Jazz where author Donald Miller sets up a confessional box in the center of the Reed College campus. But Miller’s confessional worked in reverse. Students of Reed, which is known as the most liberal campus in the country, entered the confessional booth with curiosity, cynicism, skepticism, or worse — to disprove this thing called Christianity. But what they encountered upon entry was disarming — even healing. Rather than prompts to confess their sin, Miller sat on the other side of the veil and confessed of the sins of the church. This was a revolutionary act in the context where, according to Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman’s modern classic, UnChristian, the general consensus about Christians is decidedly negative.

Jim Wallis 10-16-2014
Photo by Heather Wilson / PICO

Jim Wallis and Cornell West march to the Ferguson police station on Aug. 13. Photo by Heather Wilson / PICO

I and many other faith leaders came to Ferguson, Missouri, on Sunday and Monday because of Michael Brown—an 18-year-old black teenager who, though unarmed, was shot and killed by a white police officer on August 9. My first thoughts when I heard the news were about my 16-year-old son Luke. I knew how unlikely it would be that this would ever happen to my white son in America.

Coming to Ferguson was about Michael Brown. But Ferguson has also become a parable for our nation. Jesus often told parables. A parable is just a story, but often one with a simple but important point.

The Ferguson parable is simply this: black lives in America are worth less than white lives—especially in our criminal justice system. And the parable of Ferguson rings true around the nation, with the many young black men who were and have been assaulted, shot and killed before and after Michael Brown.

10-15-2014
Twenty of us were arrested in Ferguson yesterday for an act of repentance.
10-15-2014
Ferguson must be a moral wake-up call to white parents, not just another warning to black parents.
10-15-2014
Interfaith leaders organized a mass meeting to foster a dialogue within the Ferguson community in the wake of yet another shooting.
10-15-2014
Clergy members were at the front lines in Ferguson during mass protests on Monday that rocked a city still haunted by the fatal police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown.
10-15-2014
Clergy advanced on South Florissant Road determined to force one question on a community of officers: Will you repent?
10-15-2014
President and founder of Sojourners Rev. Jim Wallis is calling for all Christians to take action to prevent a repeat of Ferguson.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Photo courtesy of Zblume (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons/RNS.

Evangelical leaders are angry after city officials in Houston subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose an equal rights ordinance that provides protections to the LGBT community.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who drew headlines for becoming the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, led support for the ordinance. The measure bans anti-gay discrimination among businesses that serve the public, private employers, in housing and in city employment and city contracting.

Under one of the hotly contested parts of the ordinance, transgender people barred access to a restroom would be able to file a discrimination complaint.

The ordinance, which exempted religious institutions, was passed in June, though its implementation has been delayed due to legal complaints.

Troy Jackson 10-15-2014
Photo by Heather Wilson/PICO

Moral Monday march Oct. 13. in Ferguson, Mo. Photo by Heather Wilson/PICO

“Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.” –1 Timothy 4:12 (The Message)

In our recent book Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith, Mae Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Soong-Chan Rah, and I call the American church to a posture of repentance due to all the times we have not only been on the wrong side of history, but on the wrong side of God.

As an organizer and director of the AMOS Project in Cincinnati, I’ve discovered that a humble spirit of repentance is critical to powerful work around racial and economic justice. There can be a strong temptation to replay colonialism by having all the answers and believing we are God’s gift to the oppressed. We white evangelicals are particularly susceptible to this arrogant path. Humility and a repentant spirit are key to a healthy engagement and partnership in our work.

Jim Wallis 10-14-2014
Photo by Heather Wilson/PICO

Photo by Heather Wilson/PICO

Thousands of people from around the country came to Ferguson, Mo., for a “weekend of resistance.” But for faith leaders it was a weekend of repentance. Twenty of us were arrested in Ferguson yesterday for an act of repentance.

I went to Ferguson as a faith leader but, in particular, as a white faith leader. Because the great disparity between how differently young black lives are treated in our criminal justice system than young white lives is a fundamental injustice that must not only be left to black faith leaders to raise up. Repentance must begin in the white Christian community for tolerating this offense to our black brothers and sisters and, ultimately, this offense to God. Let me be as honest as I can be. If white Christians in America were more Christian than white, black parents could feel safer about their children. It’s time for us white Christians to repent — turn around and go in a new direction.

Repentance is a powerful theme throughout the Bible. But its meaning is often not well understood. Repentance is not about being sorry or just feeling guilty. It is about turning in a new direction. The biblical word for repentance in the original Greek is metanoia, which means you are going in the wrong direction, and it’s time to turn right around.

In the case of Ferguson, repentance means more than merely acknowledging the tragic death of an unarmed 18-year-old African-African man named Michael Brown on Aug. 9 — shot and killed by a white police officer named Darren Wilson. Repentance means more than lamenting the loss of another young black man or being sympathetic to his grieving mother. True repentance means changing the direction of the practices and policies that led to his death and so many others. 

10-14-2014
At the end of the FergusonOctober weekend that drew thousands of protesters to events across the area, some local activists are wondering where they go from here.

The dome of the palace of the Vatican. Photo via dade72/shutterstock.

The world’s Catholic bishops on Oct. 13 signaled a move toward greater tolerance of gays and lesbians, an about-face so unexpected that leaders of the church’s right wing called it a “betrayal.”

Noting that gays and lesbians have “gifts and qualities” to offer the church, the mid-point assessment reflected the impact that Pope Francis seems to be having on the two-week Synod on the Family as he pushes for a more open, less doctrinaire approach.

“Are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?” said the communique from the nearly 200 bishops and lay delegates. “Often they wish to encounter a church that offers them a welcoming home.

“Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

10-13-2014
Sojourners President and Founder Jim Wallis, one of several faith leaders who are heading to Ferguson, Missouri this weekend to march for justice, is challenging Christians to put their faith ahead of their race when it comes to issues concerning racial relations.
10-13-2014
Clergy have been in the midst of the struggle in Ferguson, MO since protests broke out following the shooting of Michael Brown.
10-13-2014
In the following Q&A, Wallis talks about how faith played a role in his coming to St. Louis and how his past involvement in the civil rights era compares to today.
10-10-2014
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the Christian magazine Sojourners and a spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama, will be one of the key speakers at an interfaith event related to Ferguson Sunday (Oct. 12) at St. Louis University.
10-10-2014
A march to St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch’s office today will kick off days of marches, rallies and civil disobedience planned by organizers who demand action on behalf of Brown and others they say struggle against racial profiling and police violence.
10-10-2014
People from across the country will converge on Ferguson for a Weekend of Resistance, October 10-13, to demand justice for Michael Brown.

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