Diversity

10-27-2014
Rabbi David Saperstein, the man declared by Newsweek magazine to be the "Most Influential Rabbi in America" will speak in Huntsville at the for the Nov. 2-3, 2014, conference, Exploring Faith Intersections.
10-24-2014
What happened in Ottawa is also a reminder for me that while we can't remove all violence, we can take steps as a country to reduce it.
10-23-2014
We thought: What if the church at large began to own its sin and confessed it to the world? And what if we took those confessions and worked them out through active repentance?
10-22-2014
It's been my observation, I told her, that many white individuals feel duty bound to defend whiteness.

World Vision Vice President of U.S. Programs Romanita Hairston. Photo by Wayne McGraw, courtesy of World Vision/RNS.

At an organization where 45 percent of U.S. senior leaders are women, Romanita Hairston’s gender is mostly a nonissue as she oversees children’s welfare programs at World Vision, the giant evangelical relief agency.

But in the larger evangelical universe, high-ranking women like Hairston remain a relative rarity.

“I think it’s kind of inappropriate at this time in history to be shocked, but I think there are places where I’m one of the few women in a position of authority or shaping theological perspective,” said Hairston, a World Vision vice president who serves on boards and teaches about gender inequity at Seattle Central Community College.

10-20-2014
The Rev. Jim Wallis is sending a powerful “wake-up call” to white Christians who are refusing to fight back against a “racialized police system.”
10-20-2014
Tension between protesters and police officers boiled over again this week in Ferguson, Missouri. Dozens of people were arrested, including prominent faith leaders like scholar and activist Cornel West and Rev. Jim Wallis, president and founder of Sojourners magazine.
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.

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