Letter

'We Dare Not Postpone Action'

In January 2011, members of Christian Churches Together in the U.S.A. met in Birmingham, Ala., to examine issues of domestic poverty and racism through the lens of the civil rights movement and by reading together Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail." As they gathered in the 16th Street Baptist Church under the beautiful Wales Window portraying the black Christ, which replaced the window blown out when the church was bombed in 1963, these contemporary church leaders, representing the broadest Christian fellowship in the country—36 national communions and seven national organizations, including Sojourners—realized that apparently no clergy had ever issued a response to King's famous letter, even though it was specifically addressed to "fellow clergymen [sic]." In 2013, to mark the 50th anniversary of King's letter, Christian Churches Together released its thoughtful response, which we excerpt below. —The Editors

WE CONFESS. As leaders of churches claimed by more than 100 million Americans; as Catholics, evangelicals, Pentecostals, Orthodox, Historic Protestants, and members of Historic Black denominations; as people of many races and cultures: We call ourselves, our institutions, and our members to repentance. We make this confession before God and offer it to all who have endured racism and injustice both within the church and in society.

As church leaders, we confess we have tended to emphasize our responsibility to obey the law while neglecting our equal moral obligation to change laws that are unjust in their substance or application. All too often, the political involvement of Christians has been guided by the pursuit of personal or group advantage rather than a biblically grounded moral compass. We confess it is too easy for those of us who are privileged to counsel others simply to "wait"—or to pass judgment that they deserve no better than what they already have.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

To Redeem the Soul of America

AT TIMES IT SEEMS VERY HARD to realize that half a century has passed since my late wife, Rosemarie, and I were in Birmingham, Ala., living out a part of our years of service as representatives of the Mennonite churches of America to the Southern freedom movement—that historic black-led struggle for the expansion of democracy in America (inadequately labeled "the civil rights movement").

It was in the midst of those powerful days, in the late winter and early springtime of 1963, when our extraordinary people's movement was spreading to dozens of communities across the South, with some important reverberations in the North, and across the world as well. Usually initiated by courageous home-grown black leaders such as Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham and Victoria Gray of Palmers Crossing, Miss., the determined local groups often called upon national or South-wide organizations to help them in their campaigns.

Late in 1961, Shuttlesworth, who was part of the King-led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), asked Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC to come help the Birmingham movement. It faced a level of continuing white terrorism that led the black community to call their city "Bombingham," referring, of course, to the deadly violence they encountered whenever they attempted to challenge the white segregationist powers who were determined to keep black people in a submissive, separate, and dominated role.

When King and SCLC decided to respond to Shuttlesworth and move onto the Birmingham scene, Rosemarie and I were already friends and co-workers with Martin and Coretta, and King asked us to come participate in the struggle for the transformation of Birmingham. So we were present and in the line of marchers when King, his co-worker Ralph Abernathy, and others were arrested in early April 1963.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Acceptable in God’s sight?

In her generally fine article, Lisa Sowle Cahill states, “euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide is not an acceptable answer to the stress of human death.”

However, many other people can respect a loving, considered, and supportive position for those who choose, in their God-given freedom, to end their own lives on their own terms. The choice of solving the mystery of what it means to live (after physical death) without pain or frailty and with God should not be denied by any politician or church official.

Rev. Ted Voelker
New York, New York

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Unfilled Niche?

I live in Los Angeles and work among progressively minded folks (Jesus-following and not). During and since the Proposition 8 vote, I have found a great deal of secular commentary on gay marriage. My response was to do some Bible study, acknowledging that I know very little. Thankfully, Andrew Marin and Lisa Sharon Harper have helped me to think through the different ways a Jesus follower might vote on gay marriage.

As far as I can tell, my generation of social justice Christians (those in our 20s) aren’t sure where to stand on the issue. As a result, I feel like I’m losing relevance; what salt and light do I have to offer in these conversations? Please, Sojourners, consider addressing gay marriage.

Vanessa Carter
Los Angeles, California

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

For Further Reading

I very much appreciated “The Art of Dying” by Lisa Sowle Cahill (June 2010). As a harpist and certified music practitioner trained to play therapeutic music at the bedside of sick or dying persons, I have dedicated much of my life and ministry to enabling a “good death.” In my own experience, being with my cancer-stricken 58-year-old father in the last week of his life, as he died in his home under the care of hospice, was an eye-opening, powerful, and blessed experience for our family.

My only criticism of the article is the disappointing lack of citations. Cahill repeatedly points out that the approaches to care of the dying in her article are called for by “God’s plan,” “Christian wisdom,” and the Christian “bioethical perspective,” but without pointing us toward the specific sources. Those who may disagree could easily argue that this “Christian wisdom” is simply Cahill’s wisdom.

Sabrina Falls
Indianapolis, Indiana

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine September/October 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Standing Together for History

Thank you for the recent John Fea essay (“Those Who Will Not Learn from History,” May 2010) on the educational lunacy going on in Texas. I teach in a public school here in Orange County, and we’re facing some of the same pressures from the same groups as Texas. I shared the article with our union reps and interested co-workers.

John MacMurray
La Habra, California

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Revolving-Door Injustice

David Cortright calls for realism in his excellent “How to Rid the World of Nuclear Weapons” (May 2010), but he hardly mentions the role our war industry/military/congressional alliance plays in maintaining unnecessary levels of military armaments. For example, the National Nuclear Security Administration recently proposed building a new nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Its capacity would be 50 to 80 new weapons per year.

Is anyone else tired of electing people to the minor leagues (Congress) to get training to become a major leaguer (corporate lobbyist)? How many voters would favor a law that prohibits retired federal legislators and military from going to work for the war industry, where the big salaries are? How about reducing corporate lobbying power and creating public funding for all federal elections?
Bob Rundle
Knoxville, Tennessee

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Grace Under Fire

Thank you for the revealing “A Visit to Birkenau” (by Sami Awad, May 2010). How noble of those, both Palestinian and Israeli, who work sacrificially to break the cycle of violence, who seek to love their oppressors, forgive those who sin against them, and work for peace in the face of so much hate, hurt, and loss. God give them grace and courage.

Ray Higgs
Ferntree Gully, Victoria, Australia

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Hitting Home

>Your article “Destroying West Virginia” (Onleilove Alston, June 2010) tore at me. My husband and I spent a year of volunteering in east Kentucky, where some of the mountains of this beautiful part of the country are being destroyed by the coal companies. Mountain people love their homes passionately; for many, the land has been in their families since the American Revolution.

>But to make it worse, one of the companies responsible for some of the destruction was TECO, which supplies electricity to our part of Florida.

Lucy Fuchs
Brandon, Florida

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Thinking Outside the Box

I was quoted by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah and Jason Mach in “Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only?” (May 2010). I have been a member of the Christian Community Development Association for 10 years and a member of the Emerging Christianity movement for four. The former’s emphasis on racial reconciliation is as important to me as the latter’s emphasis on reconstructing the church.

A characterization of the Emergent church as all-white is wrong. My church, Wicker Park Grace, is about 25 percent people of color. The issue cover, showing a box of uniform white crayons, tells members of my church family that they are persona non grata—denying that my friends Jhonathan, Noe, Mirari, LaDonna, Nkosi, Andy, and Dev even exist.
Ignorance can’t be claimed here. I pointed out the demographics of my church to the authors and introduced them to Alise Barrymore, an African-American pastor of a multiethnic Emergent church. Although they quoted her, they did not mention that she was a person of color.
Your online publication of responses from inside the Emergent movement contributed to a balanced presentation. I would have preferred that the more authoritative print version, especially the cover, had also communicated more of that objectivity.
Rebecca Cynamon-Murphy
Chicago, Illinois

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine August 2010
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe