Common Core, a set of educational standards that has faced criticism from religious groups, has found an ally in the largest organization of Hispanic Christians in the U.S.
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s endorsement of the program Wednesday buoys the Common Core initiative, which has drawn criticism from conservative Christians who say it reflects liberal values.
Some prominent religious leaders, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, have expressed support for the program, but the conference’s endorsement marks the first time a large Christian group has embraced the initiative, adopted by all but five states.
Sunday’s Super Bowl was dubbed by some as the “pot bowl,” as the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks hail from the two states where fans can soon get marijuana as easily as they can get pizza. As public opinion has shifted in support of legalized marijuana, religious leaders are wrestling over competing interests, including high prison rates and legislating morality.
According to a 2013 survey from the Public Religion Research Institute, 58 percent of white mainline Protestants and 54 percent of black Protestants favor legalizing the use of marijuana. On the other side, nearly seven-in-10 (69 percent) white evangelical Protestants oppose it.
Catholics appear to be the most divided Christian group, with 48 percent favoring legalization and 50 percent opposing it. Opinions on how states should handle those who possess or sell marijuana varies among Christian leaders.
Even though the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez had a 3.9 GPA in high school, his teachers kept pushing him to be a car mechanic.
He is Hispanic, said Rodriguez, now president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and his teachers did not believe he could succeed academically.
Rodriguez wants the same bar set for all students, something he believes can come out of the Common Core State Standards. Across-the-board standards could help end the poor education that fuels “our multigenerational poverty, the proliferation of drugs, participation in gangs, teenage pregnancy,” Rodriguez said.
For many pastors of urban congregations, “stepping up” to end gun violence stems from a very personal place — as they have been forced to bury their own neighbors and church members. According to Samuel Rodriguez, gun violence – especially in urban areas – deeply affects interfaith leaders there, who are declaring violence-free zones and taking action.
Faith-based leaders in Philadelphia and Chicago have rallied to fight gun violence. Heeding God’s Call, based in Philadelphia, holds prayer vigils at the locations of gun homicides as well as organizes gun-store campaigns that ask gun store owners to sign a code of conduct.
In Chicago, All Saints Episcopal Church organized CROSSwalk, a walk through downtown Chicago, which drew a few thousand people the past two years. Violence on Chicago streets has killed more than 800 young people in the last six years.
Nuenke addressed breaking the chain of violence and pain that we see in every community. He quoted 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 and Isaiah 61 as examples of God’s compassion and its life-changing, healing power.
“What would happen if the body of Christ more fully was involved in living out Christ’s compassion in a broken world?” Nuenke asked. “Sometimes people who are hurt or experience violence end up hurting other people. The care and compassion they might receive from the Lord Jesus will impact them more in 20-30 years than anything else.”