Social Justice

Image via Margaret Archer / RNS

Victims of trafficking get 45 days of what the government calls “recovery and reflection,” and care is offered via the Salvation Army. But traumatized, destitute people need far more than help for just six weeks, Archer discovered. This is where her parish came in.

Image via RNS/Yonat Shimron

More than 60 years ago, the divinity school denied him admission because he is black. Speaking at a service in Goodson Chapel, he asked: “What is it that God would have Duke Divinity School do in light of that history? For if one is not honest about that history, one can’t be fully present.”

Megan Hershey 10-12-2017

Though politically important during key periods of American history, evangelicals on the left have lost much of the influence they wielded as abolitionists or as advocates for safe working conditions during the 19th century. The history of progressive evangelicals has been full of disappointments, notably declining as the “religious right” rose to prominence in the 1980s. These years ensured that in common parlance, “evangelical” is now a synonym for “conservative.” The continuing dominance of the “moral majority,” and the current nature of partisan politics in the U.S., ensures that Christians who are concerned about social justice issues are minimized in national debates.

David Potter 7-27-2017

In recognizing the challenges of working for social justice, spiritually-rooted social action provides something of substance to the people in movements. From this place of rootedness, social movements can set intentions that point towards sustainability.

Image via RNS/Creative Commons/Bret Hartman/TED

The talk — a surprise for all in the audience — recapitulated the key themes of the Argentinian pope’s view of the human person: We are all related and interconnected; scientific and technological progress must not be disconnected from social justice and care for the neighbor; and that the world needs tenderness.

I am a scholar of modern Catholicism and its relations with the world of today. From my perspective, there are two essential elements of this talk that are important to understand: the message of the pope and his use of the media.

Cindy Brandt 4-28-2017

To tell a Christian story about environmental care, we must redefine Christian stewardship. For a movement to attach Christ’s name to it, it must embody the spirit of Jesus as one who gave away his power. Christian stewardship, then, is not dominating with power, but yielding with care. First, we must listen to what the natural world is telling us and respond to it accordingly, not only because we ought to be tenderhearted people, but because it ensures our mutual flourishing

the Web Editors 4-10-2017

Image via Gil C/Shutterstock.com

On April 10, Columbia University presented 21 Pulitzer Prizes for achievements in journalism, literature, and music. Notables from the list of social justice-oriented works that received a Pulitzer Prize include: New York Daily News and ProPublica receiving the Public Service award for reporting on evictions of mostly poor minorities carried out by police abusing the law —

Heidi A. Campbell 3-09-2017

Unplugging from social media or limiting one’s internet use for a set period such as during Lent can be helpful for some individuals. My research, conducted over two decades, however, shows that some core assumptions on which digital fasting is based can be problematic or misguided.

Image via RNS/Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

On Jan. 21, I’ll join thousands in D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington. My first stop will be at a local congregation, one of several hosting a prayer service and warming station for marchers. I’m an anti-racist, feminist, Christian, and for me, faith will be part of the day.

I’ve been disappointed with Christian silence, and even active resistance, to social justice imperatives, but my commitments to justice stem from my faith, and that’s why I march.

Image via RNS/Charlie Simokaitis

The Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has elected the first black, female diocesan bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, was elected on the second ballot, during a diocesan convention held at Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis on Oct. 28.

Stephen Mattson 10-13-2016

How can salvation be believed when we refuse to save refugees, or hope grasped when we deny it to immigrants, or justice pursued when we refuse it to the oppressed, or faith accepted when we don’t have faith in those different from us, or love known when we deny it to our neighbors, strangers, and even our enemies?

Layton E. Williams 8-09-2016

Image via Karen Roe/Flickr

In this new tale, Harry is a little bored, a little uninspired, and a little wistful for the good old days. A decade or so into my own adulthood and a few difficult years into ministry, advocacy, and activism, I have also struggled a bit with the transition from childhood adventure to the mature, painstaking reality of real work of justice.

Stephen Mattson 5-16-2016

As we strive for social justice and attempt to love our neighbors, are we relying on Christ, or are we relying on the military, political leaders, the government, church authorities, institutions, and abusive ideologies?

Are we motivated and inspired by the love of Jesus, or are we driven by fear, judgment, hate, jealousy, envy, wealth, fame, recognition, and an appetite for power?

Abby Olcese 3-08-2016

Image via Missouri Division of Tourism/Flickr.

The True/False film festival in Columbia, Mo., likes to bill itself as “different.” And it is — the intimate weekend-long documentary fest has a well-earned reputation as a place where anything can happen: Here you’ll find award-winning directors hobnobbing with writers and college students over brunch, and accountants and lawyers who transform themselves, Cinderella-style, into flamboyantly dressed volunteers. But Columbia’s festival is unique in another way, one that’s more important than simple aesthetics: True/False also focuses on the unifying power of story.

Over its 13 years of existence, the festival has been committed to promoting the idea that introducing audiences to stories wildly different from their own expands our understanding of the human experience.

Patrick Walls 11-12-2015

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Sojourners founder and president Jim Wallis appeared Nov. 7 on the Drew Marshall Show, a spiritual talk show that broadcasts on radio stations all over Canada. In the interview, Rev. Wallis discussed a range of topics from baseball and his love of coaching his sons, to Sojourners’ push for immigration reform, Pope Francis’ recent visit, and his upcoming book America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.

Rev. Wallis also talked about his faith journey, from his experience at a revival as a child, to his leaving his home church to join the student movements in the 1960s and 1970s. He discussed the encounter with an elder in his church where an elder said that they had “nothing to do with racism. That’s political. Our faith is private.” 

This exchange, Wallis noted, is what led him to eventually leave his church, only to come back to his faith after reading in Matthew 25 about how followers of Christ should treat the “least of these,” and what leads him to say that “Faith is always personal, but never private.”

Abby Olcese 11-11-2015

Though some critics have claimed that the film doesn’t do enough to show the effects of the suffrage movement, it seems appropriate that Suffragette ends while the fight is still going on. In the era of Black Lives Matter, battles for reproductive rights and immigration reform — causes with hoped-for but still undetermined outcomes — it’s reassuring the see a film that portrays historical characters in a similar situation. The women of Suffragette are confident in their eventual victory not because they know what will happen. They’re confident because they have to be — because for them, allowing defeat was not an option.

Jesse Bogan 11-09-2015

Image via J.B. Forbes / St. Louis Post-Dispatch / RNS

“Historically, our church has done a wonderful job of preparing people for eternity, from a spiritual standpoint, but when our presiding bishop came into office he made the decision that we needed to focus even more on preparing people for living in this present world,” said Bishop Edwin Bass, in charge of the denomination’s urban initiatives program.

The initiative helps churches develop programs in five areas: access to quality education, economic development, crime prevention, strengthening families, and financial literacy.

“It’s a change from our normal business,” said Bass, a former marketing senior vice president for Blue Cross Blue Shield whose home congregation, the Empowered Church, is in Spanish Lake, Mo.

“The good news is a lot of our churches are on board.”

the Web Editors 10-02-2015

1. 9 Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible

"After a few weeks of feeling confused and invisible, I decided that I just wasn't smart enough to be an activist."

2. WATCH: Obama Condemns 'Routine' of Mass Shootings, Says U.S. Has Become Numb

"As I said just a few months ago, and I said a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough."

3. French Catholics Take in Refugee Family Seeking a 'Normal Life'

"The local effort is part of a national Catholic network that connects homeless asylum seekers with families willing to take them in."

8-11-2015

SINCE HIS ELECTION IN 2013, Pope Francis has been widely praised. But in this interview, conducted by Italian journalists Andrea Tornielli and Giacomo Galeazzi before the release of the encyclical “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis speaks about the environment and economic justice; his perspectives on these topics have elicited harsh criticism from some.

How important is it for Christians to recover a sense of care for creation and sustainable development? And how do we ensure that this is not confused with a certain environmentalist ideology that considers humanity the real threat for the well-being of our planet?

Pope Francis: For the protection of creation we must overcome the culture of waste. Creation is the gift that God has given to humanity so it can be protected, cultivated, used for our livelihood, and handed over to future generations. The vocation to take care of someone or something is human, before being Christian, and affects all; we are called to care for creation, its beauty, and to respect all creatures of God and the environment in which we live. If we fail in this responsibility, if we do not take care of our brothers and sisters and of all creation, destruction will advance. Unfortunately, we must remember that every period of history has its own “Herods” who destroy, plot schemes of death, disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation.

But when humanity, instead of being custodian, considers itself to be the master, it ... moves toward destruction.

Stephen Mattson 8-11-2015

Christians do a disservice to the gospel message by removing the cultural context from Jesus’s ministry and watering down his message to one of religious platitudes. We like to generalize the words of Jesus and transform his life into a one-size-fits-all model that can apply to all of humanity.

Throughout the New Testament Jesus was more complex than we give him credit for.

He intentionally, purposefully, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo.

Jesus wasn’t just preaching a universal salvation message for the world, but he was also addressing specific political, social, and racial issues. He was helping those who were being abused, violated, and oppressed.

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