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Bryan Stevenson | The Church Is Complicit in Racial Injustice

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The Rationalization of Racial Injustice

Bryan Stevenson, Sojourners

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Sojourners Editor's note: The following is the foreword from Jim Wallis' new book America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. 

01-20-2016 | Late one night several years ago, I was getting out of my car on an empty midtown Atlanta street when a man standing fifteen feet away pointed a gun at me and threatened to "blow my head off." I had just moved to the neighborhood, which I didn't consider to be a high-crime area. Panicked thoughts raced through my mind as the threat was repeated. I quickly realized that my first instinct to run was misguided and dangerous, so I fearfully raised my hands in helpless, terrifying submission to the barrel of a handgun. I tried to stay calm and begged the man not to shoot me, repeating over and over again, "It's alright, it's okay."

As a young attorney working on criminal cases, I knew that my survival required careful, strategic thinking. I had to stay calm. I'd just returned home from my office with a car filled with legal papers, but I knew the man holding the gun wasn't targeting me because he thought I was a young professional. A young, bearded black man dressed casually in jeans, I didn't look like a lawyer with a Harvard Law School degree to most people; I just looked like a black man in America. I had spent much of my life in the church. I graduated from a Christian college and was steeped in Dr. King's teachings of nonviolence, but none of that mattered to the Atlanta police officer threatening to kill me. To that officer, I looked like a criminal, dangerous and guilty.

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and a professor of law at New York University School of Law. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

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Sex for “mere pleasure”? Shame on you! — 15 sexual hang-ups we can blame on the Catholic Church

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  • I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty. ~John Waters
  • The Catholic Church is obsessed with sex. Even if you're secular you're not immune from its noxious ideas.

Valerie Tarico, Salon

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Sunday, Jan 24, 2016 | The Catholic Church is obsessed with sex: who does it, when, how, with whom, and for what purpose. In fact, I might argue that one of the most fundamental ways the Church hooks people is by creating deep psychological hang-ups about sex, for which it then claims to offer a solution.

Sexual intimacy and sexual pleasure are two of humanity’s most cherished experiences. A recent study showed that sex makes people even happier than Jesus does. The Church knows that. It also knows that forbidding something we crave—making it taboo—can make the craving even stronger. It’s the perfect setup for an institution trafficking in guilt and redemption.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, WA. Her articles are popular at Salon.com, ExChristian.net and IEET.org. As a writer Valerie tackles the intersection between religious belief, psychology and politics, with a growing focus on women’s issues and contraceptive technologies that she thinks are upstream game changers for a broad range of challenges that humanity faces.

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Chris Hedges | The Suicide of the Liberal Church

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The liberal denominations and their seminaries, by betraying the poor, especially people of color, in a desperate bid to stay financially solvent, are making themselves obsolete.

Chris Hedges, Truthdig

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http://www.truthdig.com/images/eartothegrounduploads/gentheosem_590.jpg  The chapel of The General Theological Seminary in New York City. The seminary, founded in 1817, sold much of its property to developers in recent years. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

 Jan 24, 2016 | Paul Tillich wrote that all institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic. Reinhold Niebuhr asserted that no institution could ever achieve the morality of the individual. Institutions, he warned, to extend their lives when confronted with collapse, will swiftly betray the stances that ostensibly define them. Only individual men and women have the strength to hold fast to virtue when faced with the threat of death. And decaying institutions, including the church, when consumed by fear, swiftly push those endowed with this moral courage and radicalism from their ranks, rendering themselves obsolete.

The wisdom of Tillich and Niebuhr has been borne out in the precipitous decline of the liberal church and the seminaries and divinity schools that train religious scholars and clergy. Faced with shrinking or nonexistent endowments, mounting debts, dwindling memberships, a lack of employment for their graduates and growing irrelevancy in a society that has little use for tepid church piety and the smug arrogance that comes with it, these institutions have fallen into physical and moral decay.

Chris Hedges, a weekly columnist for Truthdig, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has reported from more than 50 countries, specializing in American politics and society.

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An Open Letter to Black Clergy on the Disdain for Protest

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The disdain for protest within our blessed community has troubled my spirit to the point that I cannot sleep. It is with great trepidation that I write you as your son—heavy-hearted and ashamed.

Osagyefo Sekou, Religion Dispatches

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December 18, 2015 | Advent is upon us as we await the coming of the world’s most famous Palestinian—Jesus of Nazareth. In this time that’s dedicated to a poor child born to an unwed mother, my conscience has forced my hand to the page.

The disdain for protest within our blessed community has troubled my spirit to the point that I cannot sleep. It is with great trepidation that I write you as your son—heavy-hearted and ashamed.

Having been baptized into the faith at 15, my formative years were shaped by the best of the black preaching tradition. In pure awe, I watched you hold congregations in the palm of your hand with rhetorical flourishes, giving a beat-down-people strength to live another day. Your words helped to re-constitute an assaulted black self—with respectability, dignity and self-determination.

Osagyefo Sekou is the inaugural Bayard Fellow with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and a Scholar-in-Residence at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

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Special Report | Catholic Bishops' Ongoing Abuse of Human Sexuality: Week Ending November 14, 2015

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The Catholic Church continues to demonstrate that it will employ any tactic — no matter how deplorable — to oppose appropriate human sexuality.

7 New Items including:

  • Pope lectures Catholic elders at closing of synod on family
  • Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays,
  • The Church’s Gay Obsession
  • Roy Bourgeois | An Open Letter to Pope Francis
  • Child Sex Abuse Crisis of the Religious Right Grows
  • The shame of the Catholic workplace
  • http://movetoamend.org/sites/default/files/sign-btn.pngPope Francis, The Vatican: Stop Sexual Abuse For Good

Compiled by David Culver, Ed., Evergreene Digest

 

Osmani Simancahttp://media.cagle.com/40/2015/10/26/170592_600.jpg

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Pope lectures Catholic elders at closing of synod on family, Anthony Faiola, Washington (DC) Post 

  • Pope criticizes 'closed hearts' at bishops' gathering
  • Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays

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Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays, Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches

World Congress of Families Has Plenty To Say, None of it Good; How Same-Sex Marriage Came to a Buddhist Temple in Japan; Global LGBT Recap

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The Church’s Gay Obsession, Frank Bruni, New York (NY) Times 

  • What’s happening amounts to persecution. And it’s occurring not because the workers in these situations called any special attention to themselves or made any political fuss. No, they just loved in a fashion displeasing to many church officials, whose concerns with purity are spasmodic and capricious.
  • Pope Francis: Culture Warriors Out, "Collaboration and Consultation" 

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Roy Bourgeois | An Open Letter to Pope Francis, Roy Bourgeois, Religion Dispatches 

  • Any movement rooted in love, justice, and equality is of the Divine and cannot be stopped. And so one day our Catholic Church will have women priests and marriage equality.  I do hope, Pope Francis, that you will implement these changes as soon as possible.
  • Pink Smoke Over the Vatican

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Child Sex Abuse Crisis of the Religious Right Grows, Frederick Clarkson, Daily Kos 

  • Why should parents of high-school students feel any trust in sending their kids off to a university whose president writes a letter urging leniency for a man who molested teens?
  • Pope Francis, The Vatican: Stop Sexual Abuse For Good
  • Catholic Church ramps up opposition to Minnesota anti-bullying bill

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The shame of the Catholic workplace, Jim Smith, Minneapolis (MN) StarTribune 

  • Even as the pope moderates, discriminatory practices continue.
  • Can Pope Francis Change the Church?

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Pope Francis, The Vatican: Stop Sexual Abuse For Good, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Change.org 

  • Australian Catholic Bishops Geoffrey Robinson, Bill Morris and Pat Power call on Pope Francis to seize the opportunity of his appointment to establish a Council of the whole Church, inclusive of the laity from around the globe, to confront the global sex abuse scandal and address the issues that contribute to the causes of systemic sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
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Pope lectures Catholic elders at closing of synod on family

  • Pope criticizes 'closed hearts' at bishops' gathering
  • Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays

Anthony Faiola, Washington (DC) Post

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https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Fposttv-thumbnails-prod%2Fthumbnails%2F562c7c14e4b05177da812cae%2F20151025_synodclosure.jpg&w=600After a three-week bishops meeting, or synod, on issues including divorce and homosexuality, Pope Francis criticizes church leaders who "bury their heads in the sand" on matters pertaining to family issues. (Reuters)

October 25, 2015 | Pope Francis on Sunday appeared to lecture church elders at the closing of a landmark summit on the family here, suggesting they should not be quick to exclude a broad array of people deserving of God’s grace.

In a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the end of the three-week summit — known as a synod — Francis seemed to target narrowness, focusing his homily on the biblical story of a blind man named Bartimaeus whom Jesus engages during a journey.

“None of the disciples stopped, as Jesus did,” Francis said in what at times appeared to be a scolding tone.

Anthony Faiola, Berlin Bureau chief, Washington (DC) Post <https://www.washingtonpost.com>

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Related:

Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays, Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches

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World Congress of Families Has Plenty To Say, None of it Good; How Same-Sex Marriage Came to a Buddhist Temple in Japan; Global LGBT Recap

 

 

Catholic Bishops End Family Synod With Little To Say To Gays

http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/default/files/Belief%20Banner.jpg

World Congress of Families Has Plenty To Say, None of it Good; How Same-Sex Marriage Came to a Buddhist Temple in Japan; Global LGBT Recap

Peter Montgomery, Religion Dispatches

November 1, 2015 | Intersex Awareness Day was observed around the world on October 26.

In what one advocate has called a “life-saving” move, the U.S. State Department has indicated that it will include same-sex partners in the definition of “spouse” when dealing with people seeking asylum.

Catholic Bishops Synod on the Family Ends With No Action on Gays

The Catholic Bishops’ contentious synod the family came to a close last weekend. After furious resistance from conservative bishops, gays were essentially left out of the gathering’s final report. In the words of Reuters’ Philip Pullella,

The outcome of the gathering…appeared to mark a victory for conservatives and a failure for reformers who had hoped for more inclusive language towards gays.

Wrote Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo in the New York Times:

Peter Montgomery, a Washington, DC-based writer, is an associate editor for Religion Dispatches and a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way. His work focuses on religion, politics, and LGBT issues.

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Gloria Steinem, Reb Susan Talve, & Catholic Climate Activist on "The Church & Women"

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Should "Outsiders" Criticize Subordination of Women in Catholic Theology & Practice? [Our initial essay on that issue, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, is now available at Shalom Center and at Huffington Post]

Editor, The Shalom Center 

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https://theshalomcenter.org/sites/default/files/styles/350x175/public/photossidebyside2_0.jpg?itok=tVV2Lxbt 10/23/2015 From Gloria Steinem:

Arthur -- I think that as always, you make perfect sense, and of course, it's okay to both praise and criticize from outside a religion. You can't claim a truth that impacts the lives of others outside it without being subject to and heeding the voices of others.

It's especially interesting -- and a revelation to me -- that the Catholic position stems in part from early rabbinic misinterpretation.

The Shalom Center seeks to be a prophetic voice in Jewish, multireligious, and American life.

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