by Rick Lowery April 1, 2015
My church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), is moving our 2017 General Assembly out of my hometown Indianapolis in response to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), recently signed by Governor Mike Pence. This is painful for our church and for my family.
Since my wife is general minister and president of the church and we are residents of Indianapolis — she was baptized here, went to school here, and we were married here — I’ve been giving a good bit of thought to this the last few days. I’m a Bible scholar and minister, not a lawyer or judge; but I’ve studied the history of RFRA and think I understand what’s at stake.
Supporters of Indiana’s law say this is much ado about nothing because we’ve had RFRA laws since Bill Clinton signed the original federal law in 1993. States like Illinois, with the support of state senator Barack Obama, passed their own versions of RFRA a few years later, after the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the federal law didn’t cover states and municipalities. These earlier laws, supporters of Indiana’s RFRA say, had nothing to do with legalizing discrimination and neither does Indiana’s law. They’re right about the earlier laws.
Indiana’s law is different for three reasons:
- its timing,
- what it adds, and
- what it doesn’t add….
Read the rest of the article on Huffington Post
The One Sacred Gift All Religions Share
I’m inclined to agree with the police chief’s conclusion: “That isn’t a church.” This certainly appears to be what he and other local officials have concluded — an attempt to exploit the tax-status of a church while operating as a club geared to attract partying spring breakers.
But local officials — police departments, appraisers, liquor boards and the like — are obligated to be cautious and deferential whenever their roles require them to make a determination about whether something is or is not “a church.”
Frankly, Rev. Graham, your insistence that “Blacks, Whites, Latinos, and everybody else” “Listen up,” was crude, insensitive, and paternalistic. Your comments betrayed the confidence that your brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those of color, have afforded your father’s ministry for decades. Your instructions oversimplified a complex and critical problem facing the nation and minimized the testimonies and wisdom of people of color and experts of every hue, including six police commissioners that served on the president’s task force on policing reform.
In the nadir of your commentary, you tell everyone to “OBEY” any instruction from authorities and suggest that the recent shootings of unarmed citizens “might have been avoided” if the victims had submitted to authority.
And you bluntly insist, “It’s as simple as that.” It is not that simple…
And so here is where my critics have been right all along: there is anti-Christian persecution in America. The chief difference however, is that it’s not the secularists or atheists who are persecuting us – it’s “Christians” who are doing the persecuting.
The Pope is engaged in a struggle to bring the Church into the modern age. And American conservatives are fighting him every step of the way.
The truth of this world’s impermanence also suggests that my anxiety about coming out as Christian has a perversely self-interested aspect. It is true that I feel intimidated by a conservative culture that seems intent on creating boundaries around Christianity rather than open doors. But it is also true that I wrote this article knowing that at least a few of them will probably like it – some might even tell me it needed to be written. The image of Christianity and progressivism as a newly hip fusion genre—it’s fucking edgy, man—is a strong siren song.
Following MLK’s Example Means Ending Our ‘Whatever’ Mindset
God has no tolerance for whatever. And Martin Luther King Jr. had no tolerance for it either. In 1959 he said, “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” Six years later, in 1965, he described his vision for where that career in humanity should lead us: “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience.”
Today, are we not a society that has lost its conscience?
February 11, 2015
Following a dramatic shift in attitudes on same-sex marriage over the last decade, courts and state legislatures across the nation have reversed or struck down laws banning gay and lesbian couples from marrying legally. Most recently, courts in Alabama struck down such a ban despite the strong opposition to same-sex marriage in the state–no state expresses lower support for same-sex marriage in the country. Using new data from the American Values Atlas, we’re now able to see how each separate state feels about same-sex marriage. So where does your state stand?
“As H. Richard Niehbur reported nearly a century ago, American denominations were created along social divisions. While the greatest division is race, there are also divisions based on class. These class divisions are not as strong as they once were, but they persist nonetheless.
There are also other demographic differences uncovered by sociologists. One of these is age…”
February 15, 2015 by
“Childhood is guarded by the hope and audacity to believe in things which people, individual experience, and rationality will gradually make difficult to maintain. This willingness to believe is a way of seeing, which our society allows as long as we are young. It is an unbridled way of looking at the world which we are encouraged to recant as we mature.As an adult, I have known only one experience where irrationality and the unseen remain unbridled and protected. Art has kept the boundary between my ‘grown-up’ world and the immaterial thin…”
At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama offered “an apt expression of a liberal Protestant faith. And that is the way he situates doubt and humility as the center piece of a worthy faith. When we are willing to see ourselves as limited, as finite, as human as anyone else who is struggling to make sense of our world, then we can have a more generous estimation of our neighbor. We all participate in the same world, the same unknowns, the same needs as humans. And our traditions can be gifts instead of weapons to be used against others on the same journey.”