Janie and Charlotte on Religious Liberty #3

Janie and Charlotte were best friends in college. They still maintain a good friendship even though they have very different perspectives on politics, culture and theology.

This is the third conversation Janie and Charlotte have had about their different approaches to the First Amendment and Religious Liberty. See the first conversation here and the second conversation here.

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Charlotte

OK Janie, now I have a question for you: Why is it that some Evangelical Christians insist that homosexuality is only behavior and not part of the innate essence of some human beings? Why can’t they allow room for other people to be who they are and do what they do and live their lives in peace? Continue reading Janie and Charlotte on Religious Liberty #3

Janie and Charlotte on Religious Liberty #2

Janie and Charlotte were best friends in college. They both grew up in the same fundamentalist denomination in the Bible Belt of Texas. They both remain Christian but have grown in different ways, Conservative to Liberal. Even so, they work hard to maintain their friendship while they discuss honestly their different perspectives on the important issues of our day. Here is some of their ongoing debate about the topic of religious liberty.

In our first conversation, Janie and Charlotte agreed that the First Amendment to the US Constitution establishes religious liberty, but then went back and forth on how to apply the multifaceted meaning of the Amendment: how to limit government from restricting people’s practice of religion (“free expression”) while disallowing government from establishing religion.

Charlotte argued that Christianity has been privileged in America since our country’s origins and that religious understandings have indeed been incorporated into our civil laws numerous times. Janie argued that Christianity has been a motivation for law, sometimes for the worse and more often for the better, but seldom the entire motivation. Continue reading Janie and Charlotte on Religious Liberty #2

Lessons Learned from Yusra, Rafaela and Ibtihaj

I’m not a huge sports fan but I love the Olympics. The athletes amaze me: their passion, their precision, their discipline, their perseverance.

Every year there are heartwarming stories about various Olympians on their journey to the Games. I love the backstories. But this year some unique personal stories remind me how remarkable the human spirit can be.

There’s the amazing story of Yusra Mardini. Continue reading Lessons Learned from Yusra, Rafaela and Ibtihaj

Donald Trump is Wrong about Voter Fraud

I’ve been registering voters in Texas for years now and I’ve worked hard to explain to voters the challenges of the very strict voter ID laws we have endured here for the past several election cycles.

The IDs that they already have, IDs that work in almost every other situation were not allowed as Texas voter IDs. Citizens who didn’t have a copy of their birth certificate for some reason or another were in a bind trying to get the proper documents. People who live on a shoestring couldn’t afford even the fairly small fee to apply for the approved ID. Quite a few told me they didn’t have transportation or they couldn’t afford to take off work and stand in line at the DPS office.

So you can imagine how pleased and relieved I was when the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed earlier court rulings that the 2011 Texas voter ID law does not comply with the Voting Rights Act. Continue reading Donald Trump is Wrong about Voter Fraud

Janie and Charlotte Discussing Sincere Differences Sincerely

Janie and Charlotte were best friends in college. They both grew up in the same fundamentalist denomination in the Bible Belt of Texas. They both remain Christian but have grown in different ways: Janie a Reformed believer in the Calvinist tradition and Charlotte an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). After they left college, they both married, raised their families, and now gush over their grandchildren. They both developed professionally in their various careers: Janie as a magazine columnist and published author of several novels and Charlotte as a congregational pastor turned cyberspace blogger. Janie and Charlotte work hard to maintain their friendship while they discuss honestly their different perspectives on the important issues of our day. Through these conversations, their mutual respect has grown and their ability to articulate their viewpoints has increased. They sharpen each other. Here is some of their ongoing debate about the topic of religious liberty.

Continue reading Janie and Charlotte Discussing Sincere Differences Sincerely

Black Lives AND Cops’ Lives

Last year my local newspaper published an op-ed criticizing Black Lives Matter. Normally I’m fine with critique as long as it is fair and helpful. This was not.

Writing a response to the columnist, to the publisher and the editor seemed like a proper way to express my opinion and present an alternative viewpoint. I worked hard to be respectful even though I felt her words were reckless and inflammatory. Continue reading Black Lives AND Cops’ Lives

Guest Post: Sharing Our Stories

R-ewGNaa67LLmbfaVQOlwdJ4TUmh48f6abXv2K-TFdb2caykx_WbYCbBQNSS3j0bybsI7WZYAs0NRuuR8CIOmdDo8EG2r9i7UuLDdnUHtxXYH0g9HIeB94c-1BVVP_OYwrb3NVzSFrom Debilyn Molineaux
President Coffee Party USA

Events of the past week or two have brought many American issues to the forefront and many people to a tipping point, myself included. What do you need to say that must be heard?

Join us for an evening of sharing in a judgment free space.

Sharing our Stories
Monday, July 11, 2016
6:00pm PT / 9:00pm ET (2 hours)

My story:

I feel undone. Our country seems so fragile at the moment. Since the shooting of the police officers in Dallas, I’ve been distraught.  Our neighbors should be safe. Our police officers should be safe at a peaceful protest.  And yet, my neighbors are not as safe as I am…because of our history of racism.  While many claim the color of our skin does not matter (because it shouldn’t), there are families who fear for their loved ones every day.  I’m angry.  I’m sad.  I want to stay home, where I feel safe. But being alone and safe is not the answer.  I want all my friends and neighbors to feel safe as they live their lives. It is important to me now in a visceral way that it wasn’t before.  I used to say, “it may be my problem, I’ll look at that later.” I have changed and shifted to say “NO MORE.”

Please join us Monday evening in a conference call: express yourself and listen while others share their story.  It is time for us to come together.

You make a difference!

Debilyn Molineaux
President Coffee Party USA

This is Charlotte inviting my Intersections friends to join me in this opportunity to Share Our Stories. Each of us has had our own experience of the complex and heartbreaking events of the past week. From Baton Rouge to MinnesCVC photoota to Dallas, our world continues to be in turmoil.

Do you need a safe place to talk about it? Do you need someone to listen? Let’s be there for each other.

Register here for

Sharing Our Stories

Monday July 11

6 pm PT / 9 pm ET

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and Intersections Facebook page. She frequentlyIntersections logo shares her thoughts with Coffee Party USA as a regular volunteer.

Charlotte is an ordained minister within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also blogs about Scripture from a progressive Christian approach in her Living in The Story Musings.

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Charlotte’s Letter to Sen. Cruz: Earth Day 2016

Dear Senator Cruz,

Earth Day greetings to you and your beautiful daughters. nativeamericanquote-6w415-1 Earth Day is a good time to repeat this wise proverb: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.

I know you love your children and want what is best for them. I love my grandchildren and dream of a bright future for them as well. But you and I both know our current generation is not doing enough to provide a future with hope for your children or mine; or for all our children from whom we have borrowed this planet.

Protecting and conserving this earth ought to be right up your alley. After all you do call yourself a Conservative so it seems to me you should be on the front lines advocating for the conservation of the earth.

Continue reading Charlotte’s Letter to Sen. Cruz: Earth Day 2016

Charlotte’s Letter to Senator Ted Cruz: Whose Religious Liberty?

Dear Senator Cruz,

I’ve been looking at the information about your newly formed Religious Liberty Advisory Council. Reading your description and recognizing some of the people you have appointed to serve as advisors, I have to ask: Whose religious liberty are you seeking to protect?

Of course, as soon as I ask that question, I know the answer. constitution-426x225  Continue reading Charlotte’s Letter to Senator Ted Cruz: Whose Religious Liberty?

Religion and Culture: Two Sides of a Coin

I’ve just started my third online course in Harvard’s Religious Literacy project. 56c77bc51e000022007026fa This is good stuff. And fascinating. And absolutely vital as we seek to live well together within this diverse, global human family.

Two core tenets guide this continuing education project: one, that the culture of a people cannot properly be understood apart from its religious influences. And two, that no religion can be properly understood without knowing something about the culture that shaped it. The two are inextricably connected. Religion and Culture: two sides of a coin.

I know there are plenty of purists who will want to argue this thesis, but it rings absolutely true for me.

As a recovering Fundamentalist Christian, I am ever so grateful for the larger perspective that I gained about my own faith when I began to name the White Southern Patriarchal cultural influences that created the small Christianity of my childhood. Recognizing the reality that my religion had been shaped by its culture has freed me from a blind allegiance and allowed me to move into a wider, rainbow experience of faith. I have come to believe that there is no such thing as a “pure” religion. Across history, across the far reaches of the globe, my religion and all religions have been molded in deep ways by the various environments in which they are rooted and grown.

This is not a bad thing. Religious faith ought to be multicultural.

Some years ago, when I lived near a popular mosque and would visit there with my Muslim neighbors, I recognized how the one basic religion of Islam has multiple manifestations based on the nations and cultures from whence these people had come. I learned that the dress and the customs and the piety are different for faithful Muslims who come from different nations. I found the faith of Islam to be as diverse as my own Christian faith.

So I’m looking forward to learning more about this religion of Islam and the Scriptures that nearly a quarter of the people on the planet hold dear. I grow weary of non-Muslims quoting the Quran as if they know what they are talking about. As if they are experts. As if there is only one way to interpret the complex sacred texts of a complex people. This kind of presumptuous arrogance does nothing to facilitate greater understanding across our differences.

blogger-image--1857155484 These classes are helping educate me about some of the ways a people’s religion intersects with a society’s culture. These studies are reminding me that the authentic practice of religion will always lead its practitioners to seek the common good of all humanity. These insights are giving me more appreciation for the wisdom we humans need in order to maintain a healthy balance between the two sides of this coin.

So the Religious Literacy courses are adding lots of new knowledge and a new appreciation for the rich diversity of our human community. My faith is wider, richer and more gracious than it ever was before. My faith is both more confident and (at the same time) more humble.

There is a desperate need for people to do a better job of talking to – and listening to – each other across our divides.

More of us need to be students, learners, listeners. The world is a very big place and we all have much to learn. It is possible to be both confident in our own beliefs and curious, open and respectful of other beliefs. This kind of open, humble curiosity fosters a rich climate for talking, listening and understanding.

 

Harvard-comes-up-with-FREE-Online-Course-to-promote-Religious-Literacy-fight-MisunderstandingsThe courses in the World Religions through Their Scriptures series are offered free of charge. (Free to audit; $50 for a certificate) Follow this link to learn more about Harvard’s edX courses in the Religious Literacy Project.

https://www.edx.org/xseries/world-religions-through-scriptures

 

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and Intersections Facebook page. She frequentlyIntersections logo shares her thoughts with Coffee Party USA as a regular volunteer.

Charlotte is an ordained minister within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also blogs about Scripture from a progressive Christian approach in her Living in The Story Musings.