The Rev. Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock: Moral Consience in a Nation at War
When a nation sends its young men and women off to war, how can they be returned to peace? With veteran suicides rates at unprecedentedly high levels, despite required mental health screenings and better treatments for PTSD, VA clinicians have suggested a deeper problem plagues veterans: moral injury. Healthy human beings thrust into the atrocity of war can lose their core moral identity and their desire to live. This lecture will discuss how supporting recovery from moral injury is an important mission of religious communities and an opportunity for grassroots education about the moral cost of war for society, especially one that recruits its soldiers from poorer communities and minoritized people while the vast majority ignore the wars prosecuted in their name.
Rev. Dr. Traci West: Deflating Political Lies with Antiracist Christian Ethics
Sorting out truth from lies: it is one of the most basic ethical problems we face as Christians. We need to know the difference between them when faithfully engaging political debates about the health and well-being of our communities that take place in our churches and society. But political manipulation of information that confuses truth and lies occurs routinely in news reports, political advertisements, and even in speeches at church assemblies. Racist lies can be one of the best ways to manipulate and confuse people because they ignite such heated emotions and painful divides in our communities. How do we recognize the lies? If we decided to live out an unapologetic, antiracist Christian faith, could we successfully counter racist, political manipulation?
Dr. Gaston Espinosa: Racial-Ethnic Demographic Shifts and the Future of American Politics
This presentation analyzes the seismic demographic shifts in the U.S. population and the profound impact that the growth of racial-ethnic minorities have had on the recent 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections. In particular, this presentation will focus on the growth of the African American, Asian American, and especially Latino populations and the various ways Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have tried to reach out to these growing constituencies. The presentation will also briefly explore the push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform and its impact on politics since it first erupted onto the stage of American public life in 2006 and what impact if any it’s had on the 2012 Election.
Dr. Melanie Johnson Debaufre: The Kin-dom of God and Utopian Politics
Is the “Kingdom of God” good for human society? For the planet? Has it been? Can it be? This lecture examines the concept of the reign of God in the teachings and practices of Jesus and the Christ followers who came after him. Thinking about the basileia of God as utopian allows us to see it as always both religious and political, both particular and universal, both here and not (yet) here. Should this Jewish and Christian utopian vision guide contemporary people of faith in their political decision-making and organizing? This talk will present some of the challenges and opportunities of kin-dom thinking and action for engaging issues of race, faith, and politics.
Willie Baptist: Re-Igniting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign: Poverty Today and the Need for Many Martins
Drawing on lessons from over 40 years of my own antipoverty grassroots activism, my lecture will speak to the reality of poverty today – a reality that cannot be understood as the poverty of yesterday but must be interpreted in relation to today’s unprecedented polarity of wealth and poverty. Recognizing this disparity as the defining issue of our times, I will argue that the necessary solution is to re-ignite the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor Peoples Campaign – to build a broad social movement to end poverty, led by the poor. The first stage toward building this movement is the development of Poverty Scholars who are religious and community leaders committed to “learning as we lead, and educating as we organize.” I will talk about the pedagogical method of the Poverty Initiative, put forth in our newest publication The Pedagogy of the Poor, as a challenge and counter-point to prevailing pedagogy and scholarship that uphold the status quo. Poverty Scholarship recognizes the need for many Martins and promotes the development of leaders that can match the analytical and organizational challenges we are up against.
Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson: Preaching and Politics
“With a national election to take place later this fall, pulpits will be lit up with beatitudes and barbs. Listeners will be both inspired and incensed what these preachers have or have not said. What is the role of preaching in the domain of politics? How can the preacher speak truth to power without getting caught up in the classic dichotomy of Pastor vs. prophet?”
Cynthia Bailey Manns: Reluctant Companions
Faith, Race and Politics – each word alone can cause one to be hesitant to enter into conversation with another. Yet, we are all accompanying each other on this journey we call life. Let’s explore how the spiritual disciplines of hospitality, holy listening, sacred speech, humility, compassion, forgiveness and justice help us live The Golden Rule of treating others how you wish to be treated. In addition, we will practice these spiritual disciplines in a group process which can be used in the community.
James Winkler: War and Militarism
As we enter the final weeks of the presidential campaign and consider as people of faith who we may vote for, this workshop will provide an opportunity to consider questions of war and militarism. Every president in recent memory has ordered military action and the United States is devoted to the frequent use of military power. What does this mean for Christians? What has been our response to military actions in past years and what has been the consequence of militarism? This workshop will not provide voting recommendations, but it will remind us of the importance of weighing our decisions carefully in light of the momentous decisions to be made in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
Rev. John Merz and Rev. Michael Ellick: Occupy: A Faith-based Movement on Economic Justice
This workshop will describe the genesis of Occupy Faith, a NYC metropolitan area coalition of over 1400 clergy who signed on in support of the spirit of occupy Wall Street. We will discuss and explore the ongoing effort to build on our original organizing to establish a broad progressive interfaith coalition of faith leaders who are dedicated to consistent and pointed nonviolent direct action, sacred theater and theological reflection that illuminates our socio-spiritual ill’s, draws us out of our individual “issue silos”, encourages powerful grassroots collaboration and edges us toward a more justice society.
Dr. Kesha Moore: Deepening our Faith in Urban Politics
This workshop will explore the significance of race, ethnicity, class, and gender in creating deep cultural gulfs and inequalities among social groups. We will use this context to explore the critical role of communities of faith in redressing those inequalities and bridging differences among cultural groups. Our discussion will be focused on urban America as both a product of these social dynamics as well as a rich resource in restructuring our future. This workshop uses a reflective and participatory process to stimulate critical thinking about the importance of religious communities to creating more equitable and inclusive communities.
Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto: Marriage Equality and the Household of God
In the weeks leading up to the November elections, marriage equality has emerged as a major federal and state issue. Political and religious lines have blurred as pundits and preachers debate the legal and moral implications of marriage equality in the public square. Why should progressive faith leaders include their voices in the discourse? How can congregations be equipped to provide a positive religious view of marriage equality in their communities?
This workshop will explore the political, social, and religious issues of marriage equality. Utilizing biblical texts and historical sources, workshop participants will study the evolving concept of marriage and family in church and society. Additionally, participants will explore ways their faith communities can provide a public witness within their local settings.