Keep the Light Shining on CIA Conduct

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Perhaps you can fight fire with fire, but you can’t – or shouldn’t – attempt to fight terrorism with terror. That’s an ultimate takeaway from the U.S. Senate report detailing abusive interrogations of terror suspects by the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA had a heavy responsibility in those dark days after Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans were desperate to know not only who had carried out the hideous attacks that claimed so many innocent lives but also whether more attacks were being plotted. What’s more, the agency and its overseers…

Lifting Up the Mexican Children and Students

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As I have been traveling across the state educating clergy about immigrants in their communities and facilitating discussion through the Clergy Breakfast tour, I have heard from some amazing people: health workers, school outreach workers, community organizers, pastors and attorneys. This past week at the Clergy Breakfast in Black Mountain I was blessed to hear from Natalie Teague, an immigration attorney in Asheville. Natalie had just returned from Artesia, New Mexico, where she had been working with a group of attorneys to serve women and children who are being detained…

Petition to Expand Medicaid in NC — Signers Welcome

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Health Care for All NC is continuing the important work for Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. The group is hoping concerned residents will add their names to a petition calling on the Governor and members of the General Assembly to immediately accept federal funds for the expansion. As the petition reads in part: By refusing to accept Federal money to expand Medicaid, up to 500,000 poor North Carolinians who would otherwise be eligible for Medicaid are blocked from enrolling. Christian and Jewish scripture both address God’s requirement for social justice toward…

Educating the Littlest and the Least

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Recently, several counties in North Carolina have begun passing resolutions discouraging undocumented children, including unaccompanied minors, from attending schools in these counties. These children, who often have no family in the United States and do not speak English, are the most vulnerable and the “least of these.” These counties are making it clear that unaccompanied minors are not welcome here and will receive no support. Even though the children are already here among us, such resolutions would put up additional barriers to make life impossible for them in this country….

From Broken Communities to Beloved Communities

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The recent trial of Alamance County Sheriff Andrew Johnson has focused on alleged profiling abuses against Latinos. He is accused of detaining and arresting Latino drivers without probable cause. During the Winston-Salem-based trial, two retired supervising deputies testified that Johnson told officers not to give Latino drivers traffic citations but instead to take them to jail. The charges stem from the 287(g) program, implemented in 2007, which extends limited federal immigration powers to local officials, including performing background checks and beginning deportation procedures. The government revoked that agreement in 2012, and the…

David Gushee on “The State of Things” and in Raleigh — Tuesday

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Tune in to WUNC’s “The State of Things” on Tuesday, June 24, to hear David Gushee ahead of his evening presentation in Raleigh. “The State of Things” airs at noon, and Dr. Gushee is currently scheduled to be on from 12:20 until 12:40. If you live beyond the broadcast range of WUNC-FM, you can listen online by clicking on Listen Live at the very top of the page. The Council is pleased to be co-sponsoring Tuesday evening’s program featuring Dr. Gushee, a leading faith-based advocate for an end to torture by our…

Gushee, Powery, Cowger Discussion Marks Torture Awareness Month

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June is Torture Awareness Month, and we are gearing up for a presentation by David Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and the Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. The event takes place on June 24 at 7 p.m. at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. Joining Dr. Gushee are Rev. Luke Powery, Dean of Chapel and Associate Professor of the Practice of Homiletics at Duke University, and Dr. Christina Cowger, Coordinator for North Carolina Stop Torture Now. Dr. Gushee served on a blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee…

David Gushee: Coming to Terms with Torture: Truth, Accountability, and Renunciation

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“This nation admits its errors, as painful as they may be.”  — Sen. Dianne Feinstein, April 3, 2014. On June 24, noted theologian David P. Gushee will speak at Raleigh’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, presenting his thoughts on “Coming to Terms with Torture: Truth, Accountability, and Reconciliation.” Dr. Gushee is the Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and the Director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University. He served on a blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment convened by the bipartisan Constitution Project. That task force issued a…

We Rejoice in Baptism, We Reject Torture

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I was baptized a Baptist as a child, confirmed an Episcopalian as an adult.  I stood by as three of my own dozed through being “marked as Christ’s own forever” and have attended a multitude of services in other churches as the babies and children of friends were welcomed into the family of God. Here’s what I know about baptism – it is about joy and grace, a new and pure beginning for a beloved child of God. Here’s what I know about torture – it is ugly and brutal…

Gardening With a Purpose

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Recently, I received a notice from a local community garden organizer about a grant opportunity sponsored by a fertilizer company. I shared it with my e-mail group and found one response, in particular, intriguing. Within this email, a local community leader expressed the importance of gardens, eating healthy, and making healthy local food accessible to the community, while being environmentally responsible. She continued to express the importance of our actions lining up with our values. She concluded that corporate sponsorship of funding for community gardens brought up questions of justice…

Ash Wednesday Worship Resources on Human Rights

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Date: Ash Wednesday – March 5, 2014
Topic: Human Rights
Focus Text: Isaiah 58:1-12
There are countless ways in which we can make these passages come to life in our own lives and in our society so that “We can be the change we want to see in the world.” Once again, following Jesus’ example is our best starting point. In Matthew 25, Jesus says the depth of our faith is measured by the depth of our relationship with those society labels “outcasts.” In Jesus’ day, outcasts were lepers, prostitutes and tax collectors to name a few. Today, outcasts include those with HIV and AIDS, gays and lesbians, Latinos, Muslims and prisoners, among others. Each of these groups of people faces scorn and vilification in our culture, but Christians must be different. We are called to provide love to those who are rejected and hated.

HKonJ 2014 — Saturday, February 8

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It’s now just four weeks until this year’s HKonJ People’s Assembly. There is nothing more important for people of faith to do this winter as we work for prophetic social justice than to attend HKonJ and encourage  others to join us. Participants will assemble at Shaw University at 9:30 a.m. with the march set to begin at 10:30 a.m. I hope to see you there.  

Worship Resources on the Beatitudes

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Date: Epiphany 4 – Feb. 2, 2014
Topic: The Beatitudes
Focus Text: Matthew 5:1-12
The Beatitudes reflect the eschatological – or ultimate – nature of Jesus’ mission and proclaim the effects of the establishment of God’s rule. They list eschatological reversals for the unfortunate and eschatological rewards for the virtuous. It would be a mistake, however, to see the beatitudes as having only future significance. In fact, the first (5:3) and last (5:10) of the sayings are in the present tense. By bookending these future promises with the present tense, Matthew emphasizes the imminence of the Kingdom.

Sequestration Cuts 300,000 Families from Energy Assistance

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What does the Lord require of you? Christians are very familiar with the Micah 6:8 verse where we are required to “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” One has to wonder how our Congress can respond to this command with sequestration cuts being enacted daily. We’ve heard about Meals on Wheels funding cut, education cuts for our youngest and most vulnerable, and numerous other cuts that defund our safety net for the poorest among us. Now we are also seeing that homes…

Chocolate the Fair-Trade Way

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With Halloween upon us and holiday baking not far behind, think in terms of fair-trade chocolate and other ingredients for sharing and for cooking. According to Vince Isner in the October 13 General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church: This Halloween Americans will spend an estimated $1.2 billion on everyone’s favorite treat, chocolate. Yet behind America’s sweet tooth lurks a darker, bitter truth: In West Africa, where more than 75% of the world’s supply of cocoa originates, the industry routinely relies on child and slave labor to…

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