What Does it Mean to Wear Ashes in Protest?

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of the season of Lent. In liturgical churches, it begins with a vivid reminder of death. As the words “for dust you are and to dust you shall return” are spoken, Christians are marked on their foreheads with ashes in the shape of the cross. This year in Mexico, many Christians used this remembrance of death to remember and protest the loss of 43 students who were kidnapped, murdered, and then had their bodies burned in a garbage dump and their ashes dumped in…

Commentary About Torture Report Published

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People of faith with Council connections have spoken out strongly on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, calling for transparency. In particular, two recent opinion pieces call on Senator Richard Burr, now chair of the committee, to lead in releasing the full report. A guest column by NC Stop Torture Now’s Christina Cowger and Gary Gloster, the retired Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of NC, ran in the Winston-Salem Journal. It read in part: Only truth will allow us to stand tall and honestly proclaim our respect for human rights. Not secrecy,…

February 6 — Contact Senator Burr

Peace

Our friends at NC Stop Torture Now are organizing a call-in to the offices of Sen. Richard Burr for Friday, February 6. Now that he is head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, his role in the full release of the 6,900-page report on the CIA torture program becomes even more crucial. Christina Cowger of NC Stop Torture Now writes in part: The summary of the Senate report revealed appalling details of the U.S. government’s systematic use of torture.  It catalogued numerous grave and plainly illegal abuses, many of which were…

Register Now for 2015 Faith and Immigration Summit

Time Is Now Immigration Rally in DC

This year’s summit will focus on issues affecting children and youth coming to our state from Central America. Rev. Julio Ramirez-Eve will preach. Workshops and additional details coming soon. This event promises to accomplish four main goals: • Offer a unique statewide, ecumenical gathering for faith leaders who work primarily with immigrant congregations; • Help equip these faith leaders to deal with the daily challenges faced by their congregations, especially related to their immigration status; • Provide a space for networking and sharing of best practices; • Train immigrant rights…

What Frightens Civitas?

Marc Mullinax from HKonJ

Apparently I scare Civitas. Maybe it’s my upbringing. I was raised by a single mom (my parents divorced when I was a toddler) who was fortunate to have a solid job with the federal government and a supportive family who were the safety net between us and poverty. We were lucky. Maybe it was my education. I came up through the Virginia public schools, Kindergarten through college (Wahoowa, y’all!). I attended U.Va. on a partial scholarship from a corporation that thought supporting young people of color through higher education was…

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

Health Care

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

Row of desks

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

Peace

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

Butternut on the vine

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…