Category: North America

The Voting Rights Act: have we overcome?

“But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over… It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because … really it's all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” President Lyndon Johnson, March 15, 1965 The Voting Rights Act of 1965…  [more]

Would you vote for an atheist?

If public opinion is any indication, we could have our first atheist president in a few years. Some 50 years ago, only 18 percent of Americans would vote for an atheist. But according to a June Gallup poll, that number has increased to 58 percent. (For comparison, 73 percent said they would vote for an evangelical Christian.) Some find this troubling because they don't think God would want them to vote for…  [more]

Mourning Mark Zuckerberg’s miscarriages in the shadow of Planned Parenthood

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Facebook (of course) the good news that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting a baby girl. He also revealed that the couple experienced three miscarriages before this pregnancy and expressed the desire that sharing their story would give hope to others in similar circumstances. “Most people don't discuss miscarriages,” he wrote, “because you…  [more]

Does Donald Trump need to repent?

Donald Trump has certainly added spice to the politics-as-usual flavor of the presidential primary season. Whether it is his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants, his critique of John McCain’s status as a war hero, his support of Mike Huckabee’s much-criticized Holocaust analogy, his broadcasting of Lindsey Graham’s cell phone number or his labelling of Hillary Clinton as a…  [more]

California’s drought and a Christian ethic of water

A few miles from the town where I live on the San Francisco peninsula, there is a monument to water: the Pulgas Water Temple. It’s a Beaux Arts-style temple, with a reflecting pool set in a green, grassy lawn. The temple bears these words from Isaiah: “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.” The temple celebrates the 1934 completion of the Hetch Hetchy…  [more]

You named your kid Atticus?! Relax

We knew we wanted our son to have a Swedish first name. One that would balance out the very Spanish last name he’d carry through life and would pay homage to the Swedish half of his gene pool. And so my husband and I created a list, culled from the Internet and my grandmother’s family records. We weeded out ones we couldn’t pronounce or spell and ones deemed just too weird. (Sorry, Torbjörn.…  [more]

Restorative discipline: a gracious alternative to zero tolerance

The problem of school violence, truancy and student drug abuse needs to be addressed. No one disputes that. But it’s becoming clear that the zero-tolerance approach isn’t working. Consider Texas, where in recent years some 60 percent of middle school students will eventually be suspended or expelled at least once. Many of these students risk dropping out and landing in jail instead. Fortunately, it seems…  [more]

Obama’s “Amazing Grace”

American political speech has long drawn on the Bible and Christian theology. President Barack Obama’s eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine people killed in a church shooting June 17, continued in that tradition. Obama drew on the depth of Christian experience primarily to make sense of a terrible event, but also to stir us to action. I’ve argued in my academic work that when speakers evoke…  [more]

The real challenge for the church after SCOTUS’ gay-marriage decision

The United States Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage as the law of the land. That decision puts yet more pressure on conservative denominations like mine concerning how they will respond to new cultural realities. Can we hold on to our convictions and still engage the wider culture? I first read my church’s stance on homosexuality when I was in college in the 1980s. It struck me as highly progressive…  [more]

The Confederate flag and Christian allegiance

Last week’s racially motivated massacre of nine African-Americans at a South Carolina church has renewed debate over the Confederate flag, which accused killer Dylann Storm Roof can be seen displaying in photos. While some point to this and the flag’s association with groups such as the Ku Klux Klan as evidence that it is an expression of hate, others have argued that it’s simply a symbol of their…  [more]

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