The Importance of Institutional Pluralism in Combating Human Trafficking

Former CPJ intern and Westmont College student Andrea Rice makes the case for a pluralist, public justice-based approach to combating human trafficking. Institutions of civil society often have a better understanding of the particular political and cultural contexts of their communities and the resources available. Consequently, Rice argues that local governments should make space for diverse organizations to continue in their hands-on efforts, while also pursuing opportunities to partner with faith-based and community-based nonprofits that will encourage solutions to end human trafficking.

How Historic Black Churches Are Charting a New Path with Local Government

Two historically black churches in Maryland are paving the way for creative government partnerships. In this article featuring the work of two Sacred Sector participanting ministries, Chelsea Langston Bombino shares the testimonies of these congregations and how they have been equipped to navigate zoning issues, and are moving into positive government partnerships that include housing development for seniors and creative intergenerational opportunities in their communities.

What the Supreme Court’s Flip-Flop on Religious Freedom Means for Faith-Based Organizations

In the wake of the recent Dunn v. Ray decision, yet another non-Christian chaplain was denied access to a prisoner’s execution chamber. This time the Supreme Court granted a stay of the procedure. Collin Slowey, an intern with the Center for Public Justice, reflects on what this tells us about the current state of religious freedom in the U.S.

Combining Religion and Business: The New Frontier

Does the age-old wisdom of keeping religion and business separate hold up in the modern workplace? Center for Public Justice intern Collin Slowey examines testimonies from three major companies that have integrated religious diversity and business. He discovers that, in most cases, the benefits of allowing employees to bring their whole selves—including their spirituality—to work outweigh the costs.

Expanding Our Vision of Human Rights

In this article, CPJ intern Andrea Rice explores how our vision of human rights ought to include not just individual rights, but the space to protect the distinctive groups and communities in which we live our lives. Human rights cannot be protected by merely focusing on the roles and responsibilities of government to individuals, but by also considering other civil society groups and their roles in advancing societal well-being. This enlarged vision of human rights recognizes the role of other, non-governmental groups in securing social well-being and ensuring individuals have access to quality of life.

Healing Communities: The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Serving Returning Citizens

Healing Communities is an example of a  faith-based nonprofit organization that works collaboratively with other sectors of society, including government, to empower returning citizens with spiritual and physical resource for societal reintegration. This article discusses the how Healing Communities partners with other programs and resources, like Sacred Sector, to build capacity to promote restorative justice. Healing Communities’ coordinator stated at a recent event: “Sacred Sector does have a spiritual calling to provide resources to ministries to do these things. So let them help you do them!"

What Can Dunn v. Ray Teach Us About Religious Freedom and Justice?

What Can Dunn v. Ray Teach Us About Religious Freedom and Justice?

Collin Slowey, an intern with the Center for Public Justice, and Nicole Kennedy, a former legal fellow with the Center for Public Justice, analyze the vital religious freedom issues at stake in the recent Supreme Court case Dunn v. Ray. They highlight the importance of upholding the First Amendment in capital punishment cases. In addition, they encourage Christians to use cases like Dunn v. Ray to build common support for religious freedom, rather than focusing exclusively on the more divisive topics of sexuality and gender.

Reframing Religious Freedom: How Protecting Faith-Based Institutions is Essential to Public Justice

Reframing Religious Freedom: How Protecting Faith-Based Institutions is Essential to Public Justice

In February, the Center for American Progress hosted a presentation on religious freedom by Rep. Ilhan Omar. Andrea Rice and Collin Slowey, both interns with the Center for Public Justice, analyze the presentation’s content. They determine that Omar’s emphasis on the inclusion of individuals at all costs is at odds with a pluralist framework and leaves too little room for institutional religious freedom.

Press Release: Western Michigan Faith-Based Organizations Join Sacred Sector Learning Community

GRAND RAPIDS, MI (February 27, 2019) – Earlier this month, dozens of faith-based organizational and church leaders in Grand Rapids and the greater Western Michigan region launched a new learning community called Sacred Sector Western Michigan. Sacred Sector is an initiative of the Center for Public Justice, a Christian civic education and public policy organization. The learning community will be run in partnership with the Urban Church Leadership Center located at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.

New Year's Resolutions for Religious Freedom Advocates

New Year's Resolutions for Religious Freedom Advocates

In our current cultural and political moment, religious freedom in the United States is not generally regarded as a contribution to the common good. Nor is it thought of by most of the American public as a vital aspect of our pluralist democracy. Nor is religious freedom discussed as an invitational call, extended to all groups and all peoples throughout our diverse nation.

Yet religious freedom, as an ideal, is all of these. Open to all. Inclusive. A necessary precondition to the positive unfolding of the human condition.

Free to Serve [Part 1]: Religion in the Public Square

Free to Serve [Part 1]: Religion in the Public Square

Collin Slowey, an intern for the Center for Public Justice, reflects on the first two chapters of Free to Serve. In the book, authors Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies present the case for institutional pluralism in light of what they believe are growing threats to faith-based organizations’ religious freedom. Slowey recounts their compelling examples of First Amendment violations in modern America, takes a closer look at the cultural factors contributing to these violations and speculates on the future of religious freedom for the college-age generation.

Fellowship Perspective: Kerwin Webb

Fellowship Perspective: Kerwin Webb

Kerwin Webb, a seminarian at Princeton Theological Seminary, participated in the inaugural Sacred Sector Fellowship. The Fellowship is a learning community for emerging leaders who seek to work with faith-based organizations to integrate their sacred missions in the public square. This is accomplished through organizational practices, in public policy engagement and in cultivating positive public positioning. Webb recently shared his experience in the program and how he has applied what he learned to support his church ministry in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

A Sacred Act: How Religious Groups Can Support Nursing Mothers

Faith-based organizations and congregations often play a vital role in supporting the health and well-being of families, particularly mothers and young children. Many religious organizations believe the family is a foundational institution in society, created by God to serve as a first community for children. Many faith groups recognize the inherent beauty in God’s normative design for women to nurse their babies. By God’s great design, there is evidence-based research that shows how breastfeeding contributes to better whole-person (physical/mental, economic, relational) outcomes for all involved. Although breastfeeding is not always possible or practicable for every mother and child, there is strong evidence that breastfeeding has positive impacts on individual family members and on society.

A Meditation on Religious Freedom for the Christmas Season

Along with others who believe in the transcendent, in a greater force that binds and moves humanity, I view everything through the prism of my faith in God. Yet for those of us who seek our Creator, despite different religious beliefs and practices, we perceive a sacred force that is present in every aspect of life.

Religious freedom is the ability for those who believe in a sacred, higher power to express that reality. It is about preserving the ability or space to seek God in everything. It is the freedom to seek God not only in worship, but also, and even especially, in the things that appear the most apart from God: the dirty and the unclean, the daily and the routine, and in the midst of unfathomable tragedy. It is freedom to seek God in every stage of life: in birth, in work and in death.

A Shooting at the Synagogue: What is a Faithful Response?

On the last Saturday of October, a man armed with an AR-15 style rifle and three handguns entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, yelling: “all Jews must die. ” The gunman took the lives of 11 Shabbat service-goers.

This act against God and man is hard to put into words. And even harder is to consider what our response should be – particularly as people of faith who recognize that this act occurred to people of faith. In the wake of this tragic act many questions remain. What is the right response from the Christian church? From those of other diverse faith communities? From individual citizens and family? How should policymakers, advocates and faith-based service providers respond? What about those who hold strong views on violence prevention or racial justice?

Fellowship Perspective: David Tassell

Almost three years ago, my wife and I had the joy of joining Table Covenant Church, a church plant in Fairfax, Virginia. We immediately connected with the welcoming congregation and church vision: a commitment to the community and to cultivating a deep learning environment. Several months later, the church gave me the opportunity to join the staff as the Pastoral Intern for the remaining two years of my seminary program. These two years afforded me the opportunity to cultivate pastoral leadership in addition to my academic learning, and they drove my learning forward, fueling questions that ultimately connected me with the Sacred Sector Fellowship.

Join Our Informational Webinar on November 7, 2:00pm ET

We are here to support the good work you are already doing in your community, and provide the framework, resources and collaboration you can use to grow. Faith-based organizations face a variety of organizational, political, legal and cultural challenges, and we have developed a 3-part program to guide you through these complex issues. Join us for an informational webinar to find out how Sacred Sector could benefit your organization or network.

Positive Public Engagement: Successfully Living Out Your Faith-Based Mission

Positive Public Engagement: Successfully Living Out Your Faith-Based Mission

Showing community and public officials the distinct value of their mission and services is one way faith-based organizations can preserve their freedom to serve the community in accordance with their religious beliefs. As the Sacred Sector Toolbox on Public Policy states, “Positive public regard can influence lawmakers, regulators and courts to protect the religious freedom that faith-based organizations need.”

America World Adoption Association (AWAA) is a Sacred Sector participant and faith-based organization in McLean, Virginia that employs this concept well.