Emily Davisson examines how thousands of people in Washington, D.C. have experienced transformation because of the work of faith-based organizations that are dedicated to a holistic approach to alleviating poverty. This approach recognizes the whole person, and sees not just material needs but relational and spiritual needs as well. One of these unique organizations is the Central Union Mission, whose mission is, “To glorify God by proclaiming the Gospel and meeting the needs of hungry, hurting and homeless individuals and families in the Washington Metropolitan Area.”
In his book Pluralism and Freedom, Stephen V. Monsma challenges an individualistic, Enlightenment-shaped perspective that interprets our constitutional right to religion as a private matter. Such an understanding dictates that religious behavior does not belong in the public square. Andrea Rice compares and contrasts Monsma’s arguments with a public justice framework. She concludes that a vision of religious freedom that encompasses the contributions of faith-based organizations, institutions and community groups must be included in our definition of freedom and human rights.
How should Christian citizens respond to the devastation of the opioid epidemic? A public justice approach recognizes the indispensable role of both government and civil society institutions to combat this crisis. But what does that look like? In particular, Caleb Acker asks: How do faith-based organizations—what we call “the sacred sector”—offer distinctive care for vulnerable individuals and communities battling the scourge of this epidemic?
Collin Slowey, a former intern with the Center for Public Justice, reflects on Kimberly Kuo’s Faith & Law presentation on assisted suicide and euthanasia. Kuo’s story of her encounter with terminal illness is deeply moving. Her statistics and research make it clear, however, that end-of-life issues are not just personal. They are also a matter of public health, and it is dangerous to ignore them any longer.
Daily, organizations that make up the diverse faith-based sector are providing housing to low-income families, serving senior citizens with dignity, advocating for foster youth, connecting people with disabilities to vocational training, empowering returning citizens to reintegrate into their communities, and so much more. Chelsea Langston Bombino explores how the government and a plurality of faith-based organizations can work together to provide tangible social good to diverse Americans with distinctive needs.
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.
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.
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.
Collin Slowey, an intern with the Center for Public Justice, discusses how faith-based organizations are responding to the 2017 Tax Act, based on information received from a March 26 telebriefing from the Faith & Giving Coalition. He explains how the act is problematic in a public justice framework.
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.
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 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!"
Is God still present through individuals and institutions even if not explicitly mentioned? Examining the story of Esther, Sacred Sector Director Chelsea Langston Bombino demonstrates how a woman of the Bible exemplifies a public justice framework through the way she take seriously all of her roles: daughter, wife and queen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.