Due to its resources and infrastructure, the government is well-situated to provide funding for mental health treatment. However, the government often lacks personal connection to communities and individuals that are impacted by the mental health crisis.
Those who work in advocacy and lobby efforts are often viewed as ruthless and amoral. However, faith-based organizations (FBOs) who include advocacy and lobbying as a part of their mission or values provide a double blessing. Their efforts in these areas help to assure their longevity but also provide valuable avenues for their stakeholders to embrace civic engagement as followers of Jesus Christ. Tricia Bosma, 2019 Sacred Sector Fellow, highlights The Office of Social Justice in the Christian Reformed Church of North America, and the ways these faith-based organizations promote political discipleship through their Climate Witness Project.
An August 15th Trump administration proposal to clarify the religious hiring rights of religious employers in federal contracting is being labeled a “license to discriminate” against LGBT job seekers. Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies suggests an alternative framework for understanding this proposed rulemaking: it is a much-needed effort to affirm the religious staffing freedom that exists in the federal contracting rules and that was left untouched when President Obama added protections for LGBT people. There are not many religious organizations that contract with the federal government (in distinction from receiving federal grants). Still, the proposed changes are important protections for their religious rights and important also for ensuring that such organizations—who may be the best providers of goods and services—are not excluded from eligibility.
Chelsea Langston Bombino interviews Pastor Cheryl Gaines, the founder and senior pastor of the Church in the Field, in Southeast Washington, D.C. They discuss the important role that the African American church has played and continues to play in strengthening local communities throughout the country.
The systemic social, economic and spiritual challenges facing working-class Americans in Middle America are palpable and deserving of attention. Chelsea Langston Bombino argues this demographic has immense, yet untapped potential. These Americans need to be intentionally engaged by local faith-based organizations, from the neighborhood congregation and the pregnancy resource center, to the church-run early childhood program and the faith-based community food-bank. Faith-based organizations have what many working-class Americans desperately want and need: a place to connect, to be spiritually nourished, and to feel heard.
Seven Baskets, a faith-based nonprofit focused on community development in Columbus, Ohio, collaborates with the public sector to transform the lives of Ohio’s urban residents. Providing tutoring, extracurricular programs, meals, discipleship, and workforce development, this faith-based organization exemplifies the meaning of community renewal through its collaboration with other faith-based organizations, as well as through creative government partnerships. In this interview with Seven Baskets CEO JeffMansel, Sacred Sector Director Chelsea Langston Bombino identifies the ways Seven Baskets has uniquely partnered with the government to help nourish the Columbus, Ohio residents it serves.
This article will discuss organizational best practices for Michigan churches and faith-based organizations (FBOs) that receive, or are considering receiving, government grants or contracts. It emphasizes how an organization can maintain its faith-based mission and identity even if the organization is considering partnering with government. This resource will help an FBO consider guidelines for accepting government and private funds in a way that aligns with its sacred mission.
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.