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.

The Faith Community in Action: A Response to the Opioid Crisis

Broken families, crippling addictions, and tragic deaths: the opioid epidemic has taken an enormous toll on communities throughout the United States. Opioid addiction has been a serious issue in America since the late 1990s, when doctors started prescribing opioid-based painkillers for patients. Initially, opioid abuse primarily affected rural, small-town communities. In recent years, addiction has spread into suburban and urban areas as well. Now, an average of 142 people die every day from opioid-related causes, and the number of people who die of drug overdose in the U.S. every three weeks is equivalent to the number of people who died on 9/11. The opioid epidemic has also had a devastating effect on children and families.

Family-Supportive Workplaces Cultivate Holistic Healing

Paid family leave is an issue that affects almost every American at some point, from the new mother who wants to bond with her baby to the aging grandparent who needs help with medical care. Recently, Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would allow new parents to finance their paid leave by drawing from their Social Security benefits early. Senator Rubio, along with Ivanka Trump, is hopeful that the bill will gain bipartisan support.

Mission-Driven Prayer Ignites Adoption Efforts

In the United States, faith-based adoption agencies have been a trending topic in the news. A recent vote in the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to a bill which prohibits the government from discriminating against child welfare agencies because of their “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions.” This bill will allow more faith-based adoption agencies to live out their religious beliefs by placing children in loving homes without compromising their views on traditional marriage.

Time to Flourish: Excerpt

Christian teaching contains a theology of work. It also affirms the significance of the workplace. Just as workers have a calling, the workplace has a calling as well. Workplaces produce goods and services that benefit customers. When they enlist workers in that creative task, they become the site in which humans live out their vocations. As Michael Naughton, a Catholic scholar of vocation and business, notes, “A community of work is only authentic when it serves those outside it in a way that develops those within it.” A workplace responds to its God-given calling when it treats all of its employees and workers with dignity and respect rather than as mere inputs to a production process.

Faith-based Advocacy Strengthens the Sacred Sector

Faith-based organizations are often caught in a net of contradictions while trying to advocate for justice in the public square. On the one hand, faith-based organizations recognize the biblical call to speak on behalf of the oppressed. On the other hand, advocacy and lobbying can be depicted as inappropriate activities for organizations with sacred missions, especially when government is involved. How are faith-based organizations supposed to bring about justice while avoiding government entanglement?

Sacred Sector Welcomes 12 Seminarians for Summer Fellowship with Faith-Based Organizations

Sacred Sector Welcomes 12 Seminarians for Summer Fellowship with Faith-Based Organizations

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 15, 2018) – This week, the Center for Public Justice welcomed a group of twelve seminarians as part of the Sacred Sector Fellowship initiative. The program kicked off with a five-day intensive training in Washington, DC. From there, the seminarians will work as consultants for several faith-based organizations located in the Washington, DC region.

Equitable Government Partnerships Foster Student Safety in the Sacred Sector

School safety is not the only discussion that neglects the needs of non-government or faith-based entities. In any matter involving government support, faith-based organizations tend to be overlooked due to the perception that faith-based and government collaborations foster religious establishment or undermine religious freedom. Yet the best way to prevent both religious establishment and religious freedom violations is to allow faith-based and secular organizations to have equal opportunity to apply for government funds.

Trump Announces New Federal Faith And Community Initiative

At a National Day of Prayer ceremony in the White House Rose Garden on May 3, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. This is President Trump’s version of a federal initiative created by President George W. Bush and continued, with changes, by President Barack Obama. The White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative shares much with its predecessors, although it is distinctly different in some ways. What it shares with its predecessors is most important. The new Initiative, like the Bush and Obama programs, represents…

Faith-based Organizations Transform Communities Through Strategic Partnerships

Recent headlines about churches accepting public funds for historic preservation have reignited the public debate about church-state separation. Though not expressly established in the Constitution, the separation of church and state is a value many Americans affirm. Yet this value can also have negative consequences; it tends to enforce the idea that church and state are fundamentally at odds, and that church-state collaborations ultimately undermine the integrity of one institution or the other. However, in reality, when faith-based organizations such as churches and nonprofits choose to partner with government it can benefit the organization, the government and the common good…

The Economic Impact of Faith-Based Colleges and Universities

Christian colleges and universities can often find themselves on the defensive. They may be asked to explain their commitment to their Christian values, their high standards for faculty, staff and students, or how their sacred mission contributes to their academic goals. Although they are frequently scrutinized, the reality is that Christian colleges and universities make irreplaceable contributions to the common good not only in terms of advancing faith and intellect, but also in terms of economic impact…