Category Archives: Politics

The Politics of Christmas (republished from December 2015)

20150712_210956_resized-1Have you ever noticed how federal, state and local governing bodies close their offices and go on vacation during the Christmas holiday season? The United States Congress will take a “recess” for about 10 days, from about December 21st through December 31st. (My third grade recesses never lasted that long. How about yours?)   The law-makers will leave Washington, return to their respective home states and celebrate the season with their families and friends. Executive agencies, (that is, those who carry out the laws, rules, regulations, programs, policies and procedures that have been put into place by the law-makers) will close their doors for just two or three days. All of the political work will come to a screeching halt, the problems of government will give way to a collective hush so that we may quiet down for the holidays and put differences aside, all in the name of peace on earth and good will toward men (and women, too!).

But why does the government shut down, especially in light of the fact that when the doors open back up, it will be back to business as usual? The same fight that was being fought before the doors closed will be resumed when the doors open. The same burden that was oppressive before the doors closed will be oppressive when the doors reopen. The same people who were on top when the doors closed with a sign saying, “Gone For The Holidays” will still be on top when the sign is flipped back over to say, “Open For Business.” And the same people who were on the bottom, waiting in line, will still be on the bottom, waiting in line. I don’t know about the rest of the world but in the United States, we have de-politicized Christmas by allowing government to fade into the background for a few days. The truth, however, is that as the shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks on that starry, chilly evening in Bethlehem, politics was thick in the air the night that Christ was born.

In order to under the politics of Christmas, we need to understand a little about the history of the Jews ( the people of Israel) being under foreign rulers. (I promise to keep it painless and simple).

*The Jews had been ruled over by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians and Greeks. After the Exodus from Egypt (led by Moses), Israel had been allowed to return to their homeland but they were still ruled by foreign governments. Jesus (who was a Jew) was born during the time the people of Israel were under the Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus.

Statue of Caesar Augustus
Statue of Caesar Augustus

*Now for a little lesson on Caesar Augustus. Augustus was originally named Octavian and was the adopted son of Julius Caesar. After Julius Caesar’s death, Julius was divinized, or elevated to the status of ‘god’. Octavian, Julius’ son, was considered “the son of god” and his name was changed to Augustus, which means “worthy of worship”. Augustus became the object of worship throughout the Roman Empire. He was believed to have been sent by God as a Savior for the people; his birthday was adopted as the new beginning of the year; and his birth was viewed as the beginning of a new era of ‘good news’ (evangelion) and peace (peace, which was by military force) for the whole world.

The Forum of Augustus
The Forum of Augustus

*Caesar Augustus funded his Roman Empire by making the people pay taxes. There were grain taxes, produce taxes, sales taxes, temple taxes, occupational taxes, custom taxes, transit taxes, and many others. Three percent of the elite, like the Roman Senate, along with the Roman soldiers and the citizens of Rome didn’t feel the sting but the people of Israel were part of the 97% of people who were in poverty as a result of the heavy taxation. Caesar Augustus needed to know how many people were in the Roman Empire, in order to make sure the taxes were accurate.

Map of Roman Empire during rule of Caesar Augustus
Map of Roman Empire during rule of Caesar Augustus

*So, “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.” (Luke 2:1) These were the politics that surrounded Jesus’s birth. Roman officials had declared that Caesar Augustus was the ‘son of god’, the ‘savior’ of the whole earth by bringing ‘peace’ to Rome, and that declaration was heralded as ‘good news.’  This is the same message that the angel gave the shepherds concerning Jesus: a savior is born, he is the Christ or God’s Anointed One and he will bring peace on earth. The difference, however, is that where Caesar Augustus ruled with an iron fist and oppression, Jesus, born in a lowly manger, to an unmarried virgin girl and a working-class carpenter, would establish his Lordship and rule through humility and compassion.  Caesar Augustus was viewed as a cheap imitation, a fake!  But Jesus was the savior on whom the children of Israel and all who were oppressed had been waiting. The gospel writer, Luke, challenges the Roman practices of his day by telling us the story of a baby who was born into a highly charged social and political climate.

Politics is hard work and everyone needs a break. But if Jesus’s birth was seated in the middle of a major political situation, why do our governments shut down and divorce themselves from the true backstory of the Christmas season? Today, in the United States (and perhaps in other countries) governing bodies shut down to take a break from politics. When Caesar Augustus ruled the Roman Empire, politics was the name of the game and the game was in full play the night that Christ was born. But Jesus was not born so that governments could take a brief break from politics or to give people a short recess from oppression and pain. Jesus was born to completely change the political game.

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*Source: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/articles/unpublished-papers/behind-lukes-gospel-the-roman-empire-during-the-time-of-jesus/#_ftn30

No written portion of any article may be shared without giving credit to the authors.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

P.O. Box 28483 Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on twitter @kanishaladkins

 

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THE 2016 ELECTION IS OVER…NOW WHAT??

20150712_210956_resized-1When we went to bed on November 8, 2016, everyone was hopeful that his or her candidate would win.  When we woke up on November 9, 2016, we found out that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump won the electoral vote.  Donald Trump will be the President of the United States.  This news sent many people into a tailspin!

Mental health professionals reported an increase in calls to crisis hotlines, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/trumps-win-is-causing-a-surge-in-demand-for-mental-health-services-2016-11-10

Talkspace.com, an online therapy service, reported a 7-fold spike in online traffic from people who needed therapy because of the election results.  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/14/online-therapy-startup-sees-a-7-fold-spike-in-traffic-after-trump-victory.html

Many people who devoted hours, weeks and months in opposition to “a Trump presidency” were reduced to tears, panic attacks, and some even took to their beds.  In the few days since the election, people have been struggling to make sense of the presidential election result and trying to figure out ‘where do we go from here?’

I’ll tell you where we go from here.  We go to work!  Donald Trump was not the only person elected on November 8, 2016.  On the federal level, representatives for Congress were also elected.  The United States Congress is in session and it’s time for us, WE THE PEOPLE, to get to work.  Here’s what YOU CAN AND MUST do:

  1. KNOW the names of your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. Here is the link for you to look up your Representatives  https://www.house.gov/representatives/  and your Senators. http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?OrderBy=last_name&Sort=ASC
  2. Visit your Senators and Representatives’ websites and bookmark them as favorites (because you’re going to visit them REGULARLY!)
  3. Visit the website AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK and read about what your senators and representatives are doing.
  4. Send them emails REGULARLY and let them know what you want and what you don’t want!
  5. If they disregard our wishes, during the next election cycle, when it’s time to “renew their contracts”, we will vote them out!
  6. If they honor our requests and they remain on the ballot, we will vote them back in!

This is your life.  This is your country.   It’s time to get off your sickbed and get involved.

“Therefore strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.” Hebrews 12:12-13

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No written portion of this article may be used without obtaining written permission from the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @kanishaladkins

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STOP MAKING EXCUSES: 10 “I’m Not Voting Excuses” You Can No Longer Use

20150712_210956_resized-1Election 2016 is right around the corner.  This may be one of the most important elections of our time.  And yet — many people are giving reasons — no, excuses — for why they aren’t going to vote.  Here are 10 excuses people are using to justify not voting on November 8, 2016.  And here are 10 reasons why these excuses are weak and need to be dismissed.

  1.  I don’t feel inspired by either candidate.

The voting process is not supposed to inspire you.  Voting is how we get people into offices.  Voting is how we hire presidents, congressman and senators on the federal level, and how we hire governors, state senators and representatives, mayors, supervisors, sheriff’s and a slew of other officials on the state and local levels.  Voting is how we pass laws and implement policies that matter to the least than and the left out, and how we make life better for more than just the wealthy and privileged.  The candidate’s job description is not “to inspire the people.”  Stop focusing on personalities and get inspired by the issues that matter to you.  Vote for issues and facts, not emotions and personalities!  Vote for the candidate who has addressed the issues that you care about.

2.  I’m protesting against the Democratic and Republican parties by voting for someone else.

You don’t protest at the polls.  You protest in the streets.  To everything there is a season.  Election Day is not the day to protest.  If you are not voting for the Democratic or Republican candidate on 11/8/16, you have wasted your vote because your someone else is not going to win.  First, not all states will have other candidates on the ballot.  Second, the other candidates will not get enough total electoral votes to win the election.  So, even if you like someone else’s views, if that person is not a major contender and you vote for that person, you’ve just wasted your vote.  Question: Would you pay money to eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have the ability to fill your order and serve you?  No, you wouldn’t.  Don’t waste your vote!

3.  My vote doesn’t matter.

In 2012, President Barak Obama won the state of Pennsylvania by 300,000 votes – that’s three hundred thousand votes!  It sounds like a lot but it really came down to only 17 extra votes per precinct.  One vote here, two votes there – they add up!  Every vote matters!

4.  I’m tired of career politicians.

No one ever complains about a doctor being a career doctor.  No one ever complains about a teacher being a career teacher.  No one has ever complained about a soldier or a marine being a career military person.  No one ever complains about career chefs, mechanics or singers.  Stop complaining about politicians being career politicians.  Politicians are public service workers.  What better person to work for public citizens than someone who has experience working for and with the public.

5.  Voting doesn’t change anything.

Voting is a step in the process of change.  Change takes time and it takes multiple steps.  Unless your goal is only one step away, one step will not get you to your goal.  Contrary to what many people have said, I don’t believe Black people died for the right to vote.  I believe they died for change.  They died for the right to be self-determinant.  They died for the right to have a say in their lives.  Voting was one way they could be self-determinant.  Voting was one way they could change the conditions of their lives.  So they voted – and they protested injustice – and they marched and rallied for civil rights for all people – and they proposed legislation – and slowly but surely, change happened.  Change is a crock-pot process, not a microwave process.  Voting is one step in the process of change.

kevin-gyure-leggo-vote
Courtesy of Kevin Gyure: Lego Vote

6.  I don’t understand the electoral process

Learn about the process.  Click on this link: https://www.usa.gov/election#item-36072

7. I don’t know who to vote for.

List five issues (or more) that are important to you.  Then go to the candidate’s website (president, vice president, senator, congressman, county supervisor – whoever is on the ballot) and read!  Find out whether what’s important to you, is important to them.  The candidate whose beliefs, values and policies are similar or close to your beliefs and values is the candidate you should vote for.

 8. I don’t know what’s on the ballot

Do a Google search using your state’s name and “State Board of Elections” or something similar.  When you get to the website, click Elections.  You should be able to find out who and what is on the ballot in your state.  Knowledge and information is just a click away.

9. I’m not a registered voter, I don’t know if I have the right voter ID, I don’t know where my voting precinct is located.

Find out how to become registered, what ID you need and where your poll is located.  Click on this link and follow the instructions. http://www.canivote.org

10.  I have physical limitations and getting inside the polling precinct is difficult.

The precinct workers will provide car-side service for you.  Just pull up and someone will bring your ballot to you.  How’s that for service!

NO MORE EXCUSES.  VOTE!

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No written portion of this article may be used without obtaining written permission from the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @kanishaladkins

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A Presidential Appointment or A PROVIDENTIAL Appointment

20150712_210956_resized-1Have you ever wondered whether God cares about who wins a Grammy, an Oscar or a Super Bowl? When the winners make their “Thank You” speeches, many times they thank God but does Providence have anything to do with their victories? What about politics? Does Providence care about who wins an election or who receives a political appointment? Does God have a preference for who becomes a mayor, governor, president or a judge? Is God a Democrat or a Republican? Of course, I’m being somewhat silly with that last question. But the events of the last few days really have me wondering about the place of, and maybe even the preference of, Providence in politics.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Just a few days ago, on February 13, 2016, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, unexpectedly and to the shock of everyone who is involved in or keeps up with politics. Immediately and literally within hours of the news of his passing, politicians started speculating about his replacement. But the uproar wasn’t about who would be his replacement. The uproar was about who should do the replacing.

President Obama has appointed two Justices to the SCOTUS: Justice Sonia Sotomayor who replaced Justice David Souter and Justice Elena Kagan who replaced Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Sotomayor has been unofficially placed in the “more liberal” category in her court opinions while Justice Kagan has been unofficially placed in the “moderate to liberal” category in her court opinions.

Justice Scalia was one of the most conservative Justices on the court. President Obama’s next appointment has the potential to tip the court to the “moderate to liberal” side. And this is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and those who think like him want to block President Obama from doing his job to appoint the next Justice to SCOTUS. But the Republicans aren’t the only ones who have been looking for strategies about SCOTUS judicial appointments. Even politicians on the Democratic side have tried, in the not too distant past, to stack the deck in their favor.

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of the “most” liberal Justices on SCOTUS.  At 82 years old, (83 on March 15, 2016), she is also the oldest, active member of SCOTUS and, not that it’s related to her age, she has had some health challenges. In 1999, Justice Ginsburg was diagnosed and successfully treated for colon cancer. In 2009, she was diagnosed and successfully treated for pancreatic cancer. And in 2014, she underwent a cardiac procedure. For all of these reasons (age and health), many people hinted at the possibility, and some have just outright declared, that Justice Ginsburg might be on the verge of retiring or perhaps that she needed to retire. Her health issues aside, some Democrats even advocated and urged that she should retire while President Obama is still in office so that he can appoint another liberal-minded Justice. Justice Ginsburg, however, has emphatically said that she has no plans to retire.

Seal of the Supreme Court of the United States

Proverbs 21:1 says: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” And the psalmist wrote (in Psalms 31:15), “My times are in your hands…”  While politicians on both the Democratic and Republican side are busy plotting strategies and scheming on who should retire and who should and shouldn’t appoint the next Justice, the hand of Providence has been busy moving and proving, in the words of the old Sunday School song, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  With all of her health challenges, Justice Ginsburg is still here! And Justice Scalia, who appeared to be relatively healthy, is no more!

When a person who has no apparent health issues passes, the spiritual side of us prompts us to say, “It was his time.” And when a person who has challenge after challenge, rises up from each challenge, the spiritual side of us is prompted to say, “It’s not her time yet.” But when the one who passes and the one who lives will have such a tremendous impact on who will be the next one to sit on the SCOTUS bench, it leaves me with a few questions:

No disrespect or offense intended but could Justice Scalia’s passing be considered an “act of God”? And for that matter, can Justice Ginsburg’s life beyond her health challenges be considered an “act of God”? Is this the permissive will or the perfect will of Providence? Does the fact that Justice Scalia has passed away and the fact that Justice Ginsburg is still alive, active and productive mean that Providence has a preference how the scales of justice are tipped and about the laws that humanity is to abide by? Last question: If God is active in ALL aspects of life, does that mean that the next appointment to SCOTUS isn’t necessarily a presidential appointment but a PROVIDENTIAL appointment?

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No written portion of this article may be used without obtaining written permission from the author.

Copyright © 2016 by Kanisha L. Adkins

P.O. Box 28483 Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on twitter @kanishaladkins

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DO WE WANT SYMBOLS OR DO WE WANT A SAVIOR?

20150712_210956_resized-1In late October 2015, Starbucks rolled out its annual “holiday” cup…a vibrant red cup to hold all of the short, tall, grande and venti hot beverages our hearts desire, our pockets can afford and our bellies can hold. Who would have thought a simple red cup would set off such a fire storm? But that’s exactly what happened when former television and radio evangelist, Joshua Feuerstein of Arizona, criticized Starbucks for removing “Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” Feuerstein’s complaint is that there is no design on the cup to indicate that it is a “Christmas” cup AND that the lack of a “Christmas” design means that the Starbuck’s corporation hates Jesus.  A Starbuck’s spokesperson responded to Feuerstein’s complaint, saying that Starbucks tries “to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity” and that the blank red cup “is to allow and encourage customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way.”

It’s interesting that Feuerstein and those who support his cause object to a blank red cup as a sign of hatred of Jesus. But when it comes to the images Starbucks has used over the last several years on its cups during this season, not a peep was heard from Feuerstein and his supporters, alleging that those symbols were signs that Starbucks hated Jesus.

In 2014, Starbucks’ cups were all red but they used different shades of red to illustrate snowflakes and trees. In 2013, the cups were red and gold with a hint of white and included Christmas tree ornaments, snowflakes and stars. In 2012, “a winking snowman” was Starbucks’ choice for its holiday cup. In 2011, characters playing winter sports graced the cups. In 2010, the cups had characters singing carols with messages written on them, like “stories are gifts.” In 2009, the images on the cups were Christmas tree ornaments that contained messages like, “I wish every day was a holiday.” And in 2008, snowflakes and turtledoves decorated the cups.

Starbucks 2015 Holiday Cup
Starbucks 2015 Holiday Cup

Joshua Feuerstein and his supporters, object to a blank red cup as being “anti-Jesus” but no one said a mumbling word about snowmen, ornamented trees, caroling and snowflakes! What do snowflakes and winking snowmen have to do with Jesus?! What do any of the symbols that have come to be associated with this season have to do with Jesus?! Not a blessed thing!!

So how did these symbols become intertwined and mixed in with the birth of Jesus? Well, the story goes something like this:

*Roman pagans introduced the holiday of Saturnalia to the Christian church. Saturnalia, an ancient Roman festival in honor of the Roman god Saturn, was a week long period of lawlessness and depravity celebrated from December 17th through 25th. During this time the poorest and most despised citizens were forced to give gifts to the emperor. The story goes on to say that in the 4th century, leaders in the church succeeded in converting to Christianity large numbers of these Roman pagans by promising them that they could continue to celebrate Saturnalia as Christians. There was nothing about Saturnalia that was even remotely related to Christianity before the church designated the end of the festival, December 25th, as the birth of Jesus. The “pagan” Christians were allowed to continue their pagan practices and partying and giving gifts to one another was incorporated into the celebration of Jesus’s birth.

The Christmas tree became a part of the celebration of Jesus’ birth when the church was trying to recruit and convert pagans from the Asheira cult. The Ahseira cult worshiped trees in the forest and also brought them into their homes for worship. In order to persuade the Asheira cult to become part of the church, they were allowed to continue worshiping trees.*

Christians are supposed to be celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world. But instead, too many of us have forgotten about Jesus and instead, we have chosen to focus on a season of symbols… ornamented trees, decorated snowmen, colorful, flashing lights and gifts to everyone except the “birthday boy” – Jesus. None of these symbols has any connection to Jesus or his birth.

Do we need to get rid of these symbols? I think the answer is a personal one. Like many people, I love the colors of red, green, and gold during this season. I think it’s pretty! I enjoy the “old school” music of the season, like the Temptations’ “Give Love On Christmas Day”, The Jackson Five’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and Karen Carpenter’s “Merry Christmas Darling”.  Putting up a tree and decorations have not been a priority for me in recent years but that has more to do with the task of taking them down and putting them away. The “little ones” in my family have grown up and we are waiting for the next generation of children. So exchanging gifts is not a big priority for us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t do it.Christmas tree

Like most people and most Christians, I do a lot of symbolic things during this season out of habit. But now that I know the origins of many of these symbols, I am not sure that I can or want to continue to use them. As much as I enjoy receiving and giving gifts, I have to remind myself that this is the time of year that the Christian church has adopted to recognize the birth of the Savior.  I have to remind myself that Jesus is the reason for the season.

Could it be that Starbucks is pointing us, (Christians, that is,) in the right direction, by getting rid of the symbols of this season with a simple red cup? Could it be that removing the symbols from the cup serves as a reminder to Christians to get personally and intimately involved in the “holiness” of this day that we are supposed to be celebrating? What would our celebration look like if we didn’t have the symbols of this season to distract us from the Savior of the Season?

The symbols of this season – snowmen, decorations, lights and jingle bells — make us smile for a moment. But after the season is over and the symbols have been put in the attic, many people are drained — mind, body, soul and pocketbook. Thirty-something years after his birth, Jesus reminded his disciples and through the biblical text he reminds us today, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, New International Version).

Do we want empty pockets or a full life? Do we want social gatherings or meaningful relationships? One last question, for Feuerstein and all of us– Do we want symbols or do we want a Savior?

 

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*Multiple internet sources were used for information on the origins of Christmas symbols.

No written portion of any article may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

P.O. Box 28483 Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on twitter @kanishaladkins

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Dr. Carson: PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF!

20150712_210956_resized-1Dr. Ben Carson may be a renowned brain surgeon, but his reasoning on the qualifications for president leads one to wonder about his brain processes. During a recent interview on Meet The Press, Dr. Carson was asked if a president’s faith should matter. Dr. Carson replied, “If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course, it should matter. But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, I’ve no problem.” He was then asked, “Do you believe that Islam is consistent with the Constitution. He replied, “No I don’t. I do not. I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” Next question, “Would you ever consider voting for a Muslim for Congress?”   Dr. Carson replied, “Congress is a different story but it depends on who that Muslim is and what their policies are.”

It seems that Dr. Carson hasn’t read the Constitution, or if he has read it, he doesn’t understand it. Here are a few parts of the Constitution that Dr. Carson might want to become familiar with, especially since he wants to be president.

Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution is known as The No Religious Test Clause. It states that: “The Senators and Representatives … and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”   https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/overview By considering a person’s religious beliefs OR whether that person has religious beliefs at all, Dr. Carson violates the Constitution which he claims to support.

It also seems that Dr. Carson doesn’t understand the roles of the members of Congress. Congress consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Under the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, the Speaker of the House who is the presiding member of the House of Representatives, is second in the presidential line of succession, immediately after the Vice President. The Speaker is followed in the line of succession by the President pro tempore of the Senate. So while it is a long shot, it is possible that a member of Congress could become president through the succession process.   So if Dr. Carson would vote for a Muslim to be a member of Congress, and if this person were either the Speaker of the House or President pro tempore of the senate, Dr. Carson would be in violation of the Constitution if he attempted to keep this person from succeeding to the office of the presidency. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/19

Dr. Carson is a brain surgeon and from what I hear, he is an excellent brain surgeon. In fact, I know of someone personally who was a patient of Dr. Carson’s.   After experiencing excruciating headaches and falling out unconscious for reasons that no other doctors could determine, my friend was finally referred to Dr. Carson. He diagnosed the issue, performed surgery and now, she is as good as new.   Based on popular reports and personal testimonies, Dr. Carson knows his way around the 3 pounds of matter, housed in the head, known as the brain.

I understand that the Constitution is a long document.  But if I were running for President of the United States, I would at least read and become very familiar with the parts that pertain to the office I want to hold.

Medical Doctor SymbolBut when I think of Dr. Carson and his wanting to be president, I think of the words recorded in Luke 4:23 by another physician named Luke.   After being in the wilderness for 40 days and nights, Jesus visited his hometown, Nazareth. Luke records a statement that Jesus made: “No doubt you will quote this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we heard was done at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.”   When we hear the phrase, “physician heal yourself”, it sounds like Jesus had some type of sickness and is being told to heal himself. That’s not what this passage means. This is a proverb (though not found in the book of Proverbs) that was probably in common use during Jesus’s time.

The meaning is this: “Suppose a man (or a woman) attempts to heal someone else when he himself suffers from the same disease he attempts to heal. It would be natural to ask him to cure himself first in order to prove that he is worthy of confidence. The connection of this proverb to the quote from Luke 4:23 is this: You profess to be the Messiah. You have performed miracles at Capernaum. You profess to be able to deliver us from our maladies, our sins, our afflictions. Show that you have the power, that you are worthy of our confidence, by working miracles here, as you profess to have done at Capernaum.” http://biblehub.com/luke/4-23.htm

Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson

Now, insert Dr. Carson: “Dr. Carson, we’ve heard about the wonderful things you’ve done in the world of surgery. But this is a different world.   This is the world of politics and presidential elections. The world of Congress and the Constitution. Show us that you are worthy of our vote and our confidence, by properly applying the principles of politics and government, in the same way you profess to have properly applied the principles of surgery.” In other words, physician, heal yourself!

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No written portion of any article may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

P.O. Box 28483 Henrico, VA 23228 – phone 202-854-1963 – email: info@kanishaladkins.com

Follow me on twitter @kanishaladkins

 

 

 

 

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DO YOU SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH?

20150712_210956_resized-1Let’s talk about Donald Trump. He certainly loves to talk about himself so why shouldn’t we talk about him too? Political analyst, news reporters, commentators and people who are fed up with their elected officials have put Trump at the head of his Republican class. And why? Not because he has articulated specific policies and plans to put these policies into place. In fact, Trump’s website only lists one policy and that is immigration reform, which appears to be aimed primarily at people who come into the United States across the Mexican Border. https://www.donaldjtrump.com/positions/immigration-reform  And even though Trump lays out a lengthy discourse on how he thinks America should secure the borders, this is not the discourse that has people talking. What are people talking about? Trump’s honesty!

Over and over people are saying how refreshing it is for someone to be honest and speak his mind. Trump is honest about what he feels and about what he believes. This is because, according to him, he doesn’t have to rely on any special interest group’s money to support his campaign. He’s rich! He has his own money! And he doesn’t have to say things that he really doesn’t mean or make promises that he really won’t keep simply to get money to stay in the race for president.

No doubt about it! When he isn’t being self-aggrandizing and talking about himself (which isn’t often) Trump is the mouthpiece of the hearts of many people in American society. He says the mean, hurtful and, in my opinion, often juvenile things that some people feel but won’t say and don’t dare say.  And Trump is being applauded by many people because they believe Trump is honest.

When it comes to Trump, there is another word to describe his candid, in your face, brand of being honest.  That word is frank!   Trump’s brand of honesty is no more than his being frank about what HE feels. But feelings are not always reality?   And I seriously doubt that simply being frank about what HE feels is the make it or break it character trait of a successful president. Americans absolutely want a president who has a backbone and will be frank and candid about issues and not play hide the ball. But more than being candid, perhaps we should look for someone who is truthful.  swear to tell the truth

Truthful is defined as telling the truth.   And truth is defined as a verified or indisputable fact, proposition or principle.   Trump is honest but is Trump truthful? No!   Not when he makes broad sweeping statements that certain people of a certain race or ethnicity are criminals, murderers and rapist!   The problem isn’t so much that Trump is candid.   The problem is that his candor doesn’t contain truth.   Trump doesn’t have to lose his candor, he just needs to add truth to it.

Furthermore, even when the truth is spoken, there is a way to deliver the message because the truth can hurt!   That’s why sacred texts teach us to “[speak] the truth in love.”[i] (Ephesians 4:15)   And Proverbs 16:13 says that, “The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly.”  Notice this verse says that the king loves honest speech.   But this is honest speech from righteous lips!   If royalty values honest speech from righteous lips, I think we regular folks might like it too!

A 20th century poet named Edgar Guest wrote a poem called Myself in which he says: “I don’t want to think as I come and go, That I’m for bluster and bluff and empty show.”   Instead of getting caught up in Trump’s candid words that are no more than bluster and bluff and empty show, Americans need to search for the truth among all the bluff, if there be any.   In II Timothy 2:15-16, the apostle Paul wrote that the people of God must “correctly handle the word of truth and avoid godless chatter because those who indulge in it [godless chatter] will become more and more ungodly.”   Paul was writing to religious and faith communities, but that sounds like a good prescription for presidential candidates too.   And we need to ask Mr. Trump, “Are you going to simply continue to be candid about what YOU believe. Or do you swear to tell the truth?

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No written portion of any article on this site may be shared without giving credit to the author. Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

 

Sources:

www.dictionary.com

New International Version Bible

 

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FAITH & SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Part 2

20150712_210956_resized-1Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land.  I applaud the Supreme Court on how the decision was reached. The Court took great pains to explore the history and purposes of marriage. In fact, almost 4 pages of the 10 page opinion is devoted to tracing the history and development of marriage. The Court devotes considerable time to explaining how marriage evolved over the course of time for opposite-sex couples. Although most married men and women living in the United States in 2015 have the pleasure of choosing their spouses, this hasn’t always been the case. So the Court examines the initial framework of marriage, in which the couple’s parents arranged the marriage for religious, political and financial reasons. Eventually the laws and practices changed to allow men and women to choose spouses for themselves. In 2015, we are the beneficiaries of this change.

And just in case we continue to hold on to the delusion that, in 2015, like it is, is like it has always been, the Court reminds us that in the beginning of the institution of marriage, women were considered a non-entity. Their identities were merged into their husbands’ identities and they had no rights of their own. As women acquired legal, political and property rights, laws concerning married women changed to show that women had their own dignity, separate from and equal to their husband’s dignity.

And although the Court did not address the evils of slavery, let us not forget that when the United States was birthed out of its Declaration of Independence from England and labor was needed to establish and develop this great land, Africans were shipped in like cattle because they weren’t considered people, they were property. Only people had rights and since those of the African Diaspora weren’t people, they had no right in the eyes of the law to get married, not even to each other. Of course, the Court did not address the history of African descended peoples in this country finally being recognized as people and being allowed to marry each other. However, the Court did rely heavily on a “race” case, known today as The Loving Case.

In 1958, two Virginia residents, Mildred Jeter, a Negro woman…

(yep! That’s what she was called in 1958, or at least, that’s the nicest name she was called)

…and Richard Loving, a White man, were married in the District of Columbia. Shortly after becoming married, the Lovings returned to their hometown in Virginia where they were indicted by a grand jury for violating Virginia’s law against interracial marriage.   The law in Virginia in 1958 said, “If any white person intermarry with a colored person, or any colored person intermarry with a white person, he shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by confinement in the penitentiary for not less than one nor more than five years.” In 1958 it was a FELONY for a “colored” and a white person to marry each other. The Lovings were both sentenced to one year in jail. But the kind judge, out of the goodness of his heart…

(right about now, I hope you’re hearing the sarcasm in my words)

…this kind judge suspended the Loving’s jail sentence on the condition that they leave the Commonwealth of Virginia and not return together for 25 years.

(So they could come back just not together as husband and wife)

 The Lovings moved to the District of Columbia and filed a lawsuit. Almost 9 years after they became husband and wife, the case finally made it to the highest court of the land, The Supreme Court of the United States of America! And the rest is history. Bottom line…the Court said that the Lovings’ rights under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment were being violated.

(Here’s a quick Constitutional law lesson)

The 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause says that no State government is allowed to take away a person’s constitutional right to life, LIBERTY, and property without a fair legal process. In other words, no one is to be arbitrarily or unfairly deprived of their basic constitutional rights, all willy nilly, without first being allowed to look at the issue through some kind of legal proceeding or procedure. We usually hear about Due Process in criminal cases. Due Process is what keeps people from losing their liberty, (in theory if not always in practice), being pronounced “guilty” and locked away forever by state and federal governments without first having the benefit of a trial before a jury of their peers. Is marriage a constitutional right? Well, no and yes. The Constitution doesn’t specifically address marriage. But it does address liberty. The right to marry is a liberty and liberties are protected by the Constitution. The Lovings had a liberty under the Due Process Clause to choose to marry each other, different race and all, and the State could not take it away. That’s what Due Process is about!

Now, the Equal Protection Clause, also in the 14th Amendment, says that everyone in the United States must be treated equally and that if you’re going to discriminate against them, you better have a damn good reason.

(Well, that’s not exactly what it says, but that’s exactly what it means).

And when it came to Virginia saying that the Lovings couldn’t get married, the Court said that race was not a good reason.

The Loving case was in 1967. Today, we don’t think twice or bat an eye (at least not from a legal standpoint) when people of different races decide to get married. If the issue were race today in 2015, most people in this country would be up in arms: protesting, picketing, having sit-ins and lie-ins, social media campaigns and anything else that might remotely further the cause of allowing people of different races to marry each other. Today, to most people, it seems utter ridiculous and completely crazy that people would be banned from choosing to marry someone of another race. Today it sounds crazy. But when the Lovings filed their lawsuit, it not only made sense in Virginia, but it made sense to about 15 others states who made interracial marriages illegal. But that was the world of 1967 and the issue was race.

Today, it’s 2015 and the issue is same-sex marriage. In 1967 the problem was that the two people didn’t look alike. Today, the problem is that the two people look too much alike! The players may have changed but the rules haven’t. And basically, that’s what the Supreme Court said regarding same-sex marriage. The Court said that people have the right to choose who they want to marry, even if they are both of the same sex. And to deny them this right is a violation of their rights under the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.

(And although I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.)

State governments can’t legally take away a person’s liberty/freedom to marry a person of the same sex without going through a fair legal process. Without a fair legal process such action is illegal! And, unless there’s a really REALLY good, LEGAL reason, State governments can’t discriminate against people, simply because they choose to marry someone of the same sex.

Right about now, you may be asking, “But do we really have to say people of the same sex can marry each other? According to the Court, yes we do because it is the government that has given certain benefits, rights and responsibilities to married couples. It is the government that has given married couples such benefits as inheritance and property rights and the right to receive property when a spouse dies but there is no last will and testament. It is the government that has given married couples such benefits as spousal privilege under the laws of evidence so that husbands and wives cannot be made to testify against each other in court. It is the government that has given married couples such rights as medical decision-making authority and the right to be listed as a recipient under one another’s health insurance plans. It is the government that has created these and so many more rights and benefits. The government has decided that marriage should and does have certain legal benefits and rights.

The problem is that until June 2015, many state governments were clinging to a rule that only married couples consisting of a man and a woman were to have the rights and benefits created by the government. The Supreme Court has decided otherwise and has made the observation that same-sex couples simply desire to have the same benefits and rights that are given to opposite-sex couples. Since marriage is the vehicle that gives these rights to opposite-sex couples, then same-sex couples must be allowed to marry.

So there you have it. The Supreme Court, the highest court of the land in the United States of America, has made its decision. So it is written! So it shall be done! (Ironically, that line is from the movie The Ten Commandments).

I know many of my friends and family in their respective faith communities are still reeling from the Court’s decision but this is a legal decision. This is a decision about law. The Court’s decision has absolutely nothing to do with religion or religious beliefs. And you have to ask yourself (or at least, I’d ask myself), if the Court based its decision on religion, whose religion would be the basis for the decision? Close to three quarters of people in the United States identify themselves as Christians. But we can’t just assume that the Court would follow Christian doctrines if religion were the basis for its decision. Because if we did, then the issue for 2015 would be whether there has been a violation of the 1st Amendment, which says the government may not make any law to establish a particular religion AND government may not prevent people from freely exercising their religions.

Now we’ve come full circle and we’re back at square one.   To the communities of faith, whatever your faith may be, if we are fully persuaded that marriage between people of the same-sex is a sin or bad karma or just plain wrong, we are protected by the First Amendment. We have the right to not celebrate, recognize or condone same-sex marriage. Freedom of religion is still intact…

…and same-sex couples have the right to marry.

Sources:

(Obergefell v. Hodges, __ U. S. __, 2015).

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S. 1, 12 (1967)

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No written portion of any article on this site may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

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FAITH & SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: PART 1

20150712_210956_resized-1It’s official! Fifty times over, IT’S OFFICIAL!   ALL 50 states of the United States of America are now required to allow same-sex couples the right to marry and the right to be recognized as married. This was the ruling handed down by the United States Supreme Court in June 2015.

And the world heaved a collective sigh! Well…maybe not the whole world but perhaps the United States? No, not everyone in the United States but just same-sex couples and those who support same-sex couples’ right to marry.   The rest of the country, however, rather than joining in with the collective sigh, cried out “Woe is me!” “Armageddon!” and “The end is near!” The reason for the cries of woe? I’m pretty sure there are some people who are distraught by the Court’s decision because of their good old-fashion traditional values and these values say that marriage is for opposite-sex couples. But I’m also pretty confident that the basis for these good old-fashion traditional values is that “God” intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman. In other words, religion is the primary reason for the outcry against same-sex couples being allowed to marry.

I am well versed in one faith tradition, namely Christianity, and not so much in others, like Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism, to name a few. One thing I know about Christianity and Judaism, that may also be true in other faith traditions, is that it is against their religious beliefs for a man to have sex with another man. And although their original religious texts may not specifically address it, we can assume (or we do assume) it is equally impermissible for a woman to have sex with another woman.

As a woman of faith, I completely understand and empathize with other people of faith who believe it is wrong for people of the same sex to engage in sexual activity. This is what we have been taught in the Church for centuries, since the beginning of time. And if same-sex sexual activity is banned, then same-sex marriage is absolutely out of the question. This is a long-standing, well-established, traditional religious belief. And in America, people have a right to their religious beliefs, in theory and in practice.

People who believe that homosexuality is wrong because of religious reasons should not be attacked, verbally or physically, because of their beliefs. And neither the federal nor state governments should force people with long-standing beliefs against homosexuality to accept, embrace, support or promote it. I believe the source of the outcry from people who believe that same sex relationships are wrong is that, like it or not, individuals of faith and congregations of faith will be required by law to accept, embrace, support and promote same-sex marriage or risk being found in violation of the law.

I’ve been out of law school for decades and I don’t make a habit of reading court opinions anymore. But I’ve always believed “knowledge is power” and “reading is fundamental”. So I decided to return to my law school roots and read the Court’s majority opinion…

(In all fairness, 3 Supreme Court justices dissented or disagreed with the majority of 5 justices. But let’s be clear. A dissenting opinion carries as much legal authority as a confederate battle flag. It may carry a lot of emotion and may even sound reasonable to some people, but it represents a lost cause.)

So, I’ve read the Court’s majority opinion. And to my brothers and sisters in the Church (and other faith traditions), who are crying “foul”, this is what I discovered. The Supreme Court agrees with you!   Nowhere in the Court’s opinion did the justices say that churches and other faith-based/religious groups would be required to co-sign same-sex marriage. In fact, the Court said exactly the opposite. Specifically, the Court said “it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.” And the Court reaffirmed that religious organizations and religious persons are protected by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States with the right “to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered.”

In my opinion, this is some pretty strong language in favor of religious organizations and religious persons. This is what religious organizations and religious persons want, the right to hold fast to the tenets of their faiths which condemn same-sex marriage, right? Yet, despite what appears to me to be strong, protective language, the outcry of the religious is still being heard…

(Again…Why?)

My first guess is that most of those who are crying doom and gloom haven’t read the Court’s opinion. Court opinions are not rocket science but on the flip side they are not an ‘easy read’ either. Many people will not take the time to read the Court’s opinion but will chose instead to accept reports from network news reporters and newspapers. But most news reporters have failed to give adequate, if any, attention to the rights that religious organizations and religious persons continue to have with regard to their faith and same-sex marriage. Most people don’t know that the Court addressed the rights of religious organizations in its decision. And a knee-jerk reaction has church officials calling special church meetings so that they can add language to their church constitutions saying that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Organizations are re-writing their constitutions when they haven’t read the Court’s decision.

But even after these organizations add their desired language and definitions of marriage, the outcry will continue. (Once again, why?) I would dare to say it is because the Court did not completely side with religion and condemn same-sex marriage. Instead, the Court affirmed that religious organizations and persons have a right, under the 1st Amendment to reject same-sex marriage AND then they had the audacity to declare that same-sex couples also have the right to marry under this same Constitution, namely the 14th Amendment.

I understand that dogma will prevent some people from wanting to be informed about how the Court could both affirm the rights of the religious community and, at the same time, grant a right that is so obviously against what many religious communities believe. But if the Bible and other sacred texts are correct, we are mandated to understand. “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore, get wisdom; with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7, ASV).

So to my friends of faith, I have a question: Are you willing to come off of the defensive position for a few minutes, take  your spiritual boxing gloves off, have a seat and get some understanding? If so, read Part 2 of FAITH & SAME-SEX MARRIAGE.

Sources:

American Standard Bible

(Obergefell v. Hodges, __ U. S. __, 2015).

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No written portion of any article on this site may be shared without giving credit to the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Kanisha L. Adkins.

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FAITH & MISOGYNY: Why “Say Her Name” Should Be Important to the Church

20150712_210956_resized-1For the last 12 months or so, America has repeatedly heard the names of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Grey, Walter Scott and so many other men and boys. What did these men and boys have in common? They were all African American. And they were all killed by police officers. For days, weeks and months, television media has kept the names of these men and boys before the viewing public by devoting hours and hours of television news coverage of protests, marches, lie-ins, hashtag campaigns and “riots” or by giving a quick 30 second snippet on a nightly news program. Not only have news programs and networks given abundant attention to the deaths of these men and boys, but protesters and advocacy groups have formed campaigns to keep the names of these men and boys before the public eye and in the public ear. (If you haven’t heard the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’, you just don’t want to hear it!)

But what about Black women and girls who have died at the hands of over-zealous, power-hungry police officers?  When was the last time you heard the name Aiyanna Jones (7 years old)? What about Tarika Wilson (26 years old)? And what about Tanisha Anderson (37 years old) or the names of too many other women and girls of color who have been killed by police officers? The media has not been as vocal in keeping the names of these (and other) women and girls in the forefront of efforts to address police brutality against people of color.

This is why there is a new movement that has been formed: Say Her Name. The mission of Say Her Name is “to call attention to police violence against Black women” AND “to offer a resource to help ensure that Black women’s stories are integrated into demands for justice, policy responses to police violence, and media representations of victims and survivors of police brutality.” (http://www.aapf.org/sayhernamereport).

You may ask, “Why is another separate campaign needed in light of Black Lives Matter?” Well…one reason is that, even though campaigns like Black Lives Matter have been effective at getting the attention of many in the media and general public, activists and advocacy groups for Black Lives Matter have not been as vigilant in keeping public attention on Black women and girls who have either been slain by or died while in the custody of police officers.

Another reason, according to Andrea Ritchie, New York civil rights attorney and coauthor of a recent report issued by the African American Policy Forum (http://www.aapf.org/) on black women and law enforcement, is that Black women and girls face risks not shared by men, such as sexual violence and sexual harassment from law enforcement.

This is not to say that only Black women are the victims of police violence. But in this age of 24 hour news coverage and cell phone cameras, I’d bet the farm that if this abuse were being perpetrated in mass numbers against White women, (or White men for that matter), we would see the news reports and the cell phone videos. The fact that we are not seeing this is highly suggestive, (at least in my mind), that the incidences of police violence and brutality against White women are not as numerous as those of Black women.

The names of Black women and girls need to be heard in the fight for racial-social justice. Someone needs to say their names. (Which leads to my next point:) Where are communities of faith? Where is the Church in all of this?   Why has the Church failed to follow the instructions of Isaiah 58:1 to “Cry aloud and spare not”? Isn’t the Church supposed to “lift up its voice like a trumpet and show the people their transgressions”? The tendency of women to be relegated to the status of second class citizens did not just start in the 21st century. In fact, this practice can be seen in mainstream religions and faith traditions that have been built on (or over) a foundation of disregard (and what sometimes appears to be disdain) for women. Is it something about our faith traditions that has caused us to subconsciously neglect to stand up for oppressed and abused Black women and girls?

In her book Battered Love, minister and old testament scholar, Rev. Dr. Renita J. Reems gives an insightful look at the writings of such prophets as Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel who used images of male power and abuse against women (specifically righteous husbands against wives who were often characterized as lusty, depraved and defiled).

True… these images were symbolic of the punishment and judgement that would justifiably be measured out on the people of God for their disobedience and sins against God. And also true… Reems’ book explores the use of marriage as a metaphor of the relationship between God and God’s people. But there’s an argument to be made that this disregard for women went beyond marriage.

Remember Lot, who was willing to sacrifice the dignity and lives of his daughters to a group of angry men so that his male house guests would not be harmed? Yeah…we have a tendency to focus only on the horrors that the male house guests would have endured and we gloss over the fact that Lot’s daughters were going to be raped. (And by the way, what were Lot’s daughters’ names??)

In the Bible, women were often referred to by their relationships to husbands and sons. (Does anyone know Potiphar’s wife’s name? What about the widow at Zarephath?  This poor woman couldn’t even get a name of her own after her husband died.  And how about Peter’s mother-in-law?) This is not to say that women were never identified by a name because some were. But the overall cultures that gave birth to the sacred biblical texts do not appear to have been very female friendly. This disregard can still be seen in communities of faith in the 21st century.

Many communities of faith have remained eerily quiet when it comes to the death, violence and abuse being inflicted by police on women, particularly women of color. Could it be that the Church’s silence is rooted in the very text we claim as sacred, liberating and redemptive? Have people of faith in the 21st century subconsciously embraced a culture that demeans and belittles women and girls based on doctrines that grew out of cultures that often appeared to be less than loving toward women and girls? (Is misogyny too strong of a word to use? Hmmm…)

There is absolutely no excuse for communities of faith to remain silent on the issues of abuse and violence faced by Black women and girls.  Women and girls are vital parts of communities of faith.  If not for them, many communities of faith would not be able to survive.  And predominantly Black churches should be among the first to champion the cause.  It’s time for us to stand up for women in general, and Black women and girls in particular. It’s time for us to “Say Her Name.”

Unfortunately and with heartbreak, we now say the name Sandra Bland…

#SayHerName #WhatHappenedToSandraBland

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