War and poverty form a kind of toxic symbiotic relationship

“Beloved, war and poverty form a kind of toxic symbiotic relationship with each component contributing to the other. The more we wage war, and the war economy, the more poor young men and women die on the battlefield and die at home from the lack of healthcare. And at the same time we’re draining away more and more resources to the war economy, thus creating even more poverty. And when the current situation of escalating war and poverty is seen from another standpoint, from the standpoint of the military industrial political elites who make billions of dollars off of war it is easy for them to justify more war in order to take more resources of other nations and to give crumbs to the impoverished masses in this nation to blind us and keep us from seeing the truth. And that if we saw the truth, we would turn against them. And so we are in this cycle of perpetual war.”— Rev. Nelson Johnson

Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro, North Carolina speaks at The Gathering. Learn more and take action at breachrepairers.org.

Nelson Johnson has been active in the movement for social and economic justice since high school in the late 1950’s. Though involved in a myriad of initiatives, Rev. Johnson centers his efforts on facilitating a process of comprehensive community building, which include a convergence of racial and ethnic diversity, social and economic justice, and genuine participatory democracy. He is is actively building relationships with and providing leadership within organized labor, faith groups and other public and private community organizations.

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Our desire to test theology, whether it is strange or not, reinforces our reverence toward God

Questioning the validity of orthodoxy is anything but spiritual error because Scripture calls us to test such things. Church authorities are the ones fighting opposition, refusing to allow there to be diversity among their lambs. We who are committed to the testing all things are not forsaking the LORD. Our desire to test theology, whether it is strange or not, reinforces our reverence toward God. I cannot imagine a scenario beyond one in which Jesus succeeds in drawing everyone to himself.
Christian Universalism is anything but heretical because it is built on a solid foundation—the unfailing love of God.

Source: Is Christian Universalism a Slippery Slope?

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Falwell’s family legacy and public platform allow him to perpetuate the illusion that he speaks for all evangelicals

Falwell, like many members of the old-guard evangelical right, have made the idea that Christian ethics should permeate government a central element of their lobbying work. While Jesus may have encouraged his followers to pay their taxes, “turn the other cheek” was also a mandate. Falwell is revealing that there’s more nationalism than Christianity in his Christian nationalism. Falwell’s family legacy, as well as his public platform, allows him to perpetuate the illusion that he is speaking for all evangelicals. Jesus was ultimately crucified by Roman authorities as a threat to the state on the understanding that his message was radical, subversive, and, yes, dangerous to the imperial status quo.

Source: Evangelical Jerry Falwell Jr. defends Trump: Jesus “never told Caesar how to run Rome” – Vox

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Christian nationalism, a belief supported by Dominion theology, wants an American Christian theocracy

Christian nationalism is the false belief that America is a Christian nation, a belief supported by Dominion theology. It is a radical right wing movement composed of Christian extremists that want to rewrite American history, and replace the secular values upon which this nation was founded with a Christian theocracy.

Source: Trump Promotes Christian Nationalism At National Prayer Breakfast

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Trump’s rhetoric matters: His defenders either revel in his outbursts or say they don’t matter

Trump’s rhetoric matters. Our public debate is polluted when President Trump denigrates the FBI as “corrupt” or suggests that all immigrants are MS-13 murderers. Trump and his crass team demean the offices they hold. Worse, they lower the standard of discourse. Trump’s defenders either revel in his outbursts or say that they do not matter.

Source: Trump’s rhetoric matters – The Washington Post

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Robert Jeffress doesn’t care if Trump believes the positions he’s advocating

“I can’t look into the president’s heart to know if he really personally believes these positions he’s advocating, or whether he thinks it’s smart politics to embrace them because of the strong evangelical influence in the country. But frankly, I don’t care. As a Christian, I’m seeing these policies embraced and enacted, and he’s doing that.”—Robert Jeffress

Robert Jeffress is a Texas megachurch pastor and one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers.

Source: Evangelicals, Having Backed Trump, Find White House ‘Front Door Is Open’ – The New York Times

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Trump’s comments honoring Martin Luther King Jr. “added insult to injury”

“His own comments expose him. They were elitist and blatantly racist.” Trump’s comments honoring civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. “added insult to injury.”

A.R. Bernard is a black pastor of a 40,000-member church in New York City. He resigned from the evangelical council in August 2017 after Trump blamed “both sides” for deadly violence in Charlottesville.

Source: Some evangelical leaders continue to back Trump after his ‘shithole’ comments – The Washington Post

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Trump-speak allows open discussion of problems usually only spoken about behind closed doors

Trump’s “open source” thoughts are unprecedented in any modern politician. Trump, by breaking from the “offend no one” style of political discourse, still appeals to those Americans who share beliefs with him that are largely overlooked by the incumbent political class that the president is dismantling. His takeover of the Republican Party was a hostile one that paid lip service to most of the party’s ideological dogma. What Trump is about is remaking the American body politic. Trump-speak is a key component of that overhaul, because it allows for the open discussion of the many problems America and the world is facing but are usually only spoken about in whispers behind closed doors.

Source: How Donald Trump is retooling politics for the 21st century

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‘Poor People’s Campaign’ readies nationwide mobilization

Poor people, clergy and activists in the Poor People’s Campaign plan to deliver letters to politicians in state Capitol buildings demanding that leaders confront what they call systemic racism evidenced in voter suppression laws and poverty rates. “Our faith traditions and state and federal constitutions all testify to the immorality of an economy that leaves out the poor, yet our political discourse consistently ignores the 140 million poor and low-income people in America,” the letter states.

Source: ‘Poor People’s Campaign’ readies nationwide mobilization – ABC News

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We continue feeding the bipartisan military-industrial complex, ignoring basic needs of our people

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis deprioritizes counter-terror efforts and  aggressively pursues a massive arms race with both Russia and China. This extremely aggressive stance is exactly why law requires the Secretary of Defense to be a civilian, at least seven years removed from active duty. This law was waived for Mattis’ appointment. Shockingly, Mattis was approved in a nearly unanimous 98-1 vote and still enjoys bipartisan support. We continue feeding the bipartisan military-industrial complex, while ignoring the basic needs of our people.

Source: Bipartisan Militarism Endangers Us All

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$700 billion for what? Military expenditures provide no benefit

Many left-liberal groups ignore the Pentagon’s swollen budget even as it devours resources that could be put to much better use. Sadly, a bipartisan majority in Congress gave [Trump] all he asked for [and] then some. Beyond spending sufficient to provide reasonable defense, military expenditures provide no benefit; they fail utterly to improve our quality of life. The growth in so-called “Islamist terror groups” was largely blowback — the result of and reaction to U.S. intervention in the region. The citizenry would be far better off if our nation abandoned the role of global hegemon, led the world into multilateral disarmament negotiations and redirected billions into investments in our people and infrastructure.—Mark Haim

Mark Haim is a longtime advocate for peace, justice, sustainability and climate action. He serves as director of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks, a grassroots activist group.

Source: $700 Billion For What? | The Indypendent

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The war economy is killing our nation’s spirit

“When a nation has to lie, and get a lying president and actually has to put all of this money into the military to keep other people from hurting it, it’s a weak nation. A strong nation has the moral fabric that people want to be a part of and they don’t want to hurt it because you’re doing good things and you’re helping people to live good lives.”— Rev. Nelson Johnson

Rev. Nelson Johnson of the Beloved Community Center in Greensboro, North Carolina speaks at The Gathering. Learn more and take action at breachrepairers.org.

Nelson Johnson has been active in the movement for social and economic justice since high school in the late 1950’s. Though involved in a myriad of initiatives, Rev. Johnson centers his efforts on facilitating a process of comprehensive community building, which include a convergence of racial and ethnic diversity, social and economic justice, and genuine participatory democracy. He is is actively building relationships with and providing leadership within organized labor, faith groups and other public and private community organizations.

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‘Evangelical’ Isn’t a Dirty Word

Many evangelical Christians today face an identity crisis. Evangelicals have a storied history in American public life. They figured prominently in the movement to end slavery. Evangelicals are now an increasingly familiar presence in American intellectual life, having shed the anti-intellectualism of the early 20th century. I believe that Christianity is self-correcting. And because evangelicalism is a faithful understanding of Christianity’s essence, I believe it is self-correcting, too.

Source: ‘Evangelical’ Isn’t a Dirty Word – WSJ

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Why evangelicals should rethink the Trump gospel

The choice is stark, unsettling and serious: between what Christians call the “Great Commission” and President’s Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” (MAGA). The Great Commission is racially and radically inclusive, while MAGA, as a matter of rhetoric and reality, is racially exclusive and divisive. Jesus praised a foreigner, an ethnic outcast, and religiously unpopular “good Samaritan” as an example of great compassion.—Cornell Brooks

Source: Why evangelicals should rethink the Trump gospel (opinion) – CNN

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The Geography Of Poverty: Matt Black Photographs Poverty Across The U.S.

The growing gap between rich and poor in this country is consigning people to a fate that is largely inescapable. If you are born poor in America today you are likely to die poor. If you are born rich, the same. Poverty is not really an economic question. It’s a question of power: Who gets their needs met, which communities get their needs met and which communities don’t.

Lorain, OH. Downtown. Lorain has a population of 64,097 and 28.2% live below the poverty level.

Source: The Geography Of Poverty: Matt Black Photographs Poverty Across The U.S. : NPR

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There are Christians who are concerned that criticism will cause Trump to dump their issues

Trump and his core supporters see any criticism as betrayal. When the president is thin-skinned and lacks core convictions, there are Christians who are concerned that criticism will cause Trump to dump their issues. An enormous number of Christians — especially Christians in politics — suffer from a lack of faith [and] view the Left as presenting an existential threat to Christian faith. Trump has done a remarkable job at convincing conservative Christians that he’s the lesser evil compared to his enemies in the media and on the radical Left so they’ll find ways to rationalize their support for Trump.

Source: Understanding Conservative Christian Silence on Donald Trump’s Porngate | National Review

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Donald Trump has never shown much interest in understanding inequality

To say that “Americans are dreamers too” only makes sense under a misunderstanding of what DREAMers are actually asking for or under the zero-sum logic of status anxiety, in which any attention paid to a marginalized group must inherently mean that some other group must be losing ground. Donald Trump has never shown much interest in understanding this sort of inequality. Trump’s America is either a bootstrapper’s utopia where everyone has equal status and opportunity or the battered but rallying land of the “forgotten men and women” who have been threatened by foreign criminals and abandoned by cultural elites.

Source: State of the Union 2018: Trump’s biggest insult to immigrants – Vox

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In being against programs that benefit the poor, some Christians are almost ensuring the very poverty they’re meant to eradicate.

Personal responsibility and hard work are not bad values. However, these values tend to move charity to a subtle form of social control where the poor are offered assistance based on merit or adherence to conservative standards, rather than on the basis of generosity and a commitment to a more equitable society. Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps has become American gospel. Jesus implores people not to simply be more generous, but to overturn oppressive systems that create inequality in the first place. True community justice requires that all American Christians ― conservatives and liberals alike ― set aside political agendas and values and seek equity.

Source: Christian Charity Is Incomplete Without A Pursuit Of Justice | HuffPost

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The death of “cultural Christianity” is good

Churches are in serious decline. This fundamental shift away from churches is [caused by] the death of “cultural Christianity.” As the pressure to associate with a local church diminished in society, “cultural Christians” have integrated back into a church-less culture. Church attendance became the spiritual crutch for many cultural Christians; many churches lost their focus; [and] it has presented them with a clear choice: refocus or perish. The atmosphere of “cultural Christianity” actually discouraged honesty about your spiritual state and encouraged people to “blend in” to the cultural norms of religion.

Source: Is the church really dying? – Lifestyle – The Courier-Tribune – Asheboro, NC

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