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Teaching about the Bible in public schools? Yes, if. . .: 1-31-19

The other day, this Politico story reported that President Trump tweeted "Great" in response to news that more states are planning to introduce Bible literacy classes to public schools.

Alter-BibleI would agree with the president if the classes really were designed to teach students in a constitutional way about the Bible as opposed to inculcating them in Christian or Jewish doctrine. In fact, teaching public school students about the Bible already is legal, as long as it doesn't cross church-state separation boundaries. (And, by the way, people who aren't Christian or Jewish would do well to understand biblical references, too. In fact, Muslims are obliged to know the Bible because many biblical stories are referenced briefly in the Qur'an, with the understanding that readers already know the full story in the Bible.)

Religious literacy in this country is dismally low, and it leads to ignorance and fear. Beyond that, our whole language and culture is simply marinated in biblical language and thought, and it's hard to understand even some common phrases -- being a "Good Samaritan," "walking the second mile," a "burning bush" and on and on -- without knowledge of their biblical roots.

So I have argued for years that there is a place in public school teaching for exposing students to how the Bible came to be and how it has influenced our culture.

In fact, a few years back promoters of this idea created a book to guide teachers, a book that was careful about maintaining the church-state wall but that sought to educate students about the widespread influence the Bible has had. It's called The Bible and its Influence. It's a really good start on how to do this right.

No doubt there are religious people who are trying to use this public school movement to sneak in evangelism, just as there are religious people who want to overturn the old U.S. Supreme Court decision that outlawed prayer led by public employees in public schools. But they're wrong about both matters, though given Trump's religious obtuseness I don't expect that he understands any of this.

At any rate, there's every good reason to teach public school students about the Bible without indoctrinating them into this or that religion. And there's every good reason to be very careful about how such classes are established and taught.

Just because Trump thinks (perhaps for the wrong reasons) that such classes are great doesn't mean they can't be.

Here, by the way, is a story from the Indianapolis Star about the bill on this subject now before the state legislature there.

(The three-volume Hebrew Bible set you see pictured here today is newly published. It's a translation with commentary by Robert Alter, the great Hebrew scholar from the University of California-Berkeley. My daughters gave me the set for my recent birthday.)

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Staying on the same topic today, I point you to this RNS column by Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, who argues that Americans need to be much more biblically literate than they are now, but that teaching about the Bible in public schools is not the way to do it. Well, he's half right. I think the public school issues can be worked out so that the Bible can be a constitutional subject there. But now you know that at least one person disagrees with me.

Wonder which Jesus will show up on TV: 1-30-19

I am always intrigued by what TV networks and magazines do to feature Jesus in some new -- and sometimes ridiculous way -- each Easter season.

Jesus-pop-mechThe one offering this year of which I'm aware looks as if it has a chance to be sort of interesting, but we'll see. The History Channel plans to air an eight-part series called “Jesus: His Life,” to premiere in March. I've just linked you to the Christian Post story about it. Here is the report about it from

As the first story notes, "The series will show Jesus' life from the perspectives of Joseph, John the Baptist, Mary, Caiaphas, Judas Iscariot, Peter, Pontius Pilate and Mary Magdalene."

Not a surprising selection, though I think I'd also have included such disciples as John and James -- and maybe Lazarus as well as his sisters, Martha and Mary.

But here's an intriguing twist: The series will include "a combination of scripted drama based off the Gospels and interviews with prominent pastors and Christian scholars, including Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church Michael Curry and Asbury Theological Seminary New Testament professor Ben Witherington III."

Curry is terrific. Witherington is a respected voice for traditional Christianity and always worth hearing. But Osteen? The Prosperity Gospel preacher? Well, there are lots of voices in the faith with different perspectives, but I hope it will be clear that the Prosperity Gospel that Osteen and others preach is radically different from the gospel of grace and service that Jesus preached.

The real test of these TV, stage and magazine offerings around Easter of each year is not whether they entertain but whether they present a fair picture of what is really known about Jesus and whether they move people to seek other sources to learn more. With about 2.3 billion Christians in the world, there are about 2.3 billion images of who Jesus is and was floating around out there. We'd all do well to be cautious about asserting that any one of them gets him right in all aspects.

(The image here today shows Jesus as envisioned by Popular Mechanics magazine a few years ago using modern forensic techniques to recreate his face.)

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Tired of all the disputes and rancor in the world of politics and religion? This essay from the Christian Science Monitor has a suggestion. See what you think.

Is the 'Religious Left' really a thing? 1-29-19

You may well have heard me say this before, but labels hide much more than they reveal. Labels -- liberal, moderate, conservative in politics, for instance -- can be quick and sometimes helpful shortcuts to use as reference points.

Religious_leftBut because both politics and religion are enormously complicated undertakings, we should use great care in slapping labels on people or movements.

Which is one reason I've never much liked the term the Religious Right. Starting in the 1970s, journalists and other commentators began using that term to designate folks like the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and other self-described conservative or evangelical Christian leaders who had become much more active in political matters. In fact, the so-called Culture Wars -- about abortion, LGBTQ rights, women's rights and much more -- grew out of all that.

The problem, as I say, was that the Religious Right was not and is not monolithic. It is a many-headed animal, and not all of the heads either talk or agree with one another.

Now that the Trump era has ushered in a stronger response to the Religious Right from people of faith who take a different approach, the tendency among journalists, scholars and others has been to increase the use of the term Religious Left. Which has the same issues attached to it that Religious Right does.

Still, for the sake of brevity (though perhaps not clarity), this National Public Radio report does refer to the Religious Left's growing prominence, though not without at least noting that the term is a bit problematic.

"Nearly 40 years after some prominent evangelical Christians organized a Moral Majority movement to promote a conservative political agenda," the report says, "a comparable effort by liberal religious leaders is coalescing in support of immigrant rights, universal health care, LGBTQ rights and racial justice."

Notice the term there "liberal religious leaders." Some religious leaders self-identify that way. Others avoid such terms or prefer such labels as "progressive" or "open."

In all such cases, the brush paints too broadly.

Another recent story -- this time from CNN -- in some ways seeks to divide American Christianity into two groups, one resembling Lady Gaga and one resembling Vice President Mike Pence. You be the judge.

The NPR piece quotes the Rev. Jennifer Butler, a Presbyterian minister and founder of the group Faith in Public Life, this way: "Our moral values speak to the kinds of just laws that we ought to have."

It then notes that "Her group, part of what could be considered a religious left, says it has mobilized nearly 50,000 local clergy and faith leaders, with on-the-ground operations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. Butler founded the organization in 2005 with a precedent in mind: It was religious leaders who drove the abolitionist movement in the 19th century and the civil rights movement in the 20th century.

"'I think religion helps people understand who they should be,' Butler says."

Well, it's certainly been true that for decades much of the public attention to religion has gone to harsh televangelists and to leaders who have wanted to push an ungenerous orthodoxy. So in that sense it's nice to see some other voices getting some attention, too.

But when you read such descriptions as "conservative," "evangelical," "progressive" or "liberal" attached to religious people or movements, be assured that there's still a lot you don't know about those people.

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This BBC story asks -- and tries hard to answer -- the puzzling question of why violent extremism still seems attractive to a relatively small number of people who identify as Muslims. You can read the answers it finds, but here's the disappointing conclusion, which no doubt is accurate: "The ideology behind violent jihad is likely to endure for some time yet, even though it is not shared by the vast majority of peaceful Muslims around the world."

The American Bible Society's bigotry: 1-28-19

Some day, I hope and believe, nearly all people of faith will look back on the abominable ways religions and religious people have treated LGBTQ people and shudder in shame

Abs-logoFor a long, long time the Bible has been misused as a weapon against gay people based on the ways certain passages have been misread. You can read my essay about that here. Many Jews and Christians finally have recognized the interpretive errors they've made on this matter and have repented, opening up full membership in synagogues and churches to all.

But the American Bible Society, of all organizations, still is lurching about in darkness on this issue. As Religion News Service reports, the society now is requiring all employees to "sign a statement promising that they will attend church and abstain from sex before marriage, which it defines as between a man and a woman.

"Anyone who doesn’t sign the Affirmation of Biblical Community will be out of a job effective Feb. 1. . .(T)he effect of the policy will be to allow the society to terminate LGBT employees and unmarried heterosexuals who are not celibate."

So far, RNS says, 36 employees have quit.

Religion -- especially the Abrahamic faiths -- has at its roots ideas about welcoming the stranger, being gracious to all because God has been gracious to us. When religion comes down just to a list of rules about behavior, it loses its vibrancy, its reason for being. When it teaches its followers that some individuals are of less value in God's sight than others it has completely lost its way. That's what's happened here.

Religion should be a leader in freeing people, not in preventing them from living full, healthy, open lives that are a testimony to the beauty of the variety of God's creation. The false certitude of the American Bible Society about whether LGBTQ people are worthy of respect is just another example of religion run amok. And it's another reason why so many people under age 40 are so done with religious affiliation. As the Shutdowner-in-Chief might say, sad.

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Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu American elected to Congress, is running for president, and she has written this RNS column decrying religious bigotry. She writes, "We must all stand for religious freedom and call out this bigotry whenever it raises its ugly head." She's got that right.

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P.S.: My latest Flatland column -- about a secular Kansas City group called the Community of Reason -- now is online here.

Is aid-in-dying worth a public conversation? 1-26/27-19

Back in the 1990s, the now-deceased Dr. Jack Kevorkian became well known for his advocacy of physician-assisted suicide. In fact, he came to be know as Dr. Death.

Aid-in-dying-pro-conHe might be both pleased and surprised that the idea now called aid-in-dying has spread and is legal, as this Atlantic piece notes, in seven states — "including Hawaii, where a law took effect on January 1 — and the District of Columbia." Doctors there are now allowed "to write lethal prescriptions for qualifying, mentally capable adults who have a terminal illness. And support for the practice has gained new national momentum after the widely publicized death of Brittany Maynard, a young cancer patient who moved to Oregon in 2014 to take advantage of that state’s aid-in-dying law."

On the other hand, he might be disappointed that it's legal in only those places and that the American Medical Association remains officially opposed.

But surely he would be intrigued by other physicians who have been working to come up with effective end-of-life formulas that are effective, painless and affordable. Which is what The Atlantic piece is mostly about.

You can read about all of that at the magazine's site to which I've linked you.

The question I want to raise today is whether faith communities have taken this aid-in-dying movement seriously enough. Are they studying it and coming to conclusions that they're sharing with their members or, as I mostly suspect, are they ignoring it, kind of hoping it will go away?

Over the last several years, my own congregation has offered a series of gatherings about end-of-life issues. But they've mostly focused on funeral practices, on advanced medical directives, on estate planning, on what to expect when grieving and so forth. Except perhaps in passing, I don't recall that we've dealt with the question of physician-assisted suicide, or aid-in-dying.

Given the way most world religions hold life to be precious, questions about aid-in-dying can be difficult territory. But that shouldn't prevent people of faith of having a chance to raise real-life questions about how to treat people with terminal illness and whether it's ever appropriate to allow them to end the pain on purpose.

The Atlantic piece might be a good place to start. Share it with clergy and others in your community. Doing that may lead to some fascinating conversation and maybe even some consensus about how people in your religious tradition, if any, should approach this subject honestly and fairly.

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That missing three-year-old in North Carolina was found alive and well Thursday night. Terrific. But let's think about this from a theological perspective. Why would public officials and hundreds of volunteers spend all that time trying to rescue one tiny boy? Is one lost kid worth all that? You bet he is. This rescue effort was proof of what author Glenn Tinder calls the "spiritual center of Western politics," which is this: Every individual is of inestimable worth, is precious in God's sight and, thus, in ours. With 7-plus billion people on the planet, who, besides his immediate family, would miss one who got lost? We all would. We'd all be diminished if the common attitude was that no single life is worth such an effort. If we lose the idea of the exalted individual, we're dead as a culture and society. And we'd deserve to be dead.

Religion's stake in early childhood education: 1-25-19


Sometimes the record of institutional religion doesn't show it, but at least in principle one of its highest priorities is the well-being of children.

That's true of any of the great world religions for many reasons, not least among them is the idea that children are vulnerable and need love and protection and then need education and encouragement. (As I say, these are goals, ideals. In light of sexual abuse scandals religious leaders can and do at times stray far from the ideal.)

All of which is to say that Kansas City's faith communities should have a deep interest in the effort being led by Mayor Sly James (pictured above) to create a sales-tax funded pre-kindergarten education program in the city.

There's certainly been debate about whether and how to go about creating this program and about how to fund it, but the basic idea of making sure that children get started learning early is in harmony with core religious values. As James said to a lunch meeting on this subject that I attended earlier this week at KCPT-TV, up until third grade, children learn to read. Then they read to learn. And if they're not reading at the appropriate level by then the chances are that they will fall behind and even stay their for the rest of their academic careers.

When I asked the mayor what support area faith communities were giving to his pre-K effort, he first turned the question over the Mary Esselman, president and CEO of Operation Breakthrough, which provides early childhood education hundreds of kids.

She first made the point that organizers of this pre-K campaign have taken time to talk with early childhood education providers across the city -- whether sponsored by secular or faith-based organizations -- to show them the opportunities for growth and improvement that this pre-K initiative could have.

Beyond that, James added, some faith-based early childhood education centers have been involved in shaping the city's pre-K plan.

As for children in such programs, he said, "it's not about teaching them religion. It's about teaching them a (state)-approved curriculum that happens to be in a building that has a religious name to it."

The mayor thinks this campaign has a good shot to win and, once it's implemented, he thinks the city will see the economic, educational and social benefits.

As I say, there's been debate about whether a sales tax is the right funding mechanism and about other aspects of the proposal. But it's clear -- or at least should be -- that faith communities have a stake in finding ways to get children started on the right path. The proposal will be on the ballot April 2. If your own congregation isn't talking about this and whether to support it, it should be.

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When I was working on the book Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I wrote, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust, scholars told us to spell the word this way: "antisemitism," not "anti-Semitism." Now the great Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt has a new book out in which she explains why. The the RNS story to which I've linked you here will give you her reasons. Which I buy.

Can American Christianity's racist history be overcome? 1-24-19

All of the good that Christianity has done in the world sometimes seems overwhelming: Caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, guiding children and adults into a healthy relationship with God. And on and on.

Color-compromiseThat, however, is not the full story. Some Christians also have both promoted and defended slavery as divinely sanctioned. They've oppressed women in various ways, preached a vicious antisemitism for most of the religion's existence, failed to protect children from sexual predators and sometimes confused loyalty to God with loyalty to country. And on and on.

In light of these conflicting histories, Christianity also from time to time raises up prophetic voices that point to what has gone wrong, to how people of faith have lost their way and then they propose redemptive ways forward. That is what Jemar Tisby, president of "The Witness: A Black Christian Collective," has done in his new book, The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church's Complicity in Racism.

This is a necessary, important and persuasive look at what went wrong from the earliest days of Christianity in the New World until today. Every Christian -- indeed, all Americans -- should know this story. Without an understanding of how the church -- at least major elements of it -- contributed to the systematic oppression of people of color because of white supremacist attitudes, there's no way to grasp where America is today in our uneven struggle to create a society in which all people of any racial identity are respected.

Tisby takes great care to acknowledge that not all American Christians have contributed to this profound ecclesial failure. Indeed, he makes it clear that some parts of the church have always tried to do the right thing in regards to race and that in many ways it was the church that led the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s.

But the preponderance of evidence is that many Christians made moral and theological compromises. He writes: "The failure of many Christians in the South and across the nation to decisively oppose the racism in their families, communities and even their own churches provided fertile soil for the seeds of hatred to grow." It all amounts to what he calls "the American church's sickening record of supporting racism."

American Christians, he asserts, "participated in this system of white supremacy -- a concept that identifies white people and white culture as normal and superior -- even if they claim people of color as their brothers and sisters in Christ."

And because many white American Christians don't fully grasp that evil, done in the name of their faith since before the founding of the U.S., "they often shrink back from the sacrifices that transformation entails" now. And yet he is hopeful, suggesting that the failures of the past don't remove the reality that "the choice to confront racism remains a possibility today."

In 250 pages (including notes), Tisby can't, of  course, cover every disgustingly racist act American Christians have committed across history, but his catalog of stories is remarkably full, beginning with a 1667 law enacted by the Virginia General Assembly that said baptizing a slave as a Christian does not result in that slave's freedom. From there Tisby traces America's racial history and the church's many compromises with racism right up until the present day and the Black Lives Matter movement.

In many ways this is a story of American Protestants, though not entirely. Catholics, Anglicans and others are considered, too. But because until recently the American population has been majority Protestant, that branch of the faith gets the most attention -- and especially those who identify as evangelical Protestants.

In the end, this is a story that should provoke not just anger and repentance but also a commitment to do things differently from now on. And Tisby ends his book with a helpful list of ideas for how to do exactly that. Some ideas seem more realistic than others, but on the whole the list contains enough useful strategies that readers should be unable to throw up their hands and say they have no idea how to start fixing this problem now.

The book could have used a little more careful editing here and there in the interest of clarity, but the arc of the story is clear and the arguments convincing. If it's been too long since your congregation -- white, black or racially mixed -- considered this history and what to do about it, this book would be a terrific place to start.

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Nathan Phillips, the Native American man at the center of that major controversy recently in Washington, D.C., suggests he meet with the Catholic high school students involved so they all can learn something from the incident, which went crazily viral on social media. It's a good idea. An even better idea would be for people not to react immediately to social media posts until they understand the fuller story. And an even better idea would be to engage not just Phillips and the students, but also representatives of the Black Hebrew Israelites who also became a controversial part of the story.

When rogue scientists abandon ethics: 1-23-19

Back in the 1990s, I began writing columns and analysis pieces for The Kansas City Star about the potential dangers of manipulating human genes.

DnaI recall going to a seminar or two in Washington, D.C., to learn more about this fast-developing area and the various moral hazards it presented, from privacy concerns to cloning humans to generally using procedures the ethics of which had not been carefully thought through.

The scientific work in this field has advanced quite a bit since then with both good breakthroughs and with rogues running off and doing things outside the ethical boundaries of science.

An example of the latter happened late last year when He Jiankui, a young researcher in China, as described in this Atlantic piece, "became the center of a global firestorm when it emerged that he had allegedly made the first crispr-edited babies, twin girls named Lulu and Nana."

As the story noted, we still don't know for sure whether he accomplished what he said he did (and I could have capitalized the three uses of "he" in this sentence, given that it's his family name). That was in early December. As this later story notes, as of a few days ago, we still don't know for sure.

What we do know from this even later reporting is that He has been fired from his job and accused of violating ethical standards.

So why was He's work so ethically problematic?

The Atlantic piece lists 15 different answers to that question. Some are stronger than others, but all are worrisome.

I'll mention just a few here:

-- He didn’t address an unmet medical need. In other words, He was just doing this stuff because he could.

-- He introduced three mutations into the genomes of the two babies, but it’s not clear what those new mutations will do. So he was playing medical Russian roulette for no good reason.

-- There were problems with informed consent. As the story note, "It’s not clear if the participants in He’s trial were actually aware of what they were signing up for. He relied on an AIDS association to reach out to the patients and falsely described his work as an 'AIDS-vaccine development project.'”

The human body -- its physics, its chemistry, its mysteries -- is a marvel that deserves to be studied and appreciated. But in all such studies there must be ethical guidelines, which often, though not always, find their roots in the teachings of religion. In this case the scientific, ethical and religious worlds need to be clear that this kind of freelance work will not be tolerated.

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The Jewish newspaper, The Forward, is about to quit its print publication to go entirely online. Sort of makes me wonder why so often progress produces sadness. Well, it's an important news source. May it survive, if only in cyberspace. If you're interested, here's a sort of farewell column from editor-in-chief Jane Eisner, who has been asked to leave her position.

Can we put both time and religion in the same bottle? 1-22-19


To be frank about the matter, religion hasn't always known what to do with the concept of time. And yet people seem to be wed to the idea of time almost in an unbreakable -- even perpetual -- way.

Despite what I was told by a funny friend in college, time, it turns out, is not a hoax perpetuated on us by clock makers. It is, well, something else, and we are endlessly fascinated by it, if also in some way slaves to it.

Another example of that fascination turned up recently when researchers, using new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, finally determined how long a day is on the planet Saturn -- 10 hours, 33 minutes and 38 seconds. As the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory press release to which I've just linked you notes, "The figure has eluded planetary scientists for decades, because the gas giant has no solid surface with landmarks to track as it rotates, and it has an unusual magnetic field that hides the planet's rotation rate."

Well, you can read how they finally figured out how long a day on Saturn lasts. I want to talk, instead, about how religion tries to make sense of time.

What, for example, does it mean to say that God is eternal, infinite? Does that put God outside of time altogether? And, if so, how are Christians, for example, to make sense of the incarnation, in which, as the story goes, God broke into history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth?

Did that action move God from timelessness to somehow being caught in the space-time continuum?

As I was thinking about all of that, I did a quick internet search about God and time and found this lecture delivered in 2000 at Cambridge University. It was written by J.R. Lucas, author of the 1973 book A Treatise on Space and Time.

It's long and complex, but Lucas throws out some ideas that may keep you up at night.

"All I have attempted to show," he says at the end of the Cambridge lecture, "is that, contrary to much theological teaching, religion does not need to make out that God is timeless, or that time is in some fundamental sense unreal. A vulnerable God can be temporal, exposed to the future ill will of autonomous agents. If God has created us free, then only in some eschatological Kingdom of Ends will He not be hurt by our imperfect choice."

And a vulnerable God is exactly the sort of god that Christian teaching describes. God comes to humanity in weakness as a baby. His family becomes refugees. His life ends in weakness on a cross. In a particular place at a particular time in history. Within the limits of time.

So if there really is an afterlife, will there be clocks on the walls of our dwellings in heaven or hell or wherever we end up? It seems an alarming thought. Let's hope for some snooze buttons at least.

(The photo here today is from NASA. You can find it published here.)

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The Greek government and the Greek Orthodox Church seem to be on the cusp of a separation, this RNS report says. And not everyone is happy about that. I'm all for letting individual countries and the religions their citizens practice come to their own conclusions about how to relate to one another. But state-sponsored or endorsed faith traditions inevitably are weaker because of that sponsorship. Religions should be strong enough to stand on their own.

King and Douglass still needed today: 1-21-19

A few weeks ago I wrote here about biblical prophets and mentioned a new biography of the great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass (pictured at left).

Douglass KingToday, on a day set aside to honor Martin Luther King Jr. (pictured at right), I'm returning to Douglass to explore the distressing truth that almost from the time the first European set foot in the New World, Christianity was promoting a racism that would allow its members to be slaveholders, even as it also was stirring up leaders like Douglass and later King who would base their work against slavery and bigotry in Christianity.

One faith tradition, in other words, was used to justify evil while that same tradition was used to help undermine and destroy that same evil.

In his new book, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, David W. Blight notes that soon after escaping to freedom, Douglass in 1841 began a long speaking career, focusing sharply on the hypocrisy of Christian leaders claiming to follow Jesus while also keeping slaves. This was, Blight notes, "the beginning of a more than fifty-year career for this incomparable itinerant orator, of strained vocal cords and lost voice, but an intrepid heart, oratorical brilliance and a vanity to match."

If that also reminds you of King, you're not far off.

The Maryland slave owner from whom Douglass escaped was named Thomas Auld. Douglass regularly described Auld in his speeches as a "class leader in the Methodist church." Blight says Douglass "introduced those gathered to the rigid religious hypocrisies" of Auld and other church leaders.

For quite some time Douglass was best known for a talk he called the "Slaveholder's Sermon," which Blight describes as "his famous mimicry of a Methodist preacher's appeals to slaves, based on the biblical text 'Servants, obey your masters.' . . .Douglass," Blight notes, "saved his best for the Christian hypocrisy of the South."

Here's an example from a Douglass speech:

"In America Bibles and slaveholders go hand in hand. The church and the slave prison stand together, and while you hear the chanting of psalms in one, you hear the clanking of chains in the other. The man who wields the cowhide during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday. . .The man who whipped me in the week used to. . .show me the way of life on the Sabbath."

King from time to time challenged fellow Christians, especially -- but not exclusively -- in the South with a similar approach. He told them they had to choose. You can be a Christian or you can be a white supremacist, but you can’t be both.

In many ways we are in a different era even from the one in which King so often was on center stage. But Christians are far from having solved their internal struggles with matters of systemic racism and personal bigotry. Which is why those of us who are Christian need leaders who will continue to challenge us on these matters in the spirit of both Douglass and King.

(To add more depth to this topic today, here's a link to a Religion & Politics story about how American Christian evangelicals are dealing with matters of race today in a time of what the story accurately calls "a resurgence in the attitudes and actions King fought against.")

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The president of Marquette University in Milwaukee has written this interesting article about why recovering from trauma requires both faith and medicine. It's pretty brief but worth a read because of its emphasis that healing requires more than one approach. As surely it does.