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The Christian Left
The Christian Left Action Team was invited to an event in New York in early October of 2021 called, "The Edge of the Rooftop / New York City." While we were there we had the wonderful opportunity to meet Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis! She was inspiring to say the least. Fortunately, the presentations she gave were filmed! We have them for you right now! How cool is that? You get to see what we saw, just as if you were right there with us! When you consider the things Jacqui had to say in New York and in her new book, it’s not a stretch to say that you were right there with us.
Jacqui’s new book, "Fierce Love," is good stuff, really good stuff. It’s what the world needs to hear right now.
Here’s what an Amazon introduction to the book has to say:
"We are living in a world divided. Race and ethnicity, caste and color, gender and sexuality, class and education, religion and political party have all become demographic labels that reduce our differences to simplistic categories in which 'we' are vehemently against 'them.' But Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis’s own experience—of being the first female and first Black minister in her church’s history, of being in an interracial marriage, and of making peace with childhood abuse—illustrates that our human capacity for empathy and forgiveness is the key to reversing these ugly trends.
Inspired by the tenets of ubuntu—the Zulu philosophy that we are each impacted by the circumstances that impact those around us, and that the world won’t get better until we all get better—Fierce Love lays out the nine daily practices for breaking through tribalism and engineering the change we seek. From downsizing our emotional baggage to speaking truth to power to fueling our activism with joy, it demonstrates the power of small, morally courageous steps to heal our own lives, our posse, and our larger communities.
Sharing stories that trace her personal reckoning with racism as well as the arc of her journey to an inclusive and service-driven faith, Dr. Lewis shows that kindness, compassion, and inclusive thinking are muscles that can be exercised and strengthened. With the goal of mending our inextricable human connection, Fierce Love is a manifesto for all generations: a bighearted, healing antidote to our rancorous culture."
So, here she is with more on the subject, just as we saw and heard ourselves when we were in the audience.
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, "Fierce Love," New York, October 2021, Friday Evening, Part 1 of 3
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, “Fierce Love," New York, October 2021, Saturday Morning, Part 2 of 3
Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, “Fierce Love," New York, October 2021, Saturday Evening, Part 3 of 3
A word about our hosts:
From The Common Good Coalition Website:
"Common Good Coalition is a network of creative, motivated, and courageous professionals. We are artists, business people, and religious leaders who are committed to the common good. We can no longer wait to shift the conversation.
We gather and partner to share our stories, articulate our values, and bring a compassionate and healing perspective to today’s complex issues. Our goal is to help others--and ourselves--to modify perceptions and perspectives and inspire change."
The Christian Left is an action partner with Common Good Coalition. We believe cooperation among progressive Christian organizations and all others who care about the cause is of paramount importance at this time in history.
Please Visit The Following Websites For More:
• Jacqui Lewis Website
• The Christian Left: https://www.thechristianleft.org/
(New Website Coming Soon)
• The Christian Left Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheChristianLeft
(Where All The Action Happens Daily)
• Common Good Coalition: https://www.cgcoalition.com/
The last two years have been rough on everyone. So many things have happened. Untold thousands of businesses and organizations have been forced to close their doors. We’re a small group so we devote most of our time to serving the TCL community and taking action on behalf of the ‘least of these.’ We haven’t devoted much time to fundraising. The Christian Left is still hanging on by the skin of its teeth but we need your participation to recover.
We’re been active every day for 12 years. We’re an online ministry and community for like-minded Christians and their allies. Many of you have been with us for a long time. You know who we are and what we do.
We post a sermon from our own Rev. Mark Sandlin every Sunday (unless he’s on vacation). We start each day with a carefully selected scripture, and we post at least one essay on Theology each day. Every day we post up-to-the-minute news from respected sources for discussion. Throughout the year we take action around the nation on behalf of the least of these.
2021 was a slow summer and the last two years have been filled with circumstances we’ve all lived through together. We need your help keep the ministry alive. We survive on a shoestring budget with a bare-bones staff. We always have.
This is our passion. It never gets old for us. Moving on to something else after 12 years would be heartbreaking to many including us. All ministries have to fundraise one way or another.
Please make a contribution today. Sign up to make it monthly if you can. Any amount helps. For the rest of the year, if you sign up for a monthly contribution of $75 or more, we’ll add you to a list of “Cornerstone Members.” Throughout the year we will contact you by email with surveys on where you’d like to see The Christian Left go as a ministry.
Cornerstone membership is just now in the planning stages so there will be more details to come as we move forward. If you already donate $75 or more per month you will be added to the list automatically. If $75 per month is too much for your budget, not to worry. We will send out at least one big survey to all donors as well.
Based on the input we receive every day we know this ministry is needed and valued. Please do what you can during these lean times for The Christian Left.
Here's How (Click or Tap here)
Web address if link doesn't work: https://donorbox.org/friends-of-tcl-21
God bless you and thank-you,
-- The Christian Left
Frank Schaeffer's new book comes out November 2nd.
It's been called, "An essential read."
Frank Schaeffer is a friend of The Christian Left. He's an early pioneer in the progressive Christian movement. His memoir 'Crazy for God' is used as a textbook in the history of religion classes and courses in comparative religion and sociology in public and private universities. We call him our historian. He can easily be classified as one of the 'grandfathers' of progressive Christianity.
Every single one of his books is recommended reading. His new book coming out on November 2nd is no exception. "Fall in Love, Have Children, Stay Put, Save the Planet, Be Happy," will captivate you. As one editorial review put it, "Frank makes the bold argument that we should focus on living meaningful lives rather than making money and seeking validation from our jobs. Schaeffer’s argument takes him down paths that will surprise, delight, and even shock readers. This is an essential read."
Even before everything was disrupted by COVID-19 (not to mention by Trump), millions of Americans were already questioning capitalism’s “values.” We were already challenging the idea that your job defines you. We already knew something was wrong. Loneliness, frustration, and alienation were already on the rise. Even the most successful of us felt too busy, too preoccupied, and too distracted to enjoy what we intuitively know are life’s greatest rewards: vibrant relationships, family life, connection to others, involvement in our community, and the thrilling experience of love.
Fall in Love . . . builds a well-researched and entertaining bridge to living happier lives and to a better future. It shows us that based on a better understanding of our evolutionary selves, we can thrive in family life and in our work life, too. But to do both joyfully—and at the same time—depends on rediscovering the priority of relationships, connections, community, and love.
Pre-order Frank's book today. Let's help him with a successful launch in November and send his book up the charts. It's worthy of being a best seller. It's that good.
-- The Christian Left
From "The Paradoxical Commandments," by Kent M. Keith
"People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway."
"The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent M. Keith when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard College. He wrote them as part of a book for student leaders entitled The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968. The Paradoxical Commandments subsequently spread all over the world, and have been used by millions of people.
Mother Teresa put the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta. The fact that the commandments were on her wall was reported in a book compiled by Lucinda Vardey, Mother Teresa: A Simple Path, which was published in 1995. As a result, some people have attributed the Paradoxical Commandments to Mother Teresa."
A similar sentiment:
One from scripture:
Last but not least:
Fight Poverty Not The Poor Bumper Sticker
Design by The Christian Left
Gloss finish, laminated 6 mil Vinyl - Outdoor
Sticker features calendared vinyl with pressure sensitive adhesive and a glossy white finish for the highest quality look and feel. Durable vinyl finish protects product from scratches and moisture. Perfect for car bumpers or windows (laptops, refrigerators, etc.).
Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. - Isaiah 10:1-2
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matthew 25:40
Who We Are & What We Do
Sometimes people tell us, "Get over it already. Biden won. Trump lost. The system worked. Trump is gone."
Few would be more delighted than us to accept such a sentiment and move on. We're not able to do that just now.
We created the meme to the left on September 23, 2021. The same day Robert Kagan wrote an essay in the Washington Post titled, "Our constitutional crisis is already here." Here's a quote from Kagan's piece:
"The United States is heading into its greatest political and constitutional crisis since the Civil War, with a reasonable chance over the next three to four years of incidents of mass violence, a breakdown of federal authority, and the division of the country into warring red and blue enclaves. The warning signs may be obscured by the distractions of politics, the pandemic, the economy and global crises, and by wishful thinking and denial. But about these things there should be no doubt ..."
QAnon cult members used to chatter about something they called, "The Storm" when referring to Donald Trump. Their delusion went like this:
A secret, and very powerful Satanic cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the press, and the church. Many of them are entrenched in what the QAnon folks call "the deep state." They want to disarm the police. They promote abortion, homosexuality, pedophilia, and transgender rights. One of their primary goals is to marginalize the white race so it will lose its essential power. The cabal held the American Presidency under the Clintons and Obama, and nearly took power again in 2016.
Behind the scenes Donald Trump was planning an epic sting operation on the cabal, with mass arrests of thousands of cabal elites. It was all supposed to take place on a day known as "The Storm."
If some of the QAnon cult's views sound eerily familiar, that's because they are as old as the hills. It's the same garbage Hitler peddled, updated and repackaged for the 21st century.
"The Storm" never happened, and Trump was defeated. Over 50 US federal courts rejected baseless lawsuits over the election being "rigged." There was no evidence to support the wild claims. It's tempting to think that was the end of it. Unfortunately, all indicators signal otherwise. A different kind of storm is brewing on the horizon. We had all better start thinking about what we're going to do to shore up the levees.
Here's a segment from Deadline: White House with Nicolle Wallace. It aired September 23, 2021, the same day Kagan's essay was published in the Washington Post. It contains information all Americans should be aware of. The dangers we face in the near future are no small deal.
The following is another segment on the same topic. Steve Schmidt, political consultant, talks with Rachel Maddow about the ominous radicalization of the Republican Party as it turns against democracy while being swept up in an autocratic movement beholden to Donald Trump.
Schmidt is a modern political prophet. Almost everything he says contains a warning after he breaks down the hard reality of the trials we face. Again, information we all need to be informed voters and citizens. If we don't stay vigilant and take appropriate action 'the least of these' will suffer the most, as always. The problems we have now will pale in comparison to those we'll have if fascists get control of our government. They are hard at work to do just that. What are we going to do about it?
Trump knows exactly what he's doing. He's a pro at it. He lies with no remorse, over and over. Confusion and chaos are tools he uses to accomplish his goal, which is power, as much power as he can get.
A recent essay titled "The Entire United States Is Now the Reichstag Building," by Adolph Reed Jr., Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, accurately describes the perils we now face:
"It’s time to be blunt. The right-wing political alliance anchored by the Republican party and Trumpism coheres around a single concrete objective—taking absolute power in the U.S. as soon and as definitively as possible. And they’re more than ready, even seemingly want, to destroy the social fabric of the country to do so."
Reed's entire piece is a must-read. He goes into the granular details of where we are as a nation in the early 21st century.
-- The Christian Left
The 40 Year Farce
It took 40 years to get us in this boat (80% of white evangelicals adopting right-wing extremism as their religion). It's going to take a generation to reverse course.
The Christian Left is a 12-year old, online ministry for Christian progressives and their allies. It is unique. There is nothing else quite like it, anywhere. It's a haven, a place to discuss current events, stay informed, enjoy fellowship, and take action on behalf of 'the least of these.' We hold up every news story we pass along to the teachings of Jesus.
We've been working on this effort for over a decade. This is what we do. It's our life's work. We'll be here for as long as it takes, but we need your backing.
In today's world organizations like ours can't do a thing without financial resources. Action requires funding.
Be the change you want to see in the world by supporting organizations that work to further your personal goals and wishes.
We need you. We need you to join our support network today.
Click or Tap on the link below to support the ongoing work of The Christian Left.
Preface: We are pleased to be able to present the following historical essay in its entirety. Following the essay we present some additional historical perspective and offer solutions on what can be done to counter the violent and destructive forces tearing our nation apart at the seams.
By Randall Balmer
(Republished with permission from the author.)
The overwhelming white evangelical support for Donald Trump is a puzzle that will occupy historians for generations. How can the religious right, a movement that trumpets its fidelity to 'family values,' throw its support to a vulgar, thrice-married casino operator and self-confessed sexual predator?
Fully 81 percent of white evangelicals did so in 2016; only a slightly lesser percentage repeated the folly in 2020 after four years and, according to the Washington Post, 30,573 false or misleading statements during Trump's term in the White House.
Any attempt to solve this conundrum religious right support for Trump will have to reckon with the role of racism. After several decades of research, I can state without fear of contradiction that evangelicals mobilized politically in the 1970s not, as commonly supposed, in opposition to the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling of 1973 but rather in defense of racial segregation at Bob Jones University and at all-white 'segregation academies,' many of them church-sponsored.
Evangelicals overwhelmingly considered abortion a 'Catholic issue' until the late 1970s. (Jerry Falwell, to cite one example, by his own admission did not preach his first anti-abortion sermon until February 1978, more than five years after the Roe decision.)
The durability of what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that opposition to legalized abortion was the catalyst of their movement, can be attributed to the founders of the religious right themselves. In a breathtaking act of rhetorical jujitsu, one notable for both its audacity and its mendacity, these leaders have insisted over the decades that opposition to abortion is what forced them to become political, when in fact they mobilized politically to defend racism. They eventually realized, however, that they needed a different issue to mobilize grassroots evangelicals. Only later, just before the 1980 presidential election, did evangelicals embrace opposition to abortion as a political issue.
The true origins of the religious right, rooted in racism, make the 2016 support for Trump a bit more understandable, if not defensible. Trump entered the national political scene by questioning the legitimacy of the nation's first African American president. His rhetoric surrounding immigrants and racial minorities speaks for itself.
The 2016 election, therefore, allowed the religious right finally to abandon any pretext that it was a movement devoted to family values. Instead, the religious right circled back to the charter issue behind its formation: racism.
But how do we account for the four decades between the emergence of the religious right and the embrace of Trump? While it is true that both Bush presidents, father and son, supported policies that were not kind to people of color, neither man was openly racist. What is the missing link between, say, Falwell and Trump?
In the course of my research, I've come increasingly to see Ronald Reagan as the missing link.
Let's consider the run-up to the 1980 presidential election. The incumbent, Jimmy Carter, was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher who spoke openly about being a 'born again' Christian. Carter's tenure in office occurred during a troubled time, no question about it.
But any reasonable appraisal of his tenure would conclude that, even though he was careful to observe the line of separation between church and state, Carter sought to govern in a way consistent with his religious convictions: his pardon of Vietnam-era draft resisters; the emphasis on human rights and both gender and racial equality; the Camp David accords; renegotiation of the Panama Canal treaties as a way to move the nation beyond colonialism. (Carter's opposition to abortion, by the way, was longer and far more consistent than that of Reagan, who as governor of California in 1967 signed into law the nation's most liberal abortion law.)
Why would leaders of the religious right choose a divorced and remarried former Hollywood actor over Carter, a fellow evangelical? I'm afraid racism cannot be discounted.
Just as Trump entered the political scene by questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama, Reagan entered California politics in opposition to the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which sought to guarantee equal access to racial minorities. Falwell (although he repented of it later in life) characterized the civil rights movement as 'civil wrongs;' Reagan vociferously opposed both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Throughout his political campaigns, Reagan regularly invoked the racially fraught term 'law and order.' And who can forget his vile caricature of 'welfare queens,' mythical women of color who ostensibly lived the good life on the public dole?
For me, the most damning evidence of Reagan's racism occurred Aug. 3, 1980, when the Republican nominee chose to open his general election campaign in, of all places, Philadelphia, Miss., at the Neshoba County fair. This is where, 16 summers earlier, members of the Ku Klux Klan, in cooperation with the local sheriff's office, abducted, tortured and murdered three civil rights workers, burying their bodies in an earthen dam.
Lest anyone miss his meaning on that occasion, Reagan, the master of symbolism, invoked the time-worn segregationist battle cry: 'I believe in states' rights.'
Sadly, the thread that links Donald Trump back to the aborning religious right of the late 1970s is racism. There's no pretty way to say it. Ronald Reagan was very much in that loop.
This article originally appeared here. Republished with the express written permission of the author.
Postscript: Continue reading below to learn what can be done to counter the forces of The 'Christian' Right.
About The Author: A prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, Randall Balmer holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth, the oldest endowed professorship at Dartmouth College. He earned the Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 and taught as Professor of American Religious History at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before coming to Dartmouth in 2012. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Northwestern, and Emory universities and in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School from 2004 to 2008. His most recent book, released in August of 2021, is "Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right."
More about the author here.
What To Do? What To Do?
The facts in the above essay make it abundantly clear, a large swath of white evangelicals have lost their way in the US. They've abandoned the faith for something else. What they practice now is a strange mixture of Christian nationalism, racism, bigotry, libertarianism, Objectivism, laissez-faire capitalism, individualism, social Darwinism, and dominionism (or dominion theology). How's that for a mouthful?
It's the perfect religion of empire, which makes sense because its creation was bankrolled by captains of industry like the Coors family. Over the last 40 years it has become its own billion dollar empire. Its power and influence reach every nook and cranny of American culture. As a voting block it has arguably put 4 presidents in office (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George Bush, and Donald J. Trump). The US Supreme Court is now stacked with its acolytes, which comprise a conservative, Christian-right majority on the court.
Massive radio networks like the Salem Media Group, and television networks like the Sinclair Broadcast Group broadcast its propaganda to the American public all day, every day.
Overly compensated media personalities like Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Tucker Carlson hammer out its talking points daily in highly produced installments on the Fox "News" channel.
Think tanks like The Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council formulate its strategy and pass it to groups like Heritage Action and FRC Action who lobby congress and produce 'voter guides' for distribution to churches. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is staffed with conservative state legislators, lobbyists, and private sector representatives who draft legislation for distribution to state governments.
Shadowy, powerful networks of hard-right funders gather every year to pool their money, share resources and funnel it all to the various parts of the machine they've built. It's quite the machine.
On January 6, 2021, with the encouragement of an impeached president, they assembled a mob of organized militias and stormed the DC Capitol. Their goal was nothing short of overthrowing the duly elected government of the United States. The attempted coup left 5 Capitol police officers dead.
In the months following the violent insurrection they've taken to writing and enacting voter suppression laws in red states. They try to justify their actions by reciting the 'Big Lie' of twice-impeached Donald J. Trump. Based on the content of the legislation their goal is obvious. If they lose an election they will deem that it was 'rigged' and overturn it, thus marking the very real end of the government set up by our founders.
To think that we've seen the end it would be a very large mistake. Guaranteed, we have not. Up to now Democrats have been lackluster at best in addressing the problem voter suppression laws have created. This is the biggest problem we face where President Biden must lead. We have to put federal laws on the books right now. There are two such laws in process. We need to pass both of them. You can read more about the effort to fix this problem here.
We could go on, and on ...
The glaring problem with the above outlined actions and behaviors is that they are 100%, completely divorced from everything Jesus said, did, taught, and lived. In fact, they are the polar opposite of all that Jesus is.
The whole thing can get overwhelming. It's too big, too well-funded, and too organized to fight.
What To Do
First, let us remember the God we serve! The God we serve has seen bigger empires crumble to dust! The God we serve is bigger than the machine they've built! We must not grow weary of doing good! We must not grow weary of speaking up for those who have no voice!
Change can only take place when we replace the prevailing ideology with a counter-narrative. Based on all the the above mentioned factors it will take a monumental effort to even make a dent in the juggernaut known as The "Christian" Right.
We have been here since 2009 doing our part to sustain such an effort. We're one of the few places online where Christian progressives & their allies can gather, enjoy fellowship, discuss the news of the day, and participate in direct social justice action. We feel like we've made a small difference. Nevertheless, the task is so big that it will be a lifetime endeavor for us and others who have chosen to speak up and speak out.
We've partnered with what is arguably the largest, and most active progressive Christian action organization in the United States, Vote Common Good. We've formed a cooperative strategic alliance with their leadership, we attend their planning meetings, we participate in their direct action campaigns, and we publish their daily podcasts on our social media outlets. We're blessed to have such a close relationship with Vote Common Good. It affords the TCL community every possible opportunity to take direct action on all fronts. Our next in-person, roundtable planning session will take place in New York, in October of 2021. We will report back when we return. We know there are many exciting action opportunities in the planning stages as we move towards 2022, another election year.
An undertaking of this magnitude could never happen without the support of a network of people who care about this issue. We don't have any backers like the Coors family to underwrite our work. We wish we had a large sponsor so we didn't have to ask. We just don't. We're a 100% member funded community and ministry.
That's why we need you to join us! Without you we would never have been able to go on this long. Without you we would have to fold up shop in short order.
Join our network of supporting members today. Sign up to make a monthly contribution. Be the change you want to see in the world!
Here's how: https://donorbox.org/friends-of-tcl
-- The Christian Left
Read More (One of our favorite articles on this topic).
We designed the below meme back in 2012 and posted it to all our social media outlets.
Since 2012 our sentiment has coalesced and integrated into the cultural ethos of our nation on a much greater level than it was in 2012 when we made this bold statement. We still have a long way to go. It's going to take several decades to completely reverse the damage done by the "Christian" Right.
Nevertheless, it's always a good thing to note progress when it takes place along the way. That's why we'd like to curate the following article from Patheos in our permanent collection, right here on this blog.
I am a Liberal Because I am a Christian
-- The Christian Left
The only way we're going to overcome 40 years of propaganda from The Christian Right is by consistent messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. That requires a budget, and that's why we need your support. We've been carrying out this mission daily since 2009.
Join our network of supporting members, and be the change you want to see in the world.
This one is worth adding to our permanent curated collection.
"Living authentically with who you are is a risky thing to do, but I believe it's the most direct path to peace."
(Click or tap on the link below to read the full article.)
10 Reasons I'm Glad I Came Out As A Progressive Christian
The only way we're going to overcome 40 years of propaganda from The Christian Right is by consistent messaging to as many people as possible, as often as possible. That requires a budget, and that's why we need your support.
Join our network of supporting members, and be the change you want to see in the world.
About TCL Blog
We’re not about Dogma here. We’re just Christians who think the political and Christian right-wing have their priorities wrong.
Charles Toy is the founding member of The Christian Left. We're sure you will enjoy his passion as well as his wit. Guest bloggers featured often.