Archive for February, 2013

MFSA Joins Other Faith Groups as an Amicus Curiae Regarding Marriage Equality

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – February 28, 2013 – The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) has joined twenty other religious groups as an Amicus curiae in the cases of Hollingsworth v. Perry, commonly referred to as Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, commonly referred to as the Defense of Marriage Act, which will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States on March 26 and 27.

The briefs highlight that a wide cross-section of American religious traditions recognize the inherent dignity of same-sex identified persons and their relationships; the distinction between religious and civil marriage; and that recognition of marriages of same-sex couples will not impede upon the religious beliefs and practices of those faith traditions that do not recognize same-sex marriage rites.

Filed by the firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, the briefs confront and rebut arguments by religious supporters of DOMA and Proposition 8 purporting to state a uniform religious position on marriage.

While The United Methodist Church does not currently support same-sex wedding ceremonies, the Social Principles of the denomination “see a clear issue of simple justice in protecting…rightful claims where [there are] shared material resources, pensions, guardian relationships, mutual powers of attorney, and other such lawful claims…that involve shared contributions, responsibilities, and liabilities, and equal protection under the law.”

“This is a defining historical moment. While The United Methodist Church continues to struggle in understanding sexual orientation and gender identity, MFSA’s believes that LGBT equality will lead to a broader conversation about justice throughout the Church and across the globe,” states Chett Pritchett, Interim Executive Director. “It’s time for the Church to stand on the right side of history.”

Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

 

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Core Values: Saving and Shaping Lives

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Last week, the General Commission on United Methodist Men publicly asked the Boy Scouts of America to not move forward on a vote that would allow individual Councils and Troops to determine their own policies regarding LGBT Boy Scouts and Troop Leaders. Passionate, articulate responses have followed from those who have seen the harm of exclusion at work in both church and society. 

Upon visiting the Commission’s website, I discovered that our Church’s commitment to youth development goes far beyond the Boy Scouts of America.  In fact, the Boy Scouts are only one of five groups with whom United Methodist Men are in relationship.  Interestingly enough, the Boy Scouts are the only one of those civic-youth organizations that has a policy expressing discrimination of participants and volunteers based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  Big Brothers/Big Sisters, CampfireUSA, 4-H, and the Girl Scouts all have inclusivity policies of varying degrees.  Some, like CampfireUSA, have a clear and transparent non-discrimination policy at all levels of the organization. Girl Scouts of America allows local Councils to decide upon their own policies. This has led to some Councils widening their welcome to transgender children who identify as girls. Big Brothers/Big Sisters operates in much the same way. 4-H has a stated commitment to diversity and includes issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity in some of its curricula.

Why is the General Commission on United Methodist Men (and their negative commentators) set against changes in the BSA policy, while 4 other civic-youth organizations with whom they are in partnership already have taken strides to ensure acceptance and diversity?

Karen Kagiyama, an Elder from North Georgia, shares this reflection:  “I believe that my daughter, who is a senior in high school, has learned to value inclusiveness, diversity, welcome, and a non-judgmental stance toward differences both as a Girl Scout and as a Christian disciple.  She understands cooperation, team work, and helping to bridge differences and find common ground because of her experiences in Girl Scouts and the church.   I see these same values as the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ who welcomed sinners, ate with outcasts, and stopped people from stoning those whom society said were not valuable.”  This comment drives home the fact that the core values of the Gospel –cooperation, team work, bridging differences- are different than the core values of the United Methodist Men – expansion and retention.

Rev. Leigh Dry, pastor of Lexington United Methodist Church in Lexington, MA, shares that her congregation sponsors a Girl Scout troop because they are “most in line with our particular theological positions, particularly as we consider concerns as diverse as the inclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals in our communities, or our concern for the environment. Welcoming the Girl Scouts and their families into our building allows us to show young people that churches can be open and affirming.”

At Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, CA, “new Girl Scout troops are being sponsored to reach at-risk girls and their families,” states Rev. Karen Oliveto.

Indeed, civic youth programs can help draw children and their families to congregations and nudge those congregations to engage in acts of discipleship. But instead of simply engaging in ministry for the sake of expansion and retention, we must engage in ministry to save and shape lives.

It is time for United Methodist Men and thousands of United Methodist congregations to do more than deepen their relationship with the Boy Scouts of America for these purposes.  It is time to increase our relationships with those organizations that embrace diversity, teach cooperation, and bridge differences. And most importantly, it’s time for the United Methodist Men, indeed our entire denomination, to realize supporting policies that discriminate only hastens our irrelevance to a society with whom we seek to be in ministry.

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Chett Pritchett serves as Interim Executive Director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action. A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Wesley Theological Seminary, his passion for LGBTQ justice and ecological sustainability has led him to see the intersections of injustice from a holistic perspective. Chett is a member of Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Washington, DC, where he served as Lay Leader from 2009-2012.

How the United Methodist Men aren’t being very United Methodist

Monday, February 25th, 2013

On February 19, Bishop Swanson, Secretary Gil Hanke, and the board members of the United Methodist Men issued a statement which boiled down to three main points:

  • Whereas we received lots of angry and hateful phone calls and letters from conservatives following our first two statements in favor of the inclusion of Scouts who identify as gay
  • Whereas we value retention and expansion above every other value
  • Therefore, the United Methodist Men are calling on the Boy Scouts of America not to change their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders because we need more time.

I am a member of the United Methodist Men. They helped pay my way through seminary and I witnessed the power of men’s ministry at many of the churches I served. That is why I am deeply saddened after reading this statement over their lack of courage to be United Methodist.

You see, even if you agree passionately with United Methodist doctrine and polity, there is nothing in our Book of Discipline that would support young men being excluded from a church sponsored troop based on their sexual orientation.

The Discipline talks about all people being of sacred worth, and calls on United Methodists to be in ministry with all people. My United Methodist Church professes an open table and believes that God and God’s prevenient grace is in and with all people, even before we are aware of her presence. John Wesley believed that fellowship, study, building relationships, and conversation with others could be a means of grace where we are transformed into something new. Jesus showed us what love looked like as he again and again embraced the marginalized

That is our theology. 

It is not our theology to make decisions based on people’s threats of taking their money and leaving… that is the theology of capitalism.

It is not our theology to base our polity on what will attract the most people and retain them… that is the theology of consumerism.

It is not our theology to hinder the access of children and youth… that was the theology of confused disciples who mistakenly believed they were gatekeepers, deciding who could and couldn’t come to Jesus.

The United Methodist Men say we just need more time to preserve retention and expansion of scouting programs in The UMC.

A quick history lesson:

  • When Israel was in Egypt’s land, Pharaoh said we need more time… he valued retention and expansion of his empire
  • When the Methodist Church was split over slavery, the South said we need more time… they valued retention and expansion of their churches
  • When Lincoln was considering The Emancipation Proclamation, white slave owners said we need more time… they valued retention and expansion of their plantations
  • When women were fighting for their right to vote in this country, white men said we needed more time… they valued retention and expansion of their power
  • When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was sitting in a jail cell in Birmingham following civil disobedience concerning unjust and immoral laws in the Jim Crow South, white pastors (including two Methodist bishops) said we need more time… they valued retention and expansion of the way things have always been
  • When the Methodist Church was considering racial integration of our churches, church leaders said we need more time… they valued retention and expansion of their offering plates
  • When women were fighting for the ability to live out their Baptisms and faithfully answer their call to ordained ministry, white males said we need more time… they valued retention and expansion of their authority

The chorus of the privileged majority gets sung again and again, “we need more time,” and the latest group to join the refrain is the United Methodist Men. More time means more boys subject to bullying and exclusion. More time means higher rates of suicides among gay adolescents.

But perhaps the most crucial reason we don’t have “more time” is because we need to stand up and be United Methodist Men. We are not a church that has any more time for injustice.

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**This blog is re-posted from www.rmnetwork.org

Rev. Andy Oliver is an elder from The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church serving as Reconciling Ministries Network's Communications and Technology Coordinator. Andy has two children: Liam, 4 and Evan, 1. Andy received his B.S. in Public Relations from The University of Florida and his M.Div. from Duke Divinity School. His other passions include immigrant and farmworker rights, and The University of Florida and Duke athletics. Connect with him on social media at www.andyoliver.me.

Violence Against Women (in India)

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

In addition to my classes at Wesley Theological Seminary, I am currently taking a class at the Dominican House of Studies on the biblical basis of the three vows: poverty, chastity, and obedience. This morning we started our study of chastity, and we began it by looking first at a subject which many progressive Christians find troubling—the “biblical institution” of marriage. I found myself dizzy with anger. I wasn’t angry at my Dominican brothers, but at the context of the Hebrew Bible understanding of women. A woman in that context was considered incomplete until she had children, and once she did she completely surrendered her own name, her own identity, and became simply, “the mother of James” or “the mother of John.” The verb used for marriage literally meant, “to buy,” and the dowry paid to the bride’s family was literally understood to purchase her obedience. It made me feel sick just to think about it.

Now, if we are made seethingly angry by the treatment of women in the context of the Hebrew Bible, how much more outraged should we be about the horrific treatment of women that continues to persist today?

I was blessed to be able to fulfill my Intercultural Immersion requirement at Wesley by traveling to India with two of my favorite professors and sixteen of my fellow students and friends for two weeks this January. We were there to witness the injustice, the work being done, and the presence of God in that country, and we found all three in abundance. We arrived just a few weeks after a horrific rape in New Delhi that had made international news in December, and both the rape and the country’s reaction to it were part of almost every conversation we had there. Everyone seemed to agree: the violence committed against that woman had been unspeakable, but the country’s outrage was also disturbing to a lesser degree. Those who mentioned the topic said, “Yes, this should not have happened. Yes, this woman and her family deserve justice. Yes, I am hopeful that this will lead to change, both in the legal system and, more importantly, in society as a whole. But where has this outrage been all along?” This was not the first violence against a woman. It has not been the last.

According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, almost 50 women in India are raped every day, and women are subject to further violence through female infanticide, sexual harassment, sexual trafficking, domestic violence, and dowry related murders. If the idea of a man buying his wife in the Hebrew Bible is disheartening, the Indian dowry system in which the bride’s family actually pays the husband’s family for taking their daughter—and the new bride may be subject to violence or “accidental” death if her family cannot pay enough—is pure horror.

One of my professors specifically empowered us to point out the places where we noted God’s absence while we were there, and I do not believe that God is present in violence against women. However, my group was blessed to meet many wonderful people and organizations that are working for justice in India in a wide range of issues, from curing clubfoot to providing equal opportunities for education regardless of caste or socioeconomic status. Three of them specifically dealt with violence against women: SWAYAM, helping survivors of domestic abuse; Sanlaap, helping to rescue and reintegrate survivors of human trafficking; and Renuka Gulati, creating change through her womanist art. It was in these people and organizations that we saw God at work.

For justice and healing for survivors of violence, we pray.

For justice and a radical change of heart for perpetrators of violence, we pray.

For strength and perseverance for those working for justice, we pray.

For the kingdom of God, struggling to break into these places of pain and fear, we work.

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Heather Kramer is an intern with MFSA. She is a third year student at Wesley Theological Seminary working toward a Master of Divinity degree. Originally from Houston, TX, she is excited to be a part of such an active and passionate social justice movement. In her spare time she is also the youth minster at Dumbarton United Methodist Church.

Debating is Over: Time to Act Boldly

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”                (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Now is the time to change gun laws and to end gun violence.  Now is the time to act and fight against the NRA; referring to the NRA leaders and lobby in Washington D.C, not NRA members who support solutions to end gun violence including universal background checks, high-capacity clips and assault weapons. One week after the  Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the chief executive of NRA, Wayne Lapierre  said:  “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…. ” As I was hearing this statement, I was frustrated, sick, and angry. It is ethically wrong, theologically ill informed and dangerous.  Mayor Michael Bloomberg pointed out “The NRA is only powerful if you and I let them be powerful.”   Following the prophetic  tradition of Judeo-Christianity, I  boldly claim that we God-intoxicated people must fight against the Gun-intoxicated NRA here, now.  

In this essay I propose a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the NRA.  Let it be noted I have borrowed Marcus J. Borg’s  threefold pattern as the format for this essay : Indictment, Threat, and Call to Change.    

Indictment:

When Columbine High School shootings happened in 1999, we were shocked and mourned.  We said that we should do something to stop and to end this kind of unnecessary gun violence.   Now, fourteen years later, nothing has been changed.   After Virginia Tech massacre happened in 2007 we were shocked and mourned again and said exactly same.  Now, six years later, nothing has been done.  When a gunman killed 12 people and injured 60 people in Aurora movie theater in 2012, we were shocked and mourned again, and once again said the same.  Nothing has been changed.   Then Sandy Hook Elementary school massacre happened during advent season on Friday December 14, 2012.   A gunman killed 20 innocent elementary school children and 6 adults including the gunman’s mother.  We were shocked and mourned as a nation.   

Congress is set to deal with gun laws including President Obama’s proposal:  universal background checks, high-capacity clips and assault-weapons sales ban.  Sadly and unfortunately we are hearing rumors that Congress will pass the first proposal; universal background checks, and will not pass two other proposals; high-capacity clips and assault-weapons sales  ban.    Why?  Because of NRA’s strong opposition to gun control. 

The majority of US citizens think that something must be done to protect innocent citizens.  For example, according to TIME/CNN poll in the Times special report (January 28, 2013),  to the question “Would you favor the following proposals to reduce gun violence?”  69% said yes to requiring gun registration; 58% to a ban on high-capacity clips; 56% to a ban on assault weapons; and 52%  to restrict the amount and  type of ammunition purchases.   To the question, “Do you favor or oppose stricter gun-control laws?”  55% favored and 44% opposed.    

What should Christians, who believe in a God of justice and peace do in this conversation? In regard to the NRA, which has long been known as one of the most powerful lobbies of the Washington, what should we do?   I believe first of all we must change our assumption that the NRA is almighty powerful.  We should overcome fear of the NRA.   Second, we must delete the image of Charlton H. Weston who performed the role of Moses in the Hollywood movie  from our memory.    Americans have identified Charlton H. Weston with Moses in the Bible and then he became the mediagenic head of the NRA.  

Threat:

As the prophets and Jesus warned the people and their society of imminent judgment by God, we must warn NRA leaders in Washington D.C.; NRA must stop listening voices of the American citizens and have blood on it’s hand. 

When I saw a protester who said that the NRA had blood on its hand during Wayne Lapierre’s response, the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis chapter 4 came to mind.   I didn’t know why, and then I said, "Amen! Amen!"  Cain responded to the LORD who asked to him, “Where is your brother Abel?”   Cain’s response was  “ I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Then the LORD said, “What have you done?  Listen.  Your brothers’ blood is crying out to me from the ground!”

NRA!   Remember the first of the Ten Commandments:  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2).  This is the absolutism we Christians believe in and trust, not guns!   The NRA has made for themselves an idol, guns and serve guns as their god.  NRA bows down to guns and worships guns.

Call to Change:

Hear the prophetic message of Amos.  “Seek the Lord and live!  Seek good, and not evil, that you may live!” (Amos 5:6). 

Hear the voice of Jesus, “ I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12).  Choose the light of life not the life in the darkness!  “What has come into being in him was life and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5).  Jesus is the light of the world and we follow Jesus.  We are children of the light not of darkness and death.  We must fight this battle with Jesus and win because we follow Jesus, the light of the world. 

Ellie Wiesel in Night shared the following story:

How many devout Jews endured such a death?  On that most horrible day, even among all those other bad days, when the child witnessed the hanging (yes!) of another child who, he tells us, had the face of a sad angel, he heard someone behind him groan:

“For God’s sake, where is God?”  And from within me, I heard a voice answer:  Where He is?  This is where – hanging here from this gallows.”

As I watched the first funeral service of Sandy Hook Elementary School students, like many of you, I mourned.   I prayed, “Where is God?” “What are you doing God?”   Then, I heard a voice,  “God is with the 20 children and 6 adults, and with their grieving families.   And with you Jung Sun!”

Action:

  1. Advocate the change of gun laws and address this issue in your church and community.
  2. Sign, “End the NRA’s Dangerous Idolatry of Guns”
  3. Call your Senators and Representatives in Congress.

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Rev. JungSun Oh is the pastor of Bethany First United Methodist Church in Boston, MA. An ordained Elder in the New England Annual Conference, he holds an M.Div from Candler School of Theology and a Th.D. from Boston University School of Theology. An expert on Korean Religion and Cross-Cultural and Cross-Racial ministry, he is also a member of the Methodist Federation for Social Action's Board of Directors.

Safe Spaces: Why Protections Are Needed in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

I read a blog a few weeks ago that was itself a response to an article that had caused controversy among the blog writers friends. The article had been one of the snarky-but-valid variety, in this case decrying the increasing presence of straight-identifying people in gay and lesbian bars and clubs. The blog post pointed out that, snarky or not, the article had pointed to an important truth- that people in majority groups, privileged by their skin color or their gender or their heterosexuality granting them an all-access pass, don't see entering minority spaces like gay bars as a problem. For the minority groups who are trying to create safe spaces, on the other hand, this intrusion represents a threat, a mockery, yet another level of oppression. 

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a congressional briefing on the Violence Against Women Act and its specific implications for women in minority groups: LGBT women, ethnic minorities, Native American women, and immigrants, each represented by an expert in counseling and violence within that specific community. And when three of those four women spoke about the need for dedicated, culture-specific prevention and intervention services like legal resources and therapy groups, I thought, "Well, of course." Of course it makes sense, as Dr. Tameka Gillum stressed, to have programs that are designed for and developed with the target population, that use channels of dissemination that successfully reach the target population, that incorporate cultural values, norms, expectations, and attitudes of the target population. Of course. 

For some of us these two stories might sound like they suggest something unnecessary, artificial, maybe even harmful. Why emphasize these differences? Why create separate spaces for the LGBT community, for communities of color? Isn't that the equality we’ve been fighting for so long? But I would bet that most of us for whom this idea is unsettling are in fact part of the majority. 

You see, it's about power. When you hold the position of power, things are good for you. Your rights are protected, your opinions are represented. You tend not to notice that what's working so well for you is in fact harming others. When you're one of the straight white people in the group, you might not notice the ways the group functions around you, the cultural assumptions that are made. But you can sure bet your non-straight, non-white friends do. 

Now, imagine that the group you're in is supposed to be one in which intensely personal and painful stories of violence are being shared, and imagine the deep harm that can be done by the cultural assumptions that are protecting and uplifting you, and in this case, your pain. The myths that whisper things like, "Well, she couldn't have hit you that hard, anyway; she's a woman like you," or, "Well, honestly, violence in the African American community is to be expected anyway." 

It can be hard for people in the majorities to understand why people in the minorities might want their own spaces–their own clubs, or their own counseling groups. It can feel like ghettoizing or like undoing all of the strides toward equality that have been made. Really, though, the persistent and real need for spaces that are impenetrable by the majority simply points to the fact that we haven't really reached equality yet. Inequality and oppression are still built into our daily lives in ways that majority groups don't even notice. We still have work to do. And in the meantime, protections like the Violence Against Women Act that are creating safe spaces need to have our support.

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Heather Kramer is an intern with MFSA. She is a third year student at Wesley Theological Seminary working toward a Master of Divinity degree. Originally from Houston, TX, she is excited to be a part of such an active and passionate social justice movement. In her spare time she is also the youth minster at Dumbarton United Methodist Church.

“From Sea to Shining Sea’: A Reflection on Life at Pine Ridge

Friday, February 8th, 2013

I drove in blinding snow for nearly two hours (after driving 15 hours in good weather), but I arrived at the Pine Ridge Retreat Center in the early afternoon on the second day of 2013. As a Master of Divinity candidate at Wesley Theological Seminary, I am required to participate in an intercultural immersion, usually involving traveling some distance to place yourself in the midst of another culture to meet people, hear stories, and try to understand what the Church is being called to do there.  I chose to travel to the extreme southwestern corner of South Dakota, to the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation.  In January.

I chose Pine Ridge for two reasons.  First, I am from Wisconsin and plan to return there for my future ministry in the Church.   Wisconsin has a varied history with the native peoples of that area and I believed that learning about one native population could lend some insight into the patterns of oppression and violence that occurred in the vast majority of the U.S. Secondly, as an intern at MFSA, I was interested in learning about the people of one of our Common Witness Coalition partners; the Native American International Caucus.

This trip stretched and changed me, sure, but where do I start to write about what I learned?  Putting it very mildly, the United States has not treated its original peoples fairly.  I knew this going into the immersion, but learning the horrifying, gruesome details of the atrocities of my country floored me and made me, a white woman of privilege, ashamed.

What did it take to create a single country ‘from sea to shining sea’?  Power. Lies. Violence. Systemic oppression.  In the late 1800’s, there were at least three major peace treaties made between the Lakota tribe and the U.S. Government and each one was broken.  The Lakota people had their children taken from them and sent to distant boarding houses to ‘unlearn’ their culture and language.  And it didn’t end there.  As late as the mid 1970’s, the U.S. was sterilizing Native American women without their knowledge, much less their consent.  The systemic mass killing of the buffalo was a terrible, but effective move to advance the goals of the United States as well.

Today, the average life span of a Lakota woman is a tragic 52 years, while for a Lakota man, it’s only 48 years.  Alcoholism and drug abuse, suicide, and gang violence on the reservation are all to blame for this statistic.  Reports of unemployment rates on the reservation of 75% to 80% explain why nearly everyone is on some sort of assistance.  One of the treaties in the 1880’s promised the Lakota people that the U.S. would provide them with food, creating a dependence while claiming to offer independence.

Knowing that Christianity played its own part in the westward expansion of the country, I’m unsure about how to feel about the Church in the Native American culture.  While the UMC doesn’t have a presence on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Catholics are accounted for (at the very least).  The services that we attended at these churches were very syncretic, with elements from both the Lakota and Christian traditions and the congregations were very small (from what I experienced). The problems the native peoples face are seemingly unaddressed by these churches, other than a couple feeding programs and the pastoral care offered by the leaders.

There are some really positive programs popping up on the reservation, however. Pastor Karen at the Presbyterian retreat center insisted that we see the diamonds as well as the coal on the reservation. Lakota Funds is teaching the community about how to save money, offering microloans to those in the community who want to start a small business, and matching investments 3 to 1 for a group of children’s future educations. The Lakota College gives people a chance to get a higher education without leaving their families. Finally, the Shared Visions project is a nonprofit homeowners preparedness program and building fund working to bring the tribe into affordable and safe housing and teaching the people to keep their homes (and keep them maintained) while remaining financially sound.

Upon my return to Washington, DC, I’ve become very sensitive to the ways in which the Native American peoples are depicted in advertisements, sports logos and mascots, in movies, and on television.  (I, myself, grew up in a town with an Indian mascot.) The reality of our Native brothers and sisters’ lives is so ignored or deliberately misrepresented by our dominant culture and our government is still giving the native people the short end of the stick.  These stories need to be told and change has to begin.  Perhaps this is the Church’s off-the-reservation role; to highlight and call out the truth being ignored or repressed.  Who do you know that needs to hear these stories?

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Jen Southworth is an M.Div. candidate at Wesley Theological Seminary. Originally from Wisconsin, she is an Intern at the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

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