Our president embodies [America's] uncentered spiritual landscape in three ways. First, like a growing share of Americans (44 percent), President Obama changed his religion as an adult, joining Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ in his 20s after a conversion experience brought him out of agnosticism into faith. Second, he was converted by a pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose highly politicized theology was self-consciously at odds with much of historic Christian practice and belief. Finally, since breaking with that pastor, Obama has become a believer without a denomination or a church, which makes him part of one of the country’s fastest-growing religious groups — what the Barna Group calls the “unchurched Christian” bloc, consisting of Americans who accept some tenets of Christian faith without participating in any specific religious community.
On Easter Sunday, Jake Tapper interviewed Rick Warren on ABC’s This Week, asking the influential pastor a series of questions on faith and politics. Of particular interest were his comments on soldiers and war (which did not make it into the aired segment but are available here). At the end of the interview, Warren exclaimed, “God hates war, but loves every soldier.”
As a combat veteran, I was impressed by and grateful for Warren’s statement. The Bible makes clear that war is at best a necessary evil--the idea at the core of the just war tradition. And yes: God loves each and every soldier. But I want to look more closely at the latter thought, especially in light of the suicide epidemic that currently afflicts our nation’s veterans and soldiers.
In a recent interview for the Century, African Methodist Episcopal bishop Vashti McKenzie spoke to Joan Harrell about her use of social media in ministry as well as her vision for a church focused on social justice. You can hear Harrell’s complete interview with McKenzie on her podcast, Empowering Voices.
Conditions inside poultry processing plants are grim and dangerous, according to a study released by Oxfam America. Workers are denied bathroom breaks, forcing some to wear diapers as they keep up with processing about 45 birds per minute. The workplace conditions are especially challenging for menstruating and pregnant women. The environment is frigid to keep the chickens cool. Floors splattered with water, blood, and fat are slippery. Many of the workers interviewed complained about sexual and racial discrimination. Conditions in unionized plants are better, but only about one-third are unionized. Four industry giants—Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms—control 60 percent of the market, employing 100,000 people (Washington Post, May 11).