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Analysis and commentary on issues that concern the work of FaithTrust Institute.

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Preparing for Spring

Preparing for Spring

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I look forward to the beginning of February, not in anticipation of February 2 as Groundhog Day (which I have never understood anyway), but in celebration of February 1 as the Feast Day of St. Brigit—she who breathes life into the dead of winter.

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Apartheid: What a Concept?!

Apartheid: What a Concept?!

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I am only just beginning to understand the historical reality of apartheid that was instituted in South Africa in 1948 and continued until 1994. Since only white people could vote, in 1948 they voted to divide all the people by race and to separate each group from the others. The white minority controlled government and business.

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Remembering Jewish Songwriter and Singer Debbie Friedman

Remembering Jewish Songwriter and Singer Debbie Friedman

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Debbie Friedman, remarkable Jewish songwriter and singer, has died. Debbie wrote “Save A Life,” the theme of FaithTrust Institute’s DVD on domestic violence in the Jewish community.

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Before “Yes, We Can” . . .

Before “Yes, We Can” . . .

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Before “Yes, We Can,” there was “WE CAN.” Women Empowered Committed Against Negativity (WE CAN) is an organization whose office is in a house on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. The leader of WE CAN is Loretta Joseph. She is a Roman Catholic laywoman who has organized Catholic and Protestant women outside the church in order to get the work done—i.e. the work of supporting and empowering women in their real lives.

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The Christmas Pageant

The Christmas Pageant

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My flight leaving Cape Town was cancelled due to bad weather in Europe. So I got to stay for the rehearsal of the Christmas Pageant at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

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Robben Island

Robben Island

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Three hundred people boarded the ferry in Cape Town for the half-hour ride to Robben Island on Saturday afternoon. The sun was bright and flashing on the waves. The breeze was cool and refreshing. A lovely day. Serene and peaceful. We arrived at the island, now a national heritage site, and boarded a bus for a tour.

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“My Heart Is So Sore . . .” - Part 2

“My Heart Is So Sore . . .” - Part 2

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On a hill in Johannesburg is the Constitutional Court, the home of South Africa's highest court. This site was previously a prison complex that held politcal prisoners during apartheid. One prison held women—both women of color and white women, separately of course. Winnie Mandela, Alberta Sisulu, Barbara Hogan and many others were there. My heart is so sore as we tour the prison.

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“Love-All That and More” Debuts in Cape Town!

“Love-All That and More” Debuts in Cape Town!

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Since my visit to South Africa is supported by the U.S. Department of State Speakers’ Program, the Consulate staff has arranged some of my meetings. They asked me to go to a YMCA afterschool program and meet with the youth workers and the youth. It has been many years since I worked specifically in youth ministry, but I pressed ahead—and I am so glad I did.

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The Launch of SAFFI

The Launch of SAFFI

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Elizabeth Petersen first contacted FaithTrust Institute in 2004 and finally came for a visit in 2009 while she was studying in the U.S. on a Humphrey Fellowship. Immediately upon meeting her, we realized that her vision for her work in South Africa paralleled our work at FaithTrust Institute.

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“My Heart Is So Sore . . .”

“My Heart Is So Sore . . .”

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We sat together with the Religious Leaders Forum of Cape Town. Clergy and lay, men and women who have come together to address gender violence in their communities. Twenty people met in a room in a Dutch Reformed Church. The women began to share their stories.

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16 Days of Activism

16 Days of Activism

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I awoke to bright sun and cool breeze in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s summer here. Everything is in bloom in this semi-tropical part of the world. This is good news to an already light-deprived northwesterner who left winter and snow behind in the States. I am here as a guest of the South African Faith and Family Institute (SAFFI). I am also here as a speaker and specialist sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

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Domestic Terror: A State of Intense Fear Related to Household or Family

Domestic Terror: A State of Intense Fear Related to Household or Family

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Here are two current events that, when juxtaposed, caught my interest. Changing social norms is getting harder, not easier. “In revealing the decision points that led him to choose waterboarding as an interrogation technique, Bush says, ‘CIA experts drew up a list of interrogation techniques . . . At my direction, Department of Justice and CIA lawyers conducted a careful legal review. The enhanced interrogation program complied with the Constitution and all applicable laws, including those that ban torture.’”

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It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Color Is Purple

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Color Is Purple

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Did you know that? It’s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m sure you knew that because you can’t help but see the pink all around. On my flight last week, the airline was selling pink lemonade and martinis as well as collecting donations--all to go to breast cancer research. Football players in NFL games this month are wearing pink! Pink?! How cool is that? So why aren’t the airlines selling grape soda and football players wearing purple in support of ending domestic violence?

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Dear Bishop Long

Dear Bishop Long

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Dear Bishop Long: As a fellow pastor, I am glad to see that you are studying scripture and praying as you confront the allegations of pastoral misconduct from four of your young followers. I see that you are comparing yourself to David as a young man in battle with Goliath. I appreciate your identification with David, a young man battling powerful odds. However, you might find it interesting to study the older David, the flawed and imperfect leader we read about in II Samuel.

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You Shall Know the Truth . . .

You Shall Know the Truth . . .

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Bishop Eddie Long is a national Christian leader, preacher and pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lithonia, Georgia, outside Atlanta. He is now facing three civil actions from two young male members of his church alleging that he coerced and manipulated them into sexual activity with him. He denies the allegations. His church members are stunned, and many are coming to his defense. The allegations made by the two men fit the classic pattern of clergy misconduct involving sexual abuse.

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The Calendar Brings Us Together

The Calendar Brings Us Together

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The fact that Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins the evening of September 8 and Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan for Muslims) occurs on September 10 this year offer us an opportunity to consider the richness of these faith traditions common to America.

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A Spiritual Battle between Good and Evil?

A Spiritual Battle between Good and Evil?

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Is addressing domestic violence a spiritual battle between good and evil? This is the question I received last week from a colleague. As I pondered this question, I sent a note to several other colleagues for their input. I think the answer we all agreed to is “yes and no.” Or as one Muslim colleague said, “Essential and not sufficient.”

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Freedom of Religion . . . for Some?

Freedom of Religion . . . for Some?

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Last Sunday I preached at my local church, and I am attaching a summary version of my sermon here. I am speaking as a Christian pastor to my fellow Christians. During this season of Ramadan, a primary holiday for Muslims, and with “Islamophobia” being stoked by demagogues, Christians must speak up. These are dangerous times.

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Pastors Who Don’t Report

Pastors Who Don’t Report

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Pastors Daniel and Laura McCluskey from the Church on the Word in Phoenix have been arrested. The pastors were both arrested Tuesday and booked on one count each of failure to report sexual abuse. One victim of incestuous abuse disclosed to them in 2008. The pastors confronted the abusive father who admitted his abuse of his daughter but was “repentant.” The pastors counseled the victim to “forgive” her father and restore the relationship. The father allegedly stopped abusing this daughter (who then moved out) but continued to molest her younger sister.

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Dear Pope: I Was Worried

Dear Pope: I Was Worried

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While I was on vacation, the Vatican came out with a significant doctrinal statement condemning the sexual abuse of children and the ordination of women. One could not help but conclude that these were somehow related. So I was worried that you intended to send the message that the crime of sexual abuse of a child was equivalent to the doctrinal violation of ordaining women.

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