Civil Rights

The news tonight is bound to contain at least one example of a foolish religious sacrifice. It may be a suicide bomber, an IS recruit selling all to go to Syria, or a county clerk going to jail for failing to give marriage licenses. That last example may be a bit controversial, but it is carefully chosen. I think all forms of martyrdom should conform to the rules of civil disobedience. Before I pick up a cross, participate in an act that is likely to cause me harm or imprisonment, or fail to perform the reasonable duties of my workplace, I must ask:

    1) Is it my heart’s desire to alleviate suffering, guarantee liberty, or provide justice for those unlikely to receive it otherwise?

    2) Is the authority that I am disobeying or resisting legitimate?

    3) Am I willing to bear the consequences of my action?

    4) Have I thought through the above and concluded that my action is the most appropriate and loving response to the issue?

September 13, 2015
Mark 8:27-38
Pentecost 19

It’s ritual. I hate ritual. I’m tempted to pass over the description of the Passover ritual in Exodus twelve. Repetitious religious acts are often used to reinforce institutional authority and corral us into compliance. Yet, what God commands Moses in Passover, and what we continue with frequent communion, is meant to free us for rebellion. Passover is like the church meetings held before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. When we remember, we remember that once we were slaves and now we are free.


The ritual begins with a sacrificial lamb. The Passover story really begins with innocent children being thrown into the Nile. We tell again how little baby Moses rode along in the wicker basket of God’s grace until the time was right for him to stand before Pharaoh’s court. We speak of people like Rosa Parks. We tell how a young minister, new to the Montgomery area, was called out to lead his people. We recall how Martin Luther King was slaughtered like an unblemished lamb.


September 7, 2014
Exodus 12:1-14
Pentecost 18

The recent misbehavior of Pa. Rep Daryl Metcalfe (Butler-Republican) has prompted me to devote today’s blog to the following to the letter I recently sent to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I think you will notice how theological reflection should influence political opinion. When the church stays out of politics, both are harmed:

Dear Editor

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