President Trump’s recent provocative tweet to Iran's President Rouhani caught many, including the U.S. State Department and the military, off guard. His threat, “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE…” was not only one head of state threatening another; it was an emboldened self-avowed Christian confronting the leader of a Shi’ite Muslim theocratic state. The problem created for religious freedom worldwide is enormous.
The recent buzz around the documentary about Mister Rogers, "Won't You Be My Neighbor," has stirred up a lot of fond and poignant memories. At the start of my career I aspired to become a children's television producer and sought the counsel of Fred Rogers, who, against all odds, took me under-wing, served as my graduate advisor and mentor, and became for my family and me not only a dear friend, but the embodiment of what "loving your neighbor" was all about.
"Loving Your Neighbor." Teaching others how to do that - in all its simplicity and complexity - is really what we strive to do at OMNIA, and as I watched "Won't You Be My Neighbor" the other night I remembered that a few years back I had written a chapter entitled "Who Is My Neighbor" for the book "Connected Spirits" by Andrew Weaver. In that chapter I recalled times in which Fred's ability to "love his neighbor" permeated everything he did.
An Interview with OMNIA President Shanta Premawardhana by John Kenyon, Founder & Director of the Institute for Global Church Studies
On July 6 OMNIA’s President Dr. Shanta Premawardhana sat down with John Kenyon, founder and director of The Institute for Global Church Studies (IGCS), an online forum started in 2007 for better understanding the impact of globalization on worldwide Christianity. They focused on the dynamic tension that exists when religion is used both as a liberating force and “righteous governance.”
There is nothing new in the way Attorney General Jeff Sessions used the Bible this week to justify the Trump administration’s outrageous policy of separating children from their families at the border. In fact, for centuries empires have used sacred texts to justify their violence. And through the centuries church leaders have colluded with empires. Sometimes by not challenging it, and at other times more proactively using sleight-of-hand theological trickery, changing a word here and there in theological positions to affirm the empire’s brutal policies. And then we, people of faith have often allowed ourselves to be fooled, believing the nonsense that the empire feeds us. So, let me offer a quick word about context, collusion, and the Bible.
Most Republicans and evangelical Christians agree: Refugees Go Home! What is in our national DNA that allows for such a discrepancy between the Christian mandate to “Love Your Neighbor” and the punishing practices of a government boasting to be a Christian nation? Can it be that the religion of American Exceptionalism is overtaking biblical religion?
U.S. Border Patrol agent was acquitted of murder charges in the 2012 shooting of 16-year-old Elena Rodriguez, raising deep questions of the impartiality of the U.S. justice system. Has it ever been impartial? Is the immigration crisis shining a light on the flaws in our nation’s justice system when an unarmed teen can be shot 12 times, twice in the head, and ten times in the back, and the agent be found innocent?