October 23, 2019
By: Debbie Michel, Lake Union Conference, and Adventist Review
Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) representatives from regional (historically black) conferences across the United States met September 26-29, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia, for the Conscience and Justice Council annual conference, which this year examined issues surrounding the theme, Faith, Justice and Community.
Speakers sought to inspire the audience of 200 to take the Adventist Churchs message of hope and wholeness and make a meaningful difference in their communities. Topics included religious accommodation; conscience and justice according to the Bible; housing segregation then and now; engaging millennials in social justice; and many others.
Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights
One of the sessions with a robust discussion asked the question, Can religious freedom and LGBT rights coexist?
Justin Giboney, executive team member of the AND campaign, explained that his organization tries to get Christians to engage in politics more faithfully.
Tim Schultz (left), president of 1stAmendment Partnership, told the audience at the Conscience and Justice Council that if you care about religious freedom, you have to care about social justice. On Shultzs left is AND campaign executive team member Justin Giboney. [Photo: Lake Union Conference News]
In his Sabbath morning message, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black used the Bible story of the good Samaritan to illustrate that we must have compassion for those in need. If youre going to have social justice, stop blaming the victim. Help people, even when theyre responsible for the trouble theyre in, he said. [Photo: Lake Union Conference News]
Margie P. Gill, executive director of Tabithas House, a human trafficking ministry of the House of Hope Church near downtown Atlanta, said she and others are working to support victims of human trafficking. We want to give power back to the victims and restore lives, homes, and communities, she said. [Photo: Lake Union Conference News]
If we are Christians, we should be both about justice and moral order. Our political landscape today separates them, Gibbons said. Christians are supposed to be about both. We cant choose between the two. We often talk about this in terms of compassion and conviction. When we look at an issue like LGBTQ, our conviction is what the Bible says, and were not going to change our conviction, but have we showed compassion? he asked.
Adventist HealthCare vice president and chief compliance officer Dwayne Leslie shared why it is important for Adventists to get involved in the legislative process.
As Seventh-day Adventists, religious liberty has been one of our core tenets, but weve also believed we shouldnt use the legislative process to enforce or mandate our philosophy. Were not trying to legislate morality, Leslie said. We want to protect ourselves according to our theology, as opposed to using our theology to deny or take away the rights of other people.
Tim Schultz, president of 1st Amendment Partnership, told the audience that if people care about religious freedom, they have to care about social justice. In that vein, Melissa Reid, executive director of the North American Division Religion Liberty Association (NARLA), mentioned that her department is working alongside other faith communities to pass legislation known as Fairness For All, which would protect the rights of the LGBTQ community.
Were now making visits to members of Congress and think we will have bipartisan support. Because of the diversity of our coalition group, it adds to the likelihood of bipartisan support. Even though it may take a while for the legislation to be enacted, Reid said, We recognize that this is an opportunity to restore the idea of religious freedom.
Stop Blaming the Victim
In his Sabbath morning message, U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black used the Bible story of the good Samaritan to illustrate that we must have compassion for those in need.
If youre going to have social justice, stop blaming the victim. Help people, even when theyre responsible for the trouble theyre in. This traveler got himself in trouble. He knew about the dangerous Jericho Road, but he still took it.
We got to go across the spectrum of diversity. We got to help people regardless of their sexual orientation. We got to help people regardless of their ethnicity. We got to help people regardless of their accent. We got to help people regardless of their socio-economic level, or lack of a level, Black said.
On Saturday (Sabbath) afternoon, council attendees visited Tabithas House, a human trafficking ministry of the House of Hope Church near downtown Atlanta. Executive director Margie P. Gill explained that Atlanta is a major hub for sex trafficking, and the youngest client theyve helped was a five-year-old.
We want to give power back to the victims and restore lives, homes, and communities, Gill said.
On Saturday evening, Yusef Salaam, who was wrongly convicted of the 1989 assault and rape of a female jogger in Central Park, spoke about serving years in prison for a crime he, along with four other youth, did not commit. The highly publicized case was the subject of a recent Netflix movie, When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay.
Salaam, now a father of ten living in Atlanta, spoke softly of how he has been able to move on with his life.
Knowing you were born with a purpose, you were born brave, God gave you the means to survive and thrive. Its not about what happens to you, but your response to whats happening to you. God is in control. The sun shines on the sinner and the person who is filthy at the same time. But the blessing comes to one who is faithful.
Carmela Monk Crawford, ofMessagemagazine, moderated a Questions and Answers session, during which she asked Salaam if he had forgiven all the people responsible for his imprisonment.
Forgiveness is a challenging concept. Ive been able to forgive to a degree, Salaam said. Im reminded,Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.
Working Together to Reach Out
On Sunday, Oakwood Universitys chair of the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Public Health, Sherine Brown-Fraser, discussed Health Disparities: The Impact of Food Deserts. Brown-Fraser said that churches can engage with their community through a variety of avenues, including a simple yet effective project such as a community garden. She presented evidence to show that when we grow our fruits and vegetables, we are likely to eat more of these foods.
Ann Roda, Adventist Healthcare vice president for Mission Integration and Spiritual Care, said her organization was proud to sponsor the conference because, looking back in church history, it was Washington Adventist Hospital that denied treatment to a black patient in 1943.
Our team was shocked to hear the story, and this was the catalyst for us asking, what are we going to do with this info? she said. We have to own our part, not shy away from it and commit to not letting this happen again.
Going forward, Roda said, the local church and the Adventist Health System could play a huge role in addressing societal ills. We need a clear partnership between the health system and the church. If we partner, we can change the paradigm of what it means to change our community.
Edward Woods, Lake Region PARL leader and chairperson of the Conscience and Justice Council, said he hopes participants will take the information presented and put it into action.
Its important to ensure theres liberty of conscience and justice for all people, through a biblical and contemporary context that reflects the consciousness of Christ, Woods said.
The Conscience and Justice Council conference began in 2016 in Detroit, Michigan, and the next conference is scheduled for September 24-27, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.
The original version of this story was posted on the Lake Union Heraldnews site.
- Liberty London | Designer Department Store | Luxury Brands ... - January 5th, 2020
- Sale | Liberty London Sale | Liberty London - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty's defense stifles NJIT, 65-38 - WSET - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty boys basketball doesnt beat buzzer, but does beat Whitehall in OT - lehighvalleylive.com - January 5th, 2020
- New York Liberty to reveal new head coach on Wednesday morning - Elite Sports NY - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty Mutual Insurance Selected by Uber to Cover Drivers in New England, South Carolina and Puerto Rico - PRNewswire - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty Women To Open New Year with Meets At Florida, FGCU - SwimSwam - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty Vittert: Got a resolution for the New Year? Here's a statistician's advice on how to keep it - Fox Business - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty Hill woman accused of beating that sent son to hospital - Austin American-Statesman - January 5th, 2020
- Liberty, Equality, and Identity - The Bulwark - January 5th, 2020
- Josh Richardson and others are right to call out Sixers' effort - Liberty Ballers - January 5th, 2020
- This Week in Mid-Major: Liberty takes a page from UVa's playbook, Bryant's shot-swatter, the top 10 and more - The Athletic - January 5th, 2020
- YEAR END: Liberty County baseball coach and wife electrocuted, son injured at baseball field - The News Herald - January 5th, 2020
- Patriots hook up Navy Football with nice transportation to Liberty Bowl - 98.5 The Sports Hub - December 26th, 2019
- Stephen Calvert, Liberty Top Georgia Southern 23-16 to Win 2019 Cure Bowl - Bleacher Report - December 26th, 2019
- Donald Trump, Jerry Falwell Jr., and Liberty Universitys Football Vision - The Ringer - December 26th, 2019
- Akron faces Liberty in Washington - WVVA TV - December 26th, 2019
- Liberty Media Floated the Idea of Buying IndyCar Alongside its F1 Acquisition - Essentially Sports - December 26th, 2019
- Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 and 2 Pro true wireless buds are down to $60 and $110 ($40 off) - Android Police - December 26th, 2019
- Diventures' new 60-foot-pool in North Liberty is heated and ready for scuba divers in training - The Gazette - December 26th, 2019
- Liberty and the Birth of Jesus Go Hand in Hand - Liberty Nation - December 26th, 2019
- Liberty family seeks justice after 'targeted attack' of their dog in its own back yard - WYFF4 Greenville - December 26th, 2019
- 820 Liberty Avenue went from yow to wow creating four large lofts in an extensive renovation - NEXTpittsburgh - December 26th, 2019
- Kiggins, Liberty theaters strive for creativity - Columbian.com - The Columbian - December 26th, 2019
- Watch the parade for the 61st AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Local 24! - WATN - Local 24 - December 26th, 2019
- Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro review: The best-sounding earbuds of 2019 [Video] - 9to5Google - December 26th, 2019
- Dem Voters Caught Between the Geriatrics and Socialist Swampsters - Liberty Nation - December 26th, 2019
- Games to Watch This Weekend for Liberty's Bowl Hopes (11/26 edition) - A Sea of Red - November 27th, 2019
- Heather Stearns of Tallahassee, Florida, Has Recently Been Appointed President of LIBERTY Dental Plan of Florida, Inc. - Business Wire - November 27th, 2019
- PHOTOS: Umbrellas, Tables, and Seating Appear at Liberty Square... - wdwnt.com - November 27th, 2019
- Newark Liberty International Airport is Actually in Elizabeth, NJ- (County of Union) Now the Destination is Visible to Passengers - Yahoo Finance - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty vs. Morgan State odds: 2019 The Islands of the Bahamas Showcase picks, predictions from proven model - CBS Sports - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty defeats UMKC to win the Islands of the Bahamas Showcase - A Sea of Red - November 27th, 2019
- The Liberty Foundation Awards $422,000 to 18 Nonprofit Organizations | Business Gallery - The Weekly Journal - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty Science Center's Inaugural Genius of New Jersey to Honor Innovators Who Make the State a World Leader in Cutting-Edge Applied Science -... - November 27th, 2019
- Sixty minutes for 60 more: Liberty focuses on final chance to become bowl eligible - Lynchburg News and Advance - November 27th, 2019
- What to Be Thankful For | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty's John Malone sees HBO losing out in the streaming wars - CNBC - November 27th, 2019
- Count liberty among our blessings this Thanksgiving - cleveland.com - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty CEO sees Sirius well positioned in audio boom with exclusive content like Howard Stern - CNBC - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty Securities Selects Broadridge to Simplify Post-Trade Processing for Hong Kong Equities and Derivatives - Bobsguide - November 27th, 2019
- Liberty defensive depth to be tested against UMass - Lynchburg News and Advance - October 29th, 2019
- The 'cautionary tale' of Liberty University - The College Fix - October 29th, 2019
- Phase 1 of new signage in Liberty completed - Times Herald-Record - October 29th, 2019
- Boyd Matheson: Liberty without morality and religious freedom is but window dressing - Deseret News - October 29th, 2019
- Rutgers Million-Dollar Guarantee To Liberty Proved To Be A Wise Investment - Forbes - October 29th, 2019
- Washington-Liberty QB Andrew Bolfek throws 6 TDs to win Player of the Week - WTOP - October 29th, 2019
- In the region: No. 6 UVa field hockey tops No. 17 Liberty - Lynchburg News and Advance - October 29th, 2019
- TSA: Man Tried To Bring Loaded Gun On Plane At Newark Liberty International Airport - CBS Pittsburgh - October 29th, 2019
- If You Had Bought One Liberty Properties (NYSE:OLP) Shares Five Years Ago Youd Have Made 23% - Simply Wall St - October 29th, 2019
- LTE: The Il-liberty of Protest - The Daily Northwestern - October 29th, 2019
- Liberty Apartments in south Cape still set to open in April - Southeast Missourian - October 29th, 2019
- Intrepid Theatre returns with 'The Thousandth Night' at Liberty Station - The San Diego Union-Tribune - October 29th, 2019
- Rutgers won its 2nd game this year by defeating Liberty | What did visiting recruits think? - NJ.com - October 29th, 2019
- Visit the Statue of Liberty, feel her unifying message | Opinion - NJ.com - October 29th, 2019
- Liberty Health Sciences Announces Opening Of 19th Florida Dispensary In Pensacola; Second Panhandle Location - Yahoo Finance - October 24th, 2019
- Liberty adds UConn to 2020 football schedule, moves UVa game to 2023 - Lynchburg News and Advance - October 24th, 2019
- Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are not in US Constitution - Call Newspapers - October 24th, 2019
- British government notes 'deterioration' of religious liberty in several countries - Crux: Covering all things Catholic - October 24th, 2019
- What are the odds? Liberty twin has twin daughters born on his birthday - WDAF FOX4 Kansas City - October 24th, 2019
- Liberty Development partnering with St. Clement Church in Lakewood to build Madison Avenue townhomes - cleveland.com - October 24th, 2019
- Falwell threatens to sue journalist behind explosive report, demands retraction - Lynchburg News and Advance - October 24th, 2019
- G Adventures and Liberty Travel Form Preferred Partnership - TravelPulse - October 24th, 2019
- Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football is set to welcome the Liberty Flames to town -- B1G Football - Rivals.com - October 24th, 2019
- Her Immigrant Story: 'Mother Of Exiles' Documentary Reveals Statue Of Liberty's Little-Known History - Women You Should Know - October 24th, 2019
- Is Liberty Property Trust (LPT) Going to Burn These Hedge Funds? - Yahoo Finance - October 24th, 2019
- Slavery and liberty: A new exhibit explores the Thomas Jefferson paradox - Archinect - October 24th, 2019
- Hate LAX? Why New York's Newark Liberty International Airport is a relative breeze - Stuff.co.nz - October 24th, 2019
- Liberty Ranch FFA students show children where their food comes from - The Galt Herald - October 24th, 2019
- Trenton Catholic boys soccer earns share of BCSL Liberty crown - The Trentonian - October 24th, 2019
- Letter to the Editor Liberty or Tyranny | Letters To The Editor - Richfield Reaper - October 24th, 2019
- Former Liberty-Eylau coach accused of sexual misconduct with students - TXK Today - October 24th, 2019
- Liberty Health Sciences Appoints George Gremse To The Board Of Directors - PRNewswire - October 16th, 2019
- ZOM Senior Living, in a venture with Liberty Senior Living and funds managed by Ares Management Corporation's Real Estate Group, announces... - October 16th, 2019
- EAST LIBERTY DEVELOPMENT: Vote Wednesday could help clear way for controversial $50 million project in East Liberty - WPXI Pittsburgh - October 16th, 2019
- Take A Look! | Black Bear Spotted Swimming In Liberty Reservoir - CBS Baltimore - October 16th, 2019
- Religious Liberty, Nondiscrimination, and the Left - National Review - October 16th, 2019
- 'Citizens for Liberty and Labor' PAC drops another $40K against Woodward's campaign - KXLY Spokane - October 16th, 2019
- Kelvin Edwards honored to have his jersey retired at Liberty - Lynchburg News and Advance - October 16th, 2019
- Liberty City and Brownville will not rise | Letters to the Editor - The Miami Times - October 16th, 2019