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Working from hope, not fear

I wrote this piece as an op-ed over the summer, but it wasn’t quite right for a general-audience newspaper, and then I never came back to it.  

From my own home state (North Carolina), to the hub of all things cosmopolitan and progressive (New York), headlines beg for an answer to a basic question facing people who call themselves Christian.  How should we struggle over the question of same-sex marriage?  My suggestion is simple.  I appeal to my brothers and sisters in the faith to work out of a place of hope, rather than fear.

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Don’t stop believing

I had never been to a Big Rock Concert before in my life. Really. Not one. In high school I saw George Strait at the San Angelo Rodeo Hall, or rather I had been to dance with cute cowboys at George Strait concerts, but we didn’t really “see” George Strait so much as appreciate him while two-stepping. I don’t even like Journey or Foreigner, but when a friend offered me a “VIP” ticket to the concert in Raleigh and a pass for the “Meet and Greet” event beforehand, I jumped at the chance. And, dear people, it was loud. Transcendently loud. I stood in the fourth-row seating with my mouth wide open, not even daring to dance for a long while. I stood for at least fifteen minutes with my hand holding onto my sternum, feeling how my chest had music going through it, and down to my fingers and toes. (Yes, people looked at me then like I was weird.)

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Torture is (still) a moral issue.

By Amy Laura Hall

In March 2011, I helped organize, host, and moderate an interfaith, interdisciplinary conference against torture. Experts in theology, religion and human rights gathered to discuss the use of torture in the U.S. and abroad and to prepare participants for anti-torture advocacy within their own communities.

Toward a Moral Consensus Against Torture: A Gathering of Students, Clergy, People of Conscience, and People of Faith,” was held at Duke Divinity School and First Presbyterian Church in Durham, N.C.  It was sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).

This conference was part of a national effort toward a moral consensus: torture is always wrong, torture does not make ‘us’ safer, and we need concrete tactics to refuse the climate of fear and compliance. Torture dehumanizes both victim and perpetrator; and it ultimately renders the nation that practices it morally damaged, less secure, and less human than before.

Speakers and panelists representing diverse faith traditions included:

Here are some additional documents from the conference that I hope may be of help as we all think through the ways that people of faith and people of conscience may continue unequivocally to name torture as wrong, always and everywhere:

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