By / Sep 24
By / Aug 21

With Congress in August recess, we take a break from our usual policy focused conversations to bring you interviews with leaders we admire who are shaping the world of Christian political engagement. This week, Steven Harris sits down with Justin Giboney, founder of The AND Campaign.

Guest Biography

Justin Giboney is an attorney and political strategist in Atlanta, Georgia. Giboney has managed successful campaigns for elected officials in the state and referendums. In 2012 and 2016, Georgia’s 5th congressional district elected him as a delegate for the Democratic National Convention and he served as the co-chair of Obama for America’s Gen44-Atlanta initiative. A former Vanderbilt University football player and law student, Giboney served on the Urban League of Greater Atlanta Board of Directors. Additionally, Justin has participated in LEAD Atlanta, Outstanding Atlanta and the Georgia Bar Association’s Leadership Academy. He’s written op-eds for publications such as Christianity Today.

Resources from the Conversation

Last week’s episode | August Profiles: Russell Moore on faith, family, and friendships from Mississippi to Washington

By / Jul 9

Afshin Ziafat shares how churches can increase diversity depsite being in a location that isn't diverse. 

By / Dec 4

In an effort to equip the church, members of the ERLC have published several books over the last year (and the end of the previous year). Touching on topics such as human dignity, race, diversity, gender, technology, and the family, these books and resources can be used to think more deeply about the issues facing Christians and the church. Below are the recent books published by ERLC authors for 2018, as well as some published in late 2017. We hope that they may be a useful guide for you in thinking through how to engage the culture around you with the gospel.

Dan Darling, The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity (The Good Book Co.)

Each person possesses dignity because they are made in the image of God. That is the both obvious and counter-cultural claim made by Dan Darling in The Dignity Revolution. In the face of daily examples of abuse, scandal, hate, and pain, Darling offers a simple but powerful message: The church should offer the truth that each individual bears dignity and is worthy of our respect. For this reason, from the moment of conception to the moment of death, and every moment in between, people are to be treated for what they are—those bearing the image and majesty of God. Darling examines topics as wide ranging as abortion, end-of-life issues, prison and criminal justice, race, work, poverty, and sexuality. In each of these, he calls us to see not an issue but people. We may disagree with them, but we must never malign them or rob them of the dignity that they are owed as fellow image-bearers. Dan Darling offers a hopeful message of how we are to treat the stranger in our land as well as our political adversary. As the church, we are to be the voice which always points to upholding the dignity of all because we recognize the unique position of image-bearers, especially when others do not.

You can order a copy of The Dignity Revolution here.

Jason Thacker, Technology & The Future: Human Flourishing in a Digital Age (Leland House Press)

One of the most pressing questions facing Christians is how we are to understand technology. In this short introduction, Jason Thacker offers the church a helpful tool to begin engaging the increasing digital world around them. Rather than approach technology as inherently good or evil, Thacker asks Christians to consider the deeper ethical questions of how we use technology.

Ultimately, it is a tool to be used for the glory and love of God and love of neighbor. Thacker’s hopeful message for the church is that technology is a good gift from God, but we must thoughtfully consider the ways that we are shaped by and are shaping this gift. It is a great introductory resource for those beginning to think through a theology of technology.

You can order a copy of Technology and the Future here.

Russell Moore, The Storm-Tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home (B&H Books)

The family is under assault. However, this is not a diatribe against American culture, but a reminder that the family has always been under assault. That is the claim of Russell Moore in his most recent book, The Storm-Tossed Family. The family is the place which has the ability to provide grace and shelter, but also is the place where we are most vulnerable. Moore’s book is a hopeful indicator that while our family may be in crisis, or we may feel as if we have no family, there is one who understands the unique pain that a family can bring, and who stands with nail-scarred hands ready to receive us into a family not of blood but divine will.

The church, as the family of God, is to be the place of refuge from the storms of the world. The church offers a vision of family not grounded in strength, power, or usefulness. Rather, each member is recognized and regarded as worthy because we all have been adopted. Covering topics such as sex, children, marriage, manhood and womanhood, and parenting, Moore shows how the a cross-centered vision forms and guides the approach of the church to these issues. The cross, like the family, is a place of both pain and salvation. The path of salvation is a path that is not easy. It is like a boat rocked on the waves, but not sunk. The family may be under assault, but it will not be destroyed.

You can order a copy of The Storm-Tossed Family here.

Trillia Newbell, God's Very Good Idea: A True Story of God's Delightfully Different Family (The Good Book Co.)

In this children’s book, Trillia Newbell shows how the beauty of diversity was part of God’s plan. Beginning in Eden and culminating before the throne of God, the book explores the ways that diversity evidences the creativity of God and is a part of design and goal of the universe. This diversity is manifest most when people who are different love one another and their differences.

Newbell offers parents the chance to engage their children with the gospel story and its importance on the topic of race. For those seeking a book to broach these complex topics with their young children, Newbell’s offering is an indispensable resource. (Published in late 2017.)

You can order a copy of God’s Very Good Idea here.

Andrew Walker, God and the Transgender Debate: What does the Bible Actually Say about Gender Identity (The Good Book Co.)

What does the Bible have to say about gender identity? In this book, Andrew Walker examines one of the most pressing questions in culture. Walker offers an accessible volume for those seeking answers or an introduction to the terms. This pastoral book is meant to be used by those wondering about pronoun usage, how to love and care for those with gender dysphoria, and the witness of the church in a gender-confused age.

The winner of the 2017 The Gospel Coalition Public Theology and Current Events Book of the Year Award, God and the Transgender Debate is a helpful tool for those seeking to understand the new landscape of gender and sexuality while also bringing to bear the truth of Scripture on the issue. Readers will come away with both a theology of gender and practical guidelines for navigating this new reality. (Published in late 2017.)

You can order a copy of God and the Transgender Debate here.

Thanks to the generosity of our cooperating churches and supporters like you, the ERLC is able to be courageous in the public square. Help us multiply our efforts by making a tax-deductible end-of-year gift to the ERLC today.

By / Jul 6

Dorena Williamson loves a good story. And it’s been her life’s work to tell the story of her Lord through her roles as a mom of four children and a leader in the multicultural church where her husband is the pastor. Now, she’s gotten the opportunity to combine these into a children’s book titled ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us. You’ll want to read below about her vision for the book and how to help children love diversity.

What inspired you to write this book?

The seeds of this story idea came to me a few years ago, and I assumed it might become a blog someday. Then in 2016, both Mattel and American Girl came out with dolls that featured darker skin tones. Having raised three black daughters, I was thrilled that mainstream companies saw the need for more diversity. At the same time, I felt frustrated considering that many Christians still adopt a color blind rhetoric that dismisses our racial uniqueness. A passion grew to help children and adults celebrate how God made us all.

Many people believe young children don't see color. What is your perspective on this?

I offer a different vantage point in ColorFull. From the time they begin to form words, toddlers are taught about colors around them. So why do we adopt "colorblind" rhetoric only around skin color? I think it's an awkward topic many are unaccustomed to conversing about. Unfortunately, the gap left from silence will get filled with harmful philosophies that reinforce bias if we don't intentionally teach God's truth. Racial differences are a visible part of our identity. Colorblindness diminishes the glory of God because he made every person wonderfully (Psa. 139:14). So teaching children to see other people's color as something to celebrate honors the truth that we all are made in the image of God (Gen 1:27)!

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Because children of color are underrepresented in literature, I hope they feel delight in seeing characters in ColorFull that look like them. I hope the friendship of children across racial lines will be inspiring, and that all children, from the richest dark-skinned tones to the lightest, all know they are uniquely made by God and worthy of celebration. My "bonus" desire is for adults to read ColorFull with the children in their church and at home, so that the message impacts all ages.

How do you encourage adults to talk to kids about race?

As a black family, we affirmed our children as babies and in everyday moments. Applying lotion to their skin, we reminded them that their skin color was beautifully made by God. We were intentional to have books and media that featured diverse characters so our four children had both literary windows and mirrors. ColorFull models how to find teachable moments to reinforce how God made us full of color. Proximity is key as well; if your entire environment is with people that look like you, make changes that shape your kids’ worldview and allow them to experience community with others who are not like them.

This passion has expanded to additional books. Tell us about them.

Book two is ThoughtFull: Discovering The Unique Gifts In All Of Us. The story centers around Ahanu, a Native American boy with Down Syndrome, who models how to be full of kind thoughts toward others. This book was inspired by my nephew Josiah who has taught us so much as a boy with Down Syndrome. ThoughtFull releases August 15.

Book three is GraceFull: Growing A Heart That Cares For Our Neighbors. The story centers around a homeless family, Asian, and Syrian girls who are church friends that learn how God gives us grace to share with others. It releases early 2019.

Grab your copy of ColorFull: Celebrating the Colors God Gave Us here.

By / Feb 26

Diversity and racial unity are topics we should never tire of addressing, especially because they are a part of God’s design for his church. Sadly, there is still a lot of work to be done. But our kids are a bright spot of hope for the future. At the ERLC National Conference, Steven Harris hosted a panel to discuss this issue, titled “All God’s Children: Growing Kids who Embrace a Biblical View of Racial Unity.”  We hope this panel equips you to more effectively disciple your children.

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By / Feb 20

In 1977, I was a fourth grader at Edgewood Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland. My best friend Harry and I collected comic books like many other kids on our block. We would spend hours reading about Spider-Man, the Hulk, Daredevil, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. We would also draw and sell pictures of these musclebound Marvel characters in order to buy a little something extra for lunch.

Everything changed for me and Harry once we discovered an African superhero called the Black Panther. Harry and I naturally gravitated toward this commanding character who looked like us. We took special pride and attention in how we drew him, even down to his striped gloves and boots. We both claimed this smooth, mysterious, agile, and intelligent superhero as our personal favorite.

For two black boys growing up in the hood, the Black Panther increased our sense of somebody-ness before we fully comprehended why we even needed that boost in our psychological development. There was something about seeing the Black Panther on the colorful pages of those comic books that caused me to hold up my 9-year-old head a little bit higher.

How two men challenged white normalcy

Growing up in what sociologist Dr. Michael Emerson calls a “racialized society,” no one had to point out to me how race mattered profoundly for differences in life experiences, opportunities, and social relationships. The lines in our communities were drawn, and seldom were they crossed. Racialization was as natural as the air we breathed. It showed up in racially segregated neighborhoods, churches, and schools. Racialization dictated the friends we hung with, the people we dated, and the books we read. The dominant presence and representation of white people in positions of power, textbooks, and the media painted a picture of what was considered “normal” in America.

Sadly, white normalcy still dominates in a country that has the potential of embracing the beauty of racial diversity as one of its touchstones.

In 1966, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were aware of the times, but they were also ahead of the times when they created the Black Panther. These two Jewish men from New York designed T’Challa to be the wealthiest and one of the smartest figures in the Marvel Universe. This concept of promoting a black, male character to be something other than a gang member, athlete, or a drug addict was revolutionary. Lee and Kirby took a necessary risk to challenge white normalcy, and it paid off socially for us and financially for them.

In addition to my children knowing who they are in Christ, it is imperative for them to know the dignity that comes with being blessed black people made in the image of God.

The Black Panther was a king who had more money than Tony Stark (Iron Man) and was as formidable a fighter as Captain America. He was just as intelligent as Reed Richards and as courageous as the mighty Thor. We cannot forget that in the 1960s, black people were still fighting to gain our rightful place in society. Our real-life heroes were vilified in the mainstream right before our eyes. Therefore, when Marvel first introduced this dark-skinned superhero that single-handedly took on the Fantastic Four in his own technologically advanced African country of Wakanda, the floodgates of hope blew wide open!

Not only did black kids need to see the Black Panther, white kids needed to see him, too. If we are ever going to experience legitimate racial progress in this country, proper representation is crucial to change minds for people inside and outside of any respective culture and ethnic group.

Image is everything

Since the mid–1400s when the transatlantic slave trade began, bestial images of black people were pervasive. Knowing that perception is reality, these racist depictions of blacks reinforced stereotypes that justified maintaining oppressive systems of injustice. After centuries of these godless and unchallenged beliefs, black people in America are still often stigmatized on first glance.

So, this movie came along at just the right time. America needed the Black Panther more than it realized. Carter G. Woodson, the African-American historian who created Black History Week in 1926, once said, “We become what we behold.” This is why image is everything, especially for those of us whose images have been grossly distorted or not included. My three daughters needed to behold how beautiful, black women were portrayed as scientists, royal mothers, and warriors. My son needed to see African men who were full of royalty, purpose, and courage. In addition to my children knowing who they are in Christ, it is imperative for them to know the dignity that comes with being blessed black people made in the image of God.

For many people, the Black Panther is more than a movie. It is a movement that recaptures the value of black personhood and the richness of African culture. This is why my wife and I regally walked into the theater on opening night wearing African robes. We wanted to vicariously experience the honor of being proud descendants of Africa as we watched this amazing display of cinematic artistry.

Keep your head up

As an avid Marvel comic book collector with over 7,000 comics, I made it a priority to acquire all of the original comics in which the Black Panther first appeared. These books are not only valuable on the open market; they are very sentimental to me because they take me back to a time in my childhood when I first began to appreciate my blackness.

If for some reason this is not your experience, and you cannot fully grasp the significance of this movie, I invite you to ponder, converse, and celebrate with the countless people of all ages who left theaters around the world with a renewed sense of confidence, saying, “Wakanda forever!” This 49-year-old black man happily joined along, thankful for the way Black Panther has helped me hold my head a little higher.

By / Jan 16
By / Aug 22
By / Jul 11

Many people only associate protecting babies with pro-life issues. And while being pro-life is about advocating for life in and out of the womb, it’s about much more, including celebrating the beauty of diversity. At the Evangelicals for Life conference, Jackie Hill Perry addressed this topic in a challenging and helpful message. We hope you enjoy it.

Life matters at every age and stage of development. Join the ERLC and Focus on the Family and we discuss important issues pertaining to life at the 2018 Evangelicals for Life. Keep an eye out here for more information. 

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