The role of people of faith and the role of the institutional church in bringing about social change cannot be ignored. Some people try. Almost to the point of suggesting that people of faith - as people of faith - have no place in the public square.
I think there are two things to remember: as long as people of faith seek to help shape the change of our society in ways that bring it more in line with an inclusive and equitable interpretation of the Constitution and principles of democracy, we have every right to be there.
The other thing we must remember, is that the brave souls whose engagement changed society along these same lines were just like us. It places upon each of us who understand that, a moral imperative to not squander this heritage or nor ignore the demands of our faith which call for us to become engaged in ways that make life better for everyone.
In other words: we are the one's we're looking for!
Emilie Townes, a professor at Yale Divinity School is relaying to her students much the same thing:
"Because we often do not have this history at our disposal to draw on because we do not know it, I often hear students ask: "Who will be our next great leader?" They are often drawing on the models of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Rosa Parks -- the two civil rights movement protesters they know best. When I suggest that the people they are looking for staring back at them in the mirror each morning, I often hear a collective gulp in the room before we begin to explore what this may mean for them and their ministries. Most, I am happy to say, are willing to take up the challenge as we begin to talk about the historical resources we have for them to draw on. Often, I suggest that they begin with the Bible and not treat it as much as a moral rule book, but more as a testament of faith and faithlessness that we can draw on and learn from as we see that folks have been trying to figure out how to live their lives in response to God's call to us for a mighty long time. We, then, are standing in a long line of folks working out what discipleship -- the living out of our faith -- must mean for this time and place with a strong eye to future and the foundation we are laying for it with what we do now. My students are earnest and they want to make the world a better place. So we work on faith strategies, large and small (but particularly the small because it is in the persistent faithful actions we do each day that wears away injustice at its foundations), that can help bring in the new day dawning they are trying to visualize even as they are building it."