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UNMUTE THYSELF: TALKING POLITICS IN CHURCH

It’s taboo to talk about politics in church. God’s people are supposed to be united around our common love for God and desire to serve others, so churches avoid discussing the political issues that our communities are facing. We fear that disagreement will lead to division, as it so often does these days. Here’s the problem: we are missing opportunities to connect our faith with the political challenges of our time! We also are missing the opportunity to practice the healthy discussion and faithful discernment about how God asks us to live out our faith in these times.

This fall, the whole nation will be discussing the political issues at stake in the United States and in our local communities. And we at First Church will press the “unmute” button to consider how our faith affects our approach to these political issues. Our sermon series will address several of the fundamental questions at stake in political issues like immigration, gun control, healthcare, and abortion. We will hold several seminars addressing particular issues while modeling healthy disagreement. We will highlight the importance of political engagement and share ways we can serve God’s purposes faithfully through the political process. Join us this fall as we bring our faith and God’s Word to bear on what is sure to be a very political season.

Worship Series

  • August 23:  “Politics”
  • August 30:  “Neighbors: Who Is ‘Us’ and Who Is ‘Them’”?
  • September 6: “Violence”
  • September 13: “Agency”
  • September 20:  “Poverty”
  • September 20:  “Power”

Sermon Playlist

Want more resources about this taboo topic? Each Sunday of the sermon series, we will debut a new “playlist” of resources that can help you further explore the sermon topic for that week. We hope you will find them to be helpful in connecting your faith with the difficult discussions being had all around us.

Civil Discourse & Weaponizing Scripture

The Social Principles of the United Methodist Church
“The United Methodist Church has a long history of concern for social justice. Its members have often taken forthright positions on controversial issues involving Christian principles.”
Source: UMC.org
Audience: Middle School and Up

Teaching Your Child to Disagree Respectfully

“Learn how to teach your child to express their opinions and respectfully disagree.”
Source: Michigan State University
Audience: Parents of Children 4 Years and Up
An Activity to Help Kids Learn Civil Discourse
“The greatest lesson we can teach our students is that we have to meet people ‘where they are.'”
Source: Middleweb.com
Audience: Middle School and Up
Don’t Avoid Difficult Discussions. We Need to Find Common Ground.
“Finding common ground requires that we approach discussion as having “positions” rather than “sides,” that we talk about “we” and “our,” not “us” and “them,” and that we avoid associating vitriol with disagreement.”
Source: Austin American-Statesman
Audience: High School and Up
Stop Weaponizing the Bible for Trump: No Politician Is a Cyrus, David Or Casear
“To avoid the weaponizing of Scripture and the sacralizing of politics, we urge our fellow Christians to refrain from using biblical typologies in political life.”
Source: Washington Post
Audience: High School and Up
“I Grew Up In the Westboro Baptist Church. Here’s Why I Left.”
“Strangers on Twitter showed me the power of engaging the other.” (15:17 min.)
Source: TED Talk: | Megan Phelps-Roper
Audience: Middle School and Up

Immigration, Terrorism, & Other Cultures

Who Is My Neighbor
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself, and love the stranger, because you know what it was like to be a stranger.” (6:36 min.)
Source: Book by Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Illustrated by Denise Turu
Audience: All Ages
Immigration to the U.S.
“U.S. policy has focused on enforcement, rather than addressing root causes. It is time to focus on holistic reform.”
Source: UMC Church & Society
Audience: Middle School and Up
Immigrants and Refugees in the Bible
“You shall also love strangers, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19)
Source: Bible Odyssey
Audience: High School and Up
Former Undercover CIA Officer Talks War And Peace
“Everybody believes they’re the good guy.” (3:03 min.)
Source: Al Jazeera
Audience: Middle School and Up
I Am the Son of a Terrorist. Here’s How I Chose Peace.
“Perhaps someone someday who is compelled to use violence may hear my story and realize that there is a better way.” (8:52 min.)
Source: TED Talk | Zak Ebrahim
Audience: Middle School and Up

Guns, Riots, & Police

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story About Racial Injustice
A Black man is shot by a policeman, and Emma and Josh have questions. (10:18 min.)
Source: Magination Press Family book by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard
Audience: Elementary School and Up
Gun Violence Prevention
“All forms of violence are detestable, but guns make violence more deadly and more frequent.”
Source: UMC Church and Society
Audience: Middle School and Up
September 27, 1966: MLK—A Riot is the Language of the Unheard
“If every Negro in the United States turns against nonviolence, I will stand up as a lone voice and say this is the wrong way.” (4:30 min.)
Source: Martin Luther King, Jr. on 60 Minutes
Audience: Middle School and Up
Liberation Theology
“Violence is not only what black people do to white people as victims seek to change structure of their existence; it is also what white people did when they created a society for white people only, and what they do in order to maintain it.”
Source: God of the Oppressed by James Cone
Audience: High School and Up
The Myth of Police Reform
“The real problem is the belief that all our social problems can be solved with force.”
Source: Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic
Audience: High School and Up
Violence in the Bible and What to Do with It
“Jesus, as the embodiment of the Logos of God, really did not only teach, but model and live and die and was resurrected nonviolently.” (50:51 min.)
Source: The Bible for Normal People, Episode 15 with Brian Zahnd
Audience: High School and Up

Agency

Nyle Fort on Agency and Activism
“People don’t want to be oppressed. It’s a very basic notion, but an important one…Joy erupts in that moment when you realize that something else is possible.” (2:05 min.)
Source: Yale Youth Ministry Institute
Audience: Middle School and Up
Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters (Amos 5-6)
“According to Amos, a nation is exceptional by the measure of how it cares for the lowest members of society; and a nation of religious hypocrisy and economic injustice is one that will perish.”
Source: Bible Odyssey
Audience: Middle School and Up
Texas Faith Votes
“Voting is at the core of all civic participation. Texas Impact encourages people of faith and all Texans to participate in all elections.”
Source: Texas Impact
Audience: 18 years and Up
Faith Talks Podcast: Voting and Voter Suppression
“The discussion features women of faith who are working to ensure that every eligible voter can vote.” (1 hr. 14 min.)
Source: United Methodist Women
Audience: High School and Up
The Pandemic May Leave Communities of Color Undercounted in the Census — And Cost Them Billions
“With redistricting and public funds on the line, advocacy groups are rethinking outreach during the coronavirus crisis.”
Source: Vox.com
Audience: Middle School and Up
103 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
“Our work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done.”
Source: Medium
Audience: Middle School and Up

 

Wealth Inequality, Hunger, Education & Healthcare

Last Stop on Market Street
Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. CJ wonders why he doesn’t own things others do or why they always have to get off in the dirty part of town. Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. (10:34 min.)
Source: PBS Kids
Audience: 3 years and Up

6 Facts About Economic Inequality in the U.S.
“Here are some basic facts about how economic inequality has changed over time and how the U.S. compares globally.”
Source: Pew Research Center
Audience: 8th Grade and Up

Hunger & Poverty in the U.S.
“As a church we are called to support the poor and challenge the rich.”
Source: UMC Church & Society
Audience: 8th Grade and Up

 

Education Gap: The Root of Inequality
“Education may be the key to solving broader American inequality, but we have to solve educational inequality first.” (5:54 min.)
Source: Harvard University
Audience: 8th Grade and Up

How Economic Inequality Harms Societies
“Richard Wilkinson charts the hard data on economic inequality, and shows what gets worse when rich and poor are too far apart: real effects on health, lifespan, even such basic values as trust.” (16:39 min.)
Source: TED Talk I Richard Wilkinson
Audience: 8th Grade and Up

Bernie Sanders Speaks at Liberty University (2015)
“It would be hard for anyone in this room today to make the case that the United States of America is a just society. In the US today, there is massive injustice in terms of income and wealth inequality.” (27:57 min.)
Source: C-SPAN
Audience: 8th Grade and Up

Pro-life, Pro-choice with Rachel Held Evans
“Addressing poverty and chronic hunger will help dramatically reduce the rates of abortion.” (50:23 min.)
Source: The Liturgists Podcast
Audience: High School and Up

Gender, Racial, & LGBTQ Equality

Let’s Talk About Race
“This stunning picture book introduces race as just one of many chapters in a person’s story.” (School Library Journal). (7:28 min.)
Source: Let’s Talk About Race Written by Julius Lester
Audience: 7 years and Up
JJ Warren Speech at General Conference 2019
“We desire a church that seeks the justice of God.” (3:24 min.)
Source: UMC General Conference 2019
Audience: Middle School and Up
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Great Equalizer
“Ginsburg bore witness to, argued for, and helped to constitutionalize the most hard-fought and least-appreciated revolution in modern American history: the emancipation of women.”
Source: The New Yorker
Audience: Middle School and Up
Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers
“Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist.”
Source: Time Magazine
Audience: Middle School and Up
Teaching 6-Year-Olds About Privilege and Power
Bret Turner, teacher, builds into classroom discussions how power and privilege are built into all aspects of society. (21 min. EXPLICIT)
Source: KQED Mindshift Podcast
Audience: High School and Up
Power to the People (Andre Henry)
“Moving past the caricatures of Dr. Martin Luther King and the hyper-simplifications of the Civil Rights movement, we dig into a discussion of how community support becomes the alternative to institutional power.” (40:05 min.)
Source: The Next Question
Audience: Middle School and Up
Panel Discussion: The Theological Roots of Racism and Colonialism
White Christians are used to being at the center of everything, which gives them much power. Some struggle thinking about racial problems in the world because they have to wrestle with a reality in which they aren’t at the center. (57:51 min.)
Source: UMC.org/EndRacism
Audience: Middle School and Up