A Prayer initiative by the South Africa Christian Leadership Initiative (SACLI), toward the healing of Africa from the wounds caused by slavery, colonialism, exploitation and racism. We invite Africa and Nations of the world to pray with us from 26 September to 18 November 2022.
The Christian Women Business Network (CWBN) Build and Grow rebranding event took place virtually on June 11. CWBN was established in 2017 and the goal has remained the same to create a safe place for Christian business and professional career women to they can come together to connect, network, support, and uplift each other. The network comprises women from different sectors, backgrounds who are in different positions and stages in business and corporate.
Commenting on the green and gold colours chosen for the rebranding of CWBN, founder Kea Modise-Moloto says: “Gold and green says we are bold. We are strong. In our weakness we are strong. Green shows life and new beginnings and that is what we want in this new phase.
“This new part of our journey. Together we can build. To build you need different materials. You need different mindsets or inputs as you build. We need those who have more than us. In the first chapter of the Bible God talks about multiplying. We cannot be stagnant in our lives; in our business in our careers. We must always be looking for room to grow. The Bible says I will prosper you. Prosperity to me is about growth.”
Michelle Tyron from CWBN says of this season: “It is a season of enlargement where God is going to usher us into such glory. It is time for us to be what we have never been before. To do what we have never done before. As we step into this season of unprecedented favour that God has for us. We are called for such a time as this We are the finishing generation. We need to make sure that our focus is correct.”
Ayanda Allie Paine the spokesperson of the Department of Transport was the guest speaker at the relaunch. She motivated women to take more risks. She shared stories from her own life; how when she was younger, she launched many businesses and community projects but now she has become more hesitant. She admits that her growing family responsibilities and commitments have led her to be more cautious.
Teaching from the stories of Peter who drowned after removing his focus on Jesus and Moses who gave God a list of excuses why he was not the right man to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, Paine encouraged the women to launch out into the deep in their businesses.
In their 4th year of existence the Christian Women Business Network exists beyond South African borders, reaching the United Kingdom; Asia and America. There is an African idiom that says: “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.” This is why the CWBN exists, says Kea — tTo provide a space where Christian business and career women can encourage one another and take their businesses to greater heights.
She says: “When women know and trust the spaces that they are in that surround them, they thrive, they succeed. We look forward to connecting with women from across South Africa and abroad to empower, support, network, encourage and inspire them towards flourishing spiritual and business lives, we are inviting you to come and join our tribe, our community. Contact us through our social media. We want you to participate in our different connection points for your business and for you spiritually.”
But for a man, the expectation and the pressure to be the provider is overwhelming. The concept of financial security is inextricably tied to manhood adds to the pressure to be a financially successful man. No wonder men either abuse the system or feel like a failure for not being able to live up to society’s expectations of them.
With COVID-19 disrupting almost every aspect of our lives, job and income losses have further compounded the plight of men. There are fewer career jobs or “side hustles” that have built-in financial security, yet the expectation on men to provide against all odds is unrelenting. Religion and culture are invoked as the premise upon which man’s duty to provide is non-negotiable.
That man is the head and the woman his helper/assistant, is a privilege that comes with the burden to be financially successful. In churches, the message is that whatever contribution a woman can make, the duty of a man to provide cannot be abdicated. It is such ideas and their implications of gender relations that this article seeks to explore. Specifically, how does the tying of money and being a man affect relationships between men and women?
A Man and Money
In a world where the push for equality is seeing more women having access to education and employment opportunities, the concept of a man being the provider is being challenged. Women are increasingly competing with men and in some cases outshining them. For men who view it as their religious and moral duty to be the “providers”, the idea of a woman taking over this role is discomforting.
Coupled with societal pressures, it threatens their whole concept of manhood as they see that one thing they regarded as definitive to who they are being taken away. For men whose perception of masculinity is tied to how much they provide financially such an arrangement is damaging in many ways. Not only does it create insecurity, but it also becomes a source of conflict in relationships for men socialized to always be ahead. Disagreements and conflicts that could have been resolved amicably result in a breakdown of relationships. Allegations of disrespect and arrogance are associated with a woman’s financial independence.
For many, a man, relating to a woman who does not look to them financially is a huge ask. It is money that is accused of influencing her questions, her decisions, and her behaviour towards the man. On the other hand, family and friends in subtle ways question his manhood which further damages his ego.
The new dilemma for men is how to relate to a woman who is financially successful and independent. When the very thing that was definitive to us as men has been taken away, when that which empowered us and gave us control no longer exists, the question “What does it mean to be a man?”, requires fresh thinking.
The Woman’s Dilemma
On the other hand, for the woman who also grew up looking at a man as the provider, there is the struggle with how to manage the freedom that comes with financial security outside a man. How should she relate to a man who depends on her or a man who she doesn’t depend on financially? How can a man who is her dependant, be her head at the same time? How does she assert her individuality without being misconstrued as disrespectful? Shall she pander to his ego and insecurity by handing over the money to him?
The advent of “stay-at-home” fathers also compounds the situation as men are being pushed into nurturing roles which traditionally were left to women. As she comes back home, religion and culture dictate that she treats her husband as the “head” but on the other hand he is dependent on her. To retain some semblance of control, he will expect her to “serve him” in ways that reaffirm his headship. If that does not happen, aggressive or subliminal messages on disrespect often lead to toxicity as a submission is coerced.
Christianity has not been helpful; instead of preparing young men and women for this new reality, it has, in denial of the new reality, further entrenched concepts of manhood that fuel abuse and a toxic form of submission. Stay-at-home fathers or unemployed men that are dependent on their partners and spouses are looked down upon instead of being celebrated. Messages that portray such a man as a failure further confuse the woman on how to deal with the dependent man she loves.
A man is called upon to see a woman as competition and his success is confirmed by the extent to which she submits to his leadership and consequently depends on him. This obsession with the submission will see a man being uncomfortable with women who excel and are intellectually gifted. Instead of harnessing her gifts and energy, she is forced into silence and passivity so that the man does not feel disrespected or his position threatened in any way.
That women are worthy of God’s trust on an equal basis with men is indisputable but this is not to say they are the same – they are equal but different. However, since the Bible is largely limited on particular duties or roles prescribed for men and women because they are either male or female, father or mother, the differences between men and women should be less limiting.
In some churches, while preaching equality there is a suggestion that Eve was given to Adam as his assistant and subordinate and not his equal. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity to co-create a future, insecure men see the elevation of women as a threat and source of instability. They would rather perpetuate notions of male headship that imply that a woman cannot or should not be anything more, anything else, or anything other than a bearer and nurturer of children. Such views make a woman a slave of her anatomy – not a human being created in the image of God, with infinite possibilities. Unfortunately, the obsession around the provider role of men and the dependent role of women instead of inculcating a sense of partnership has reinforced sex packaged roles with an assumption that both men and women are prisoners of their sexes.
Our pulpits are replete with toxic sermons that portray men as sources of wisdom, faith, and strength while degenerating women as sin agents, victims, dependants, and temptresses. Women of valour are ignored as messages reduce them to junior partners whose role is to assist men rather than excel themselves. The woman in Proverbs 31 is seen as an exception with meekness and patience being extolled as virtues for a godly woman. In fact, Adam never felt threatened when Eve picked fruit or trained the vines nor did he regard Eve as unfeminine when she was roaming about the garden and studying biology with him.
It is surprising that some men refer to home duties and child care duties by women as nobler but they shy away from the same as if they are demeaning. If indeed men think of women as capable, or at least equal in possibility as men in intelligence, ambition, or ability, then their perceptions of manhood should not be tied to money or certain duties in the home. Unless of course, they see her dependence on a man as weakness and inferiority which explains the discomfort and insecurity that erupts when roles are reversed.
Whenever equality is discussed with women being elevated, there is a fear inherent in many cultures that this will lead to emasculation. Men feel that this is a move towards disempowering them from their “God-given position”. Equality is seen as a threat to men and society instead of a mutually beneficial arrangement where both parties thrive without hindrance.
As long as there is an emphasis and expectation on men to provide financial security in a relationship, all forms of abuse will find expression. No wonder the “sugar daddy” phenomenon continues to be pervasive in our societies with young ladies being taken advantage of by richer men. On the other hand, men use the same financial power to manipulate and coerce women for selfish ends. I have seen some men associating arrogance and disrespect in a woman to her financial independence. Not only does it expose their inability to use money as a tool to control women, but it also reveals a notion of masculinity that thrives on manipulation through money. They would rather have the money themselves and keep the woman in a continuous dependent and helpless state.
If both men and women are equal, no one has the sole responsibility of “providing” or is mandated to stay at home and take care of the children. If circumstances dictate that the man earns less or stays at home, this should not take away his sense of being a man. Rigidity to societal expectations and compliance with outdated cultural practices are the greatest obstacle to progress. Candid conversations are needed on degenderizing money and exploring opportunities to elevate our sisters, mothers, and daughters to fulfil their God-given potential.
It is high time that money is disentangled from manhood, accepting that times have changed. Let our thinking and attitudes evolve to place emphasis on male and female being one flesh – a team in the truest sense. In the cooperative venture, who brings in money should cease to be a preoccupation but a shared responsibility with both co-creating financial security. As equals, women should move away from looking at men as custodians of their financial security but with boldness to pursue lofty ambitions that include making money. If indeed the spirit of the often-quoted Ephesians 5 is upheld, money will not be used to entrench despotic authority, ego trips, or last words. Both men and women will be guided by the underlying principle in Ephesians 5:21, “Be subject to one another in reverence to Christ.”
Dr. Admiral Ncube encourages us to think more deeply about issues impacting the relationships between men and women. He is a Zimbabwean Development Professional based in Gaborone, Botswana. He is married to Margaret and is a father of 3 boys. Dr. Ncube has had the privilege of working in the development sector in Asia, Middle East and Africa, with over 15 years of experience.
We must keep ourselves reminded of diverse kingdom principles that influence our faith. Among these kingdom principles lies ‘Unity’. That isn’t a new word in Christendom. In other words, we’re cognizant of the word ‘Unity.
Therefore, unity means oneness. Oneness of heart as Christian women. Where we get to a point of agreement with each other.
The point where the welfare of others become a priority to us. Subsequently, Unity in the body of Christ grows us to the point where we can be our sister’s keepers genuinely.
The Christian race isn’t a puzzle where we have to guess our way through to win. Instead, it’s a race in which we thrive together to obtain the heavenly prize. Therefore, I need you, you need me, and we all need one another to grow in faith.
Why crave to pull down a sister in the faith? How about the attitude of envy and jealousy towards another in the body of Christ? Or the unhealthy competition we engage in to showcase how good we’re at certain times areas of life and make others feel less about themselves.
I tell you, if we must win the race, then we must set aside every weight of disunity, hatred, malice, and strive to relate with one another with the love of Christ bestowed upon us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”(John 13:35)
We must not let the enemy (devil) create enmity among us Christians. The end time is here. Hence, it’s time to work together as we await the return of our saviour. We must realize that united we stand as Christians.
Furthermore, there are still certain women in the body of Christ who think less of themselves and believe they have nothing to contribute. Hence, they prefer to stay inactive or fight others who are succeeding.
However, If you’re among these categories of women, I have glad tidings for you; God has never created anyone without a virtue. Therefore, we need to come to the point of alignment with God’s plans for us to experience the manifestation of those virtues deposited in us.
I need you to think about how your body system functions—all parts working together to stay alive. The eyes are not more important than the legs or any other part of the body. Similarly, the body of Christ works this way.
Brace up sis and play your role in the body of Christ. This is important because when we grow weary along the way, there is a stronger hand from a loving sister to lift us.
In other words, we shouldn’t despise another sister. We need the oneness of the heart to finish strong.
God has a reason for placing you in whatever group or fellowship you belong to right now. He desires you to stand up and encourage others. Cultivate the lifestyle of drawing closer to other sisters within your local church, offices, and neighbourhood. Learn to inquire about their struggles and see how you can be of help to them.
Happiness Hassan is obsessed with a godly lifestyle and loves sharing her faith with other women unashamedly.
Most people think money is the secret to satisfaction. They think that happiness equates to how much money you’ve got at your disposal. But happiness has nothing to do with money. Money isn’t about solving your problems. In fact, sometimes our problems escalate as our money increases—not the other way around.
That’s why Paul wrote: “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10)
There are so many things money can’t buy. Money can’t buy health. It can’t buy relational harmony. It can’t buy respect, honour, character or esteem. When things go south in any of those areas, if money is all you’ve got working for you, you’ll discover the actual value of money. You’ll learn that money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s so much that matters more than how much money you have in your wallet or your bank account. But it’s very easy to forget that.
As a result, people frequently spend their energy praying for stuff when God wants to give them more than stuff. He wants to give significance, strength, stability and identity. All the stuff in the world doesn’t amount to much if you are so broken, empty or alone that you cannot enjoy it, and you don’t have anyone with whom to share it. Stuff never made anyone smile the way that satisfaction, purpose and even service can. Our world focuses on stuff, while Jesus reminds us what matters most.
Dr Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. Dr Evans holds the honour of writing and publishing the first full-Bible commentary and study Bible by an African American. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr Tony Evans, can be heard on over 1,400 radio outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr Evans’ sermons are also streamed and downloaded over 20,000,000 times annually.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the support of academia, social justice campaigners, and the arts, play a vital role in defending human rights ideals in South Africa and across the continent.
As the country commemorates Human Rights Day on 21 March, access to justice remains an important theme for human rights NGOs and all efforts are directed towards helping individuals and groups from poor communities.
As a result, a significant amount of financial and human resources are channelled to establishing and supporting community-based paralegal advice offices that provide people with wide-ranging legal and social advice.
Human rights NGOs in South Africa are concerned with protecting civil rights to ensure the effective functioning of the country’s democracy. A fair number of organisations that provide legal and social services to disadvantaged communities are based in academic institutions around the country. They combine academic and applied research to lobby for social and economic justice.
Moreover, within the context of a developing country, a significant group is emerging which argues that poverty is the manifestation of unfulfilled rights. Thus, a significant proportion of South African NGOs integrate human rights into broader development issues by advocating for a rights-based approach to development.
In essence, this involves engaging in upstream strategies to promote social change. NGOs promoting a rights-based approach to development are commonly advocacy orientated, mobilising communities around various social justice campaigns.
Here is an overview of some of the more prominent human rights NGOs in South Africa:
Art for Humanity
Art for Humanity (AFH) promotes human rights awareness through the mobilising of artists, writers and poets, both nationally and internationally, in creating artwork for social justice education and advocacy.
In addition to producing and curating books, multimedia artworks, exhibits and school workshops to encourage art as a means to communicate the human rights message, the organisation also works in partnerships with corporate entities, other non-governmental organisations and the government in developing community-based human rights events and discussions, and bridging the gap between the arts and the sector’s duty to speak for the human spirit.
Dullah Omah Institute for Human Rights
Initially called the Community Law Centre, it was founded in 1990 by renowned human rights lawyer and former government minister Dullah Omar. The NGO was a continuation of his work during the anti-apartheid struggle to put the human rights of ordinary citizens at the forefront of the developing new democracy in South Africa.
Before 1994, the centre played a major role in the negotiations between the National Party government and the democratic parties, and in determining the country’s first democratic constitution, of which human rights is one of its most prominent pillars. The organisation included prominent activists, including Bulelani Ngcuka, Dr Zola Skweyiya, and Brigitte Mabandla.
The organisation has continued to be a major contributor to policy formulation for South Africa’s constitutional order, while also advising on constitutional and human rights matters across the rest of Africa.
Renamed in 2015 to honour its founder, who died in 2004, the Dullah Omar Institute for Constitutional Law, Governance and Human Rights produces more than 50 articles, books and research reports and hosts more than 20 workshops, conferences and seminars annually, focused on children’s rights, socio-economic rights, multilevel government, criminal justice reform and women’s rights.
Operating under the University of the Western Cape’s Faculty of Law, the institute comprises 30 National Research Foundation-accredited doctoral and post-doctoral researchers, headed by accomplished legal and constitutional academic Professor Jaap de Visser.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is an independent human rights organisation with over 35 years of human rights activism and public interest litigation in South Africa. The organisation uses the law as a positive instrument for change and to deepen the democratisation of South African society. It provides free legal services to vulnerable, marginalised and indigent individuals and communities, both non-national and South African victims of unlawful infringements of their constitutional rights.
Operating since 1979, LHR achieved a proud record and formidable reputation for fighting oppression and abuse of human rights under apartheid. The organisation later assisted in the transition to democracy, particularly through voter education and election monitoring during the 1994 elections. Today, LHR is recognised as being the vanguard of South African civil society in its ever-evolving democracy.
While the LHR recognises that NGOs need to enter into joint ventures with state institutions to promote human rights objectives, the organisation remains vigilant in its role as ombudsman and advocates for human rights causes.
Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria
Established by the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Law in 1986, the Centre for Human Rights is both an academic department and a non-governmental organisation focused on human rights education throughout Africa. It has developed wide-ranging and influential academic literature on a variety of human rights themes, including creating greater awareness of human rights in Africa and the improvement of the rights of women, people living with HIV, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and other disadvantaged or marginalised persons or groups across the continent.
Nationally, the centre was one of the few internal institutions to speak out against human rights violations in South Africa during the apartheid years. Members of the centre participated in discussions with the liberation movements outside the borders of South Africa, organised conferences and were outspoken in efforts to promote human rights in South Africa.
After 1994, it served as a technical adviser to the interim and final constitution writing processes.
Today, the centre has realigned its focus on the continent, positioning itself as a primary mover in a network of practising and academic lawyers, national and international civil servants and human rights practitioners in Africa, specifically on the development of human rights law.
In 2006, the Centre for Human Rights was awarded the Unesco Prize for Human Rights Education for its advancement and strengthening of human rights and democracy, particularly for the African Human Rights Moot Court Simulation Competition and its pioneering LLM postgraduate law degree in human rights and democratisation in Africa.
Legal Resources Centre
Established in 1979 by a group of prominent South African lawyers, including Arthur Chaskalson and Felicia Kentridge, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) uses the law as an instrument of justice for vulnerable and marginalised communities.
Other LRC alumni include some of the most prominent players in the country’s legal system, including Chief Justice and Constitutional Court judge Sandile Ngcobo, veteran human rights advocate George Bizos and retired High Court judge Chris Nicholson, who during his time at the LRC in the 1980s undertook challenges to apartheid-era pass laws and detention without trial causes.
Enshrined in the belief that the Constitution is transformative and should continually be a living and relevant document that addresses the contemporary human rights needs of all South Africans, the LRC strives for effective and innovative solutions to law reform. The organisation focuses on land and housing rights, as well as environmental law and continental outreach.
Its Working Paper series oversees academic writing publication, on topics in the public interest on local, continental and global levels.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hope is something that I struggle to maintain, especially as a Black woman living within the many intersections of oppression in America.
I have watched police execute men, women, and children that looked like me. I have watched an overtly racist and xenophobic President win an election and catalyze a country into a comfort with hate speech.
I have watched Americans become so comfortable and encouraged by their hate that they stormed and took siege of the United States capital. It is this present reality that has often robbed me of my hope in America, in this system.
And then I met Dr. Stephen Morris. Dr. Morris has spent 20 years in public education, working his way up from a teacher all the way to becoming a superintendent, in charter, public, and private schools. He served as the Vice President for World Impact, Inc. and co-founded a private school in South Central Los Angeles that centered the experiences of under-resourced urban children. Dr. Morris is Co-Founder/CEO of the Civic Education Center, Inc.
As we chatted, my defenses came down. Dr. Morris was a gentle and kind presence. With ease and confidence, he spent an hour conveying to me the ways in which democracy can evoke justice and thus, holiness. He shared historical facts and personal stories with me. We exchanged laughs and listened deeply. As a proponent of intergenerational work in order to create a more just and inclusive society, I can absolutely say that this was my richest intergenerational conversation yet. Enjoy the below conversation.
Bethany: I’d love to hear you articulate who you are.
Dr. Morris: I describe myself as someone on a journey to discover and understand God’s love in the context of who I am. My heritage, ethnicity, class, and status as a father and grandfather and as a husband. I try to put together those pieces and live in a way that honors those unique intersections of who I am in the midst of knowing that God accepts all of them—the pieces and the total.
Bethany: Let’s get into the work that you’re doing. When did you start?
Dr. Morris: It started when I worked as a missionary in urban America after I graduated from a Mennonite college and an Anabaptist background. I had a chance to play pro football or go into the ministry as a missionary. I was weighing it back and forth. At that time, there was a crazy book out called Meat on the Hookthat looked at professional players like a side of beef. The book included the injuries [from] that lifestyle.
Back then, football was still operating under this fake science that Black people can endure more injuries and that their bodies are tougher. Well, I became a missionary in As a missionary in South Central LA, working with gang bangers and prostitutes and drug dealers. There was not one person who did not want a better life for their children.
We found common ground with their children. What hope do you have for your child? How do you want them to be different? What do you want the world to be like for them so they can be more successful? That was across the board, so I helped create some Christian schools that focused on that and we tried to expand the model into Philadelphia and Newark, N.J. We wanted to take people where they were at and not judge them.
When I moved to Fresno, I ended up retiring from the ministry and getting into public schools and doing the same thing. I became a 6th grade teacher and loved it. Again, it allowed me to reinforce people where they were at. I became a vice principal, a principal ,and then a superintendent.
Bethany: That must’ve been very different from mission work. What did you see in that work?
Dr. Morris: When I got my Doctorate and wrote my dissertation, I was really looking at educational structures and segregation and how we build the whole child in the midst of that. It changed my outlook. What could I talk about in public schools? I could talk about America and about the government. But what about those things would bring a connection to someone, their spirit or their being, and to make that person want to change? That mission became my calling.
The center was created in 2016 with the intention of providing training for educators working with students to identify community problems, engage with American civic values and ideals, conduct research to understand causes and potential solutions, and implement a civic service project.
Bethany: This is a very interesting conversation for me because I am a rebellious millennial who doesn’t believe in institutions and who is constantly frustrated with America. It’s so interesting to hear you talk about America from a very hopeful place. How do you keep hope alive in this present climate?
Dr. Morris: I think I do this because my generation fought for stuff. I couldn’t swim in a public pool until I was 12 years old. We swam in creeks and ponds, and the first time that President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill we went to the “All White” pool. The White people got out because they were afraid of contamination. But we didn’t care! We stayed in the pool all day and there was nothing they could do about it!
So within a week, the White people were getting in the pool with us one at a time and they saw that nothing happened. Their skin didn’t change color and they didn’t get some weird disease. So more of them started getting in the pool with us! We fought to be able to get into a public swimming pool, to go to a school that was fully equipped, to go into a movie theater, and not to have to sit in the balcony. We fought to not just be locked into one area to live but to have access to everywhere.
And we saw some changes happen! Those changes weren’t always as internal as you would hope, but that came later. But there was change!
Bethany: What do you hope younger generations get to see and experience in this democracy and from your work?
Dr. Morris: The hope we have is the very thing that your generation (Millennials) will fight for. As bombastic as Trump is, we have a way of getting him out of office! Now, unfortunately, it got crazy because his supporters stormed the Capitol.
That’s not what it’s supposed to be. I mean they claim democracy, but they’re in there waving Confederate flags and attacking. No, you don’t really understand democracy. What you understand is something that continues to support your privileged lifestyle. And that’s what we continue to fight.
Many of today’s democratic societies are driven by self-protectionism, not the “invisible hand,” as proscribed by Adam Smith, the father of Western economic and social growth. Smith believed that human beings are driven by passion, reason, and empathy for others. In my opinion, this empathy for others becomes the invisible that allows individuals and free societies to prosper and ensures the goodwill or the common good of all.
From my perspective, American Democracy is limited by a ten percent mentality, implying that once the ten percent margin is reached, further responsibility to society or our fellow human beings is no longer necessary. We see so much selfishness in American Democracy, so much so that we fail to acknowledge the Devine. The invisible hand drives Christianity, that of an Omnipotent gracious God who gave abundantly more than ten percent to redeem us.
I do not believe God favors one form of government or another, but I do believe that in a democratic society characterized by individual freedom and responsibility, we are afforded greater opportunity to live in a manner that goes beyond the ten percent. We can move beyond privileged lifestyles and class-structured societies to ensure all access to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness or contentment.
Bethany: So what is democracy to you? How can it work together with faith?
Dr. Morris: Democracy is the opportunity to ensure government reflects the values of our God, who created all to possess an inherited worth. In the story of Creation, human beings come to life when God breathes the breath of life into our lungs.
Democracy means ”people rule”; therefore, we have a moral, if not a sacred, responsibility to all to ensure all live in a society where all may have the opportunity to live out our faith in such a manner that honors our responsibility to one another.
Bethany: What do you want students to learn from you?
Dr. Morris: I want them to come away knowing that we all have a responsibility, a shared role, and those shared roles are based on values that are greater than mankind—or any individual. I want people to understand that those values are greater than all of us, and that’s what gives us common ground to perfect the Union, to talk about gender identity, to talk about poverty, to talk about immigration.
If we start from the point of view that everyone is born in the image of God, then we want everyone to be maximized in the image of God.
Bethany Stewart is an HBCU graduate living in what she describes as the perfect city, Philadelphia, PA. She works as an Education and Employment Specialist for formerly homeless young adults while also working as a community organizer focused on ending mass incarceration. She enjoys the beauty of God’s creation in nature and has been known to set it off if one begins making up “house rules” during a game of Uno.