Boston Public Transportation in the Docks

January 27, 2012

By now, most of us in the Boston metro area have heard of the alarming proposal by the MBTA to cut services and raise fares. They are currently holding public hearings in communities throughout their service zones in order to receive resident feedback. This past Wednesday I was able to attend my local public hearing in Salem. The entire space was packed out, necessitating two separate rooms for discussion.

Residents from all over the area protested how prohibitive the 35-45% fare hikes would be: commuter rail tickets from Salem to North Station would rise from $5.25 to between $7.00 & $7.50, not something most families can easily absorb. Members of local city councils and chambers of commerce also voiced how disruptive such steep prices would be to their local economies. Not surprisingly, there was also serious objection to the complete loss of commuter rail service after 10:00 pm & on the weekends, as well as several bus routes.

The MBTA officials present were not surprised to hear any of this. They’d certainly heard it at other hearings, but also surely understood these effects when they drew up “the best options for the most people,” as they put it. They seemed to take the anger well in stride, as people rightfully expressed their anger at such stark changes. The bottom line, as they communicated, remained that the budget could no longer be balanced by fixes like debt shifting and the like, and thus had to be resolved by some combination of higher fares & fewer services.

What emerged was their clear need for an additional revenue source. But that is not something they can do much to secure, other than expand advertisement space. As they pointed out, anything like a new tax would have to come from the legislature. (I know, government 101 right). But that point focused me: without an additional revenue stream coming in, the rest of budget discussions would simply be about where to shift the costs (again, fare hikes & service cuts). So when I spoke I urged them to coordinate with the appropriate legislators to get some meaningful bill going. It’s not like there is a shortage of options: a gas tax, some kind of regional finance tax, or how bout closing some corporate loopholes?

But in order for anything like that to pass, residents will have to find a way to channel their anger & concern into support of a real solution, a new revenue source. Our legislators will need to know how much we value our MBTA before they stick their necks out for new taxes. I believe I saw Beverly’s state rep Jerald Parisella at the hearing, so it’s not like lawmakers don’t know this is a huge issue for constituents. So, it’s time for us as constituents to let them know, individually and collectively.

There have already been protests, and there will continue to be hearings. So, if you’ve never really gotten involved in public issues before, this is a great time to start! This is about the accessibility of vital services we depend on as individuals, families, and communities. It’s about transit justice for the least advantaged and ecological health for all of us. It’s about preserving a public good with a myriad of public benefits. And that requires a public commitment. In the coming weeks, I will be eagerly exploring what it will look like to help make this commitment a public reality.

In the meantime, be sure to attend your local hearing and check out groups like the T Riders Union, Occupy the MBTA, or Transportation for Massachusetts.

Martin Luther King Day and Music

January 17, 2012

Every Martin Luther King Day, I seem to find myself listening to U2’s “Pride” on repeat for long chunks of time, even though it gets massive radio play throughout the year. It’s nothing short of an anthem for good Reverend Doctor that makes his legacy seem alive and beautiful today.

And I find that to be deeply refreshing when most of the music I listen to does little to re-energize my devotion to the high moral principles to which I strive, ideals like: integrity, graciousness, justice, humility. The grandeur of music is wonderfully contagious, but I find so much of it today simply reinforces a desire for personal experiences of pleasure with self-indulgent narrowness, even much of the worship music in the churches I have frequented. I find that leaves me on good days a divided person, and on bad ones a narcissist masquerading as a conscientious soul, deceived into thinking that idle convictions somehow make for a righteousness by proxy, or that opting out of controversial spheres somehow counts as more authentic living than disciplined engagement. The kind of engagement that Dr. King lived to the full.

To be real, art must speak from oneself. But it mustn’t only speak about self. Or self-indulgence. I find that music which calls us out from ourselves into better selves or into a greater embrace of the brokenness around us to be deeply nurturing. Instead of merely hearing different backbeats to the same song, “I want sex/love/God,” “I have sex/love/God,” “I lost sex/love/God,” what if we also sought out music that actually fostered an outward focus: “I see my neighbor’s struggles,” “I identify with their weakness,” “I am stirred to act in solidarity.” Because that is beautiful too and worthy of song, as the life of Dr. King demonstrates.*

Of course, a major hurdle to writing popular music with rich public outcry is that challenging social paradigms of injustice is disruptive, as disruptive as challenging psychological paradigms of self-indulgence. And as “Pride” observes, doing so got Martin Luther King shot and Jesus crucified. And yet I find myself needing to feel (again and again) the beauty of such difficult challenges. Because I too am a recovering self-aholic, prone to relapse. Too easily it is forgetten that the Civil Rights Movement itself was sustained by songs that celebrated its lofty visions of peace, justice, and brotherly love.

And so, I have found myself listening to more and more U2 today because even as they sing about romantic and divine love personally experienced, they preserve energy to strike at self-ism’s creed and injustice’s presence: “And today the millions cry. We eat and drink, while tomorrow they die.”

It’s Martin Luther King Day. A good day to rediscover music like that and wake up to the world around us.

*Thank you to Ben Gambino to turning me on to this song and helping me make the connection between music and social justice.

My 11 Favorite Recent Posts on Worker Issues

September 6, 2011

In honor of Labor Day yesterday, I thought I’d post a handful of recent links on current worker-related issues that I have found salient to bear in mind (with some commentary). Enjoy!

1. The ratio of corporate profits to wages is now higher than at any time since just before the Great Depression.

2. But that’s just part of the picture. Here is a mash up of charts and maps from Mother Jones illustrating many other (unnecessarily) harsh dynamics American workers face, in comparison to their counterparts in other countries.

3. Of course, then there are the unemployed, courtesy an economic collapse they did not cause. Compounding this high-need situation are budget cuts to state and local governments, which since 2008 have not only meant service cuts to primarily the non-wealthy, but also constitute direct job losses in the hundreds of thousands, effectively negating private sector job creation.

4. And yet, most of these jobs are “non-trade” parts of our economy that constitute 70% of our economy, precisely the part of the economy we must grow to find our way out of widespread unemployment, says economy economist Michael Spence. Of course, the catch is that these depend on demand, something he points out our economy severely lacks right now.

5. And here is a more detailed critique of several job creation ideas by economist Dean Baker.

(Notably NOT included there is sacrificing worker protections and enforcement of other regulations that safeguard public goods from private aggrandizement & irresponsibility…)

6. In fact, Here are highlights from a report showing how regulations actually stimulate economic growth and job creation, exposing as dubious the notion that workers must subsidize job creation with unsafe workplaces, unstable financial markets, unhealthy natural environment and so forth.

7. Or as Jon Stewart puts it brilliantly, does the United States have to undergo a “Third World makeover” in order to continue to attract capital?

8. Meanwhile, in rural America, farmers have not fared well against staggering concentrations of market power that big agribusiness have obtained in recent decades.

9. From a management perspective, we have a recent video from Mitt Romney promoting so-called “Right-to-work” legislation. I threw this on here because it is an eerie throwback to the “happy slave” & “plantation-as-family” myth that slaveowners used to legitimize their power over their slaves. In the video, the company owner claims to have “reasonable confidence” that his employees are happy, as he voices concern for them, when, as with slaveowners, he can discard his workers at will, something we cannot (and hopefully would not) do with family! Even if his concern is genuine, the whole problem is that he is still speaking on their behalf, a paternalism we tend to reject in favor of shared power.

10. But shared power in the workplace basically means employees being able to bargain collectively and so secure a place at the table. However as unions have been blamed for many of our recent social and economic woes (not least of all regarding our education system), disempowering unionized workers has become fashionable even to many liberals. Richard Rothstein’s piece “Grading the Reformers” highlights several fundamental realities in our education system that reveal little warrant for treating teachers as recalcitrant workers responsible for holding back the education of our youth.

11. And finally, Kevin Drum highlights the historical importance of organized labor in shaping public policy in favor of workers, and traces labor’s declining ability over the 2nd half of the twentieth century to do so, leaving little answer to the organized business community.

In all this I see people with an ever-declining ability to shape their economic futures and wonder: How will this change? Through even less power and greater vulnerability…?

…Our nation is in search of a Jubilee.

Mass Paid Sick Leave update: the hearing

July 29, 2011

Photo credit: Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition

So, the hearing for the Paid Sick Day bill at the Massachusetts state house earlier this month went very well. You can check out the write-up I did for the Boston Faith & Justice Network here!

If you are curious to hear more detail on the specifics discussed, check out this recent interview with the head of the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition, Elizabeth Toulan.

I will try to post more updates as developments unfold.

Freedom for American Workers

July 5, 2011

As I enjoyed and celebrated my freedom on Independence Day, I found myself considering the promise that my country boasts of “liberty and justice for all.” In particular I was struck by the many freedoms uniquely absent from the lives of so many American workers. As Americans we are proud of the freedoms we have protected by law, but sadly, “the land of the free” is one of the few countries in the world that has no federal law guaranteeing workers a weekly day of rest, paid maternity leave, paid sick leave, or annual paid leave in general.

This means that tens of millions of US workers must choose between getting paid and recovering from illness, between getting paid and taking care of a sick or newborn child. And unsurprisingly, it is low-wage workers who most often lack such benefits and can least afford losing a day’s pay (not to mention their job), for missing work due to illness. This prohibitive cost constrains our freedom to be healthy and humanly present in our families.

This freedom is hardly a luxury, and workers who are there day-in and day-out have surely earned their right to it. However, due to the weaker bargaining position of low-wage workers, their terms of employment often preclude them from participating fairly in their prosperity. With the US of A commanding the strongest GDP the world has ever witnessed, there is simply no good reason that nearly 40% of private sector workers should be forced to take unpaid sick leave. (Especially given the costs imposed on public health and incurred by businesses from employees who must come to work sick).

In practice then, we have not liberty and justice for all but only for the economically powerful. It is high time we straighten out these dysfunctional economic relationships by protecting basic worker freedoms through the laws of our land.

The Healthy Families Act, for example, would establish a national standard for paid sick leave. There are also numerous state and city initiatives worth checking out as well.

For my friends here in Massachusetts, we currently have real momentum behind An Act Establishing Paid Sick Days. A hearing for the bill has actually been set for July 14, and we are eager to see it through to passage and bring paid sick days to the one million Massachusetts workers who are currently without them. If you are interested in helping Massachusetts become the second state in the US to enact such a protection, definitely let me know ASAP, or get in touch with the good people at the Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition.

Exciting July 11 update: Sojourners decided to post a version of this on their blog this past Friday the 9th!

King on True Social Peace

January 17, 2011

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I thought I’d share a passage of his that I have found quite meaningful and challenging:

I remember when I was in Montgomery, Alabama, one of the white citizens came to me one day and said – and I think he was very sincere about this – that in Montgomery for all of these years we have been such a peaceful community, we have had so much harmony in race relations and then you people have started this movement and boycott, and it has done so much to disturb race relations, and we just don’t love the Negro like we used to love them, because you have destroyed the harmony and the peace that we once had in race relations. And I said to him, in the best way I could say and I tried to say it in nonviolent terms, we have never had peace in Montgomery, Alabama, we have never had peace in the South. We have had a negative peace, which is merely the absence of tension; we’ve had a negative peace in which the Negro patiently accepted his situation and his plight, we’ve never had the peace, we’ve never had positive peace, and what we’re seeking now is to develop this positive peace…

True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice and brotherhood. I think this is what Jesus meant when he said, “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” Now Jesus didn’t mean he came to start war, to bring a physical sword, and he didn’t mean, I come not to bring positive peace. But I think what Jesus was saying in substance was this, that I come not to bring an old negative peace, which makes for stagnant passivity and deadening complacency, I come to bring something different, and whenever I come, a conflict is precipitated, between the old and the new, whenever I come a struggle takes place between the old and the new, whenever I come a struggle takes place between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. I come not to bring a negative peace, but a positive peace, which is brotherhood, which is justice, which is the Kingdom of God.

“Love, Law, and Civil Disobedience,” 1961

Such a holistic understanding of peace, I find, echoes the rich biblical concept of shalom, and Christian Scripture as a whole, which rejects cheap grace in favor of maturely discipled love, which is ultimately to reflect the perfect love of God, in whom righteousness and peace coexist in perfect harmony (Ps. 85). It is the difficult work of instantiating or approximating this peace and justice here in our broken world that King speaks so authentically to, in his words, his life, and ultimately his death. Rather than bringing wanton violence like [the Arizona shooter] Jared Lee Loughner, King suffered it, showing that seeking both justice and peace can prove costly. It certainly proved costly to God, in Christ, when he submitted to death on a cross to achieve a just peace with humanity and to lay a foundation for a just peace among humanity (Eph. 2:11-22; Phil. 2; Col. 1:20).

The other, more common (but more difficult) cost King speaks to here is that of relinquishing the insulation that comes from our privileged social locations. Choosing to expose ourselves to the unjust sufferings of our fellow creatures appears to be an essential part of authentically seeking justice (Is. 58:7). The humility that God the Son exhibited in submitting to death, first involved submitting to life, human, earthly life, with all of its struggles (Phil. 2; Heb. 2:14-18). If Christ, who did not owe it to us to relinquish his privileged position, exposed himself to our weak human condition, how much more ought we be willing to expose ourselves to the weak condition of others? King’s words are a continual reminder to me that we must be sure to hear the cries of the weak and the poor rather than dismissing them, and that a meaningful response to injustice requires committed confrontation. I’ve found that both hearing and responding challenge me with the personal costs of effort, time, honesty, dissonance, power-sharing, and the risks of confronting power, but that they ultimately result in a deeper peace, in a truer shalom.

Holiday Consumption and the Theology of Christmas

November 29, 2010

It is a fair question which day better inaugurates our holiday season here in the United States: Thanksgiving or the day following, Black Friday. The former captures the festiveness we cherish, while the later marks day one of a season of prolific consumption, culminating in Christmas itself. As much as this is done in the spirit of gift-giving, I wonder: what does an actual spirit of thanksgiving and a sober theology of Christmas have to say to our consuming? Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, who Christians believe was God the Son, entering fully into the brokenness of the world in both his life and death. The apostles saw deep significance for our lifestyle in this:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love… do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:1, 4-8)

It seems then, that the spirit of the incarnation is one of self-sacrifice and orientation towards others. Many of us already display this during the holidays with an outpouring of charitable giving. But I believe we can even integrate the goal of our charity into our daily consumption as well: proclaiming, with Jesus, good news to the poor and freedom for the oppressed (Luke 4:15-22) by redirecting our purchasing power towards businesses that choose to treat their workers with the respect due them as persons who bear God’s image.

Our globalized economy has benefited some but locked too many into positions of economic weakness, where they face unlivable wages, inhuman treatment, and often times outright slavery. Being so far away, this is often hidden from us. All we see is the end product: the cup of coffee in our hands, the blue jeans on the rack.

But now more than ever, companies’ supply chains are becoming increasingly transparent, with third-party certifiers examining them according to standards that governments generally fail to monitor. Officially certified “Fair Trade” products can be found everywhere from stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to more standard grocery stores and shopping centers to local hole-in-the-wall shops (like Organic Rainbow in Beverly). And many companies sell directly from their website. (See below for helpful links!)

This is by no means a perfect process, but third-party certification and labeling by reputable organizations like Transfair empower us, the consumer, to be agents of change like never before. Most of us are not in positions that allow us to engage such deplorable conditions directly. BUT we all consume, and this common daily practice is our point of contact with the rest of the world and thus represents a sphere of responsibility and opportunity to help redeem the economies that the poor and disempowered labor under, albeit in small ways.

In so doing, I submit we live worshipfully before God in the Spirit of Christ (Is. 58:5-8; Rom. 12:1-2; James 1:27). While it seems clear that broader change is needed to ensure that markets live up to their ideal where all parties actually benefit, this practice of disciplining our consumption forces us to consider this, and I believe that is a healthy thing. Such reflection on the interrelationship of our economic actions, especially as it regards the weak and the poor, is deeply neighborly and very much a part of our tradition, from the early church fathers to the medieval scholastics to John Wesley and onward. Such action is, I believe, one small way we can all enter into the brokenness of the world more fully, just as Christ did on our behalf in the incarnation.

So, what if instead of chocolate from mainstream corporations like M&M/Mars or Nestle, we filled our holiday bowls and stockings with chocolate that was not made with slave labor, like Equal Exchange or Divine Chocolate? (There are even fair trade Advent calendars! Who knew?!) Or what if we took some time to explore fair trade coffee and tea alternatives in our local grocer (or even at Starbucks)? What if we even prompted our places of worship, study, or work to make an institutional switch? Transitioning our consumption patterns certainly requires some discipline, but as we contemplate God’s work in Christ for us, I believe it can be a joyful & worthy discipline.

To this end, I offer a handful of sites that feature fair trade products and/or rate various companies’ labor practices. Check em out! Get lost in them! In the spirit of transparency, many post their criteria and/or their methodology. Also, if there are other worthwhile sites you know of, please post them! Enjoy.

1. Free 2 Work. A company ratings project by Not-for-Sale, a grass-roots anti-human trafficking group

2. Global Exchange Store. An online site featuring fair trade products

3. Fair trade Christmas gift guide. From Transfair

4. Fair Trade Boston Guide. Put together by the Boston Faith & Justice Network

5. Better World Shopper. A company ratings project by a researcher, recommended by a friend of mine

For a Few Dollars More

July 18, 2010

As we watched the two construction workers go knock on the door of their former employer’s residence along with the Arise leaders, we didn’t know quite what to expect. This man has stiffed them several thousand dollars and has since rebuffed their attempts to confront him on this issue, defying a court order he signed agreeing to pay up.

Would it be different this time because they were now at his front door, with several community allies with them, including a Methodist reverend? Or would they get the door slammed in their face?

Well, it was different. And they didn’t get the door slammed in their face, but their old boss was not there either. Instead, they got to speak with his wife, who was quite unaware of the situation. In her, they actually got a decent audience, as she listened, asked questions, and eyed the rest of us on the sidewalk, who were wearing giant digits on our chests, showing the number “$4,000,” the amount of wages yet to be paid to these workers. They were able to show the wife the court document with her husband’s signature on it, promising to pay. (The workers had actually accommodated his claims of financial hardship by agreeing to accept the backwages in smaller installments, but even these were forthcoming).

It proved to be a very civil exchange, but it’s not everyday that people show up at your door informing you that your spouse is defying the law by withholding thousands of dollars in wages from his employees! So, I’m sure he is hearing about it from her, and that may prove to be a more effective means of getting through than we could have otherwise planned. The two workers seemed encouraged by the exchange, and I hope that sustains them at a time when they need their wages the most.

Meanwhile, we will continue to work for justice by discerning what our next steps are. A possible path to explore is how this employer may be held in contempt of court for his defiance. He and too many employers who, like him, steal wages, are certainly in contempt of their workers, our communities, and dare I say, the living God:

Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is one of your countrymen or is a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
-Deuteronomy 24:14-15

A Fistful of Dollars

July 12, 2010

For many Americans, economic injustice is an abstraction beyond our regular experience.  In a few days I’m going to have a chance to look it right in the face: a local construction contractor who has withheld $8,000 worth of wages from two of his workers.

This is but one instance of the widespread problem of wage theft, which occurs in a variety of ways and goes widely unnoticed (as noted in earlier post). Not surprisingly, the workers who can least afford it are the ones most vulnerable to it;. This is not a coincidence – it is simply one of the more egregious expressions of the power imbalance that exists between employers and employees in our society.

Of course, the most effective way workers can protect themselves from this and other labor violations is actually to be part of a union, since labor law enforcement is sporadic and penalties are too weak to serve as a deterrent. However, with so many workers lacking the protection of a union, an additional force is needed to secure the fruits of their labors, legally owed them by contract.

Enter worker centers, which provide education, advocacy, and community support for workers at the margins of our economy.  Workers’ rights groups like Interfaith Worker Justice have networks of worker centers all over the country.   A local Chicago chapter I am becoming familiar with is the Arise Chicago worker center, run by a fantastic team of persons dedicated to seeing workers secure justice. Since 2002, for example, they have won back over $3.6 million in unpaid wages, workers’ compensation, and discrimination claims.  (And that’s just known, successful cases in the Chicago area alone!)

And this week I’ll be helping them win back a few thousand dollars more by confronting this contractor at his place of business with the two construction workers and a delegation of community allies that will include local clergy members. It should be noted that the legal channels have already run their course here: this employer has already been ordered by a local court to pay up and yet still has not. This is why such community action with workers is so crucial: it fills the gap between law and justice. It empowers workers by showing them they are not isolated and instead isolates the employer in his injustice by showing him community members will not stand for it.

Hence, I’m excited to have a chance to help rally such community support by reaching out to local clergy, some of whom may be used to this kind of work and some of whom may find this a fresh change of pace from their usual ministry rhythms. I am hoping their presence tips the scales here for these two workers, who have already worked so hard to secure their wages.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes…

Christians & Immigration: Broad Questions

May 6, 2010

A good friend of mine recently posted a Sojourners article that voiced Christian concerns over Arizona’s immigration bill on his Facebook page. The generally unsympathetic feedback he received from many Christians prompted him to write out more fully his thoughts on the many ethical issues raised by Arizona’s bill and immigration more broadly.  The result, in my opinion, is an ethos that authentically calls Christians to bring Kingdom virtues to bear on the issue of immigration in the United States. He has graciously allowed me to repost his write-up here:

I think the primary concerns brought up by groups such as Sojourners have less to do with whether or not immigration reform is important and more to do with the precise wording of certain elements of this bill. The concern, as I understand it, is that it places significant pressure on law enforcement (including the right of the public to sue them for lack of enforcement) which will result in further overburdening of resources already stretched precariously thin. In a litigious society, police are concerned that the investigation of immigration status will take precedence over areas seen as more directly relevant to public safety and keeping of the peace. Since the law apparently does not provide protection for law enforcement in this regard nor extra resources, this puts them in a very difficult position. Enforcement sources also indicate a concern that the law will make it less likely that certain groups or districts will report crime (think sex trafficking or domestic abuse, for instance) and that the most dangerous illegal immigrants would not be as affected as the least dangerous.

Another concern seems to be phraseology such as “reasonable suspicion” which is vaguely defined. It could easily result in racial stereotyping or outright abuse of power. Of course, we may hope that the powers that be would uphold an ethical standard, but in a fallen world “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” America has proven this from its very inception. (I would love to hear from Native Americans about their ancestor’s experience of European immigration/conquest).

Lastly, and in a more personal vein, I find myself hoping that the Christian community would strive to integrate justice and mercy together in this area. Should the immigration laws take precedence over the well-being of a family unity? Should Churches be punished for allowing illegal immigrants to attend services or helping them to do so, to hear the gospel and/or receive the ministry of Christian hospitality? Should believers promote law by pursuing illegal immigrants house to house?

The questions are potentially provocative, I know. But I think they are questions worth asking and genuinely discussing. What is the role of the trans-national people of God in such problems?

Something needs to be done. I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have any practical answers at all in regard to the legal sphere. But I do have some suggestions that could serve as guidelines as we work toward answers.

We should listen to the plight of illegal immigrants as those created in God’s image, as our neighbors whom we are commanded to love as we love ourselves. Any answers we apply should respect our common humanity and protect individuals – both illegal immigrants and American citizens – from the potential abuse of power. We should view ourselves primarily as the people of God – our identity as citizens of the USA should take a distant second place, so distant, in fact, that our identity as citizens of God’s kingdom and thus as aliens and strangers eclipses and moderates all our perspectives, attitudes, and actions here. We should not do nothing – we should seek the wellbeing of all in striving for compassionate, enforceable, and clear immigration laws. We should have similarly defined procedures in place for when people are discovered within our borders with well established lives, communities and families, for this will certainly happen no matter how perfect our laws.

Lastly, I think it vital that any laws enacted do NOT prevent the church from the exercise of spiritual gifts toward any and all persons in need. Hospitality, mercy, service, teaching, wise counsel, exhortation, healing, and the rest are God’s gifts to us for the good of all and should be exercised lavishly, wisely, and without partiality. While the church should not harbor those in violation of just laws, neither should it be penalized for fulfilling its calling.


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