My WLEX Interview about Governor Bevin's Criticism of A.G. Andy Beshear's Religion over Reproductive Rights

WLEX 18—link to article

"If you're going to talk about somebody else's faith - that seems to me to be a higher standard that one ought to hold one[self] to and the governor has failed at that," said Pastor Derek Penwell.

Penwell openly supports women's reproductive rights, and tells LEX 18 that he is not Baptist, but as a Christian, he said he doesn't believe it is fair to judge Beshear's faith based on his political stance on abortion.

"It's one thing to say 'we disagree with the Attorney General on this issue.' It's an entirely different thing to say 'because he does not agree with us and this point of our theological understanding, he is therefore not one of us - he's not a Christian,'" said Penwell.

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The Irony of White Evangelicals and Their Offense at Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

It is now possible in large sections of Christianity to feel oppressed by powerful satanic forces vying to rain down imagined persecution on a perpetually aggrieved faithful, while simultaneously offering servile obeisance to the powers and principalities who rain down actual persecution on people of color, feminists, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, refugees, children, and the impoverished. It is a damning indictment of Christianity that according to white evangelicals, one can now unashamedly serve Caesar … as long as Caesar covers himself with the thinnest patina of patriotic Jesus-y-ness, wearing the belt of anti-Christian conspiracy, the breastplate of anti-abortion politics, the shield of patriarchy, the helmet of barely disguised white nationalism, and the sword of anti-LGBTQ+ policies.

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Our Moral Failure to Welcome Refugees

Our moral failure to welcome the those who come to us in need—not to mention our national amnesia about our country’s refugee past—is contemptible, especially to those of us who claim to be guided by faith. Our inability to offer welcome to refugees and asylum-seekers brings shame on us all.

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Derek PenwellComment
A Lack of Empathy: How White Evangelicals Have Failed Jesus

What’s especially infuriating about white evangelicals rolling over and showing their bellies to the Republican party’s clown car full of fascist-wannabes isn’t just the street magic soul-contortions they must fool themselves into believing they’re not performing, but their remarkable lack of empathy and compassion.

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Whatever Happened to Compassion?

How can people who claim to follow Jesus hear the cries of the wounded, who’re forced to live in fear and squalor, adjusting themselves to our view of a safe and just world . . . how can we hear those cries and think only about the most effective way to drown them out—just because we find those cries inconveniently challenge the world we’ve built for ourselves, cries that plead with us to adjust ourselves to a different world than the one we’re comfortable with—to see things through someone else’s eyes?

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Why Does Good Friday Feel Like Such Crappy Parenting?

Good Friday and Easter don’t mean that now God can finally love us unqualifiedly because God’s tricked Godself into thinking we’re pure; it means that God loves us too much to let the power of subjugation and oppression be the final word—that in fact, God was determined through Jesus to shine a spotlight on a new world in which peace, justice, and love inevitably and irresistibly overcome violence, injustice, and hatred.

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Thinking about What the Church Looks Like after the UMC Decision

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to follow Jesus after hearing of the recent decision from our friends in the United Methodist Church. Specifically, I’m thinking about what hearing Christians who’ve dismissed the dignity and faith of LGBTQ people must sound like to LGBTQ people when those Christians talk about the “love of Jesus.”

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Who Wants a Spiritualized Jesus Anyway?

A spiritualized messiah—apart from doing violence to Jesus’ understanding of himself as a prophetic voice announcing a new reign to rival the claims of existing reigns—makes possible the kind of otherwise decent people who, when faced with injustice and tyranny, don’t have the strength and courage to say “no” and “wrong.” However, Jesus the lousy messiah is the perfect model for producing people … able to resist any authority that threatens those who cannot help themselves.

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Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Others

Consequently, to imagine myself as Abraham—or Sarah or Lot, for that matter—is to forfeit an opportunity to be exposed to a different, harder truth that the text has to show someone who lives the kind of privileged life I do.

But while I haven’t ever had to pull up stakes and head into the unknown, I have lived in a place for which other people have left their own countries and the houses of their parents on nothing more than faith in a promise. I’ve lived my whole life in a land that has been the often inhospitable destination for people just like Abraham and his family.

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Dear Evangelicals, I Don’t Think You Realize How You Sound to Everybody Else

Just saying, “I’m not an Islamaphobic, xenophobic, homo/transphobic, racist” isn’t convincing anyone but those who already agree with you—no matter how sincerely you believe it to be true. Your actions are the best argument for who you really are, what you really believe. Right now, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, there are a bunch of folks in the world who think you and the God you claim to serve hate them.

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Learning the Language of Lament

The words of communal lament, the words we need to rediscover in this dark time, begin with the plea: “How long, O Lord?”—which is a way not only of expressing our distress, but of being honest about the fact that the world feels too much like God has abandoned us, like God has left us to reap the harvest of violence and hatred that have been sown while we remained silent.

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You Can Be a Racist without Being a Bigot

You can be a racist without being a bigot.

I can hear the tortured cries of indignation: “Why does it always come back to race?” 

The communicants of the White Saints of the Church of the Perpetually Aggrieved raise their protestations of umbrage to the heavens. From the perspective of the affronted, having their motives so regularly questioned justifies their reflexive sensitivity on the subject. (Their defensiveness about being called racist, however, seems to outstrip their outrage at the existence of racism itself. But, you know, whatever.)

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