The church has always been a critical part of the social justice movement. Ministers used their pulpits to lobby for everything from freedom to equal pay. Now, it’s time to fight for reproductive justice.
by Minister Essence Jackson
Here are five reasons why a faith-led reproductive justice movement is essential to our national fight for equity and physical autonomy for all.
1. The average church welcomes at least 75 members each week…
And over 33% of churches line their pews break the 100 member mark on a regular basis. Why is this significant? The church is the only place that people regularly visit with the intention to listen, leave better than they arrived, and impact their homes and communities with the knowledge that they’ve received. In the United States, 56 MILLION people attend church every Sunday. We can’t ignore the magnificent reach of the church as we perform this work.
2. Over half of all church attendees are women.
Communities and spaces of faith must center the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized. Reproductive justice is a human rights framework that works to better the lives of women and girls, particularly those of color and those from poor and rural communities. It’s high time that a very real issue that impacts the majority of every church’s congregation actually be addressed within the four walls of the church and in the communities that the church supports.
3. Our churches should be a safe space to deal with complex life issues in the context of our faith.
In the past couple of years, many publications have attempted to tackle the reality that millennials are leaving the church. One of the main reasons that the under-40 demographic has been exiting the Christian church is because there aren’t conversations about the lived experiences of the congregants and how faith impacts those experiences. Issues of race, gender, class and sexuality haven’t been given their proper time, and let’s face it – people don’t want to talk about fluff. We have to talk about the complex stuff that shapes our lives. If we don’t consider the real-world experiences, oppressive circumstances, and passions of our congregations, we’ll soon have a bunch of empty churches in our neighborhoods all over the country. Reproductive justice touches every person’s life in a meaningful way. It’s time we inform our congregations and encourage a dialogue that empowers them to act.
4. As Christians, we have a mandate to love our neighbors without judgement.
The bible show us many examples of Jesus engaging love as the standard of provision for his community – especially people who have been rendered voiceless and marginalized (Mark 12, John 21). Jesus’ mandate that we show love for him by feeding and tending to the needs of his people with first priority given to the most vulnerable is impetus for people of faith to participate in the justice-seeking activities involved in the work of Reproductive Justice. It is imperative that we as people of faith seeking justice do our best to both heed Jesus’ commands about how to love him and emulate his work in the world choosing love for people in need as we perform this work.
5. The reproductive justice movement works in tandem with our faith.
The notion that reproductive justice and other social justice movements are in opposition to faith traditions is grounded in the belief that faith traditions and the bible only hold one central message for all people throughout eternity. This perspective ignores the context of the original text at the time of their writing. We must move to understand that the text functions in our lives in its entirety, along with the validity of our own spiritual and lived experiences to communicate the voice of God in our journey.
Ultimately, the team at SisterReach believes that there is a tremendous opportunity for Christian faith leaders to intertwine God’s love with reproductive justice. We’re thrilled to have so many partners in the faith community who have taken the time to discover how to best engage their congregations in RJ work. As a result of the passion and energy from our partners, we have created a unique curriculum that both defines reproductive justice from the Christian perspective AND guides the faith community through exercises to help train RJ advocates in the community and within the church. Sample our curriculum when you download our free Reproductive Justice toolkit. Then, let us know what you think.