The geography of home: restoring Iraq’s Christians

I recently spoke with Professor Stewart Harris of the Your Weekly Constitutional podcast on the topic of Christian genocide, which you can listen to here.

Among other things, I speak about the long-term goal for Christians, Yezidis, and other minorities in Iraq: restoration to their ancient homelands. The vitality, solidarity, and long-term survival of these groups, as groups, is inseparably connected to their geography, to the places where they historically have lived, worked, and worshiped.

Restoration is also in the long-term interests of the United States and the international community. A minority presence  in Iraq contributes to a healthy regional pluralism. Middle Eastern Christians in particular tend to be supporters of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for minority rights.

Like it or not, geography still matters. Territorial security is necessary to order, and order is necessary to freedom and self-determination. The great ideas that advanced human civilization – democracy, liberty, and the rule of law – are possible only when territorial integrity and stability are assured.

As I write this, the battle to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, has begun. So, too, have the calls for Yezidi and Assyrian Christian homelands, semi-autonomous safe havens on Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, self-governing provinces in a greater federated Iraq. As Robert Nicholson writes:

The U.S. has spent more than a decade calling for democracy in the Middle East, but what we really want is stability and liberty for the people who live there. More liberty is better than less liberty, and imperfect liberty is better than instability and chaos. Democracy is a process; liberty is the desired outcome. A stronger emphasis on liberty will prompt a more organic transition to free societies, and the best place to start is with the liberty of peoples who have suffered, collectively, under the boot of rival peoples.

The InterVarsity problem: maintaining fidelity, breaking fellowship

I just finished up a presentation to a group of ministries on “Strengthening Religious Identity,” identifying legal strategies for ministries to maintain their Christian witness while carrying out their missions. It’s a topic particularly salient for faith-based organizations who hold to orthodox Christian views on sexual ethics and sexual identity and who dissent from the ascendant cultural ideology around these issues.

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Radical Christian legal theory, Part 2: Justice for the poor

Thinking about law through a Christian lens means focusing on the poor. “[The Lord] has sent me to preach good news to the poor,” Jesus declares in Luke’s Gospel:

to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

(Luke 4:18-19) These words not only launched Jesus’s ministry. They defined his mission. The poor, the oppressed, the stranger, and the outcast – the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40) – were closest to Jesus’s heart precisely because they were at the margins of society.

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Radical Christian legal theory, Part 1: Law, Gospel, and foolishness

It’s not often one can say a law review article affected them profoundly. But for me, that’s true of Christian Legal Theory” by the late Harvard scholar William Stuntz.

This post is the first in a series on Stuntz’s article. My goal: to illuminate Stuntz’s ideas for a broader audience, to shed some light on the question that Stuntz poses in his opening sentence: “Why should anyone think about law in Christian terms?

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“Justice is in the hands of the ordinary.”

My friend Matt Parker, co-founder of The Exodus Road, likes to say that “justice is in the hands of the ordinary.”

It’s a simple yet profound message. And in the fight against the human trafficking and modern-day slavery — a tragedy that affects nearly 46 million people worldwide — it’s a message we all need to hear.

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