Public Justice Review (PJR) explores in depth specific questions of public justice, equipping citizens to pursue God's good purpose for our political community. 




Vol. 6, Issue 1: 2017 - Freedom to Serve the Vulnerable

Chelsea Langston Bombino (Contributing Editor)



6. Religious Freedom and Government Partnerships: Where Do We Go from Here?

Stanley Carlson-Thies and Chelsea Langston Bombino

In this series, we have explored how a public justice framework helps us positively address some of the most significant social problems of our time. As we’ve taken a closer look at issues such as natural disaster relief, the opioid epidemic, and the health care needs of underserved communities, we have seen how vital religious freedom is for serving our most vulnerable neighbors through the partnerships between government and civil society institutions that make up the social safety net. Throughout the series, we have also discussed how we can support a robust role for faith-based institutions and uphold the good role of government in providing for the well-being of our communities.

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5. Why the Black Church is Vital for Healthy Communities

A Conversation with Pastor Cheryl Gaines

Pastor Cheryl Mitchell Gaines, J.D., M.Div, is the founder and Senior Pastor of ReGeneration House of Praise, also known as the Church in the Field, in Southeast Washington, D.C. The impetus for starting the Church in the Field was the tragic death of four young people in the community. Pastor Gaines has spent her career empowering Black families and young people to thrive physically, spiritually, emotionally and vocationally. She spoke with Chelsea Langston Bombino about the vital role that Black congregations play in serving their communities.  

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4. Partnering for Health: Federally Qualified Health Centers

Chelsea Maxwell

An estimated 30,000 people will die this year of an opioid overdose. The opioid crisis has been declared a public health emergency, affecting people of all socioeconomic levels and races and ethnicities. So many people are dying that a new study has found that the rise in opioid-related deaths has contributed to an overall decrease in the average American life expectancy.

Faith-motivated groups across the country have long recognized the need for accessible, quality, and affordable health care in their communities, and they have organized to provide health services to vulnerable populations regardless of their patients’ ability to pay. Like many other nonprofit organizations, faith-based organizations often partner with government to meet the needs of their particular communities. In this article, Chelsea Maxwell explores how government has bolstered the work of community-based health centers and equipped them to expand their work through their designation as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). Maxwell shares the profound stories of the tremendous work of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith-based health centers across the country that have been living out their faith-shaped missions in service to their communities. 

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3. Hope and Healing in the Opioid Crisis

Caleb Acker

An estimated 30,000 people will die this year of an opioid overdose. The opioid crisis has been declared a public health emergency, affecting people of all socioeconomic levels and races and ethnicities. So many people are dying that a new study has found that the rise in opioid-related deaths has contributed to an overall decrease in the average American life expectancy.

In the face of such devastation, how should Christian citizens respond? A public justice approach recognizes the indispensable role of both government and civil society institutions to combat this crisis. But what does that look like? In particular, how do faith-based organizations offer distinctive care for vulnerable individuals and communities battling the scourge of this epidemic? 

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2. Community Restoration After Natural Disasters

Sarah Neiman

Religious organizations and houses of worship are essential to communities, along with other community-based organizations, are often the first responders when natural disasters hit. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, churches and other houses of worship served as staging and distribution centers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), demonstrating how civil society institutions can partner with government to help communities recover and rebuild. However, in spite of this robust partnership, houses of worship are not eligible to compete for FEMA grants for rebuilding after damage from natural disasters because of their religious identity. In this article, Sarah Nieman discusses these restrictions and argues for the need to lift them. Nieman outlines current legislation supporting this call for change, showing how rebuilding houses of worship is critical to whole community restoration.

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1. Religious Freedom and the Social Safety Net

Chelsea Langston Bombino

What does religious freedom have to do with the social safety net—those partnerships between government and civil society institutions that serve our vulnerable neighbors? Most Americans who associate religious freedom with controversial decisions around contraception mandates or bathroom use have little understanding of the vast social good provided by faith-based organizations. Because of this, there is also little understanding of the need to uphold the freedom of these institutions to serve diverse communities with diverse needs according to their faith-shaped missions.  

In this article, Contributing Editor Chelsea Langston Bombino explores the connection between religious freedom and the social safety net and introduces upcoming topics that this new series will explore such as disaster relief, opioid addiction, and access to health care in underserved communities. Bombino outlines a number of important principles to help our understanding of how and why we must support these robust partnerships between government and faith-based organizations that make up the social safety net. 

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Vol. 5, Issue 1: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Celebrating CPJ's 40th Anniversary (2017)

Vincent Bacote (Contributing Editor)



7. A Conversation with James Skillen

James Skillen as interviewed by Katie Thompson

Over forty years ago, James Skillen and a number of others began to dream about an organization for Christian political action. Their discussions and labors eventually brought about the founding of the Center for Public Justice, with the goal of developing a Christian mindset for civic responsibility. This wide-ranging conversation with Skillen explores the cultural and political climate when CPJ was founded and the engagement of Christians with politics at that time. Skillen compares this to our political currents today, and demonstrates how vital the work and vision of CPJ continues to be in challenging how most Americans, particularly Christians, think about political life.

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6. Imagining Economic Justice

Gideon Strauss

https://www.cpjustice.org/index.php/public/page/content/Imagining%20Economic%20Justice_PJR%20Vol%205%20No%206

What makes the political arrangements that shape our economic life just? Gideon Strauss responds to this question with a nuanced exploration of the meaning of economic justice. Drawing on his own work and his encounters with the work of CPJ and other traditions of Christian social thought that influenced his thinking, Strauss discusses how we might employ creation’s many riches to produce and exchange the goods and services needed for flourishing. Strauss argues that the future wealth of this nation can be generated and distributed in many different ways, but what this moment requires is moral imagination, oriented towards a reconfiguration of the political economy of America so that it bears a closer resemblance to the worthy dream of economic justice.

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5. Radical (to the Root) Justice in Education

Christy Wauzzinski

The Center for Public Justice has been addressing issues of injustice in the US education system for many years. In this article, Christy Wauzzinski, an educator in Pittsburgh, discusses how her association with CPJ for nearly four decades has profoundly shaped her thinking, and that of a whole group of citizens in the Pittsburgh area, about the roots of injustice in education. Wauzzinski describes how encounters with the work of CPJ and its founder James Skillen inspired some in this community of citizens to establish a number of faith-based schools and start several businesses, and prompted other civic engagement efforts like a well-researched voter’s guide. She explores four main areas of injustice in our education system and calls Christian citizens to a careful and sustained engagement to bring about policy changes necessary to ensure diverse schools to meet diverse needs.

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4. Advancing Religious Freedom and Responsibility Through Changing Times

Stanley Carlson-Thies & Chelsea Langston Bombino

For the past forty years, CPJ has offered a distinctive, principled pluralist understanding of religious freedom as a vital contribution to the common good. This perspective holds that as Christians seeking to have freedom to fully exercise our faith in every aspect of our lives, individually and institutionally, we also have the responsibility to ensure such freedom for those with whom we have great differences. In this article, the authors discuss how the understanding of religious freedom in the United States has changed over the years. They show how CPJ has responded to these changes by being a key actor in engaging groups across difference around a number of issues and promoting both individual and institutional rights and responsibilities.

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3. Globalization and the Kingdom of God: A Christian Perspective on International Relations

Robert J. Joustra

Although much has been done to articulate and develop Christian perspectives on domestic politics, very little exists of this kind of perspective on global affairs and international relations. In this article, Robert Joustra outlines three sign posts that are key to such a perspective, emerging from the Kuyperian tradition, and Kuyper himself, as well as the Center for Public Justice’s own work. CPJ urges Christians of every state and nation to “recognize that they share a common commitment to justice beyond their own nation.” Discussing state sovereignty, international law, and freedom of religion, Joustra explores how the fruit of this justice can be found and upheld in contemporary globalization.

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2. A Biblical Vision for Political Life

William Edgar

Christian views of political life have been shaped in a variety of ways over time, with differing understandings of the role and responsibilities of government and of how Christians citizens ought to exercise their earthly citizenship. In this article, William Edgar considers these currents in the context of thinkers such as Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, and others, and outlines the theological and philosophical context for CPJ’s distinctive approach to political life. Edgar shows how CPJ grounds its thinking in the biblical doctrine of creation, as it applies to a world that is expanding and shrinking at the same time. In so doing, CPJ advocates for the legitimacy of a plural society that upholds human flourishing, the call to justice for all, and the freedom to worship according to conscience.

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1. CPJ as a Discipleship Movement

Vincent Bacote

Contributing Editor Vincent Bacote starts off our special fall series celebrating the Center for Public Justice’s 40th anniversary with a reflection on CPJ as an expression of holistic Christian discipleship. Bacote argues that the current political climate raises these two important questions: “What is a disciple of Christ to do in this climate of division, fear, cynicism, and confusion?” and “How is the Center for Public Justice a discipleship movement that provides guidance at this time and beyond?” Responding to these questions, Bacote explains what political discipleship means and discusses four distinctives of the Center for Public Justice that can guide Christian citizens in their stewardship of God’s world and their pursuit of justice for all. 

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Vol. 4, Issue 1: Families Valued (2017)

Rachel Anderson (Contributing Editor)



5. Learning To Value The Family In Crisis

Hannah Anderson

Writing from the perspective of rural communities, Hannah Anderson describes the challenges facing lower and middle-income families whose marriage rates have decreased in recent decades even as out-of-wedlock births have risen. Anderson urges churches, long acknowledged by the pro-family movement as partners in family support and formation, to deepen their attention to families in crisis.

She ponders the ways that a widespread cultural idolatry of individualized, romantic marriage combined with the church’s blinkered attention to middle and upper-class families has hobbled church ministry to families who fall short of this norm. Anderson contends that we must imagine how families in crisis might flourish, offering a vision of what that could be and building a path for them to enter the safety of covenant community—both in the church and in their own families.  

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4. Fatherhood in a Changing Economy

Robert Francis

This interview with Robert Francis draws on his research into the lives of working-class men in rural America, many of whom are fathers, and his exploration of the declining labor force participation among this group. Francis explains how the American economy has been offering fewer full-time, well-paying jobs to men with less than a college degree, a challenge particularly acute in rural places. However, he has found that men are willing to go to great lengths to support their families, including moving away or taking jobs that require extensive travel, like long-haul trucking.

In looking at the US family over time, Francis shows that the male breadwinner model is actually the historical anomaly. The reality for many in working-class families today is that all adults need to work to weave together income from multiple low-wage jobs, and childcare responsibilities are juggled between parents, family, friends, and even exes who still have or want custody of their kids.  

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3. Motherhood: Benefit or Burden to Business?

Elizabeth Schiltz

Motherhood–like all kinds of caregiving–comes with some undeniable costs. Because of these costs, an argument for women in the workplace does not, in itself, furnish a compelling business case for mothers in the workplace. In this article, Elizabeth Schiltz consider four compelling reasons for why workplaces should offer generous accommodations to mothers, who she argues bring unique gifts, talents, and perspectives to the workplace because they are mothers. Schiltz contends that forging social consensus around the idea that parenting develops crucial work skills could help combat our modern culture’s false and harmful insistence on the incompatibility of work and family.  

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2. Gender, Family, and Productive Labor: A (Very) Brief History

Kristin Kobes Du Mez

Motherhood–like all kinds of caregiving–comes with some undeniable costs. Because of these costs, an argument for women in the workplace does not, in itself, furnish a compelling business case for mothers in the workplace. In this article, Elizabeth Schiltz consider four compelling reasons for why workplaces should offer generous accommodations to mothers, who she argues bring unique gifts, talents, and perspectives to the workplace because they are mothers. Schiltz contends that forging social consensus around the idea that parenting develops crucial work skills could help combat our modern culture’s false and harmful insistence on the incompatibility of work and family.

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1. What Families Need to Thrive

Rachel Anderson

While families offer a locus of care and nurture that no other institution can rival or replicate, families need and deserve support from other institutions as they pursue their vocation. CPJ Fellow and Contributing Editor Rachel Anderson introduces our latest PJR series, Families Valued, and explores how a deeply privatized vision of family life that denies families’ interactions and interconnectedness with other institutions like business and government limits our ability to help families thrive.

Paid family leave is just one of the ways that businesses and workplaces support families. In this series, we will further investigate how the interconnection between workplace, church, public policy, and family can promote family flourishing in our contemporary economy.  

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