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. 9, Issue 4, 2019

The Returning Citizen:

A Public Justice Perspective on Reintegrating the Formerly Incarcerated

Denise Strothers and Kerwin Webb (Contributing Editors)

1. Life After Incarceration:

Maintaining Employment as a Practice Challenge Facing Returning Citizens

Denise Strothers and Kerwin Webb

The term “ex-con” or “ex-offender” is often used to describe an individual who has returned from a period of incarceration. It is common for those who are formerly incarcerated to face barriers related to securing housing, accessing financial aid for college, and even regaining the right to vote. But what happens after a person has paid his or her debt to society? What is the role of institutions in helping the formerly incarcerated resume “normal” life and perhaps even contribute to the common good? This series attempts to provide a public justice perspective on ways the government, concerned citizens, and civil society institutions can aid returning citizens. Bringing her ministry experience and seminary studies to the forefront, co-Contributing Editor Denise Strothers joins with PJR Editor Kerwin Webb to provide readers a robust discussion on the challenges and creative solutions related to supporting the formerly incarcerated. Among the contributing writers for this series are National Director for Healing Communities USA and Associate Professor of Applied Theology at Howard University School of Divinity Dr. Dean Trylear; Director of Operations for the Bail Project and 2016 Just Leadership USA Fellow Shelton McElroy; prison reform advocate Vicar Erich Kussmane (MDiv), who writes from his own experience serving time behind bars; and Abigail Stevens, an Eastern University economic development major, and recipient of CPJ's Hatfield Prize for student-faculty research. These writers share how civil society and governmental institutions might take steps to support the successful reintegration of returning citizens.  Read>>


Vol. 9, Issue 3, 2019

Fairness for All:

Does Supporting Religious Freedom Require Opposition to LGBT Civil Rights? 

Stephanie Summers (Contributing Editor)


4. Fairness for All: A Better Way than the Equality Act 

Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies


The Equality Act, which would add to federal civil rights laws new prohibitions of discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex, was introduced into the House of Representatives on March 13. Supporters of the Equality Act cl aim that it protects religious freedom, but in fact it would severely constrain many faith - based organizations and persons of faith who simply desire to live by their convictions about human sexuality and marriage without harming others. In this article, f irst published in the e - News of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance and being republished as a companion piece to the 2019 Kuyper Lecture given by Shapri LoMaglio on April 25, 2019, Stanley Carlson - Thies presents the Fairness for All framework as a new and better way to protect both LGBT people and religious freedom. Read>>


3. 2019 Kuyper Lecture: Fairness for All: A Framework for Living Together Peacefully

Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies



Fairness for All (FFA) is an important example of peacemaking and prudential policymaking. In the midst of our society’s deep and fierce polarization around LGBT rights and religious freedom, FFA is a careful and prayerful effort to find a way forward. It is a pluralistic framework that better protects rights and freedoms for all in our society, argues Dr. Stanley Carlson-Thies, the Founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), in this response to the 2019 Kuyper Lecture by Shapri LoMaglio, given on April 25, 2019.  The aim of Fairness for All is to present a peacemaking approach to our society’s divided views on marriage and sexuality, and to urge Christians to adopt this type of approach in going forward. Instead of battling for political power as the only way to protect the freedom to live and serve consistently with one’s worldview, neighbors with different worldviews can devote themselves to setting good examples, to persuasion, arguments and research, and to prayer—seeking to convince, rather than coerce, each other about what is true and best. This is Fairness for All.  Read>>


2. 2019 Kuyper Lecture: Does Supporting Religious Freedom Require Opposition to LGBT Civil Rights?

Shapri LoMaglio



Christians promote rather than just tolerate religious freedom — it is a political principle rooted in our convictions about the fallibility of human nature and the limited competence of any government, as well as an affirmation of human dignity.  Yet in supporting religious freedom, Christians support the rights of individuals and organizations to live and act consistently with their differing—and even offensive—beliefs (within limits).Fairness for All creates a legal framework that allows both those committed to progressive views on sexuality and those committed to historical Christian views to live as good neighbors. This allows us to carry out our disputes and differences peaceably, rather than using the force of law to restrict the full participation of the other in society. Fairness for All presents a model to protect all citizens and organizations in light of our nation’s diverse convictions about sexuality.  Read>>

1. 2019 Kuyper Lecture: Bringing A Kuyperian Framework To Religious Freedom And LGBT Civil Rights

Stephanie Summers



The Center for Public Justice's annual Kuyper Lecture focuses on significant questions of religion in public life and Jesus' Lordship over all creation. Its goal is to inspire and equip Christians to pursue their common calling to faithful citizenship, and to affirm the vital role of government in upholding public justice. This year’s lecture, delivered by Shapri LoMaglio at Calvin College on April 25, 2019, explored how to bridge the gap between religious freedom advocates and LGBT rights advocates. To give context for the lecture, Center for Public Justice CEO Stephanie Summers provided some history of the debate between these two groups. Her remarks offer a helpful framing for the idea of Fairness for All, including themes informed by Abraham Kuyper’s ideas and practice.  Read >>



Vol. 9, Issue 2, 2019

Populists or Internationalists?

Globalization and Evangelical Tribes 

Kevin den Dulk (Contributing Editor)



6. Evangelicals' Responses to the Immigration Debate

Ruth Melkonian-Hoover

Evangelicals, though often portrayed as a right-wing populist “tribe” in their politics, in fact hold quite diverse perspectives on immigration and have reacted in multiple ways to it. Rather than one evangelical tribe with a singular position on immigration, there are—and have long been—multiple responses to the different ethical principles at stake in immigration. Evangelicals believe, identify, respond and engage with immigration in ways ranging from right-wing populist to liberal internationalist. Read >>


5. Evangelical Internationalism in Comparative Perspective: Discerning a Global Social Ethic

Paul S. Rowe

Paul Rowe writes today that while the cultural influence, financial support and power of Evangelical populism in the United States remains influential throughout the world, context clearly makes a significant difference in the appeal of political populism among Christians. Put simply, it is impossible to read contemporary populism among evangelicals through a narrow lens. Read >>




4. Tending the Garden of the Real

Marc LiVecche

Among evangelical Protestants, one significant rift appears between Christian realism and evangelical populism. Marc LiVecche writes for us today that while the Christian realist will share populism’s recognition of the importance of national interests, it will reject its more jingoistic expressions, which often stokes an isolationist impulse away from responsible engagement in global affairs. Against this, the Christian realist understands that human beings, made in the image of God, have a divine mandate to exercise dominion—providential care—in creation. Read >>



3. Can We Be Better (Christian) Humanitarians?

Jessica Robertson Wright

How can we better connect our faith with our service to others in a complex global environment? What does it look like to avoid some of the common controversies and pitfalls of Christian humanitarianism? Looking at our history to inform our present efforts and our future work can yield important insight. Heather Curtis provides us with an engaging means to do so in her new book Holy Humanitarians, which explores the rise of American Christian humanitarianism and philanthropy through the work of the Christian Herald, one of the most influential religious newspapers at the turn of the twentieth century. This article discusses Curtis’s book and her conclusions about Christian humanitarianism, arguing that we will never arrive at the perfect balance of Christian “charity” anywhere. Our divergent faith traditions and political ideologies will inevitably lead us to divergent humanitarian relief endeavors and outcomes. However, applying a public justice lens to the issues can help us see that the differentiated roles of all of God’s divinely ordained institutions is critical to the work of healing and restoration for our vulnerable neighbors, near and far. Read >>


2. Evangelical Tribes? Group Instinct and the Fate of American Christianity

Robert J. Joustra

In this essay editor Robert Joustra reviews the claims of Amy Chua’s new book Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations. He wonders, alongside Richard Mouw’s new book, Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground, if Chua’s language of tribes, groups and super-groups organizes or clarifies the battlegrounds of American Evangelicalism. Are Evangelicals a kind of tribe, and if so, what resources might there be for inter-tribal dialogue and politics? Read >>



1. Evangelical Populists and Their Discontents

Kevin den Dulk

This series address the tension between contrasting narratives of nationalism and internationalism within the evangelical tradition. The concept of populism cuts across those narratives. In this opening piece to the series, political scientist Kevin den Dulk examines the intersection of populism and evangelicalism. While any account of “evangelical populism” comes with numerous caveats, den Dulk argues the phenomenon is real, and the drawbacks of populism are too great to ignore for anyone committed to democratic pluralism. Read >>




Vol. 9, Issue 1, 2019

Faith, Family and the Future of Work

Rachel Anderson (Contributing Editor)

7. Work and Pastoral Care

Rev. Irwyn Ince

Today, Rev. Dr. Irwyn Ince asks what role the church as institution can play in the work lives, both the employed and the under and unemployed, of its members. He arrives at three practices: prayer, promotion, and provision that form a foundation for pastoral care in the church when people face the trauma that comes from unemployment and underemployment. Read>>





6. Dignity in Difficult Work: A Perspective from Health Care Worker Advocates

Interview by Rachel Anderson

Dignity in work can be the privilege of a very white-collar conversation. But much work in the world, and in America, is done outside the office and the coffeeshop. How do Christians think about, and practice, work and its balance in the many trades and sectors that too often go unnoticed in these conversations? Today, contributing editor Rachel Hope Anderson interviews Tish Douma and Susan Siemens of the Christian Labour Association of Canada to find out. Read>>




5. Cultivating a Work-Wise Family

Hannah Anderson

As the new gig economy gives opportunity, it also presents dilemmas, including weakening the barriers between our public and private lives. If we’re not careful, argues Hannah Anderson in this week’s Public Justice Review, the arena of public life governed by competition and capital can take over our private lives too. To resist this, families must become work-wise, cultivating virtues and practices that honor our work while preserving the rhythms and norms of the home. Read>>




4. Worshipping My Way Toward a Theology of Work

Gideon Strauss


For CPJ Fellow Gideon Strauss, theologizing about work is not in the first place a scholarly practice. Instead, he argues, it emerges out of the interaction between his lived experience of the Bible and his lived experience of working in the historical times and political places in which he finds himself. Strauss says this emergence happens more often than not while praying the Psalms. In this piece, Strauss shares how the Psalms are paradigmatic for prayer, and worship is paradigmatic for work. In this way, he uses worship as a way towards an understanding of his own work. Read>>


3. How Working Parents are Changing What It Means to be "Involved"

Bekah McNeel

In interviews, working parents explain that while they may not expect to be able to be “involved” with every aspect of their children’s school career, they do find ways to provide essential emotional and academic support. For many, these ordinary irregularities and responsibilities of parenthood yield a precarious work-life balance. Emergency circumstances and irregular work schedules—both of which are likely to occur in the lives of low-income families—can lead to imbalance that is, at times, intractable.  Read>>




2. Which Side Are You On? Christianity and Labor in an Age of Inequality

Heath Carter

While any number of denominations still have pro-labor social teachings on their books, Christian support for unions has largely collapsed in recent decades, hastening not only the demise of organized labor but also the dawn of a New Gilded Age. Believers who are concerned about runaway inequality in the present should consult the past. There they will find a robust tradition of pro-labor faith and practices, cultivated first and foremost at the Christian grassroots. Insofar as this tradition prioritizes justice and solidarity over untrammeled economic freedom, it resonates as provocatively today as it did in the heyday of the early labor movement. Read>>



1. Work for the Sake of the Family

Rachel Anderson

One of God's good purposes for work is for our work to be done in service of others, including our family and community. As our economy undergoes changes that may impact the nature of work and the types of jobs in which people work, how will these changes affect family and community? Work that is more flexible and less structured around the typical rhythms of a workweek presents opportunities as well as challenges to families. Families must redouble their attention to family time. Institutions outside the family, like unions and the social safety net, and may play a valuable role in helping families secure work that supports rather than strains family life. Read>>


Vol. 8, Issue 5, 2018

Public Justice in Review

Byron Borger (Contributing Editor)


6. 2018: Political Discipleship in Review

Vince Bacote

CPJ Fellow Vince Bacote reviews the year in political discipleship: what does it mean to follow Jesus in the politics of 2018? Reviewing books from Amy Black, Patrick Deneen, John Fee and Fred Van Geest, Bacote finds a diverse set that reaches within and beyond the Christian tradition. It equips us to be disciples whose proclamation and practice reflects an appreciation of the opportunities of political engagement, while maintaining an ultimate hope in God rather than politics itself. Argues Bacote: worshipping God above all, with politics as one dimension of our faithful practice, remains an opportunity and aspiration for us in 2018. Read the article ≥≥


5. 2018: "The Problem of Poverty" in Review

Katie Thompson

What did Jesus really mean when he said, "The poor you will always have with you"? This question should drive Christians toward, not away, from social, civil and political solutions for the economically marginal among us. Today Katie Thompson tackles this perennial topic, close to the heart of Christian social tradition of CPJ: what to do with “the problem of poverty.” Reviewing two recent books, Thompson argues poverty requires a civil, social, religious and political solution; a simultaneous realization of norms, for which Christians, and those within CPJ’s tradition in particular, have rich resources. Read the article ≥≥


4. 2018: Families Valued in Review

Rachel Anderson

At least since Abraham Kuyper wrote on “the social question” and Pope Leo XIII on Rerum Novarum (“of the new things”), the transformation and challenge of work has been a central question in the Christian social tradition. Fast forwarding to 2018 we find no exceptions: the rise of the “gig” economy provides new, unique challenges that require as robust Christian theologies and practices now as they did then. Today, Rachel Anderson, Resident Fellow at CPJ leading our Families Valued project, surveys the past year to bridge these emerging changes in work, life, and society and see how Christians, in particular, might respond. Read the article ≥≥


3. 2018: Sacred Sector in Review

Chelsea Langston Bombino

2018 has been a busy year for non-profits and activist groups, none more so than in the faith-based sector. As religious communities grow more politically active, the question of not only collaboration and impact, but also of how to “keep the faith” almost always arises. This week, the Center for Public Justice’s Director of its Sacred Sector initiative, Chelsea Langston Bombino, surveys the landscape from 2018 on books and arguments that help Christians, in particular, navigate these key issuesRead the article ≥≥


2. 2018: Institutional Religious Freedom in Review

Stanley Carlson-Thies

The past year has been a busy one for discussing and adjudicating deep and abiding differences among citizens, no less so than in the hot button sphere of freedom of religion or belief, and its often-essential institutions. Today, Stanley Carlson-Thies draws a map for us of the most hopeful books of the last year (and a bit) on institutional religious freedom, the pitfalls they signal and the potential for public justice as a way forwardRead the article ≥≥



1. 2018: The Year in Published Public Justice

Byron Borger

In the upcoming weeks, CPJ will offer a handful of essays reviewing some significant books that speak to areas of our research and advocacy. We will strive to offer a “lay of the land,” naming books that capture something of the spirit of the age, discerning the perspectives in play within these arenas. Today, our Contributing Editor Byron Borger lays out, with broad brush strokes, the year past from the perspective of major publications on public justice. While an outstanding year for issue advocacy, Bryon argues there is a notable absence of more cohesive, public arguments about how our political discipleship hangs together. Read the article ≥≥




Vol. 8, Issue 4, 2018

Making Peace with Proximate Pluralism

Stanley Carlson-Thies (Contributing Editor)


6. Augustine's Aspirational Imperfectionism: What Should We Hope for From Politics?

Jesse Covington

In today’s series finale, Jesse Covington argues that Augustine points us to political faithfulness in light of the full scope of redemptive history. Our hopes for politics include pursuing real goods (could love of neighbor counsel anything less?), but with the recognition that these goods remain tempered, limited, and proximate inside of time. For Augustine, this posture is captured by the image of the pilgrim or sojourner who invests deeply in his current context, but without mistaking it for home. Read the article >>




5. Religious Liberty and LGBTQ Equality: Civic Pluralism Points to a Path Through the Ongoing Conflict

Nathan Berkeley

Disagreements about human sexuality are as pronounced as ever in American society. In the political domain, issues related to whether and how to protect LGBTQ identities in law are a common focal point for these disagreements, and they can become even more charged when religious freedom concerns are involved. This article points to three considerations for addressing these controversial and difficult issues: (1) that the existence of diverse institutions in American society benefits a diverse population that desires to be served in distinctive ways; (2) that religious liberty claims and LGBTQ equality claims place very different demands on society; and (3) that the multi-dimensional nature of sexual orientation and gender identity complicates their protection in law.

Civic pluralism is a public-legal framework for ordering and applying these considerations in a way that respects, without celebrating, the deep religious and moral divisions in American society. It is a structure for broadly securing the freedom of everyone to establish, and engage with, institutions that align with their core convictions.  Read the article >>


4. Christian Responsibility in Governing: What to Do When Democracy Gets Complicated

Jennifer Walsh


Many Christians – particularly conservative ones – fear that a pluralistic society will result in laws that are more tyrannical than democratic. Today, argues Jennifer Walsh, Christians must find a way to successfully govern in an increasingly diverse and pluralistic society and actively love neighbors who view the world quite differently. They must learn to live and work within the constraints of our system—not rebel whenever they do not get their way. And they must learn to accept some justice and some pluralism that will be different and wider than they might wish. Read the article >>


3. Civic Pluralism and Minority Solidarity (Part 2 of 2)

Jonathan Chaplin

Civic pluralism is a central implication of the vision of public justice that has guided CPJ since its inception. But while a noble and necessary aspiration, it is often creates the very imperfect realities we lament. Today, Jonathan Chaplin concludes a two-part series exploring a different sense of solidarity: what it means to find ourselves alongside other minority communities of conviction in a single political community which must uphold the public manifestation of such deep differences, even while it also protects fundamental human interests. Read the article >>  



2. Civic Pluralism and Human Solidarity (Part 1 of 2)

Jonathan Chaplin

Civic pluralism is a central implication of the vision of public justice that has guided CPJ since its inception. But while a noble and necessary aspiration, it is often creates the very imperfect realities we lament. Join seasoned scholar Jonathan Chaplin in a two-part series, on what we have “in common” with our fellow citizens, the limits of that commonness, and what to do when our core convictions no longer count as common, and we must learn to stand in solidarity with other minority communities as we uphold public space for difference. Read the article >>  


1. The Dissatisfactions–and Blessings!–of Civic Pluralsim

Stanley Carlson-Thies

In our opening editorial, founder and Senior Director of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance, Stanley Carlson-Thies asks what is so good about pluralism as a structuring principle for a political community? Should we always qualify civic pluralism as “proximate” to remind ourselves that, even if it is a blessing during our in-between time, when we need to live together with others with whom we have deep disagreements, it is an arrangement for political community that must inevitably disappoint us? These are the questions that lay out the work of this series of the Public Justice Review. While acknowledging the good that is principled or civic pluralism, we will explore the limitations inherent to it that must evoke disappointment in all who long for the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Read the article >>  



Vol. 8, Issue 3, 2018

A Way Forward: Christian Principles for Health Care Policy

Stephanie Summers (Contributing Editor)


2. Christians, Health Care Policies, and the Dangers of False Equivalencies

Dr. Ruth Groenhout

Health care policy is one of the central moral issues of our day and a topic on which a clear Christian voice is needed. From a Reformed perspective, the focus of our debates needs to be justice, not charity. Christians should support policies that provide health care as a right. Unfortunately, the Christian church has often supported policies that deny people access to health care, and this denial threatens to undercut their ability to speak with a moral voice on important issues of our time. Read the article >>



1. Biblical Shalom and the Health Care Debate

Michelle Kirtley

With human flourishing as the goal of health care reform, the debate becomes about more than the provision of health insurance. Looking closely at God’s created order for the structure that supports flourishing–structural pluralism and sphere sovereignty–helps us to chart a path out of the tired, worn debate between privatization and single payer health care towards a tapestry of policies that encourage us all to contribute to the health of our neighbors and communities. Read the article >>



Vol. 8, Issue 2, 2018

What Is Public Justice?

Robert Joustra (Contributing Editor)



6. Public Justice: A Visual Exploration

Sean Purcell

Sean Purcell shifts gears and visualizes for us a "graphic novel" on public justice. Drawing together themes and ideas for our final series installment, Purcell draws for us a guide for how to think about, practice, and visualize the work of public justice. 

Read the article >>






5. The Postures of Public Justice

Kyle David Bennett

What if we treated our hostile postures as a matter of justice, as a matter of what others are due? In our everyday encounters with others, argues Kyle Bennett, how others stand before us and move in response to us is either right or wrong, fair or unfair. We anticipate and expect right and fair treatment. When events don’t go according to plan—whether at a park, museum, theatre, or municipal parking lot—we are offended, angered, and most likely hurt. This goes for the politician, lobbyist, midwife, and the security guard. I have yet to meet anyone who likes to have rolled eyes thrown at them, enjoys having a finger pointed in their face, or feels edified by shrugged shoulders. Rather, we long for the opposite: kind eyes, beneficial hands, and self-controlled shoulders. We all want more than a justice that is legislated, promulgated, and put down on paper. We want a justice that is lived out in the everyday movements of a person. Read the article >>


4. Improv for the Kingdom: What Does it Mean to Equip People for Public Justice?

Kristen Deede Johnson


As important as our conviction about public justice is the manner in which we seek public justice. Today, Kristen Deede Johnson invites us to attend as much to our means as our ends in the work of justice. As the people of God, she argues, we are called to manifest such things as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in all of our endeavors. Read the article >>






3. Are Principles Enough? Virtues in Public Policy

Kevin den Dulk

Today, Kevin den Dulk argues that a first-principles approach assesses policies by comparing biblical/theological expectations to the outcomes of those policies. A policy outcome is “good” when it meets those expectations. But, he asks, what if we shift focus from outcomes to the practices and dispositions embedded in the policy process itself?  What if we think in terms of not only the values that define policy outcomes but also the virtues that shape policy analysis and implementation? Read the article >>



2. The Social Justice Wars: Where Does Public Justice Fit?

Richard Mouw, PhD

Richard Mouw argues today that the efforts at promoting social justice within each of the areas of public life will be most effective when they occur in a general societal climate shaped by active patterns of public justice. This aspect isn’t simply about crafting legislation—although the need for laws is often a necessity in guaranteeing that individuals get their “due” in specific areas of civil society. But as Gideon Strauss nicely puts it, public justice also requires “shaping a public life for the common good.” Such a public justice both shapes but is also necessarily less than the totality of what we call social justice today. Read the article >>



1. Public Justice Review: A Manifesto

Robert Joustra

In this introductory manifesto beginning my time at the Public Justice Review I want to connect, as it were, how this thing we call public justice might fit with the provisional work of public policy, and how this perspective can meaningfully, and purposefully, equip not only Christians but citizens for the public work of the American project. Contrary to the declinists and the pessimists, we are ruthlessly optimistic about that project, and we hope you’ll join us in a clear-eyed but unflinching vision for its own intergenerational reformation and renewal. Read the article >>



Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2018

Families, Nations, and Immigration: Who Comes First?

Stephanie Summers (Contributing Editor)

7. Valuing Families in the Immigration Debate: An Interview with Jenny Yang

Jenny Yang and Chelsea Maxwell

Over the past several weeks the Public Justice Review has been exploring the historical and current reality of family-centered immigration policy. Today, we interview Jenny Yang, who has been working with World Relief for about twelve years. She began her time with World Relief as a case manager in their refugee program providing oversight for their cases and operating as a liaison between the World Relief domestic offices and the US State Department. Now, she serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for the organization. In addition to her passion for engaging the Church in considering its role in the national conversation about immigration, she is also passionate about “ensuring that our government provides good structures and laws to ensure that the individuals and families [World Relief] serves are able to thrive.” Read the article >>



6. Faith, Refuge, and Resistance: The Innovations and Impact of the Modern-Day Sanctuary Movement

Catherine E. Wilson

In what ways do faith-based and community organizations se