Public Square

A New Book for the Young Social Justice Advocate

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Christian millennials are losing interest in politics. They are passionate about social justice issues, but they’re politically disillusioned, and dysfunction in Washington is quickly eroding their enthusiasm for progress.

This is what Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson fears is happening to young Christians today.

In his new book, Unleashing Opportunity: Why Escaping Poverty Requires a Shared Vision of Justice, Gerson, along with co-authors Stephanie Summers and Katie Thompson, seeks to encourage young Christians to engage in politics because social justice requires it.

The book equips young people with a passion for social justice along with a deep knowledge and understanding of what the church community and the government can do to share the responsibility of social justice.

The book covers five key areas of inequality:

  1. Early childhood
  2. The graduation gap
  3. Foster care
  4. Juvenile Justice
  5. Predatory lending

Gerson explains each issue in detail while Summers applies the theological framework for both private and public solutions. Thompson brings in first hand accounts of men and women who have experienced these issues.

On October 21st, the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) hosted a book launch event at Georgetown University for the new book and its authors.

The event included two discussion panels covering two of the five topics, the graduation gap and foster care.

Panelists called for public policy reform and gave specific examples as to how the local community and individuals can help.

The Graduation Gap

Graduating college is one of the most powerful means to economic prosperity today, but only 11 percent of low-income students who enroll in college graduate after six years. 55 percent of their non-low income peers graduate.

This is called “the graduation gap.”

Panelist Galen Carey, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Evangelicals, emphasized the role college education plays in further developing each individual in the image of God.

In school, we have the opportunity to explore and grow our God-given talents, and, for that reason, Carey says the church is uniquely positioned to take on this issue.

Shapri LoMaglio with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities discussed the need for low-income students to have a strong community of support while they are away from home.

She suggested mentoring or befriending these students to better understand their needs, whether it’s money or books or a ride home from school for Thanksgiving.

The church can offer these students a stable community and personal champions in small group settings.

Foster Care

Did you know that according to the FBI, three out of five sexually trafficked children grew up in the foster care system?

The panelists speculate the abuse and instability foster children experience growing up paves the way for sex trafficking.

They said that local church communities, with the help of public policy reform, can effectively work together to mend the brokenness of the child welfare system in America.

Aaron Graham, pastor of the District Church, believes everyone can do something for these children.

He founded DC127, a network of churches in the DC area that recruit and support foster and adoptive homes and work to prevent children from entering the child welfare system.

For those who want to get involved but aren’t able to adopt, Graham suggests babysitting for a foster family, or making yourself available to pick up baby formula at the grocery store.

Gerson’s optimistic fervor for bipartisan consensus on social justice issues, along with the panelists’ real-life stories and simple suggestions for involvement, left me with a sense of inspiration and a hopeful vision for the future. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.

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  • Rebecca Firestone

    Hi Elise, great article – appreciate your insights.

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