MFSA Banner Blue
The Human Cost of Occupation
Upcoming Progressive Gatherings
Book Review
Progressive Ponderings:News and Job Openings
Social Media Corner
Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our profile on LinkedIn
Visit our blog

Donate Now!

Click Here to Make a Quick and Secure
Social Media
Connecting Voices
MFSA is now on GoodSearch!
Receive MFSA updates
Join Our Mailing List
Volume VII  Issue 14                 

22 August 2012





You were probably as stunned as I was when you first heard the term "legitimate rape" used last week by Rep. Todd Akin, Republican tea-party candidate for the Senate running against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Akin said that victims of "legitimate rape" don't get pregnant because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Where is he getting his medical information? He's even a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Rape is more likely to result in pregnancy. I think he's confusing science with science-fiction!


You and I could chalk this up to politics as usual, even as horribly offensive as it is, but I think it's more than that.


We were planning this issue of the MFSA E-News to focus on peace-making and peace-living. I had begun writing another article, but I felt led to write about "legitimate rape" instead.


A firestorm erupted after Rep. Akin's comments - and well it should. I'm glad that the President issued a statement that "Rape is Rape". But, rape is more than rape. Rape is violence. Rape is domination. Rape is a weapon of war. Rape is terrorism. Rape is wrong.


Anyone can be raped. Women, men, children, angels. As Christian disciples, we read about rape when we study the Bible. Tamar, a King's daughter is raped by her half-brother (2 Samuel 13), a no-name servant girl is repeatedly raped and killed, then cut into pieces (Judges: 19-20). Angels are threatened with rape in Sodom (Genesis 19). As a Sunday School teacher, I keep saying we need remedial Sunday School. Read your Bibles, people. Learn from what you read. Apply what you learn. Jesus is the Prince of Peace - not the Prince of Rationalizing Violence. It's disturbing to me that instead of seeing rape for the violent act that it is, in our culture there is still pervasive misunderstanding that rape is simply unwanted sex.


I spent more than fifteen years working in child maltreatment prevention. I think I've encountered every type of abuse and neglect than can hurt a child. At one time, I couldn't look at a child without assessing the potential risk of abuse in their life. And yes, I encountered child rape. In most cases, the rapist didn't cover up the act when confronted (despite terrorizing the child not to tell anyone) and instead tried to rationalize it. "She was asking for it", "I was trying to teach him", "I wanted her first experience to be with a parent who loves her" "She needed to be punished". I've heard it all. I've learned to look past the sickening aspect of their rationalizations to the real issue: control and domination over someone.


There is no question that violence goes hand-in-hand with control and power during war and occupation. Rape is a weapon of war around the world. When we met with UMC members at General Conference this year, we heard from delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo about what their churches are doing to help victims of rape. We know that in the U.S. someone is raped every two minutes.


Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but when I know that violence like rape is happening every 2 minutes - it seems more like a war to me.


So how do we as progressive Christians work to eliminate this kind of violence, domination, control and warfare? Jesus continues to teach us through his example. We need to do peace-making and be peace-living. Through direct action that makes it clear that "Rape is Rape", "no means no", no one is "asking for it" and by making sure we offer safe spaces for people in our congregations to talk about violence as the sin it is - rather than a cultural construct that some can call "legitimate".


"Legitimate rape" is akin to "collateral damage" and "civilian casualties" all terms that de-humanize and remove us from the violence of torn flesh, crushed homes, destroyed families, obliterated communities.


I ask you, as a progressive Christian, be strong in your peace-living. Use words that re-humanize rather than de-humanize. Give your time, your money, your passion to creating a more peaceful world.


Legitimately yours, for peace,

Jill's Signature

Jill A. Warren

Executive Director 


National CalltoActionAlternativeThe Human Cost of Occupation   

Over 10 years ago, Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old from Olympia, Washington,  was tragically killed as she attempted to block bulldozers from demolishing a Palestinian home in Gaza. Now, nearly 7 1/2 years since a court case was filed, and nearly 2 1/2 years since the trial inHaifa District Court began, a verdict is to be announced the morning of August 28th in the courtroom of Judge Oded Gershon. The Corrie Family is traveling to Haifa. The Foundation they have founded continues Rachel's vision of a just world.

Beyond praying for a just resolution to the trial, you can TAKE ACTION!

From Sunday, August 26th until Sunday, September 2nd, deliver a letter to TIAA-CREF offices, and remember Rachel as you do. This could be a great Sunday School, Coffee Hour, or MFSA Chapter activity!

A Palestinian woman protests home demolition. Photo credit:

*Register your planned action with the Rachel Corrie Foundation. *Download a copy of our sample TIAA-CREF letter.
*Deliver letters to half of the 60 TIAA-CREF offices. You can do this by US Mail - or even better, hand deliver them!
*Take a photo of your action (letter writing or delivery) and email it to MFSA so we can share it with the Rachel Corrie Foundation.

Upcoming Progressive Gatherings

Mark your calendars for September 29th at Methodist Theological School of Ohio. A wonderful day of bridge-building and justice-seeking will ensue as East and West Ohio MFSA Chapters join together to host Jill Warren, Executive Director of MFSA. 

Using one of the Four Freedoms, "Freedom from Fear", and Biblical texts featuring the words, "Fear Not", Jill will be leading us from the fear we all experienced at General Conference into freedom as we explore the work of The United Methodist Church through the General Conference of 2012 and the role of progressives in being, and making, disciples for the transformation of the world. Jill will also provide updates on the work of Central Conferences, Jurisdictional Conferences and MFSA's involvement in each. In her words, "I think we could reorder our name for 2012 and call MFSA - FMSA - Fearless Methodists for Social Action".

In the afternoon, Rev. Rebecca Tollefson, Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Churches will speak to us about legislative issues in Ohio. For specific details go here or contact Tom Douce  to make reservations for this event.

Connections Live 2012   


Connections Live! 2012, on September 28-29 (register by September 5), is a gathering of progressive Christians, hosted by MFSA member Barbara Wendland, in her hometown of Temple, Texas. The event will be an opportunity for thoughtful, forward-looking Christians to meet in person, in order to

  • reassure each other that even though our views may be in a minority in our churches or local communities, we're not alone;
  • see how we might promote needed change in the church and the world; and
  • plan how to support each other in concrete, practical ways.

Talks and a workshop Friday evening and Saturday morning will be presented by Dr. Robin R. Meyers, author of Why the Christian Right Is Wrong: A Minister's Manifesto for Taking Back Your Faith, Your Flag, Your Future (2006); Saving Jesus from the Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus (2009); and most recently, The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus (2012). The Saturday afternoon session will feature a consultant on new media, and a panel of lay Christians who

  • are working to spread accurate information about the Bible, Christian history and theology, other religions, and important social and political issues, within the church as well as outside it;
  • have found ways to bring progressive Christians together, even where they are in the minority;
  • are taking concrete, self-sacrificing action to expose and oppose injustice and to promote justice.
Book Review: St. Mark's and the Social Gospel
In her book, St. Mark's and the Social Gospel, historian Ellen Blue does a brilliant job of recreating the social and cultural milieu of post-Reconstruction New Orleans and highlighting the work of St. Mark's Methodist Church and Community Center.

From chronicling the development of a settlement house (similar to that of Jane Addams' Hull House) to exploring the Church's role in school desegregation, Blue draws upon a variety of resources - newspapers, church documents, pamphlets, and personal interviews.

Central to the story of St. Mark's is the role of women, specifically Deaconesses, as they confronted social issues of their days. Today, St. Mark's stands as a witness to the Social Gospel, welcoming the stranger, the disenfranchised, and the dispossessed.

This is a fascinating read for those interested in social history, the development of progressive theology, and women's history. Blue is able to weave historical facts with oral history to grab reader attention. By the end of the book, you feel truly connected to the people of St. Mark's and the neighborhood it serves.

Published by University of Tennessee Press, 2011.
ISBN: 978-1572338210

Ellen Blue is the Mouzon Biggs Jr. Associate Professor of the History of Christianity and United Methodist Studies at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is the coauthor of Attentive to God: Thinking Theologically in Ministry. She teaches and writes about women's issues and the post-Katrina church in New Orleans.
Reviewed by Chett Pritchett, Development and Communications Associate
ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
FacebookSocial Media Corner

Help us help other great organizations! 


"Like" the UMC National Hispanic Plan on Immigration on Facebook and learn more about what they are doing to increase justice ministries in congregations and communities.


Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003