Keisha speaks to congregations, conferences, community and corporate groups, and university audiences.
The question is who counts as human? Not who’s in the military, or who gets to be married, or who gets to have a job and keep it, or who can be ordained, or who can be a church member. Who counts as human? Our faith must help us answer that question with ‘All of us’.” —Keisha E. McKenzie
Imagining the Next Millennium of Christian Justice Organizing
Who: Drs. Keisha E. McKenzie and Bernie Schlager, Revs. Ray Bagnuolo, Cedric Harmon, and Alex McNeill, and Matthew Vines
Where/When: Rolling the Stone Away, a historic gathering of Christian activists, St. Louis, MO (November 2017)
History is told through the perspectives of those who keep records.” —LGBTQ Religious Archives Network
- As we tell one another our stories across generations, we learn how our predecessors survived past and ongoing trauma with compassion, kindness, and care.
- Some Christian traditions have used religious liberty as a sword against other minoritized groups rather than as the shield against governmental abuse it was designed to be.
- Faith can be weaponized, has been weaponized, and people of faith have the responsibility not to weaponize it.
- Our religions may have many faces. Our challenge is to learn from their authoritarian faces, to be and do better, and to live with kindness and compassion.
- As we do that inner and intra-faith work, there are more interesting civic questions to ask than which of us may be incorporated into the world as it already is.
- All of us count as human, and our faiths must both teach us that and inspire us to live publicly in the light of that reality.
When Religious Liberty is a Sword and Medical Evangelists Selectively Heal
Read: Intimate Conviction: Examining the Church and Anti-sodomy Laws Across the Commonwealth (pp. 96-102 and 132-138) via the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Who: Keisha speaks alongside more than 30 other Christian clergy, lay leaders, and organizers from Commonwealth nations and the United States
Where/When: Intimate Conviction, an inter-religious gathering of clergy, organizers, and clinicians, Kingston, Jamaica (October 2017)
Whenever the church speaks of love or holiness, the psychology of disgust is present and operative, often affecting the experience of the church in ways that lead to befuddlement, conflict, and missional failure.” —Richard Beck, Unclean
- It’s dehumanizing to debate people’s sexuality, identity, and faith exclusively in terms of laws, policies, and compliance.
- Social stigma and minoritization both flourish in inhumane legal and policy climates.
- Religions, including contemporary Christian communities, bear a deep moral responsibility for the legal and social legacies of so-called sodomy laws around the world.
- Adventist administrators including the current General Conference president have argued that Christianity isn’t the official source of law for any modern nation-state, that Adventists morality shouldn’t be ruled by disgust, and that Adventists must not use their faith “as a cudgel” or to “coerce” others.
- The denomination’s engagement with LGBTI people in the US and around the world doesn’t meet its own standard.
- While some local Adventist ministries have modeled compassionate care specifically to people living with HIV or AIDS over the last thirty years, the denomination’s institutional track record is selective.
- Local churches point to ways traditions might yet learn to honor religious conviction, religious liberty, and human dignity.
Related: Keisha writes on theologies of disgust and Richard Beck’s book Unclean at Spectrum Magazine
Resetting Shared Tables: What and Who’s Being Served?
Who: RfA board member Deb Tiemens shares story and music; Keisha speaks
Where/When: Hope Church (Reformed Church in America) for the Room for All National Conference, Holland, MI (September 2017)
Make us know that the border of the sanctuary
is not the border of living
and the walls of Your temples are not shelters
from the winds of truth, justice and reality.” —Mishkan T’Filah: A Reform Siddur
- I tell my story selectively, choosing elements that may help the people I’m speaking to: I don’t have to anchor myself to toxic memory or orient my evolving life around what others have done or said to me.
- I can honor my past by folding it into a new story about better ways to enjoy a common meal with people I care about.
- Sometimes, what’s on the table isn’t food fit for eating or serving up for others to eat. Sometimes, through community policies and subcultures that carve us up, human beings are put on the table.
- Affinity spaces like SDA Kinship and Room for All model for the Church what it means to live an expansive “we” rather than a “we” that’s built on the blood and bodies of marginalized people.
- Several groups, including exvangelicals, challenge our faith and practice from the pew, from the margins, and from outside the church walls. We’re better for their spurring us toward greater clarity, deeper integrity, and a broader commitment to humanity itself.
- Christian tradition offers plenty of tools for helping us learn how to be a healthy varied multitude. In the story of the Good Samaritan, for instance, the hero is the one who serves, not the one who refuses to serve.
I care too much about people to stop caring about the Church… Where we’re actively harming one another we must honor the image of God in the Other enough to stop. And we must also honor the spirit of God in the Other enough to listen for the truth in them.” —Keisha E. McKenzie
Other Recent Talks and Workshops
- Digital strategy, storytelling for action, and congregational organizing at Creating Change (Philadelphia, PA)
- Nonviolence and atonement practical theologies at Adventist Forum’s national conference (Silver Spring, MD)
- Elements of the Adventist information culture at the Society of Adventist Philosophers’ annual meeting (Atlanta, GA)
- Disparate impacts of climate change, climate justice, and the roles values play in persuading people to take action at The Task Force’s Creating Change convention (Denver, CO)