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OVERVIEW — Reverend Callahan Gets Political in the Pulpit at Rankin Chapel

By Vania Brown, Contributing Writer

The Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel on the campus of Howard University welcomed guest pastor Rev. Dr. Leslie Callahan Sunday, Nov. 20. Callahan has been the pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 2009 and is the church’s first female pastor.

In her sermon titled, “Take a Stand,” Callahan spoke candidly about the political state of the United States, and did not shy away from discussing topics that are often unmentionable within church walls. She even called out opportunistic pastors who support president-elect Donald Trump, and stressed to congregation that we need “to be careful, be on guard and resist.”

“I can’t just roll over, I can’t just go to bed in utter despair and oppression even though I was tempted to,” said Callahan as she described going through a period of soul searching post-election.

Throughout her sermon, Callahan spoke on inner conflicts she faced after the election of Trump, which occurred almost two weeks prior. She herself had struggled to try and make sense of the outcome, calling the election “the bankruptcy of christianity both spiritually and morally.” Callahan exclaimed that the people Trump has appointed are white supremacist, anti-immigrant and xenophobic.

“We have to resist the policies and the perspectives of the oncoming administration, and we have to do that not only out of our civic duty, but out of our sense of christian responsibility,” she said. “The ways in which the media has tried to normalize Trump is dangerous, and we could get used to it. Those of us who think this is scary need to continue to say so, and we need to say why.”  

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Callahan also touched on issues such as patriarchy and equality for the LGBTQ community. She spoke on marginalized groups, and said that everyone needs to recognize that our enemies are common.

“Our people are the same,” she said. “Immigrants, LGBTQ persons, muslims…are all a part of our families, all are a part of our churches and community. There is no division between us. The time has come to decide that our human life together matters. It goes beyond a social, political issue, but a matter of religious life and the gospel.”

Concluding her sermon, Callahan asked the attendees that looking ahead, to look for an inclusive vision for both America and within the church.

“A more inclusive vision for the United States is a healthier one,” Callahan said. “It is one that leads to more flourishing, and that being the case for our nation, it is also true for our churches. A more inclusive view for our churches will lead to our flourishing as well.”


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