2011 Prayer Breakfast

Faith Communities MUST speak the truth, which is the foundation of justice.

SOPHIA’s Seventh Annual Prayer Breakfast and Silent Auction was held at La Casa de Esperanza on April 30, 2011. Rev. Dr. Bryan Massingale, S.T.D., Marquette University professor who teaches social ethics, among other subjects, delivered an inspiring Keynote Address to members and friends of SOPHIA. As a noted lecturer on issues of social and racial justice, his message was Truth-Telling and Hope-Keeping: Faith’s Contributions to Social Justice. Based on the Christian commandment ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor’, Massingale spoke of the need to be diligent in listening for social lies, and of our religious duty to oppose those lies through speaking the truth. 

Rev. Dr. Massingale spoke of how vocabulary perpetuates the distortion of truth. For example, when torture is referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation’, firing or laying-off employees is ‘downsizing’, corporate welfare is a ‘necessary bailout’, injustices continue and are legitimized. Distorted speech and social lies are necessary for injustice to occur; Faith Communities must continue to speak the truth. 

Massingale listed current ideas that he views as social lies: 

People are homeless because they are too lazy to work

This ignores all the homeless children, all the families who are working in several low paying jobs and still cannot afford shelter – all a result of failed public policy and civic courage.

Immigrants are a drain on our society.

This lie negates the willingness of immigrants to work at jobs many in our society don’t want as they are ‘beneath’ us, and negates the many contributions immigrant workers offer to our society.


Immigrants are a threat to our way of life.                                                

This breeds racial fears as society looks for a scapegoat for multiple societal issues.

Blacks are lazy, dumb, violent . . . .

By stereotyping one group of people as such, society gives itself ‘permission’ to neglect neighborhoods, kids, families - valuable people. Without societal resources in a neighborhood (which has been deemed ‘hopeless’ and been written off), the self-fulfilling prophecy becomes true and more jails are built.

Public labor unions and employees are the cause of budget crises in many states and the nation.

Massingale noted that the greater cause is corporations interested in profit without regard to ethics – using taxpayer money for large bonuses for corporate leaders while laying off the workers in the company. Revenue is needed from those able to pay; that a truly shared sacrifice is necessary.

Keep ‘them’ out of ‘here’ and don’t worry about ‘them’

Massingale spoke of how we are all interconnected, and we are our ‘brother’s keeper’.

Those who are not like ‘Us’ are not deserving of the same rights and privileges as ‘Us’.

This social lie causes inequities, promotes divisions in our society, forming scapegoats and encouraging injustice. 

Massingale encouraged all to keep Faith and Hope, as God is our most faithful hope-keeper. He celebrated SOPHIA’s successes and urged us to keep working, to oppose the social lies and fight for justice. SOPHIA must keep truth in the forefront. 

When asked about working with adversaries, he reminded us all that a struggle against social evil is not a struggle against the human being – speak out against the evil and the lie. Be assertive, speak the truth. We cannot afford to be silent.

To keep Hope, Father Massingale reminded us that when we work together, when we speak the Truth, and speak what is on our hearts, we support each other and may plant seeds for someone else to reap. Historically, social justice has never come easily or peacefully, but has been accompanied with pain, time, and too often, bloodshed. Deep religious faith has been a foundation and support for those fighting for true social justice.  

Rev. Massingale urged us to ground Hope and Action in deep spirituality and prayer, and together, to speak the Truth.

Hope Without Action Will Not End In Justice

Justice Without Hope Has No Chance

Father Bryan Massingale, S.T.D. Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Marquette University, will speak on Truth-Telling and Hope-Keeping:  Faith’s Contributions to Social Justice.” This dynamic speaker will relate theology to social justice issues, including issues relative to the state budget. He is also author of “Racial Justice and the Catholic Church”.

SOPHIA appreciates promotional support provided by Marquette University. 

Sophia Webmaster,
Mar 31, 2011, 7:17 PM