Did nun jab the #BringBackOurGirls campaign?

Call me crazy. (I know: Who would ever do such a thing?) But if you asked me how I’d expect a nun to respond to the  heartless and heartbreaking abduction of more than 200 Nigerian school girls, the terrorist act that spawned the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, I’d probably expect her to pray without ceasing.

AP Photo: Former President Bill Clinton poses with Sr. Rosemary

AP Photo: Former President Bill Clinton poses with Uganda’s Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

If you told me that the nun in question was a humanitarian activist who had been named a “CNN Hero” and one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” I’d definitely expect her to use her influence to rally worldwide support for the return of the girls.

If you told me that Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe of Uganda, who has worked tirelessly to end violence and sexual exploitation, appeared on American television to raise awareness of what she says is a crime that is committed throughout the world, I wouldn’t be surprised. But if you told me that she made a violent threat against the show’s host, I’d tell you to check your facts. Here they are:

No Laughing Matter

Sr. Rosemary’s interview with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert started innocently enough. He asked her response to critics who claim that hashtag campaigns such as #BringBackOurGirls are ineffective. She defends it, but says that we must do more to keep these incidents in the spotlight.

So far, so good—until two minutes, 18 seconds into their chat. Colbert tells the renowned nun that he is saddened by the mass kidnapping. Then, presumably to prompt a response from her that would touch the hearts of millions who might feel detached from acts of inhumanity in foreign lands, Colbert asks: “How does that affect my life? Why should I be sad for something that is happening thousands of miles away when there are things at home to be sad about?”

Sr. Rosemary’s response was not what I expected:

“If you cannot be sad because it is happening in Africa, which is part of the humanity, I would feel like jabbing you.” ~Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

Rewind the tape! Were Sister’s bold proclamation and boxing gestures a joke? This is Comedy Central, after all. Frankly, if it was a joke or a rehearsed skit, it was in poor taste, given the gravity of the cause she was promoting.

“Really? You—a nun—would punch me?” he asked, looking incredulous.

“Oh, yah. I would jab you!” she responded.

“Am I allowed to punch you back?”


“How is that fair?” Colbert protested.

“Because I’m going to punch you—and I would win!” she boasted.

Shut my loud mouth. Apparently, she was planning a knock-out punch. Stunning.


There are so many disconnects here, I don’t even know where to start. OK, I lied: Let’s start with the teachings of the Prince of Peace, whom the influential Sr. Rosemary has proudly represented since 1976.

Among those teachings is this little scene: Yeshua/Jesus is instructing his disciples how to respond when Gentiles reject their “good news” message. Did he say, “Knock some sense into them until they agree!”

No, according to Matthew 10:14, he told them, “Whoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.” In other words, keep it moving, Brother—and oh, by the way, this applies to you, too, Sister.

The #BringBackOurGirls Campaign Takes It on the Chin

#BringBackOurGirls advocate Sr. Rosemary threatens to punch Stephen Colbert

Credit: Huffington Post

Please tell me under what circumstances can those who call themselves followers of Jesus justify violence of any kind? It is a leap beyond irony that Sr. Rosemary threatened an act of violence while protesting an act of violence. If you don’t think the way she wants you to think, she’ll punch you. Perhaps she took a jab at the #BringBackOurGirls campaign instead.

No one has to be reminded of the Church’s long and gruesome history of winning converts to Christianity through ultimata, violence and murder. We wish we could forget.

Obviously, that diabolical history still has a faint heartbeat. But then, as now, this behavior completely violates Yeshua’s teachings. It also give Christianity a black eye, providing graphic evidence that Christians are not always Christlike. If they choose to act in ways that are not loving, patient, forgiving and compassionate, why don’t they call themselves something else?

When I was a Girl Scout, I learned never to do anything while wearing my uniform that would disgrace scouting, my troop or my scout leader (my mom). The same is true for those who wear any type of uniform, which made the scene of a nun throwing jabs a bit surreal, if not disrespectful.

The issue of whether a hashtag campaign such as #BringBackOurGirls is effective tactic has now taken a back seat to a more pertinent question: Does punching those who don’t get on board with the campaign bring closure to this episode for the girls and their parents? Does it align the Church with those who seek world peace or send the institution careening back to its terrorist past? In the name of all that is holy, please put down your dukes, Sister Rosemary.

A Bag Lady’s Holy Week

Bag LadyRarely do I want to be that one, the bag lady. But for the next few weeks, I’ll be happily living out of suitcases. The first stop on my journey is the Balcony of Life, where I will stay until Easter is good and over. 

In years past, I’ve tried to tough it out and remain on Earth’s stage during Holy Week’s incessant demonization of the Divine, even though the bludgeoning of God’s holiness annoys me to no end.

As Einstein said, “Doing the same thing, and expecting a different result, is insanity.” So this year, I’m changing course: Rather than take myself there, I’m bringing myself here—to the Balcony. Memo to Self: Install an escalator! There’s no graceful way to lug all this stuff up these stairs.

Hmmm, even from the lower balcony, I can see what a blessing the soul we knew as Trayvon Martin has been for race relations in America. He has both awakened us to our tendency to label, judge and respond to another member of the human family based on superficial characteristics such as skin color and attire. He also has stirred our conflicted sense of justice.

As a species, we are still evolving, still trying to resolve our love-hate relationship with violence and vengeance. Sometimes brutalizing an innocent member of our human family is unacceptable to us. More frequently—in fact, daily—brutality is absolutely OK with us.

Why is the murder of one innocent child of God reviled and the brutal murder of another revered?

Trayvon’s murder falls under the unacceptable category. Hundreds of thousands of citizens in this mostly Christian nation have taken to the streets in outrage over the inhumanity of vigilante George Zimmerman and the insensitivity of the non-vigilant Sanford, Florida Police Department. We clearly revile injustice and violence—except when we’re giddy and grateful for it.

During this, the holiest week on the Christian calendar, we will attend vigils, wear hoodies to church, and post cathartic sentiments on social media in protest of the death of this innocent child and its subsequent cover-up. Then we will get down on our knees and thank God for sending another innocent young man to be slowly and sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty could be forgiven.

Let me play that back for you: According to ancient reports, God was so vehemently opposed to forgiveness that “He” stooped to the barbaric and distinctly human practice of sacrificing a live and innocent being before “He” would forgive the guilty. Yes, it’s the same God that wants mere mortals to forgive 70 times 7.

No one’s protesting the inhumanity, injustice or hypocrisy of this alleged act of God. No one’s demanding evidence that Love would do anything inhumane, unjust or hypocritical. No, instead we’re jumping for joy that we are washed in the blood of Jesus. Isn’t that part of a satanic ritual? Where does the Divine fit in that?

Can we legitimately scream for justice in Trayvon’s murder, when we’re not demanding the same for Jesus’s insanely brutal death? Can we credibly call for Zimmerman to be arrested and tried, but continue to give the Roman soldiers a get-out-of-jail-free card?

All of us carry baggage in our heads. Some of it is information and beliefs that harm us or others. We drag it from place to place and it blurs our ability to see Truth. Perhaps it’s time to let some of it go—starting with all illogical thoughts that demonize God.

From where this bag lady is sitting, if I am grateful for anything this Holy Week, it’s that God really is Love, and that Love forgives absolutely and unconditionally—no matter how much or how long we’ve repeated tales that The Divine does anything demonic.