This is a stirring and inspiring show with theologian Dr. Miguel De La Torre (read his recent articles and his book Embracing Hopelessness). I love his passion and conviction surrounding Christianity. We both feel that, the beautiful sayings of Jesus, have been hijacked by certain people who are now living a life which, is in direct opposition to the love that he preached.
Born in Cuba months before the Castro Revolution, Miguel A. De La Torre and his family came to the United States as refugees when he was six months old. For a while the U.S. government considered him an “illegal immigrant” asking him to “self-deport” in 1960. He attended Blessed Sacrament School in Queens, New York and was baptized and confirmed by the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, his parents were devotees and priest/priestess of the religion Santería. De La Torre’s early childhood was marked by a spiritual hybridity based on his Catholic and Santería faiths and up-bringing. He left Queens, moving to Miami, Florida in his teens. At the age of nineteen, he began a real estate company in Miami called Championship Realty, Century 21. The office grew to over 100 sales agents. During this time he also obtained a Masters in Public Administration from American University in Washington, DC. Eventually he was elected president of the Miami Board of Realtors. He was also active in local politics, becoming the founding president of the West Dade Young Republicans. In 1988 he was a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, District 115, but lost to Mario Diaz-Balart.
In his early twenties he became a “born-again” Christian and joined University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Florida. His real estate firm was a financial success; however, De La Torre dissolved the thirteen-year-old company and attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to obtain a Masters in Divinity. During his seminary training he served as pastor to a rural congregation, Goshen Baptist Church in Glen Dean, Kentucky.
De La Torre continued his theological training and obtained a doctorate from Temple University in social ethics. The focus of his academic pursuit has been ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression. He specializes in applying a social scientific approach to Latinx religiosity within this country, Liberation theologies in the Caribbean and Latin America, and postmodern/postcolonial social theory.
De La Torre taught Christian Ethics at Hope College in Holland, MI from 1999 to 2005. In 2005 he wrote a column for the local newspaper, The Holland Sentinel, titled “When the Bible is Used for Hatred.” The article was a satirical piece commenting on Focus on the Family’s James Dobson outing of SpongeBob Square Pants. A few days later, Mr. Dobson responded to the article. Due to various circumstances arising from the encounter, Dr. De La Torre resigned his tenure. Since then, he has been serving as the Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.
Since obtaining his doctorate in 1999, Dr. De La Torre has authored numerous articles and books, including the award-winning Reading the Bible from the Margins, (Orbis, 2002); Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004); Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, (Orbis, 2004); and the Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Culture, Volume 1 & 2, (ABC-CLIO, 2009). Within the academy he has served as a director to the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. Additionally, he has been co-chair of the Ethics Section at the American Academy of Religion. In 2012, he was elected President of the Society of Christian Ethics. That same year he received a Fulbright, teaching a course on postcolonialism and Christianity in Indonesia. In 2014, he taught a course on Liberative Ethics in South Africa. And in 2017, he taught on Immigration in Germany.
Dr. De La Torre has been an expert commentator concerning ethical issues (mainly Latinx religiosity, LGBT civil rights, and immigration rights) on several local, national, and international media outlets. A scholar-activist, Dr. De La Torre has written numerous articles in popular media. He writes monthly columns for Baptist News Global which continuously creates controversies for his unique approach of religiously analyzing social issues from the perspective of the dispossessed and disenfranchised.