What the Church can Learn from the Code Manifesto

computer-coding-catKayla Daniels is a programmer who happens to be female. Unfortunately, people in her field focus more on her gender than on her programming expertise. Ms. Daniels gave a talk at Laracon (US) this year on her struggles of being a female programmer and not wanting the same sexist culture for her daughter. In response, she wrote a simple manifesto that she hoped more workplaces would adopt and encourage a radically different culture than the one she has lived through.

Here’s her goal:

Through this [manifesto], anyone who looks into our industry–to see what kind of people developers are–will see we are good people, that this a space that is worth being in, that they would want to be in, so that young people looking at becoming developers, be they minority or majority, are never deterred by the community that we are offering.

The following is the full-text of Ms. Daniels’ Code Manifesto. I read it and saw several points of contact with faith communities like the Christian faith. Take a read as if it were a Church worker that wrote it:

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The Code Manifesto
by Kayla Daniels

We want to work in an ecosystem that empowers developers to reach their potential–one that encourages growth and collaboration. A space that is safe for all.

A space such as this benefits everyone that participates in it. It encourages new developers to enter our field. It is through discussion and collaboration that we grow, and through growth that we improve.

In the effort to create such a place, we hold to these values:

  1. Discrimination limits us. This includes discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, nationality and any other arbitrary exclusion of a group of people.
  2. Boundaries honor us. Your comfort levels are not everyone’s comfort levels. Remember that, and if brought to your attention, heed it.
  3. We are our biggest assets. None of us were born masters of our trade. Each of us has been helped along the way. Return that favor, when and where you can.
  4. We are resources for the future. As an extension of #3, share what you know. Make yourself a resource to help those that come after you.
  5. Respect defines us. Treat others as you wish to be treated. Make your discussions, criticisms and debates from a position of respectfulness. Ask yourself, is it true? Is it necessary? Is it constructive? Anything less is untolerated.
  6. Reactions require grace. Angry responses are valid, but abusive language and vindictive actions are toxic. When something happens that offends you, handle it assertively, but be respectful. Escalate reasonably, and try to allow the offender an opportunity to explain themselves, and possibly correct the issue.

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Two immediate takeaways:

  • Dual values of respect and giving back makes for a powerful place to co-create together. While it can come off as works righteousness when put into a church context, I suspect most churches want the people there to become their best selves and to serve the community inside and outside the church. Rather than an adversarial stance, a respectful arms-open stance gains more truck with a community than damning it.
  • Lifting up gracefulness in online conversations. Programmers converse in asynchronous conversations, so the pushback against angry responses is absolutely necessary in the computer industry. In the church, our worst selves are often on display when we talk around a person, send anonymous (or even named) letters, and argue online. As the administrator of a 3,000 clergy group on Facebook, I’ve seen close to the worst that our own order treats each other online. To embody the same gracefulness that you give people in face-to-face conversations online is a skill that many of us need to continue to learn.

Thoughts? How would your church or ministry context change if they embodied the values above?

Discuss!

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Comments

  1. Theresa says

    Hello, thanks so much for beginning the discussion on this and its relevance within the Church. I can’t help but feel like, as a woman, that this conversation should have begun so many years ago. I am continuously amazed at the behaviors that continue towards women in church meetings, committees, leadership, and budgets that would be forthright harassment in a professional working office. One of my biggest peeves is hearing a congregation saying, upon learning that a female pastor will be assigned to them, that they refuse to work with a female pastor….and the conference listens to them! IMHO, those words should be shut down immediately. And more of this be empowered. Thanks again.

  2. Meredith says

    So simply said, and yet pretty profound. We usually adopt discriminatory beliefs because we think they will free us; “We know your kind, and your kind are not our kind, and so we no longer will spend any energy dealing with you.” Or like that summer hit that’s on the radio every ten minutes, “I’ve got one less problem without you.” But discrimination actually closes us off from all kinds of people and possibilities, and so is detrimental to all.

    We the church act like, since we’re the Body of Christ, maybe we’re supposed to be God’s spokesperson, too. This quickly leads us to a place of declaring what’s right and what’s wrong. And that usually descends into *who* is right and wrong. And boom, the church is a leader in discrimination.

    Maybe our job isn’t to declare what’s right and wrong. I think of the things that Jesus taught us to do: Pray for our enemies. Forgive, 70 times 7 times. Don’t look for the kingdom of heaven coming in the clouds, but know that the kingdom of God is among, within us. And the most important: love God and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. All grace-filled actions. No declarations of right and wrong. None of those actions can abide discrimination.

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