Friday, March 3, 2006

Jesus was a revolutionary

The State of Things on NPR was about the "religious left" today. I was kind of disappointed in the show, since they rarely strayed from the topic of abortion. I know it's a hot-button topic right now, but I'd still liked to have heard more. There was some pretty good stuff that got out there, though. Here are some of my favorite quotes, as best as I could transcribe them, along with some personal thoughts...

-From Rev. Jim Wallis, author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It(which I will definitely be reading once I get done with the Walking Dead hardcover):

"King never endorsed any candidate, he made them endorse his agenda."

Right now, Republicans tell the church what it's agenda is and what it cares about. It shouldn't be that way. Politicians in general should not be able to tell us what we should be thinking about, we should be telling them what they should be concerned with. It hasn't worked that way in a long time.

"The poor aren't trapped only in poverty, they're trapped in the liberal/conservative debate."

I have nothing to add. That's pretty dead on, though.

"If you want to be protected by the right wing and you're a child, you have to stay unborn as long as possible."

More on this after I get all of the abortion quotes out.

"If a Democrat is a person of faith, he shouldn't have to apologize for it."

I really dislike the idea that the Democrats have to retreat from their faith if they're going to maintain all of their supporters. No one should have to back away from what their faith is. They don't have to wear it on their sleeves, but they have to let people know that they're people of faith, too. The way it is right now, Republicans get to say "I'm a pro-life Christian." The implication is "My opponent is a pro-death non-Christian." I'm tired of Democratic people of faith not saying "I'm a Christian too, and that faith tells me you're full of it."

People are afraid the instant the word "God" comes into things, they'll lose the people for whom religion is not the source of their convictions. I say that as long as those people can hear that the things that matter to them are being addressed, they don't care what the faith of the person addressing them is. They may even be relieved to hear that the convictions that got those concerns addressed came from a foundation as strong as one's personal faith.

-Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP:

"The Church cannot be a chaplain of the state...the Church should challenge the state..."

The Church should never function as a part of the government. Ever. And this is why. The Church should be one of the strongest voices that work to hold the government accountable for the welfare of its citizens. Period. That's pretty far from the way things are right now. Ask me about my feelings on the American flag being in the front of church sanctuaries sometime.

"So let's talk about abortion...what do we abort when the children don't get health care...What do we abort when we go backwards into segregation...that's a faith discussion."

You cannot have a view that is anti-abortion and have a view that is anti-welfare. It doesn't work. As Rev. Barber said, "If someone is going to have a baby, we need to take that baby in, not just tell them to have it." You cannot tell someone that they have to have a child and then have nothing in place to take care of that child. You can't. Not in any morally reconcilable way.

One of the things that kept coming up during the broadcast was the idea that instead of just banning abortion and patting ourselves on the back, the best way to combat abortion is to prevent the situations that lead to it. Help the people feel like they have to do it as an economic necessity with social programs. Require some real sex education that may focus on abstinence, but at least ensure that everyone knows effective birth control methods. I think even the most Catholic of Catholics can agree that a condom and a pill is preferable to an abortion. Make the adoption process less of a headache for all of the parties involved. All of these can be done to stop abortions without imposing a ban that will make criminals out of some of the victims of our current system.

"There is no debate that if you read the Bible, you're supposed to care for the poor."

People can argue about the meaning and context of a lot of the Bible. They can argue about what is actually said about homosexuality, war, and most anything else. People even argue about the meaning of "Thou shalt not kill," for cryin' out loud. But no one can argue that the Bible doesn't tell us at almost every turn to take care of the poor. Yet it seems to be the last thing on the minds of the most fanatical "Christians" that run the country.

-Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman from California

"Our faith is not poised on the head of a pin, it's very broad...Catholicism is broader than abortion"

People's faith cannot make them into one-issue voters. It just cannot. I don't care what your faith is, there is more to it than how it informs your belief on a single issue. The reality of politics is that when someone takes office, they take the office to handle multiple tasks. Your faith should inform how you feel about one politician's stand on every aspect of their office, not just the one that gets the fire in your belly going.

Put it all together, and we get what the Republicans are so good at. They tell the Church what issue it should be concerned with. The Church follows that lead, focused on the one issue while the Republican party violates every other bit of "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" almost entirely unnoticed. They can paint themselves as "better Christians" than their opponents because they are "prolife" or "anti gay" and those are the only "Christian" values that matter.

More and more, I see people giving up on the Church as a result of this. I don't feel like I can beat it, so I end up in chuch much less. Some don't feel like they can beat it, so they abandon their faith completely. We cannot do that. We have to make the Church be the Church again. I have to do my part to bring the Church back to that place it was in so very long ago, where it held the government accountable. So. Anyone with me?

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