Presidential Candidate John Kennedy Speaks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12, 1960But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
By TOM EHRICH GateHouse News Service
What if America truly were a Christian nation?
Not a Southern Baptist nation, or an Episcopal nation, or a Roman Catholic nation. Not grounded in the doctrinal and ecclesiastical isms that have grown up over the centuries. But a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did.
Well, we wouldn’t be arguing about sex, that’s for sure. Jesus devoted no time to matters of sexuality.
We wouldn’t be leading cheers for any particular economic system, capitalist or socialist, for in his many teachings about wealth and power, Jesus saw both as snares and delusions.
We wouldn’t be taking votes on who gets medical care, or who gets to live, or who gets to learn, or whose rights matter more, or whose race or religion can’t be allowed to breathe freely. For Jesus gave healing to all who asked, defended the lives of sinners, taught all who were eager to learn, welcomed all to his circle — even outcasts, lepers and children. He had no regard for his own tradition’s finely tuned boundaries.
We wouldn’t be loading great wealth onto the already wealthy, but rather would be asking them to follow the lead of biblical tax collector Zacchaeus and to give away half of what they have.
We wouldn’t need as many lawyers, because generosity would trump tax-reduction strategies, parables would trump rules, property would be shared as needed and people would be forgiving — not suing — each other.
If we were a genuinely Christian nation, we would be gathering the harvest of this abundant land and sharing it with the hungry of our own land and of many lands. We would forgive our enemies, speak truth to power and go forth to serve and to sacrifice, not to rule.
We would stand with the poor when predators circled around them. We would stand with sinners when the self-righteous picked up stones. We would join hands with nonconformists and strangers.
We would become God’s beacon to the nations. And when the tired and poor followed that light to our borders, we would greet them with open arms and make room for them in our communities.
That’s what Jesus did, and that is what it would mean to be a Christian nation.
So to those who insist that America be a Christian nation, I ask: Is this truly what you want? Do you want the I-was-hungry-and-you-gave-me-something-to-eat of Matthew 25? Do you want the
Sermon on the Mount? Do you want to shine God’s light in the darkness?
Your behavior says no.
Your shouts against generosity say no.
Your penchant for oppressive culture says no.
Your willingness to shower wealth on the few while the many suffer says no.
Your hostility to freedom says no.
So stop pretending. At least be as honest as the hedge fund manager who paid himself $8 billion last year. It’s “all about the Benjamins,” not the Gospel. It’s about stifling any freedom but your own. It’s about imposing your cultural preferences on others. It’s about turning your fears and appetites into law. It’s about you, not about Jesus Christ.
That’s the nature of politics, of course: one “you” versus another “you.” That’s fine, and it’s why we formed a democracy, so that our various interests could compete fairly. Just spare us the religious posturing.
If America became a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did, you would be aghast.
Tom Ehrich (media.com) is a writer, Episcopal priest and church consultant. Religion News Service distributes his column.gwalk
It may well be the latter. A study released last fall suggests that the theology embraced by American religious conservatives may render them immune to evidence and reason when it comes to economic management. The study found that a sizable minority share a uniquely faith-based view of how the economy functions, believing that both good and bad outcomes are an expression of God’s will, and are therefore beyond the reach of mere mortals.
This may help explain the disconnect between the gravity of our economic crisis and lawmakers’ – especially conservative (Crazy Republican!) lawmakers’ — decided lack of a sense of urgency in addressing it
makesmethink.com (via ner-tamid)
Kind of the exact opposite of what I usually post, but I thought it was nice. :)
I’ve taken a few swipes at the so-called pro-life crowd over the past couple of weeks, mostly as a result of statements by the candidates and the behavior of audience members at the two most recent GOP debates. My argument has been, I think, fairly straightforward: If you say that you hold human life to be sacred, for whatever reason, then you can’t also cheer about people’s deaths — even if they’re people you don’t like or with whom you don’t identify, like criminals or the uninsured.
Now, from Mississippi, we have a stark contrast:
The family of an African-American man who died after allegedly being beaten by a group of white teens and run over by a truck is asking state and federal officials not to seek the death penalty in the case.
Relatives of James Craig Anderson, who died shortly after receiving his injuries on June 26, sent a letter with their request to the prosecutor in the case, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.
“We ask that you not seek the death penalty for anyone involved in James’ murder,” the letter states; the letter is signed by Barbara Anderson Young, James Craig Anderson’s sister who is in charge of, and speaks for, his estate.
The letter states that the family is opposed to the death penalty partly for religious convictions.
“Our opposition to the death penalty is deeply rooted in our religious faith, a faith that was central in James’ life as well,” the letter states. But the family goes on to explain that there is another reason for their opposition, one that is tied to Mississippi’s racial past.
“We also oppose the death penalty because it historically has been used in Mississippi and the South primarily against people of color for killing whites,” the letter states. “Executing James’ killers will not help to balance the scales. But sparing them may help to spark a dialogue that one day will lead to the elimination of capital punishment.”
This family is pro-life.
They argue that the death penalty violates the core tenets of their religion and they argue that it is bound up with societal injustices that have deep roots in our history. Public and non-public reasons are being employed here, and you can take your pick as to which you find to be compelling. But even if you aren’t convinced by either one of the arguments they make, you have to agree that this is what a pro-life position looks like.
Now … what do you suppose the prosecutor will do?
When I was a child, I was taught that a person can pray any time they wished and God would hear him. You could pray while walking down the street, while doing homework, while taking a shower. It could be a long prayer or a short one. It could be aloud or silent, but God always listened.
But some time between then and now, things changed. Today a prayer only counts if it is spoken aloud into a microphone in front of a large group of people. It only counts if it is planned well ahead of time and scheduled for a specific time and place. It must be written, or at least well rehearsed, and the pray-er must instruct the audience when to begin and when to stop. The language must be inspirational and grandiose.And if you don’t do all these things, God himself is apparently banned from attending the event.
I’ve never been able to put my thoughts on comments like, “They are banning God from [insert event here],” together into a single, coherent statement. This might finally be a way to end those discussions, while minimizing/eliminating the ensuing arguments, with my neo-con family. Thanks abaldwin360!
She doesn’t know the difference between John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy and she wished Elvis birthday wishes on the anniversary of his death. She is nothing more to me than Ol’ Crazy Eyes Bachman.