A Call for Perspective

I have steadfastly avoided endorsing any political candidate throughout this campaign because I do not believe it is appropriate for leaders of faith communities to do so – not because to do so endangers our tax exempt status, although it does, but rather because all faith communities are comprised of people with varying political perspectives and I do not believe it is part of my role to alienate any of them.

Now that the election is over, I have a few observations…

To my conservative religious friends, particularly Roman Catholics but also evangelicals, who are praying for the conversion of Barack Obama: You need to repent. Barack Obama is a member of a United Church of Christ parish in Chicago. That makes him a Christian, and you need to sit down and shut up.

To my conservative religious friends, Roman Catholic and evangelical, who are upset because their “pro-life” candidate didn’t win: You aren’t pro-life, you are pro-fetus. Be honest about that, or sit down and shut up. If this confuses you, read the blog post immediately preceding this one.

To my gay and lesbian friends who are so upset over the passage of Prop 8 in California that they have lost all perspective and become so self absorbed that all they can see is that loss, and not the victory of a presidential candidate who talks about full inclusion of gay and lesbian people in society: Get over yourself, stand back, get some perspective, and understand the difference between losing a battle and winning a war.

To my friends of color who see this election only as a victory for people of color: We all need to see the reality that this victory goes way beyond race and that it was accomplished by multi-cultural support – and for the victory to effect real change President Obama will continue to require support from all Americans. Celebrate the victory. It is long overdue. Let us move forward together.

No one is exempt from the tendency to view life while wearing a very large set of blinders, but we need to remove those blinders at every opportunity. The situation in this country, indeed in the world, demands that we remove them. We can no longer make decisions or cast votes based upon single issues or pet projects. At one time, long before any of us were born, that might have worked – but the world today moves at a faster pace and is much more complex than it was one hundred years ago.

People of faith certainly must vote in a way that is informed by their faith, but when we reduce the way in which our faith informs us to a single issue we distort not only our perspective but our faith as well. Clergy who suggest otherwise are more interested in winning popularity contests than in speaking the truth and following God. This particular issue cuts both ways, liberal and conservative. We need to move beyond the tribal notion that we all must think alike and/or vote alike in order to be faithful members of our religious communities.

In the last eight years the people of this country have willingly surrendered their rights to a government that chose to use fear of an unknown – and often misidentified – enemy. Churches have been largely complacent in this effort. Homeland Security, or KGB America, has become more and more powerful because we as a nation have committed the idolatry of substituting nation for God. There is nothing inherently sacred about this country, or any country, and God does not favor one country over another. When we go to war, God grieves because everyone who is killed in war is one of God’s children.

Gays worry about gay issues, straights about straight issues, people of color about issues of color, white people about white issues, on and on ad nauseum. What we really need to is to worry about human issues – about ALL people in ALL places at ALL times.

Get over yourself. The world depends on it.

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