Saturday, March 3, 2007

It's Time - The Blog Entry that Started it All

Addressing the American Conservative Union's Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. yestereday, Ann Coulter used one of the F words that isn't "faith" to describe presidential candidate John Edwards. This elicited roars of approving laughter from the crowd. Edwards' campaign has responded by using the whole situation as a fundraising tool. You can read about his effort...and watch the video at: https://johnedwards.com/action/contribute/coulter. I want to know: Why isn't Edwards using the outrageous behavior of this crowd and its speaker as an opportunity to come out loud and clear in support of equal rights for all Americans, including gay and lesbian persons? I can't imagine a better chance ever coming along! Only the most bigoted, most ignorant, most mean-spirited person could watch this video clip and not be utterly horrified. Seize the moment, John! Let people see and hear it for themselves! And then tell everybody why you are committed to helping this nation be its very best self, why you will do everything in your power to bring us together around the enduring values of liberty and justice for all, why you will risk all to do the right thing. I sent him an email today and pledged to give $1000 bucks to his campaign if he does it. I told him to stop being a chicken. You see, I still have this crazy idea that our political leaders pay attention to us and that we can make a difference. But I won't be surprised if he doesn't respond. Too many of our religious and political leaders are paralyzed by fear these days. Political leaders are afraid of losing elections. Religious leaders are afraid of losing members - and their pensions. All of them are being held captive by the fundamentalist terrorists who have hijacked Christianity in this country. I'm talking here about the Christians who want to turn Jesus into a poker-faced, stick-in-the-mud, my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God, straighten-up-or-else-you’re-going-to-hell, rule-making, balls-busting, line-drawing, fear-mongering, noose-tightening, gay-bashing, reason-defying, flag-waving, saber-rattling, son-o-bitch. They use Jesus to stick it to those who are different, either because they dare to be or because they just can’t help having been born that way. They use Jesus to justify their prejudices. Prop up their platforms. Plump up their bank accounts. They use Jesus to be their excuse for the walls they build that keep “those people” out, whoever “those people” happen to be at any given point in history. And if anybody dares to question this picture of Jesus, dares to suggest that maybe we’ve gotten just a little off track, they are branded. Heretics. Pagans. Traitors. Worst of all: LIBERALS. Sometimes I wonder why the rest of us aren't rising up, in one single fluid we’re-not-going-to-take-this-anymore movement, to shout with their loudest outside voices that THIS IS NOT THE JESUS WE KNOW! But it’s time. I know there are people like me out there, people who are fed up with the way in which their churches…their faith…and the Jesus they know…have been co-opted and distorted by religious and political leaders on the right. I have met them. Some of them were hippies, back in the day. They plastered “Jesus Freak” bumper stickers across their beat up guitar cases. They went around in sandals, even in the winter, just like he did. They believed in simple living. They loved the earth. They did a lot of weird things, but they did a lot of good things, too. And, today, they seem to have lost their voices. But they do remember when being a liberal was a good thing. A holy thing, even. When “liberal” meant “generous.” Altruistic. Greathearted. They remember when Christians marched with those who were tired of sitting, if the only place they could find a seat was in the back of the bus; when Christians gave voice to the voiceless and made this nation look beyond itself in horror at a world where far too many children spend sleepless nights because their stomachs are so empty and their futures so bleak. They remember when Christians knew these verses by heart and believed them:
[The Lord] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8)?
Then [the Lord] will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40)
Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31).
But a lot of the frustrated Christians I meet today weren’t hippies. Some of them were too old to be; some too young. A lot of them aren’t sure they like the “liberal” label at all, or any label, for that matter. A few of them even think of themselves as “conservative.” The vast majority of them are somewhere in the middle. But all of them know that something has gone desperately, horribly wrong with the Christian church in this country. They may not be able to quote the Bible. They may not know all the theological terms. They may not play the guitar and, if they have bumper stickers at all, they don’t say “Jesus Freak.” They say “Grandparents for Peace.” And “Hate is not a Family Value.” And in their hearts, where once upon a time God promised to write the holiest words, they know that the farther this nation leans to the right the more wrong we are. And it is time for us to take a stand. We're out here, John. I promise we are.

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The Bottom Line

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love becomes slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Galatians 5:13-14