Archives For politics

I did a sermon last Sunday (at bottom) that looked at how to apply the many biblical texts about oppression and injustice to a 2017 American context.  At Crossroads, we are making intentional steps to become a multi-ethnic church. I’ve been immersed in the multi-ethnic and racial reconciliation conversation since 2008 (when I first read Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith).  Many think there aren’t more multi-ethnic churches because of worship style, preaching style, cultural differences, and the general human inclination to clump with people who are like us.  In my observation, these are not the real reasons.  The primary reason there are not more multi-ethnic churches is because white Christians can’t typically be trusted with the experiences of people of color.  What I mean is, church is community.  The evangelical church is humorously known for overusing cliche words like “authentic” and “real” and their many synonyms.  This is what community is supposed to be.  But when a person of color shares their authentic and real experience–the daily racial micro-aggressions they endure, the history of our nation that created the disadvantages they face daily and have to strain to overcome, and so much more–white brothers and sisters in Christ either have no category for these things and are just confused, or at worst, deny these experiences and disadvantages all together.  If you can’t be real and authentic about your life experience in your Christian community, then you aren’t going to stay in that community.

Historically, the reason we have black denominations, seminaries, and churches is because the white churches and organizations did not let black people in…so they had to go and start their own.  And what we have today is the recent-byproduct. Continue Reading…

An apology post I wrote after reflecting on how I’ve written about Trump and immigration / refugee policy

Romans 13:1-2, 4-5

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves…  For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities…

These verses seem to indicate we are to do whatever our governmental leaders tell us, and if we don’t, or if we resist it, it is like we are disobeying or resisting God.  If only it were that simple.  A few quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” muddy the waters quite quickly:

I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal”

In fact, the majority of Dr. King’s letter dealt with this tricky biblical subject as he faced the brutal oppression of “legal” Jim Crow laws, which most white Christians argued must be followed based on Romans 13:1-5.  This was no different than white Christians justifying slavery a century earlier for the same reason.

Yet, there has always been Christian resistance to these legal movements.  Christians who saw the governmental law in stark contrast to God’s law in the Scriptures; they saw it as the sin it was and would not let themselves be complicit in it.

Christians who harbored Jews in Nazi Germany.

Christians who helped run The Underground Railroad.

Christians like Dr. King who led the Civil Rights Movement.

Not the mention the modern day global Christians living in countries where it is illegal to be a Christian, to attend church, to own a Bible, etc.

Or consider this Scriptural wrench from Acts 4 thrown into the engine of the Romans 13 argument: Continue Reading…

Matthew Soerens is the US Director of Church Mobilization for World Relief.  Noah Filipiak interview Matthew about a biblical response to undocumented immigrants, the Mexican border, Syrian and other Muslim refugees, and much more.  The episode closes with a poem called “Home” by World Relief’s Jacob Mau (www.jacobmaumusic.com) Continue Reading…

  1. Seeing throngs of people bowing down and worshiping a candidate like they are the 2nd coming of Jesus.  If the person you worshiped 4 years ago didn’t bring the world into utopia, this person won’t either.  Stop frothing at the mouth about them.

  2. How politics makes enemies of friends.  Man, do people get angry about their politics.  People who would normally be friends now shoot barbs back and forth to each other, calling each other all sorts of elementary school playground insults.  We tell our kids not to call people idiots, morons or stupid, then we do this every time there is a political election.  The candidates do it to each other.  We do it to the candidates.  And we do it to those who support a different candidate than us.  And social media makes it soooooooooo much worse.

  3. groceryIt’s another reminder of how politics randomly forces us to choose who to oppress.  Politics is like going to the grocery store, but instead of getting to choose what you buy, there are two pre-packaged sacks of food waiting for you.  You do not get a choice as to what goes into the sacks, but you are forced to purchase one of the bags and take it home with you…and eat everything in the bag.  One bag has corn and chips and apples and ham in it.  Sounds good.  It also includes pickled pigs’ feet, cow brain, and squid guts.  You want to vomit…so you check out bag #2.  Cookies, cheese, eggs, and rice.  Very promising.  But as you dig around you also find fish eyes, a sheep head and bat paste.  This is politics.  It doesn’t matter if you like both ham and rice.  You don’t get both.  It doesn’t matter if you want to preserve life in one way and also preserve it another way.  Choose who will live, and who will die.  And still try to sleep at night.  (It will be funny when I get emails or blog comments from people telling me that their bag doesn’t have any feet, brains, guts, heads, eyes or bat paste in it…no, they do, you have just acquired a taste for them)

  4. How almost everyone in politics is bought.  Derek Webb has a great line in his song “A Savior on Capitol Hill.”  “And as long as the lobbyists are paying their bills.  We’ll never have a savior on Capitol Hill.”

You have politicians standing resolutely on an issue at one point in their career, only to see them fighting for the polar opposite side of things 10 years later.  Sometimes they even jump ship altogether and switch to an entire new party, talking as if they’d always been there.  The truth is, many politicians really don’t care about the issue you love them for, what they care about is getting money from lobbyists and political action committees who will fund their campaign, which will help them get your vote.

Did you know that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent approximately one billion dollars each on their 2012 presidential campaigns? (See New York Times Campaign Finance Report).  If you include all of the 2012 elections, the number is somewhere around 6 billion dollars spent.

Why is that money necessary?

Where do you think that money comes from?

What do you think a politician will say or do to get that money?

Vote.

Be active.  Support causes and issues on moral and spiritual grounds, not on partisan grounds.

Push to make politics less like the cable bundle you overpay for that comes with a bunch of garbage channels and more where you get an actual say on a policy-by-policy basis as a voter.

Be involved in politics with the mission of redeeming it.

But do not become a part of the machine or fall in love with the machine.

 

I am not a person who ascribes to one political party or another.  I know some of you are, which is fine.  I only bring this up because some see politics as their savior and will get very upset when the party they ascribe to is critiqued.  What I want to share today is about race, which is very relevant to the heart of Jesus and the Church, and it happens to be couched in a political conversation.  Like a hamburger patty that is couched in a whole wheat bun, the point I’m trying to make is about the hamburger patty and my request is that you can allow yourself to focus in there, not be distracted by someone who wants a kaiser bun or a pretzel bun instead of the whole wheat bun.  I’m really not interested in the bun here and my hope (in the land of internetting, this is a faint hope I know) is that our conversation here can be on how we see race, not on how we see our political parties.

A Latina friend of mine sent me the following article and video, which I found makes profound statements about race in America.  The video is around 20 minutes long (skip the intro and ending ads), but is definitely worth watching.  Again, and I further expand my disclaimer from the above paragraph, they will say things you will disagree with politically.  Please use a different discussion thread for those things and/or just get over them.  If you don’t want to watch the video for time’s sake and/or if you do, hear are some of the points I took from it that I found helpful, with some notes on how these points particularly apply to Christians.  Some of these points will hit you like a glass of cold water in the face.  That’s ok, sometimes that is good for us.  Instead of saying, “That’s malarkey!” (malarkey is a great word), instead ask, “Is that true of me, and if so, why is it true of me and should that mindset be challenged?”

The interview is with Ian Haney Lopez, author of Dog Whistle Politics.  Lopez is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley and works in the area of racial justice.  I have not read the book, I’m sure it’s full of things that would get many fired up politically.  Again, focus on the hamburger patty here. Continue Reading…