I Like My Church, They Don’t Tell Me What to Think

The world is all gates,

all opportunities,

strings of tension

waiting to be struck.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like my church.  They don’t tell me what to think or what to do.  Let me explain.  They do not tell me how to vote.

It just feels wrong for a person of spiritual authority to tell others how they should vote. The “correct” vote isn’t partisan — it can’t be. As people of a community I believe we must vote with our minds and hearts, considering both what is good for ourselves, as well as what is good for others.

I was just a few days ago writing about thinking of others more highly than yourself.  I think this applies …

  • when it comes to how you vote.

  • when it comes to politics.

  • when it comes to what we say in public discourse.  

I also think that we should figure out how to be civil, even as we disagree sometimes vehemently with one another. Let’s not make decisions about each other based on certain issues and where another person might stand.

Our nation has become so divided and it seems to me that politicians don’t even know how to do their jobs any more.

Using the system to hold all votes, no matter what the issue, so that you can keep tax cuts for the wealthiest small percentage of the nation is WRONG as well as holding up legislation that with help the unemployed.

Give the wealthiest Americans a tax cut and history suggests they will save the money rather than spend it. … President Barack Obama wants to extend the cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and couples earning less than $250,000 while ending them for those who earn more.  More here.

Who do they work for?  The wealthiest in our nation or the people?

Even as Congress debates whether to extend emergency unemployment checks for more than six million Americans who are approaching the 99-week limit, some four million others are facing the certain end of their benefits over the next year, unless an entirely new program is crafted.  More

I agree with Jim Wallis, that President could have, even should have, fought harder this week.  Backed into a corner is no place to negotiate so I feel for him as well.

The richest 2 percent of the country just got an extension of tax cuts they didn’t need at great cost to us all. President Barack Obama should have been fighting against the self-interest of the very wealthiest Americans long before this. So he is now backed into a corner, and just made a compromise that he thinks is the best deal possible when up against the clock. He got some good things for working families in the payroll tax cut, the extension of unemployment benefits, various refundable tax credits, and the important middle class tax cut. But the president is now presiding over the great redistribution of wealth that has been going on for a very long time — the redistribution of wealth from the middle and the bottom to the top of American society — and leaving us with the most economic inequality in American history. (Emphasis mine) This will only grow larger with the Obama “compromise.”

Bread for myself

is a material question.

Bread for my neighbor

is a spiritual one.

— Nicholas Berdyaev

I believe every choice we make is a statement of who we are and what we prioritize. For people of faith, our priorities must always lie with the poor and most vulnerable. Extending the Bush tax cuts for the most fortunate while ending unemployment benefits and cutting back services for the poor does not reflect well on the values of faithful Americans.

For that reason, I have signed the following letter (led spiritual leaders in our nation.  There is also one led my Millionaires.) urging Washington to let tax cuts for the most fortunate expire as scheduled at the end of the year. I’ve put an excerpt below.

To me the bottom line is be a person who thinks for themselves.  Search scripture to determine how Jesus would have responded here. We are each moral people who must be guided by our conscience.

I’ll conclude with this from a Seattle Pastor & Thinker, Eugene Cho:

But going back to the question and conversation of civility, I wholehearted agree that we – as a larger society (and as a Christian  community) need to learn how to be civil:

  • We need to learn how to listen.
  • We need to speak without shouting and screaming.
  • We need to not to accuse and attack.
  • We need to stop demonizing one another or prominent leaders.
  • We need to be better informed.
  • We need to agree to give space to disagree. It’s ok.
  • We need to learn where we agree and see how we can work together.

But as Christians, we need to agree that the most significant aspects of our relationship are not our politics, our political views, or our political affiliations but that we are connected together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Who are we?  Who is our community?  Who are you?  Who is your community?  How does how you vote reflect that?

Philippians 2.1-11 says:

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united in Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being the very nature of God, did not consider equality of God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

MH

Almost 50 million Americans wonder where their next meal is coming from. One in 5 children live in poverty and many Americans are out of work. At the same time, there are more millionaires in our country today than at the peak of the market in 2007. In the last 30 years, the wealthiest 1% have seen their incomes increase almost 300% while regular Americans are worse off.

We have a responsibility to balance our budgets. We have an equal responsibility to make sure that burden is carried by those who can most afford it. Giving benefits to the rich while denying them to the poor is a sin. As citizens of this country and people of faith, we have an obligation to those in need. The book of Proverbs puts it quite simply: “He who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and he who gives gifts to the rich–both come to poverty” (Prov 22:16 NIV).

We believe that our own good is tied up into the common good; that we will meet the challenges of today not just as individuals but together as a nation. We are grateful for the leadership of the PATRIOTIC MILLIONAIRES who have stepped forward to ask that their tax cuts expire. We hope you will heed their counsel.

May God bless the leadership of you and the Congress, and may God bless America to be a blessing to the world.

Advertisements

2 Comments Add yours

Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s