I am troubled and I am angry. “Christians” are using their notoriety (or infamy) to spew a message of hate, oppression and judgement toward blacks, gays, women, immigrants and the disabled. Franklin Graham has me hopping mad as he spewed his hate filled rhetoric to influence the California elections.
Here’s the bottom line: if you are hating or oppressing any group of people you are outside the way of God teachings. The name by which you call God is irrelevant. It’s just that simple.
We all harbor prejudice. We all have some fear of the other. We all place blame on those whom we perceive to be the “problem”. If we are white, we have privilege whether we recognize it or not. We are all outside of love in some way.
Jesus hated no one. He worked to free those who were oppressed by a predatory Roman economy. He reached out to those who were socially outcast and rejected because of disease or disability.
In stopping a woman’s twelve-year flow of blood (Luke 8:43-48) he did more than cure her disease. He restored her to her community by removing the ritual uncleanness caused by the issue of blood.
Jesus healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45) and restored him to his community because he was no longer a danger to those around him.
Jesus refused to let a woman caught in adultery be stoned, saying the one who had no sin could toss the first one (John 8:1-11). Funny how the man was nowhere to be found, but even if he was he wouldn’t have been stoned either.
The only people Jesus ever called out were the religious leaders colluding with the Roman occupation. It was an unjust and predatory economy in cahoots with religious leaders and it hurt the poor. Jesus didn’t hate them, he called them to accountability.
Claiming the name of Jesus means claiming the way of Jesus. The very people Jesus would be calling out are the ones Franklin Graham is trying to get elected in California.
Our economy and indeed the global economy has created a permanent underclass of poverty. There is less and less tolerance for dissenting voices, either religious or political. The public narrative increasingly co-opts religious language in a way supports an unjust political and social agenda.
At the heart of every great religious tradition is love. It is time we harnessed the love that unites us to let us unite us.
As protestants it means we put the protest back in Protestant. Protestants have a strong history of standing against oppression and hatred, working for the poor and the outcast, and putting forward loving justice that excludes no one.
The Catholic worker movement brought justice and relief to marginalized populations in rural areas around the country in the war torn 1930’s.
Muslims for Social Justice and other organizations like it are working to put forward the true message of Islam which is love, justice and human rights for all. It commits to fighting racism, white supremacy and sexism within as well as beyond the Muslim community.
We are in need of a public social narrative that acts as a corrective to the thinly veiled hatred in much of the religious speech in our day. It begins simply: if you are outside of love, you are outside the way of God.