By way of telling my age, I vividly recall my childhood with Democrats identifying with the working class populous and Republicans being largely confined to the more well-to-do folks in my neighborhood. My how a lot has changed in 50 years, but such is so. How did it get this way?
The best way that this poor soul can explain that is through religion. The GOP (actually the far right) has co-opted religion for it’s own ends. I’m not saying those ends are benevolent or maniacal, but facts are facts. It really appears to be a perfect storm of educated individuals leaving religion, single issue voters throwing the proverbial bathwater out for the baby and the right making hay about an assault on religion not being taught in the school.
I grew up in a rural place with a father that was not highly educated, but got hit with more than a few branches from the tree of common sense on his way through life. I asked him once why prayer wasn’t allowed in school anymore. He told me about the separation between church and state, but then said something I’ll never forget. He told me, “Prayer and how you pray is a very personal thing. I want to make sure you do it the way I see fit and I don’t want anyone else telling you how to pray or to whom you should pray.” That made a whole world of sense and still does. Religion comes in all forms, sects, dialects and denominations (anyone growing up in a baptist church who had a preacher leave under bad circumstances knows this). You want religion for your children, teach them religion. For the same reasons you don’t beat my kid’s ass, you don’t get to delve your beliefs on them. It’s a personal thing and it should remain personal.
That personal memory lane visit aside, back to facts…Take a step back from the Sunday sermon and think about why it is we believe what we do. Even the Bible tells us to be skeptical of those who come preaching the word of the Lord. Matthew 24:5 – “and many shall come in my name”…”and many shall be deceived.” The Bible asks us to question those who would be preaching the Lord’s word because we cannot simply take that persons word for it, but we should use the talents that God has given us to ascertain the facts and the truth of what is right and just within this world.
To that point, Luke 10:30-37 (the Good Samaratain) shows where a lawyer attempts to trick Jesus when he’s asked to Love his Neighbor. The lawyer says, well how do you define your neighbor. Jesus provides an example of a Jew walking and while walking is beaten and left bloody and destitute by the side of the road. A priest approroaches and ventures to the other side to avoid the needy man. Next, a Levite (traditionally a religious assistant to priests and usually serving a political capacity) also moved to the opposite side of the road. Then a lowly Samaritan passing took pity and put the injured Jew on his animal and then took him to town and put him up at an Inn and paid the Innkeeper to take care of him and if needed more money, he’d pay him when he passed through.
The lesson is very simple and it’s 2,000 years old. All mankind is our neighbor. There were no walls, there were no so-called terrorists. Safety is never a given…just ask Jesus, or a Jew in Germany circa 1934 or a Russian journalist just trying to tell the truth in this day and age. These are the teachings of the Bible and if you are religious or claim to be, you must be to a degree auto-didactic to ensure that you are receiving the message that God intends. It’s not going to be spoon-fed to you because if that’s one thing that has taught us is that our salvation shall come from the sweat on our brow.
Currently, the Trump administration seems to target Musims and Mexicans. The commonality, of course, are these are not ‘Americans’. But what is American? Irish, German, English, Dutch, Australian, African, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Eskimo, Korean, Filipino, Japanese, etc. You get my point…We’re a mix of cultures and peoples. That’s what makes us great….not Nationalism where we beat our chest saying “we’re awesome and the rest of the world sucks” (using words that Trump might understand). Seriously though, our founders meant for our Country to be a land free of religious constraints. That’s why Christianity was not written into the founding documents. It’s Freedom of Religion! And I am truly sorry if some do not like witnessing or experiencing change, but that’s a part of life, a part of the world and a part of the Universe. you think our planet is unchanged from a million years ago? The Grand Canyon is proof, as are the countless supernovae that have been witnessed over the millennia. Things change and we must adapt. That’s why we were built with a fascinating reason engine on the top of our neck…to figure it out and not put it in a hole in the ground. We must adapt and we must respect others and the laws of the land in which we abide. “Pay unto Cesar that which is Cesar’s” is a call from God to obey the laws of your land and respect it. Our founders built a land and law resilient for the times if we allow it and respect it. We should do it, and them, honor and pride to afford those who would be citizens of this Great Nation the right to partake of its bounty and opportunity.
The refugees that we are turning away now are, for our time, the Jew laying by the side of the road. They are from war torn areas. These are parents with children the are attempting to protect from others, whether that be religious zealots (be that christian or muslim), political enemies or just thieves. These parents want what’s best for their children. Put yourself in their position and what would you do? The short answer is ANYTHING YOU COULD. You would take a handout if provided, but more importantly you would welcome a hand-up from America and then work hard to repay the favor. You would in turn co-opt that individual with your message of good hope and tidings from the land of plenty (our very own promise land) and you may, in turn, just touch a life positively that could have easily been swayed a different way had the hand-up been turned to a slap in the face or a sign of “stop do not cross.” The Lord does love a cheerful giver.
Jesus was not political and neither should be your preacher or priest be. For if they are, there’s an alternative motive against which you should be circumspect. Always question the WHY.